Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Could ‘Emotivation’ be the key to unlocking your fitness goals?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

A couple of years ago I wrote a guest article on the subject of ‘emotivation’ and how connecting with your emotional motivation cues is much more likely to breed success than any form of willpower or wishing (including New Year’s resolutions). As we are at that time of year again I decided to review the article and make a few amendments.

New Year’s resolutions are so easy to make – but not so easy to stick to. For the first few weeks of the year it’s a new page, a fresh start and everyone feels a huge sense motivation to stick to the fitness and diet plan, often developed as a reaction to the indulgences of the festive period – but all too quickly excuses begin and, as research shows, by February and March more than 50% of Keep-fit New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the wayside.

But there may be a way to stick to your New Year fitness and diet resolutions – by thinking about things in a different way.

The key to realising resolutions is to focus on the emotional drivers behind the desire to change. Forget about weight loss as your goal and focus instead on constructing a version of you that you will make you happy, not because you have done it quickly, but because you have done it effectively and have achieved something you can not only be proud of, but also something that just ‘feels’ right.

Resolve and willpower can get you through most things short term but in the end willpower alone will fail.

As an example, more than half the people who attempt to give up smoking fail in the long run even if willpower carries them through a few days or weeks.

The rebound rate for weight loss is higher than that of smokers. Why? Because you can’t just WANT to achieve something. There has to be an emotional connection.”

Dynamic Core Solutions was set up in 2009 as a personal training and coaching service to support people whose willpower and self-belief deserted them. The goal was to provide the service that focused on the elements where others failed. To take the elements that just seemed wrong within the fitness industry and put them right. Very quickly it became apparent that, as well as needing motivation and technical know-how, my clients body shape and confidence grew when they were able to understand and tap into what drove them emotionally to achieve their goals and as a result were able to take a more methodical approach to the changes rather than constantly seeking the ‘quick fix’. This route has since developed the name ‘Emotiviation’.

The importance of emotions for reaching fitness goals

Like it or not, our emotions rule our actions in the long-term. They cause internal hormonal activity and the resulting chemical reactions cannot be overcome with thought or willpower alone.

Thousands of years of evolution have created these reactions and they are there to protect us.

Our bodies like the “status quo”. They don’t like change or the unknown as that can spell trouble. So in order to overcome these emotional responses you need to create a stronger emotion that you can connect to.

Getting emotional about goals starts with one easy question – “Why?”

For example, Brian is 24, overweight, single and depressed: “I want to bring my waist size to 34 inches, improve my body composition to a level where I can see my six pack abs, add two inches to my chest and half an inch to each upper arm. I want to feel healthy, energised and confident in my appearance and I will do all of this by the time I go on holiday in June,” Brain claims.

Why? “Because I want to feel good about how I look on the beach” Why? “Because I want the girls who see me to find me attractive” Why? “Because I have never had a girlfriend and it depresses me to feel that women don’t find me attractive. So hopefully with an improved physique and level of self-confidence, I can put out a more positive personality and attract someone suitable to have a relationship with.”

Now we are getting somewhere. So the next time Brian thinks about skipping the gym, going for a curry or heading out for a night of boozing with the lads, he has an alternative emotion to draw on. As long as the idea of feeling confident and ultimately being in a relationship remains stronger than the feeling of eating a curry, the menu stays in the drawer and he heads to the gym.

Dynamic Core Studios was opened in January 2012 to ensure that the subsequent trip to the gym removed the obstacles presented in most gyms or leisure facilities.

Again, it’s not about the quick fix. Training is not about just showing up to the gym and making your way around the same machines as everyone else and just hoping it will work for you. It requires you to have a plan in place and the plan should always be to build from the base up.

There are some fundamentals you need to get in place. From a nutritional (or fuel) point of view you need to have your water intake at a decent level and you must be getting enough rest. Without these in place, no plan is going to work for you.

After that, you need to ensure your body works the way it should. A movement assessment would be useful here. In some cases this would be best performed by a high quality physiotherapist, but any trainer worth their salt should be able to carry out an assessment that can ascertain any inability to move properly. If you have any flaws in this area, these should be rectified first otherwise everything you attempt to achieve from that point forward will suffer and the results will be sub optimal.

Assuming you are moving properly, the next element to look at would be strength. If you are lacking in strength the quality of your training will suffer, but so will your development in general, right down to your bone structure. If you don’t give your skeletal structure a reason to stay strong, it won’t. It’s that simple.
No matter what your goal is, if it is physique based, it should involve heavy resistance training. That doesn’t mean gimmicky machines that make you feel like you are working out, but rather solid, compound movements with the heaviest weight you can manage.
Any shaping of your body requires muscle:

  • It helps to burn calories
  • It keeps you functionally balanced
  • It makes you stronger, which allows you to do and achieve more.

If you don’t give your body a reason to keep the muscle you have, it will look to get rid of the muscle rather than fat. After all, you are not giving it a reason to stay and muscle is heavier than fat so it makes life easier if it goes. That’s why going out running or cycling is not ideal and whilst it might help you lose weight, really you want to lose fat. By working with weights you are telling your body it cannot afford to lose muscle, so it goes to the other energy store and burns stored fats. And ladies that does not mean you are going to bulk up. Lifting heavy does not mean big muscles and a bodybuilder physique.

That’s why at Dynamic Core Studios, you won’t find the place littered with machines, either cardio based or resistance based. Everything in the facility is there for a reason and that reason it to ensure the best training facility for achieving results you can possibly find. It is also designed in a way that you can focus your attention on your plan and work to your body’s feedback. Workouts need to be adaptable depending on your energy levels for the day. If you are low on energy, you should not be over stressing your nervous system by trying to achieve what you usually would. Similarly, if your energy levels are high, then be sure to take advantage of it.

We also work with an appointment based system in order to ensure the gym floor is never too busy to do the workout you need. But also, if you had a meeting scheduled at work you wouldn’t cancel just because you didn’t feel like it. So why should your fitness, health and training be any different? You have an appointment with yourself and we are encouraging you to keep it.

Could this be the way to actually stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?

What is different in this approach is simply that there is a reason for your goals now and so you can take logical steps to achieving them. Your desire to make the long term change is deep rooted and therefore you are much less likely to deviate from the path you then set yourself.

So rather than making a ‘resolution’ to change this year, why not look take some time to get to know yourself. Discover what it is you truly want to achieve and most importantly ‘Why?’ Really FEEL the difference it would make to create these changes (Looking good is not a feeling, though feeling good will generally result in more positive choices resulting in an improved appearance and body composition). Then make a structured, logical plan to take you where you want to be.

Feel who you want to be then live your life as that person. 

 

 

The Truth Will Set You Free – The Lies that are keeping you from your goals

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Probably the biggest reason most people fail to achieve the results they are looking for is down to the lies they tell.

They are not conscious lies, but their words and actions simply don’t marry.

If you ask most people who start out a health and fitness plan how focused and serious they are about their desired goal, the answer is usually “completely 100% committed”. And to them that is the truth. They really do WANT to achieve these goals, but wanting something and being committed to achieving it are two separate things.

Everything in life has a cost. If you want an expensive car, you either have to work to improve your income or you have to do without other luxuries in your life. If you didn’t need to do these things, you would have the car already. You have to be committed to the changes needed.

So you might look at a Ferrari and think, I wish I could afford one of those. But how much do you wish that? If it really was the highest priority in your life, you would find cheaper accommodation, you would NEVER go to the movies, or to a night out, you would cancel any satellite subscriptions you have, in fact your TV license money could go to the car if you did away with your TV, which you could sell to add to the pot. No more eating out, no magazines, no snacks, no expensive clothing, just what is practical to allow your survival. And all that extra time you have now that you are not in front of the TV or involved in any pastimes could be used to further your career or build a new one. If this truly is your biggest life desire, you will find a way to achieve it.

It would take quite an empty life for such a thing as a car to play such a big part in anyone’s life, but it is just an example.

Switch that to health and fitness. Around 99% of the planet would like to improve something about their health, fitness or physique. Very few people would wake up, take one look in the mirror and think ‘Perfect! As always’. So everyone would WANT to make a change, but many people simply accept, rightly or wrongly, that they want a life of indulgence more. They would rather go out drinking every weekend, have a takeaway every night, or live off pizza and chocolate and simply suffer the consequences when they arrive.

But a large portion of those who start a fitness plan lie to themselves about this fact. They say they want a six pack, more energy or improved muscle tone, but then every weekend the posts go up on the social media sites about how it’s nearly pub time, or time for a bottle of red, that the fridge is stocked with booze, it’s party time etc.

Then you get the cries of regret come Sunday or Monday morning. “Never drinking again”, “Why did I eat that?”, “That’s it, no more for me, diet starts today” and so on.

In actual fact, what is really happening is, through the week, when it life is a bit more regimented and anything is better than work, getting to the gym maybe isn’t such a chore, it’s a relief. But come the weekend, being popular and accepted by your peers becomes more important than the fitness goals.

The reason being, in most cases, the goal is also about the acceptance of others. It is buried in a belief that if you look better more people will like you or compliment you and that will make you feel good and happy. But come party time, getting drunk or indulging in fast food and junk food also gets you acceptance, only the result is instant. It happens right there and then. Everyone tells you how you are a great laugh, they are having a great time in your company etc and you will do anything to conform.

Then on the Monday, you remember your goals and you announce to the world your regrets, that way they all forgive you or tell you that one little indulgence won’t hurt. And again you get your social acceptance fix.

But always there is this internal struggle. You have a goal, but you never reach it. You blame the diet. You blame your trainer. You blame your workout. You seek out a new diet approach or a new workout routine. The latest fitness classes and start drinking that detox drink everyone is raving about. You sacrifice for a few weeks, and of course you tell everyone how hard it is, but you are sticking to it (to make sure you get your social acceptance fix as they applaud your efforts, though only if it’s for a few weeks, because that party at the end of the month is HUGE and you HAVE to drink at that).

And so the cycle continues.

Until you unlock the truth, there is no chance of moving forwards. You might make some progress, but it will be short lived.

And what is the truth?

Well that will take some real honesty, not with others but with yourself.

How much do you really want to make a change? What change do you truly want to make? And what price are you willing to pay?

Only by discovering the truth can you truly accept who you are and what you are doing. And self acceptance is much more fulfilling than the acceptance of others.

Your Ferrari is yours to have, but the price must be paid.

Mondays – Your latest failure starts here

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Monday. The start of a new week; renewed enthusiasm and improved focus. That goal you have been looking to achieve, that fat loss, weight loss, drop in size, increased muscle – it’s going to happen this time. It has really hit you, you are not going to live like this any more. That weekend was just a waste, it has made you feel terrible but you were just getting it out of your system, but never again. This time it’s different. This time you are determined. Success is in your grasp.

It’s the common war cry of the fitness community – “I’ll start on Monday!”

But when Monday arrives, what is going to make that Monday different from all Mondays that came before? What is it that is different this time around?

Well for most people, the honest answer is – Absolutely nothing!

You may say that your determination is greater this time. You’ve made a serious commitment to this. But what is it you have made a commitment to exactly?

Losing X pounds? Dropping X% Body Fat? Changing how you look?

But didn’t you want that yesterday too? You might not have spent as much time thinking about it because you had other things going on, but you still wanted it right? And didn’t you want to achieve these things the last time you hit the gym or went on a diet? In fact how many times have you said to yourself that “This is it! This time I’m going to do this!” or words to that effect?

Perhaps this time you have a fancy new nutrition plan, an amazing workout routine that worked for someone else or you’ve hired yourself a Personal Trainer so they will keep you on it.

However, the fact remains that the target, the goal and the approach are all the same when it boils right down to it. You are too focused on the numbers or the superficial results.

These things are not worthy goals in themselves. They are little more than by products of a greater goal. A deeper want. Something that just doesn’t feel right or sit comfortably with you that needs to change.

How you look is a reflection of yourself it is not the real you. And how others perceive you is their problem and nothing you need concern yourself with. If you are being true to yourself and are truly happy with who you are you would not need validation from others.

So the question then is, are you happy with who you are? 

Well first of all let’s look at the question of happiness or contentment. What are these things?

They are emotions right?

They are not visible in themselves. But they can manifest themselves externally. You can look happy and content, but only if you actually are happy and content. So the external you is simply a reflection of the internal you.

So in order to be truly successful, what is needed is a better understanding of what success truly means to you.

This is a point I seem to be laboring these days. Most people have grown up through a lifetime of being told the opposite. That how much you weight is important. Your dress size will define you and that the key is the magic diet or the radical new workout. But who tells you these things? Magazines (who want to sell their latest issue), TV programmes (who want high viewing numbers), Books (who want high sales volumes), Classes or trainers (who are trying to sell themselves beyond the others out there.

And that really should include me – I am a Personal Trainer, a Coach & a Gym Owner, so I have a product to sell right?

However, if you look at any of these services and products I provide, they are all about giving you better tools not a magic fix. As a coach it is my job to find out what is at the root of what you want to achieve not to pander to the enslavement of a set of superficial goals. You will never find a post from me telling you that if you do ‘this thing’ you’ll lose 10lbs in 2 weeks or whatever. Your goals, your inspiration, your driving force are all locked within you. As a coach I can help you to discover them, but I can’t choose them for you.

So if you truly want to make this time different rather than just another starting point for another failure, then rather than looking to change the diet, or change the workout, look to change the thing that is driving you. What is it you are looking to obtain from this change? How do you want to FEEL? And make that your goal, to be moving towards that feeling, that lifestyle. Become the person you want to be on the inside and it will reflect on the outside. After all, if you truly respect yourself, if you genuinely believe in your own self worth, then you will want to look after yourself, you will nurture your body, you will train it and condition it for optimal performance and just like that feeling of happiness or contentment, it will reflect itself externally and that ‘look’ you always wanted will manifest itself, not because you sought it out, but because you discovered what it was about that look you desired the most. The feeling that went with it.

Make the next year a year of progress, not just a year filled with the same Monday repeated numerous times.

Andy Murray- The Lessons of a Champion

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

This week a 26 year old from Dunblane, Scotland, put his name in the history books and changed the perceptions of a nation by winning a tennis match.

Put like that it vastly underplays the enormity of what he achieved. For 77 years the UK watched as the tournament hosted on its own shores was won by an ‘outsider’. In the entire open era no British player had even made the final prior to Andy in 2012 but for many years the weight of expectation was there, most notably on the shoulders of Tim Henman.


Not only had it been 77 years since a British player had taken the title (of the Men’s Singles), you have to go back to the 1800s to find the last Scottish winner. And a little over 10 years ago, when Henman was consistently making the Semi finals, the very idea that a Scot would achieve anything near that level, never mind actually win the thing, was simply unthinkable.

Ok, so we get it, it was a big deal, but what does this have to do with a fitness site?

More than you might think.

First up, although it is not a sport I personally partake in beyond the odd knock about on occasion, I would consider it one of if not the most complete of tests in the sporting world. First up it is an individual pursuit, so if you have a bad day you can’t rely on your team to cover for you. You have to be 100% focused at all times and playing at your best. And with the exception of the year end finals, it is a knock out sport. So again, no matter how good you are, one bad day at the office and you are out. It requires high levels of general fitness, speed, agility, quick reflexes (most serves have a reaction time for the returner of less than a second to get to the ball and angle a return correctly), power and stamina.

I can’t think of any other individual sports that require the same level of quality in all of these areas and with the possible exception of ice hockey I can’t think of many team sports either.

To perform at this level requires an extremely high level of ability in all these areas.

In the world of fitness there is always the argument of genetics and a similar argument is often thrown in the tennis arena, that of talent. You are either born with it or you are not. That may well be true and you could say that someone like Roger Federer has a natural talent for the game and doesn’t need to hit the gym to the same level as many of his rivals. But then there are those such as David Nalbandian who is probably one of the most talented players ever to play the game, but how many grand slam titles does he have? In fact, how many of you have even heard of him? The reason for his downfall? He quite clearly doesn’t work on his fitness to the same level as his peers. Comparatively speaking, he is over weight and lacks the speed shown by those at the top of the game. And if he had taken the time to work on these easily fixable elements, there is a high chance that his achievements would have eclipsed those of Federer through his career.

But let’s look at Andy.

Back in 2005 at the age of 18 during his third round match at Queens (which in itself was a shock at the time) and in a game he probably should have won, he collapsed with cramp in the 2nd set and went over on his ankle twice. He has since admitted that, at the time, his idea of a post match meal would be a pizza, his diet was appalling and his fitness regime not much better.

Most people, at that time, were tipping him to make it into the top 50 but not much else due to his lack of physical presence and stamina.

The following winter he moved his off season training to Miami and in the space of a few months returned to the Australian open with a completely new physique. He had seriously bulked up and was sporting a six pack.

Now he was being told he was too big and it would slow him down. During his 5 set win over Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon that year, he turned the match around from 2 sets down by retrieving a ball that was almost in the crowd and hitting a cross court winner. Hardly slow. He finished the match by flexing his biceps at the press. He was doing things his way he had a goal and he was staying true to it.

He was further criticised for having an entourage rather than a single coach. He had a team of specialists that he had built around him, but no real head figure. But there was a reason for that. He was the man in charge. His goals, his vision and the team was there to assist in the areas he decided he needed help with rather than having one person tell him what to do.

It became a running joke that half the people there to support him where his team. But now, a few years later, most of the top players are doing exactly the same thing.

So where am I going with this?

Well from start to finish he has been told he was doing it wrong. He was too skinny, he was too bulky, didn’t have the right weapons to threaten the top 3 players, he didn’t have the mental toughness (after all he did lose his first 4 grand slam finals). But there were no bigger critics out there of Andy Murray than Andy Murray himself. The difference was that he knew what he needed. He knew himself well and he knew what to do or when to ask for help to improve any weak points.

He didn’t listen to criticisms, he didn’t get down on himself (well not for long anyway) he simply had a goal and no matter how many times he got knocked down he picked himself back up and used the experience as a tool to improve for the future.

It took him 14 years from starting tennis seriously to finally winning the Wimbledon trophy he desperately sought.

After his first loss in a grand slam he didn’t decide to completely change everything, give up and chase something new. After his first Grand Slam final defeat, he didn’t start looking for some mystical route that wasn’t on the radar or try to copy the guy that beat him that day (Roger Federer) in the hope of unlocking the key. He stayed true to his path and chipped away at the imperfections in his own game. When the main one seemed to be the mental aspect, he sought out Ivan Lendl to be his coach as he knew Lendl was one of the few people he would listen to and be able to learn from.

All of this applies to any fitness goal. You have a vision, you have something in your mind that you are targeting, if it is not clear what that goal is, your direction is never going to be clear. But the goal has to be a personal one. Not something you are doing for the adulation or approval of others. It has to mean something to you personally.

Too often people start down one road and if it doesn’t go perfectly to plan very quickly, they are suddenly looking for another route or start listening to the criticism of others. You either believe in the route you are taking or you don’t, but if you do, if you truly know where you are going and you have a plan to get there, then no one and nothing should cause you to question that. You are in control. Your route will never be linear and it will never be exactly as you planned. You may need to make adjustments along the way, but they should be in keeping with your own ideals.

In its simplest form I’m talking to the people who think they can buy their way to the physique they want and at the lowest possible price. Those who will try weight watchers, then slimmers world, then curves, then atkins, then buy one of those slendertone belts, then go running while the weather is good, then back to weight watchers, then the local Bootcamp, then the online diet guru and so on. Always asking for “the best exercise to…(insert vague goal here)”, the people who “just” want to tone up, as if sticking the word just in front of it makes it suddenly an easy process.

In the end, some people are born with certain genetic gifts and if those people apply that fullest potential they will reach levels of world class, regardless of the goal in question, be it a sport, bodybuilding, modelling, acting, writing, photography etc. For most of us giving the same application may not mean world class, but it will be better than most and more than most people would generally wish for.

But the one big thing to note, returning to our Wimbledon champion, is that at no point was Andy Murray training or eating to look good.

All of his training and nutrition choices are geared towards improving his ability to play tennis. Yet he has taken himself from that skinny 18 year old who collapsed in the middle of a game 8 years ago and built a physique that most people were shocked by. Whether it is to your taste or not, he has broad shoulders, a distinct upper body V shape, defined biceps and a very defined six pack. Most guys would settle for that. Most guys hit the gym looking for that. Yet most guys trying to achieve it don’t get there, where Murray, who had no interest in the physique aspect, has achieved it by default.

This goes back to the thing I keep saying time and again. What you look like on the outside is an expression of how you treat yourself generally. Andy wanted to fuel himself to play better tennis matches, he wanted to build power for not only his shots, but to allow him to react quickly and sprint for drop shots etc. So he hit the gym and worked on the muscles that would allow those things to improve. And by improving his physical abilities and nurturing his body correctly he achieved what he aimed for.

Along the way, he gave up every Christmas for around 7 years to go and train in Miami, away from his family. He doesn’t drink alcohol as a rule. He sacrifices what most people seem to consider a necessity (nights out in the pub, parties etc) because the goals he set himself mean more than these things.

So the lessons are simple.

Set yourself clear goals. Goals that mean something to you deep down and give you emotional motivation to achieve them.

Don’t alter your path for other people. Stay focused on the path you have set yourself and believe in what you are doing.

Ignore negativity from others. If you truly believe in your path then nothing should cause you to waver for a second.

Ensure your goals are more than superficial. Health, Strength, Speed, Power are all attributes that are worthy of your attention, vanity is not. Vanity is a goal that suggests that other people’s views of you will determine how you feel about yourself. Absolutely look to make the most of yourself, but entirely, not just on the outside.

Don’t rush things. It is rare for things to go perfectly from the off. But life goes on and so does your journey. So long as you keep moving forwards you will always reach your target in the end.

Make adjustments not changes. Tweak things as necessary and as needed, but don’t keep starting again every few weeks.

Enjoy the process. Murray and his team use forfeits during training to make it more fun. It is not a chore, it is a means to an end and one he enjoys doing. Be sure you are doing something that is not only suitable for the goals you set yourself, but a process you enjoy. That doesn’t mean it has to be easy, it should be a challenge, but not one that makes your stomach curdle at the very thought of it each day.

And lastly, if your goal truly is an emotional one and important to you, then it should be easy to pass on the distractions that go against the process. The alcohol, the parties, the late nights and so on. If not and you find yourself giving in to things that you ultimately find yourself regretting, then you are not emotionally invested in this goal and there is no point complaining that you are not achieving it, or not getting there fast enough. At that point it is time to re-evaluate the goal itself and what it means to you. Don’t try to improve your will power or look to work twice as hard at the gym to make up for it. Work out why that blip seemed more important to you at the time. Weight up what it meant to you compared to what you ‘say’ you want to achieve and re-assess what you truly want.

Most of us will never re-write history to the level of Andy Murray, but there are lessons to be learned from him and if you take them on board you can conquer your own personal Grand Slam challenges and it will mean just as much to you as winning Wimbledon did to Andy.

Cee Oliver Interview

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

In the latest in our series of articles with inspirational people, please meet Cee Oliver. Previously we’ve talked to people who had their switch on moment a little later in their life, but Cee has been on this journey since she was 15. So she has over 22 years experience, is a professional figure and fitness model and a champion in her sport, so she is certainly someone worth listening to.

Cee Oliver Fitness Pro performing a single arm row

I’m Cee Oliver age 37, I hold a BSc Exercise Sport Science, PGCE (GTP) Physical Education as well as several other Health & Fitness related qualifications that spans over 16yrs.

I’m a UKBFF British Fitness Champion & NPA British Fitness Champion. I also hold several regional titles along side international placing. Started body building 5 yrs ago and I’ve not looked back.

Have you always been in great shape – or was there a point in your life that you decided you had to change things?

I’ve competed in sports since I was 15, so 22yrs later and I still look for new ventures. I hated PE at school until I was 14-15 I then knuckled down and put my heart and soul into it to become the best I could be. In my teenage years I’ve competed / played for netball, rounders, football teams as well as a stint running for a local athletics club, whilst taking part in numerous team hand sports as a teenager.

Do you think that having a healthy body has helped improve your healthy mind?

I couldn’t Imagine not training at all, it keeps my mind focused at all times.

Stress exercise helps, run down gentle exercise helps.. For me it’s the miracle cure;)

Can you tell me your thoughts on girls being scared to use weights as they think they will bulk up?

They see the typical female physique and think that lifting weights will make them bigger. That’s not the case it will help them tone up and get in fantastic shape both physically and mentally. if they want to look like that it wouldn’t happen over night and they would have to take lots of Supplements and dedicate their lives to training, very admirable but most females want to lose the hips, thighs and bums as well as flat stomach and a few more inches small steps day by day makes a massive difference and taking the 1st step is the biggest one.

Motivating so many others can be rewarding, but who do you look to for inspiration?

For me this season it has to be the amazing Oskana Grishina  the next Miss Olympia her shape is phenomenal along side my favourite like Dana Linn Bailey & Louise Rodgers.

Can you tell us more about the kind of competing you do?

I’m a trained figure and fitness British champion.

I have to perform a routine showing a range of strength movements combing in  flexibility,high energy routines and my own style it doesn’t mean you have to be a gymnast but it does mean you need to be flexible and highly energetic. Along side that I compete in the fitness symmetry round, so for my class you need to have the body and the routine it’s hard work but fantastic.

Can you remember your first completion, what did you learn from it?

My 1st company was 2008 NPA trained figure it was in Batley in UK. Trained by Ian Duckett ( Body in design)  It was the most nerve wracking thing I had ever done and the figure class was packed if I remember correctly over 11-12 in the class. Steping on stage for the 1st time in front  a big crowd in a large building was hard, but I loved the challenge and I performed well and placed 3rd I was over the moon. 5 yrs later I’m still here 😉

Can you tell us about the workshops you run to help others compete?

I’m looking to develop online workouts and 1-1 small group workshops that will help those that are new to BB making sure they know what to expect from nutrition, training and 1st step to competing or experience posing. Giving them advise thought out their journey.

What is your absolute favourite exercise/body parts to workout?

I don’t really train abs that much I guess I’m genetically gifted they stay 24/7 😉

I like training my shoulders.

What are your personal goals for 2013?

I’m competing internationally in Spain, Ukraine & Madrid this season with a top  Strength & conditioning coach within the UK – Mark Coles (M10) who will be pushing me through tough workouts to get in my best shape ever, using a range of methods I have never tried before which is fantastic.

Cee is also branching out as an actress, in her 1st movie role, a small part in an MMA movie to be announced in July 2013, Cee will be linking up with the multi title martial arts champion and successful actress  Zara phyithian. So be sure to look out for that.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information

You can follow and find out more from Cee on her own website www.ceeoliver.co.uk 

Lucy Doyle Interview

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

For our latest interview we spoke to Lucy Doyle. Lucy has not only gone through, what could be described as a very typical female journey of believing her youthful genetics would keep her trim for life, only to be crushed by the realization that life just doesn’t work like that, but her journey through added weight, self loathing and life threatening illness back to a strong, confident, enviable physique and mindset, has already inspired thousands of others to a better path.

Lucy has been kind enough to give us some insight to her change, what makes her tic and her plans for the future.

Lucy Doyle - There is no failure except in no longer trying

My name is Lucy and I am married with two children aged 7 and 8.  So I was going to start from the beginning, but hey I don’t think I’m alone in saying I don’t even know when the beginning was, how it crept up on me but it sure as hell did!!

I grew up the tall lanky one in my family, always had it “easy” in terms of weight control- could eat what I like… My life was a whirlwind, met my wonderful husband when i was just 20 and we married and had children straight away.  I was pretty cocky when I fell pregnant with my oldest, looking at other soon to be mums that were in their early 30s.. Knowing at the young age of 23 i’d just ping back into shape.  Boy was I wrong!!!  To cut a long story short, it went downhill from there, overeating during pregnancy, developing a life threatening condition, being hospitalised. Over the following 3 years I gained several stone and was stuck in the spiral of self hate.. binging… hating myself more… comfort eating even more and finally- accepting that i was a woman now and this is the size i was probably meant to be.

What do you think made you finally decide to make positive changes in regards to your health. Was it a gradual realisation or did you have a “lightning bolt” moment? 

Due to a variety of reasons- obesity, lack of exercise and a very painful family trauma I became severely depressed and began to get weaker and weaker.  I developed Chronic Fatigue and I felt like a ghost.  My initial wake up call came when I fell asleep, only briefly, but it was enough.. in the park with my two toddlers playing. I finally hit rock bottom and felt angry that my children weren’t safe with their own mummy.  The following year or so, in truth was a  blur, I began dieting.  In typical form, I wanted the weight gone immediately and i knew id stop at nothing so I began following all the fad diets.  I was around 13.5 stone at 5ft 6… I did the cabbage soup diet, the Cambridge diet, Atkins, lighter life and when I had the strength I would just starve myself. At this point I felt very alone, very little support especially from other females.  Had i of had that, I know that they would have helped me see I didn’t need to go to those extremes!  I lost several stone.. great, awesome- or so I thought! Yet my body was as weak as ever, had to sleep so much and often my husband would have to take over… it got to the point where i could no longer do up my own buttons, my body was not functioning and it had eaten up every bit of muscle I had because of the starvation!!

So enter phase ll… 2008 2 years later I had lost 3 stone and thought I was pretty fly ha ha……. Then the disaster happened.  We went clothes shopping and whilst in the Matalan changing room I caught a glimpse of myself OH MY GOD!!!!!!!  I think at this stage I was about 9.5 stone which sounds ok right?  But then why did i look so jelly like, no shape just a blob?  From that moment on I vowed to address my damaging behaviour and promised to get myself AWESOME on the inside not just on the outside…. But where to begin..

When you started, did you feel it was hard to believe you could really do it, or was being fit and toned too hard to imagine back then.

I didn’t know where to go, who to speak to.. even worse family were saying I was being ridiculous, after 9.5 stone is hardly over weight!! But yet I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t explain it..  I saw an advert for P90x and my husband and I bought it and began following the program, boy was that hard!!  Then one day i was watching Peter Andre’s show and saw Nick Mitchell from UP Fitness- I knew instantly that i wanted to meet this man, knew he would have the answer.. and guess what he and his team did.

For the first time ever I had my body fat measured with callipers and finally, finally hard the explanation I needed as to why if my weight was low did I look and feel so god damn fat!!

I was thee “skinny fat person”.

Yup that’s right, not an ounce of muscle on me, just bone and fat.  Why? Well because of all the crash dieting, my body desperately trying to protect me!! Ohhhhhh boy…. that is the very moment that my little me climbed up and lit the match to ignite the fire to change and in 1 year and 3 months I have NEVER looked back!!!!

Do you think that having a healthy body has helped improve your healthy mind?

I suffered from depression for many years, insomnia was my enemy and I spent so much time ruminating… Wish someone had told me to get off my arse and go for a walk!!! A healthy body and healthy mind is a marriage, you cannot have one without the other.  I am grateful every day for the physical changes, but I am also so so happy that my mind is in such a healthy place and so much stronger to deal with things

You really like to encourage girls to support each other, can you tell me more about how you noticed how we treat each other, and share some of your thoughts on this?

It is something i am hugely passionate about.  I never had this support when I was overweight, depressed and especially when i was supposedly at an ideal weight, but in a bad place.   Sadly we live in a world where it becomes so easy to judge each other, sabotage each other’s attempts- not out of hate but out of our own longing to change.  The fact of the matter is.. what means more to you, a man wolf whistling you as you walk down a street or the girl that comes up to you in the supermarket and says she thinks you look amazing?  We love to have the approval of other women and we know oh so well how good it makes you feel when another girl offers you encouragement.  It works both ways though Barbara, I am not talking about just slim women being kind to overweight women… slimmer women also have their demons, troubles and doubts.

Its ok to be envious, it’s ok to feel that knot in your belly when you see an attractive woman- it doesn’t make you a bad person!!! Hell I’m always saying to my hubby “oh god look at her legs, look at her arse” lol… but do girls every consider paying that person a compliment?  Probably not because they think she doesn’t  need it… bet she does!

My main focus is creating an environment where between girls we can have a safe haven and show some honesty, get real and say the things that they really think- without fear of being judged, demeaned or shamed.  I believe that is where the core of what needs to be changed, lies.  I had so many questions I wanted to ask but was always too afraid to ask them.. I want to change that.

How do you make time to work out and make good food choices, while being a busy mum?

I’m going to be controversial and say “I got selfish”

I can hear it now, the mums going well alright for her, but i cant…..  YES you can.  At one point I was working FOUR jobs, running a home with a hubby, 2 kids and 2 crazy dogs!!  Its not easy at first but you get used to it.  I know people may think but that’s cruel putting yourself before your kids, but in fact I am giving them something priceless… I strong, healthy and happy mummy.  I cant make time for you, nor can your trainer.  Sit down and plan your week, preparation is key.  Let your kids go to an extra club once a week and use that time to train? Get up an hour earlier… Rope hubby in, let him cook twice a week while you nip off to the gym.  Sunday afternoon make it family cook up time, get everyone involved and prepare meals for the week.  The fact is, it IS possible and I am proof of that!

Have you found all your friends and family to be supportive of the new you, or have you been surprised at some of the reactions?

The straight answer is no.

This is why women need to support each other and create support networks.  I very rarely meet anyone that have had supportive extended family ie parents and siblings.  They do not tend to like change and the more you change, they feel that their failures are exposed.  I am gradually learning not to seek approval from those areas, as it will usually lead to upset on my part.  I do not however feel hateful towards those people, I try to consider the bigger picture and know that they too have their insecurities and that when they berate you, tell you you’ve gone too far, look disgusting- that really that is just a shadow of how unhappy they feel inside.

Accept it, move on and seek support networks in other women with similar goals, who won’t attempt to sabotage your efforts.

Would you ever compete?

Wow, up until now I would have said not in a million years; however I have just entered Miss Galaxy Universe.  I have entered this competition because its rather different to other competitions.  Really sense of sisterhood, everyone is appreciative and respectful of other peoples physical and emotionally journey and for me I hope it to become symbolic of how far I’ve come.  I am not in it to win it, just loving being a part of something with other girls

What is your absolute favourite exercise?

Deadlifts. Not only does it work my weakest parts, but I love the stress it releases when you concentrate and focus… feel almost cleansed of your troubles after a set..

Any favourite recipes you can share with our readers?

Hmmmm well those who know me, know that im a sucker for wastage.  I have a tight budget so hate to waste anything!! My favourite recipe is making my own nut milk (soak choice of nuts over night, rinse and then refill next day, blitz in a blender and then strain through a sieve)  Rather than ditch the left over mush, I like to put it in a bowl and added blended dates and some coconut flour and then roll into balls, roll the balls in coconut and hey presto a delicious treat and more importantly no waste!

What are your personal goals for 2013?

My goals for 2013 are to follow on from my Precision Nutrition Certification.. nutrition is a never ending study. I hope to certify as a BioSignature Practitioner by the end of the year and I hope to develop my learning of the emotional and motivational side of nutrition and change.  My personal goal is to hit sub 14% body fat, to fully deadlift at least twice my bodyweight (PB 108kg) and to be able to do chin ups in double figures!!

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information

You can follow Lucy’s continued journey, fitness and inspirational tips on her Facebook Page. Be sure to like it, share it and get involved.

Melissa Bender Interview

Monday, February 4th, 2013

A common quote that comes up time and again is “I really want to get fit, but I don’t have time to get to the gym. What can I do at home?”. Melissa Bender is here to help. Melissa is renowned for her online videos demonstrating how to work out at home when the gym is just out of your reach. 

Melissa Bender Interview

Melissa is an Occupational Therapist who works in a skilled nursing facility, so some of her patients are there for short term rehab, and other’s live there permanently. Her job is to help people become stronger and more independent in all of their life skills. She has two cats, Gambit and Buffy who like to make guest appearances in her workout videos.

Can you tell us if you have always been into keeping fit, or was there a point in your life that you decided to change?

I have always been an active person. I went to high school in a walking school district (no buses), so I got used to walking 3 miles per day during my commute to and from school. I also danced, and later did yoga, which kept me active. However, in 2007 I decided to become a flight attendant and quit the dance team that I was on. I wasn’t living the active lifestyle I had grown up with. As someone who wasn’t used to an “exercise program” I lost a lot of my athleticism. When I started dating my husband I decided to start running with him. I was shocked to learn that I could only run a few blocks before I had to stop and walk. Slowly I built my strength and endurance back up, and learned to love exercise.

Tell us why you decided to focus on making videos for people to work out at home.

I decided to start making videos for people to work out at home for two reasons. First, I was in graduate school, I missed teaching yoga, and I felt like school was consuming all of my time and focus. I needed to do something for the pure enjoyment of it, and I had been planning on starting my blog/videos for a couple of years but kept putting it off. I decided to go for it, and start sharing my passion for fitness! Second, I believe that EVERYONE has a right to be healthy, happy and fit. I have often heard people say that they can’t get in shape because they can’t afford a gym. I firmly believe that you can stay in shape by creating a healthy lifestyle out of your own home, and I wanted to share that with others. If I can influence even one person to make healthy changes in their life I feel that I have made a positive impact on the world. As a therapist I see the difference that fitness makes on your overall health and recovery. Physical fitness can be a strong foundation for mental fortitude, and it teaches you what you are capable of. Everyone deserves to experience their own strength, and know that they are capable of handling anything that comes their way.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals

I am motivated by the way exercise and fitness makes me feel. It makes me feel strong, positive, energetic and alert. I set goals that are achievable, and get excited about all of the stepping stones I hit along the way. For example, instead of saying “I want sculpted abs” I focus on the functional aspect of the goal. So my goal might be to improve the length of time I can hold a plank by 10 seconds, or increase the number of hanging leg raises I can do in 60 seconds. By focusing on the small improvements you can make in your fitness, you are working toward the long term goal but you also recognize your progress along the way.

Do you have anyone you look to for fitness inspiration?

Absolutely! My husband inspires me. He is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University where we both got our undergraduate degrees for running. He inspires me daily through his own dedication, but also because when I got married I mentally decided that part of my responsibility as a wife is to stay as healthy as possible so that we can have a long and happy life together. I am also greatly inspired by Jamie (Eason) Middleton. She is a wonderful motivator and fitness inspiration. She seems to have found a wonderful balance in her life of faith, fitness, health and love. I find that admirable.

You look fantastic, do you eat healthily too?

I try to make healthy choices, and I love vegetables. I try to eat foods that are more natural. The list of ingredients should all be things I know and recognize. However, I also have a sweet tooth! I don’t consider any foods “off limits” but I do try to eat clean about 90% of the time.

What is your favourite body part to work out?

Abs! And glutes. That’s two body parts. I truly enjoy working my abs, and utilizing all of the muscles that make up the core. Glutes I enjoy working out because it makes me feel strong. Like the core, I enjoy coming up with workouts that utilize all of the muscles that make up the glutes.

What are your personal goals for 2013?

I have several!

-I am planning on competing in my first NPC competition in March. I think it will be a great challenge and motivator. It also encourages me to make healthy eating choices.

-I also want to set a new personal record for my 5K time. I am able to run a 5K about 2 minutes faster on the treadmill than I have done in races. I would love to change that!

-I want to make a fitness DVD.

-Run a half marathon.

-Increase my pull up personal record.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information

Melissa’s workouts are all on her blog. These workouts are the actual workouts she does to stay in shape: www.BenderFitness.com and youtube: www.youtube.com/mdloughy

Like and Follow Melissa on facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaBenderFitness

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/BenderFitness

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BenderFitness

Serene Husseini Interview

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Does lifting weights make you bulky? How do you start if you it’s all new to your? What does it take to be stage ready? Continuing in our quest to find out what makes the people who inspire others through their actions be so inspirational, we are so pleased that Serene Husseini agreed to talk to us about her journey from over weight to stage ready and help answer some of the questions that stop so many people from making the changes they desire.

Serene Hussein Squatting with Big Weights

Health and fitness is my true passion and I am finally on the path I believe I was supposed to take. This is surprising to me, even now, as I was once the chubby girl who hated exercise, loved fast food and didn’t give a thought to the impact it had on my health. I began weight-training around three years ago when I met my current partner in my local gym, and with his encouragement, I began to lift weights. Now, at the age of 24, I still love weight-training like I loved the first ever session – I crave that rush of satisfaction after a workout and how energised it makes you feel. What’s even more exciting, I now own that local gym! When once my journey was uncertain and blurred, the path has become crystal clear – I know exactly what I want in life and I won’t stop until I get there. Goals will be met and aspirations will be fulfilled.

Firstly Serene, Thankyou for speaking with us. Can you tell us if you have always being interested in being in great shape, or was there a moment that felt you wanted to change/improve your health?

No, I haven’t always been in shape. I started exercising after returning home from university and realising I had gained nearly 2 stone! I had begun to dislike what I had become but even then, I wasn’t hugely motivated to exercise – I had to be pushed through classes at the gym and hated the thought of battling the treadmill. But I knew I wanted to lose weight and improve my health so stuck at it for a couple of years. The real turning point was when I started weight-training – I became an addict from the off-set and I haven’t looked back since! I loved the way it made me feel and the way my body changed as a result.

How do you keep yourself motivated when you have to deal with work, life and everything else we deal with on a daily basis?

Well I am fortunate enough to own a gym where I work full time so I rarely need to ‘find’ motivation. It’s just there, both right in front of me and within me, and working out to me is like any other daily activity like eating, drinking, sleeping. I know it’s going to happen whatever my mood so I don’t need to stress about it too much. I have no excuses!  Plus, the members are fantastic, hugely supportive and always interested in how my prep is going.

Is there anyone that you look to for inspiration, someone who offers great advice, or just has an amazing body that you aspire to be somewhat like?

Wow, that’s a difficult one. I admire lots of bikini and figure competitors including Ava Cowan, Nicole Wilkins, Ashley Horner and Felicia Romero to name a few. I feel I can identify best with Felicia in terms of physique but also because she seems to be a true girly girl like me.  However, I also love Andrea Brazier’s look! In terms of advice, I turn to my coach, IFBB pro and former Mr Olympia competitor, Eddie Abbew, IFBB pro Dennis Francis who trains at my gym, as well as a huge array of people who I communicate with through Twitter. I love my fellow tweeters!

You are a Personal trainer, can you tell me how it makes you feel when women say to you they don’t want to get bulky?

The proof is in the pudding – all I have to do is ask them if they think (as a size 8), I look masculine or too ‘bulky’ and when they reply ‘No’, I tell them that I train intensely 5 days a week, I consume my bodyweight and a half in protein daily and use extra supplements like creatine, amino acids and HMB to build as much muscle as I possibly can so their few sessions a week will not make them become big or bulky. They will only become tighter and more toned.

What would you say to someone, to try and re-educate them that this isn’t the case?

Firstly I would explain that whilst cardiovascular exercise is great for health purposes and burns a few pounds, it won’t change the shape of their body. If they want a smaller waist, pert bum, shapely legs and defined arms and shoulders then weight-training is the answer. Most women want to look feminine and curvaceous and this is where weights can help. Not only that, resistance training keeps the metabolism higher for longer and muscle burns calories at a speedy rate. Additionally, muscle is denser and takes up a smaller surface area so looks tighter and smaller on the body. Therefore, the more muscle a person has, the quicker fat is burned and the tighter and more toned they appear!

What advice would you have for someone that wants to start lifting weights but has no idea what to do?

I would advise them to find a good Personal Trainer to ensure that they learn good form and technique from the beginning as poor technique can result in serious injury. I would suggest they start out using light weights and higher repetitions practising isolation moves for each body part so that they learn to engage each muscle properly. When they feel more confident, they can then attack the bigger compound moves and increase the weight.

You recently stood on stage for the first time, can you tell me about that experience?
Yes I did my first show with only 6 months of preparation – the UKBFF qualifier and placed 2nd with an invite to the British in October 2012! I was pretty nervous backstage but as soon as I got on the stage the nerves fell away and the feeling was incredible. I just told myself this is it, I’ve worked my butt off for it so show off and I did! When I received an invite to the Championships, I couldn’t believe it and dived straight into preparation for the next show without a second thought.

What made you take on the challenge of competing?

I had been weight-training intensely for a year and a half and trialling various methods of dieting. Other gym members would ask me what sport I was training for and I also replied ‘nothing, I just like to train’. Then I started to become more familiar with female fitness competitors in magazines like Flex and mentioned in passing to Dennis Francis that maybe I could compete one day but secretly never thought I’d be ready anytime soon. In that instant, he was on the phone to Eddie Abbew and a few weeks later I was sitting with Eddie discussing preparations for competition! It all happened so quickly, I barely had time to reconsider and I’m glad I didn’t!

People will assume that because you are a PT, you would know everything to get yourself in competition shape, so can you tell us why you would choose a coach, and the importance of having that experience when you want to take your body to the next level?

While I know a lot about preparing my physique for show (you quickly get used to your body and the way it works), I cannot stress how important it is to have a coach. Firstly, Eddie knows a million times more than I do, he has worked with thousands of bodies and has probably been in every possible situation.  Secondly, towards the end of dieting, you become more tired and weak from a lack of carbohydrates and what you see in the mirror is often not a true reflection of yourself. Having an extra pair of eyes there is great as he can direct me all the way in accordance with how my physique changes. Most importantly, you need someone who is honest – as family members and loved ones can be soft for fear of hurting your feelings – and Eddie is just that! He will tell me his thoughts exactly and for that, I cannot thank him enough.  The few weeks before stage are crucial and everything must be done exactly right to bring your best to the stage.

You are in the middle of preparing for another competition this year. Can you tell me what you enjoy, or find hard about the preparation stages?

To be honest, I enjoy the dieting and prep for stage. I am sort of in prep all year round but the diet is tightened 14 weeks out. Within this time, I do have my down days when I just wish I could sit on the sofa and eat chocolate but I just keep reminding myself of how I want to look on stage and I am instantly back on track. With dieting, it’s a game of you’re in or you’re out and I choose to be 100% in – if I don’t look as good as I should up on stage, I want to be able to say ‘at least I tried my best’ – I don’t want to give myself reasons for why I wasn’t as conditioned as I could have been or as defined, so I stick to the plan exactly.

As your diet and preparation becomes more strict in the last 12 weeks leading up to an event, how do you juggle social events, eating out. Do you need to just say no?

Socialising is very difficult during the final 12 weeks. Alcohol is most certainly a no-no however I do generally have a weekly cheat meal until the final weeks so can often base any social events around these. Often I will go to events with my own tupperwares but if it is in the last 4-6 weeks, I often just avoid socialising altogether because it’s just easier.

Are your friends/family supportive at this time, or do you find yourself constantly saying no to people trying to feed you lol?

Yes and yes. I am fortunate to have an amazing family and friends who are hugely supportive of what I do and my aspirations in life. My partner is my rock – he keeps me grounded and helps me throughout contest prep and he is the one that has to deal with my mood swings close to competition! Yes I do find people constantly want to feed me, especially when I am dieting which can make it more difficult but after you have said no over and over, they understand and stop offering. Haha! I fly abroad to see my grandma post-competition so she can enjoy feeding me up!

Finally, can you tell us what your favourite exercise is, what your favourite cheat meal is, and who your favourite inspiration is?

Oooh tough question! My favourite exercise would have to be Romanian Deadlifts (Note from Mark – these are often mis-titled Stiff Leg Deadlifts, they are quite similar, but there are important differences. Have a read at THIS if you haven’t already for more on this) –  nothing hits the spot quite like it and hamstring training is brutal! My favourite cheat meal – if I want a real cheat I’d choose a burger and chips (preferably a gourmet burger place with organic beef!) but if I fancy something a little cleaner, I’d opt for peri-peri chicken or sushi. Finally, my fave inspiration would probably be Felicia Romero! I just love her whole image and I can identify with her body shape and tone. She also seems grounded, level-headed, girly and dedicated which I like!

Interviewed by Barbara Graham for our Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped page – Check it out for more information and post your own questions for Serene and she just might pop in to answer them.

You can follow Serene on Twitter as she prepares for the next UKBFF qualifier: @Serene_Husseini

Jeremy Reid Interview

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Ever thought you are so far off ripped that it is something you could never achieve? Jeremy Reid is here to not just tell you different, but to show you. He wasn’t born a body builder nor did he think he would be when he started his journey, but he is living proof of what momentum and dedication can truly achieve. Through our quest to show a ‘Beginner’s Guide to Getting Ripped’ we felt that Jeremy was a fantastic role model and someone that everyone, no matter what level, could learn from.

Jeremy Reid Fitness

We approached Jeremy about sharing his story and inspiration and he very graciously agreed to speak with us about his journey. Have a read, feel inspired and follow his continued journey and inspiration.

Can you tell us what things happened that made you decided to turn your life around and get in serious shape?
It all really started when I weighed myself for the first time in a long time. The scale read 280lbs and it scared me, I certainly knew I was “heavy” but not that heavy. However I didn’t take action for several more months and several more pounds later (I’m guessing my start weight was around 300lbs). I had no experience in training or nutrition but knew that I needed to exercise so I joined a gym and did cardio 6-7 days a week, and at least do some of the basic nutrition things everyone knows about (stop drinking regular soda, no fast food, no candy, etc.). I also was a heavy smoker and I knew that had to go so I immediately stopped smoking, as well as drinking alcohol heavily. Just off that alone I dropped about 70-80 pounds in a matter of months. Shortly after starting I did as much research as I could on nutrition and fitness to take everything to the next level.

When you started out, did you simply want to lose a few lbs, or did you know you would keep going until you were in such awesome shape?
When I was first starting out I just knew I needed to drop some fat. I never imagined I’d start competing as a bodybuilder in the future, I just knew I was obese. After I lost about 60 pounds I started lifting weights and quickly fell in love with the way it made me feel and once some more fat came off, the way it made me look.
How do you keep yourself motivated when you have to deal with work, life and everything else on a daily basis? Motivation has never really been a problem for me. I set my mind to something and I make it happen. From the moment I started lifting weights I’d look at the photos in the magazines of these big guys and I’d picture those muscles on me. I burned that image in my head and strive after that not only in my workouts, but all day when meals need to be eaten, or prepped, etc.

Even now, I have multiple jobs, a family of 5 to support, etc. but it’s such a priority to me that I just make it happen.

Is there anyone that you look to for inspiration, someone who offers great advice?
There are a lot of people I look to for inspiration. Honestly all these people on my page that tell me I’m an inspiration, it makes me work harder and fuels that fire even hotter in me. The coach I hired for my first contest prep ended up becoming a very close friend. He is a huge national level bodybuilder and has shared so much advice and guidance in the last couple years it’s amazing and I am extremely grateful.

Did you hire a coach or trainer, or is everything self-taught?
I was self-taught for many years. I’ve learned a lot from talking with other people that obviously knew what they were talking about, and reading a lot of books and websites. I did study and get my personal training certificate a few years ago just to do it and advance my knowledge. It wasn’t until I started my prep for my first bodybuilding competition that I hired a coach to do my diet and workouts.

What advice would you have for someone that wants to start lifting weights but has no idea what to do?
Something that is very important to me now but I never considered when I started, is injury. I LOVE the sport of bodybuilding and something like a torn muscle could take me out of it so I lift smart and use proper form to make sure I am bringing incredible intensity in the gym but not to the point where I am going to hurt myself long term. Accidents could happen, and I have injuries I work through, but that makes it even more important to lift smart. I’d say if you are just starting out, do as much research as you can. If you can afford it, hire an experienced personal trainer to guide you into this sport the right way.

What made you take on the challenge of competing?
It was simply the next step. I had been living the lifestyle of a bodybuilder so naturally I wanted to at least experience it once. I hired a coach, we picked a show and did it.

As your diet and preparation becomes more strict in the last 12 weeks leading up to an event, how do you juggle social events, eating out. Do you need to just say no?
Yes and no, if it’s an event that I can pass up on without hurting a friends or family members feelings, I’d rather just stay home and focus. However I have went to several events in the past while dieting for a show or photo shoot. I usually show up with my trusty cooler of meals and simply drink water. I try to stay away from restaurants, but have gone to several during preps with family and didn’t eat the food.

Are your friends/family supportive, or do you find yourself constantly saying no to people trying to feed you lol?
All in all, they are supportive. My immediate family especially is very supportive but as we go to friends house sometimes they don’t really know just how restrictive my diet needs to be at times, and I have gotten a lot of judgment because of it. It comes with the sport.

Finally, can you tell us what your favourite workout is, what your favourite cheat meal is, and who your favourite inspiration/athlete is?
YES! I LOVE lifting arms, I’ve always had a large torso, big chest, big back, but small arms, even now they are a lagging body part so I love to go in there and just destroy them, then walk around with them all pumped up wishing that was the size they’d stay at! Haha

My 2 favorite foods for cheat meals are either a HUGE homemade cheeseburger and a mountain of baked fries, or a pizza.

Without a doubt my favorite bodybuilder is IFBB pro Mark Dugdale. I have always liked his physique but after seeing his videos and then talking with him it was awesome to see how much he loves God and puts God and his family first. That was such an inspiration to me. I was blessed with the opportunity to catch a couple workouts with Mark last year. It was amazing. I learned so much and got to go to dinner with him and his wife, they are both amazing people and we’ve kept in touch since.

What are your personal goals for 2013?
I’m excited I finally created my Facebook page, I have always liked helping people and this will allow me a platform to help and inspire on a much larger scale. I plan to be very active on here this year. As far as my physique goals, I competed in NPC middle weight at my last show. I was at the very top of the weight class so I am taking the year to build as much muscle as possible and hopefully come into 2014 as a competitive light heavy weight.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information.

Why Your Gym Sucks!

Monday, March 19th, 2012

There is something seriously wrong with the fitness industry these days. It has become far too commercialized.

What should be an industry targeting the good of the population and be there for help and support where it is sought and inspiration where it it is not, has become far to focused on profit and money making.

Which is not only bad for those looking for the support, but for the industry and population as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so naive that I don’t see the business aspect of the industry and that profits are required to allow the facilities and services to survive. But, there is now so much focus on the all-mighty dollar, that it is actually to the severe detriment of the services being provided.

Now, in reading the title to this article, you will no doubt have had one of three thoughts:

  1. How dare you! My gym Rocks! (or words to that effect)
  2. I agree
  3. I’m not a member of a gym, so it can’t suck

If you are in the 1. camp and your gym does indeed ‘rock’, then either you are extremely lucky and have found one of the few quality facilities currently available – yes they do exist, but they are generally small(ish) independent gyms run by people with passion for the subject matter (health, fitness, strength, physique training) whatever their specialism may be, and a deep desire to see the improvements from their clientele. And if you are a member of such a place, then I urge you to shout about it from the rooftops and ensure that place survives and thrives for the benefit of everyone of its members. – or you are deluding yourself.

If however, as is more likely, you fall in the 2. camp, then the big question is, ‘why do you continue to go there?’.

Well, if you are in the majority group – you don’t. Most leisure clubs or large chains operate on the same model. Sell year long (or several year long) membership packages and then hope the member stops showing after a month or two.

If any of these clubs actually had to accommodate their entire client base in a single week, they would be closed down for breaching fire regulations. Especially as most people would want to train during peak times causing clubs to have to deal with around 10 times their capacity levels.

But people do go to these gyms and then complain day after day about how they can’t get using the equipment they want. How they are sick of having to work around the January resolution crowd or the beach body panic groups. They complain how the equipment isn’t up to scratch or there is not enough of it. But most of all, they complain about how their complaints are never listened to.

If that is you, then again, the question is – why?

Often the answer is, because they are all the same and they have to train somewhere. But as the people in group 1 will testify, that is not the case. There are great gyms out there, you just have to look past the usual suspects. Don’t just go for the gym that is the cheapest or the nearest or the one that you’ve heard of because they have the biggest marketing budget. Don’t pick your gym based on the number of treadmills. And if their marketing is based around gimmicks like Vibro Plates, Thigh Isolation Machines or Zumba Classes, don’t just walk away, turn and run and run fast (don’t worry, no one in that place will have the fitness level to catch you).

Where you train should be down to one thing and one thing only – will it help you achieve your desired results?

The sales person will invariably look to convince you that you will. That is, after all, their job. But will they really?

  • Will the staff be on hand to correct your technique?
  • If you don’t know where to begin, will you be offered a programme based on your goals (and I don’t mean a generic workout where a fitness instructor, who considers this a wage packet rather than a calling, shows you how to switch on set up or use the machines and then maybe throws in a couple of sets of bicep curls for good measure)?
  • Do they have all the equipment you need to train well? – And I don’t mean the equipment they tell you you need – a smith machine is NOT the same as a Bench Press, Kettlebells are NOT all you need, A leg press machine does NOT replace a squat rack. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. Solid, practical equipment trumps shiny with lots of buttons and levers every time.
  • Do they have space for you to train? What time will you regularly be training? Go in at those times and see if you would be able to carry out your workout of choice. If not, what’s the point?

These aren’t the only criteria, but you get the idea. A gym is about training for a result. If you can’t train optimally, then why are you paying a membership?

Time was that a gym simply meant a big shed with little more than barbells and weights. If you wanted a CV workout, you went outside and hit the pavement. And you know what? These gyms worked and the people using them got phenomenal results. However, since Nautilus developed their ‘variable resistance’ 12 station circuit machines in the 70s there have been constant developments in the variety of equipment available in modern gyms. So that should mean an even better training experience right?

Unfortunately, these machines did not live up to the theory and did not produce the results they were designed for. But leisure clubs still use them. Why? Because it takes about 30mins to train the entire staff of a club to use every machine in the building, whereas it takes months to train them to be proficient in lifting weights correctly and further months or even years to train them well enough to train another person in how to do it.

So a club that takes the path of least resistance and puts their investments in machines is thinking only about profit and turnover rather than your results.

What about cost?

What about it? You cannot put a price on your health and fitness. If you lose that, you lose everything. Ok there are limits, but you are unlikely to exceed an acceptable budget regardless of the gym membership.

The highest membership I am aware of in the West of Scotland is £140 per month (there may be higher, but I haven’t heard of it). Now that is for a leisure club and to be honest it is more of a status thing than a gym membership. People rarely go there to train well, they go there to meet up after a ‘session’ to sit in the cafe and socialize. If you are serious about your training, you wouldn’t go there anyway.

Almost all other gyms are well below the £100 level and for most people, that is not a problematic amount. It may feel like it is. You may believe it is. And for a few it might be. But most of the people I would hear complain about such a figure have no issues spending over £50 on a night out drinking or a similar amount on Sky Sports or Movies. So where are your priorities? Quick treat fix now or a fit and healthy life?

However, I know that isn’t you as such a person wouldn’t have read this far.

Just remember most gyms are giving you access to many thousands of pounds worth of equipment. And if the staff are experienced and passionate enough (which they should be if you select the right gym) then you are also getting that experience and education along with your membership.

So if you look at it that way, it’s an absolute steal.

Is it worth paying £15 per month for a gym where you don’t feel comfortable, can’t train well, it’s too busy or you never go? Or is it better to pay more for a gym where you get fantastic results, feel like you are appreciated as a member, are given all the help and advice you need and are able to achieve something?

As for distance, again, priorities!

You are better going to a gym once or twice per week where you can train well and train right than to go with your local gym and achieve nothing.

We have just opened a facility that covers every criteria that I felt was lacking in the gyms I’d experienced. Everything listed above and more is checked off. And there are members and clients who travel almost 40 miles several times per week because of this.

If you want to check it out Click Here.

There are no queues for equipment, everything is robust and of high quality (Barbells tested to 1500lbs, Bumper Plates etc), there are no gimmicky pieces of equipment taking up training space (no abductor machines, wave machines or Vibroplates) just the equipment needed to get quality results.

And we ensure that we listen to the members. A few weeks back a couple of members mentioned a punch bag (which we didn’t have at the time) another couple mentioned suspension training. Both are now part of the set up.

I’m not saying this to sell our gym though. For most of you we are not a practical choice given we have subscribers from all around the world. But it is simply an example of what is available. There are gyms out there that will get you the results or training experience you are looking for. Go seek them out and stop whining about how much your gym sucks when you have been a member there for the last 4 years!

Demand better!

You are the customer! It’s your Gym! Make sure it meets your needs! And if it doesn’t, find one that does!

If however, you are in category 3 and don’t have a gym membership. Perhaps that is because you thought all gyms sucked. Well now you know different. So widen your search and you will find that gem you are looking for.

Or maybe you don’t want to join a gym.

That seems a bit alien to me these days, but I remember a time when I felt the same. You don’t have to join a gym to be fit and healthy. You can play sports, work out at home or do some other kind of physical activity and that’s all good with me. In which case, this all doesn’t apply to you, but if that’s the case, why did you read this far?

Whatever the reason, thank you and I hope you have enjoyed doing so.

So over to you guys.

Am I wrong?

Does your gym ‘Rock’? And if so, list it below and let others know about it.

Or does your gym actually suck hard? And what is your reason for sticking with it?

Comment Below and Let me know.

Until next time – go find a great gym and train for success!