Monday, January 25, 2010

The F.U. Model

I was conducting a teambuilding training a couple of weeks back and one of the things I use for my training is what I call the F.U. Model. Now I know many of you are thinking of F*** You, and jumping about in astonishment…but actually, the F and the U stands for Fed Up and not anything else. Now most people (including our parents) will teach you that being fed up is a negative emotion and should be avoided. Even if you feel fed up with something, you should plough through and work hard, because that’s how they all did it.

Well contrary to the popular belief above, I actually feel that being fed up is a useful feeling as long as you know how to act on it. The problem arises when people feel fed up, don’t do anything about it and then become depressed. For me, feeling Fed Up is your brain telling you that it needs something to change and you should listen to the signals that your brain is telling you.

Now the F.U. Model is divided into 3 simple steps as stated below:-
1) What is it that you are fed up about
2) Why are you feeling fed up?
3) What is the action plan you can take to overcome this

So the simplest example I can use, which I think everyone can relate to is being fed up with your current job. So the answers to the questions will be something like below:-
1) I am fed up with my job
2) I am fed up because of the pay package, the way my boss treats me, the long hours, too much politics…
3) Start applying for a new job by sending out resumes, looking in the news paper, JobStreet etc

So now, with that being said, the same model can be easily applied for fitness as well. Now assuming you are fed up with being overweight, below is what your F.U. Model will look like
1) I am fed up with being fat.
2) I am fed up because people always make fun of me, I have limited options for clothes, I am unhealthy
3) Join a gym, Start working out, eat less, avoid oily fried foods etc.

Now when we talk about being fed up, it has to be where you are really unhappy and truly fed up with the situation. Then using this model helps you focus your attention and energy in the right direction. If its just a matter of an inconvenience or a nuisance, than chances are this model will not be that effective, as you can still live with it and overall, you are still generally happy with the way you look. Yes, you could look better, but at the same time, things now aren’t that bad. The level of frustration you feel will determine your level of commitment, which ultimately translates to how successful you are in changing.

So what happens when you are fed up with working out? Well let’s look at it using the F.U. Model
1) I am fed up with my training / Diet
2) Because I am not seeing results
3) Change my training, change my diet, do some research to find out why I am not seeing results. (Law of Variability)

Whatever it is you are trying to achieve in life, if your decision to do so is very strong, you will definitely reach success. In fact, about 60% to 70% of how successful you are will depend on how strong your decision is. If it’s not that strong, don’t worry about it too much. It means you are relatively happy with the way things are. And as long as you are happy with things, then nothing else matters does it.
So try it out and see. Not just for fitness, but for anything else as well. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Answers

Last week’s post was about personal training certification. I posted 3 simple questions for everyone to answer just to test your knowledge on Fitness and I thank those who actually took the trouble to answer the questions. So, now that you have patiently waited for one week, its time to reveal the answers to last weeks posting. Are you ready? The answers may shock you as to how much you did or didn’t know about fitness. So here we go.

1) How long should you rest between sets?
I got a few variations in the answers here and honestly, when I was first asked this question, I answered just like you guys. The sad part is, when you walk into a gym and ask their so called “Master Trainers”, how long you should rest between sets, you still get all kinds of answers from 2 minutes to 10 minutes. The sad part is, no one can give you a clear answer as to why 2 minutes or why 1 minute and what benefits can you gain and why. It’s all just opinion and not based on any scientific fact.

The truth is, resting time is very crucial depending on what the athlete wants to achieve. If you don’t have any specific goals (you just want to “get in shape”), then it probably doesn’t matter much. But for a more serious minded athlete, rest times depend on the fiber composition and training goals of the athlete. A red fiber (endurance) athlete will recover far more quickly than a white fiber (strength) athlete. Also, shorter rest times tend to trigger a greater release of human growth hormone (hGH), which is more closely associated with size increases (body building). Longer rest times tend to trigger a greater release of testosterone, which is more closely associated with strength increases (weight lifting / power lifting). So again, depending on what your client wants to achieve, it is important to know how long they should rest to get the maximum benefits. When attending the course, there is a table which shows you the differences between different rest times and the different results that you get, so you know what is best to prescribe to your client. Sorry, can’t share the table with you guys here as it is Copyright material.

2) Is being flexible beneficial to all athletes?
In general, the ability to move through a full range of motion can be important for sports and for every day life. However, a lack of flexibility can be just as important. Many do not realize that tightness can be beneficial, depending on your goals. For powerlifters, a certain level of tightness at the bottom of a squat can not only help resist the downward motion of the weight, but can also work as a kind of “spring” to help the athlete begin his ascent to the standing position. A sprinter may find that a little tightness in his hams and gluts can help slingshot his legs back once they’re in front of him. So flexibility is not necessarily beneficial to all athletes. Again, it depends on what the athlete needs. A lot of times, Personal Trainers try to impose their own ideals onto their clients.

3) Name 2 exercises you can do to train your lower abs?
OK, this one was actually a trick question. Sorry guys, but I had to make it hard, or else everyone would get it. The fact is, there is no way to train your lower abs. Your ab muscles is one long muscle which is attached at 2 points (refer to diagram below).

When muscles pull, the fibers between the 2 attached points contract and it is not possible for just part of the fibers to contract while the rest are relaxed. The best way to picture this is imagine having a string tied to a door knob. The string represents your muscle fiber and as you pull on the string (to pull the door closer to you) the entire rope gets tight, and it’s impossible to leave any part of it somehow “less tight” or “more tight” than other parts. For the same reason it is impossible to target just the lower part of your abs, just as it is impossible for you to target just the lower part of your biceps. So whether you are doing sit ups or leg raises, you are essentially using the entire ab muscles and not targeting anything specific. But the idea that leg raises specifically target your lower ab muscles is a myth. Now I am not saying you should stop doing it, but saying that you cannot target you lower abs by doing leg raises.

So there you have it, the answers to the questions. Any comments? Quite shocking isn’t it. Also, I hope this gives you a preview of how technical and scientific the Am-FIT certification course is. I know it is new in the market and people will be skeptical, but I hope this shows you the quality of what you are learning and how beneficial this kind of information will be to your client. Train your client with scientific knowledge and not opinions that someone taught you. Once the course is ready to be launched to the public, I will inform you guys. I am trying to negotiate a discount for those who frequently visit my blog and share their comments. Will let you know.

As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Personal Training Certifications

Let me be absolutely honest with all of you. I am not a big fan of fitness certification, and if I had to choose between a certified fitness instructor who looked fat or a fit looking fitness instructor with no certification, I would choose the fit looking guy without any papers. Reason being, I have just heard too many stories of certified personal trainers who are fat and out of shape, and their clients…. Don’t get any better after 2 years (I wrote about this a while ago. To read that posting, click here) For this reason, I truly believe that a personal trainer is only as good as what he himself has experienced… so if he is fat (he has experience), he will probably be great at telling you where to eat your favourite foods. If he is fit, he will be good at telling you how to be fit. Just getting a cert doesn’t mean much in my books if you look like the only weight you ever lifted repeatedly was your TV remote.

Since I started Fitness Malaysia, I have been approached by numerous self acclaimed Fitness Gurus who all wanted to sell me their certification course. I always look at it with a suspecting eye and always found holes in the material and most are nothing more but marketing scams trying to milk money out of the booming fitness industry. Not too long ago, I met Kasey Akira, an ISSA certified fitness instructor from Alaska. As usual, he had a fitness instructing course he wanted to sell and so I went to meet him. I went with the same level of suspicion until he showed me his material – OK, pretty impressive. So I asked him some questions on fitness and exercise (which I usually do to test the validity of the program) and waited to see his answers. OK, so this guy really knows what he is talking about and could answer my questions. Impressive, but 1 last test. I asked him about results that I see in the gym but didn’t know the explanation as to why it happened (like why do you become stronger after taking a week off from the gym). So I asked him to explain. Guess what – he flipped to a page on his program and showed me a diagram and explained to me why it happens. It was a scientific explanation on how the muscles work and why you become stronger. Not just an opinion, but a scientific explanation. I was impressed. When I got home, I actually researched his answer and guess what… it checked out.

Being fully impressed, I called him again after that and we met a few more times and we are now working together to introduce his scientific fitness course to everyone in Malaysia. This course was designed by him, pulling together the wealth of knowledge that he has gathered through his studies and research over the past 10 years. We are tweaking the contents a little to meet the needs of Malaysians, but I truly believe, this is most superior fitness instructing course out there. So what is this course called? It’s called Am-FIT – American Fitness Instructing Touchstone. The course itself is broken up into 2 parts:-

1) Kinesiology and Biomechanics
2) Nutrition Science for Fitness

Once you complete both courses, there is a written exam and also a practical exam, where you will need to coach 1 individual while being monitored by the examiners. The coaching includes coming up with a work out routine and diet plan based on their needs and goals as well as coaching them through a full 1 hour personal training session. So you not only memorize a whole bunch of nonsense and then vomit it out on exam day, you actually have to perform it in a real life scenario. If you pass it, then, you will earn yourself a certificate. If you ask me, this is the kind of certificate that I would believe.

This course not only covers what gym rats should do, but extends beyond that. It teaches the whole science of training everyone:- from an old lady who just wants to shed a few pounds to professional body builders, weight lifters, power lifters, professional athletes (sprinters, high jumpers) to marathon runners. So when teaching you about how muscles work, the course covers the entire spectrum and not just body building and weight loss. In essence, completing this course, will make you competent enough to train professional athletes, if the need arose.

Since I am working closely with him on this course, I am currently attending the course as a normal participant. Why am I excited about the course? Well learning the exact science behind fitness and the reason for getting results we get are truly mind blowing. I no longer have to say “I don’t know why it happens, but trust me it does work”. Now I can truly explain to people why they get the results they get.

Just as a teaser and a preview on how good this course is, try answering the following questions. The real answers will be revealed in next weeks postings, but if you don’t mind, just post your answers as comments.

1) How long should you rest between sets?
2) Is being flexible beneficial to all athletes?
3) Name 2 exercises you can do to train your lower abs?

OK, I know I have been bragging about the course and how great it is, but I am just excited with everything that I am learning. But before I end this post, there are things that even Kasey does not know, and when he doesn’t, he always tells me he doesn’t know. He is honest about it. There are even parts of the course that say “Based on our current scientific understanding, we hold this to be true for the moment” Anyone who tells you they know everything about fitness is a liar. If you meet a trainer like that, run away as fast as you can.

Anyway, look forward to hearing your comments and of course, your answers to the question

Monday, January 4, 2010

Trip To Penang

Me and wifey took a trip to Penang for New Years Eve and it was a great trip… except the coming back which kinda sucked due to the heavy traffic on the roads. But still, we had a great time, and definitely worth another visit.

What did we do? Well what do most people do when they go to Penang? You eat and you eat. OK, I did not turn into a glutton overnight, but let’s just say I ate close to 50% more than my usual. Added with the fact that I skipped the gym whole of last week (this is my break / rest period to ensure I do not become a victim of overtraining), so now I feel like a chunk of flab. Can’t wait to whip myself back to shape again.

We stayed in Flamingo by the Beach (in Tg. Bunga), which all in all was a great hotel. For the price of RM 238 nett for new years eve, it really was above my expectations. Most hotels were charging way over RM 400 plus for new years eve, so for the price we paid and what we got, excellent deal if you ask me. We welcomed the new year at Ferringhi in a bar called The Wooden Pub… It’s called Wooden Pub because all the furniture in there, looks like it is made out of logs, not the processed wood you buy from your friendly neighbourhood hardware shop. There was a small crowd of people there, but it was just what me and the missus ordered.

Now, I just want to share some of my food experiences there and my opinions on them.

Char Kuey Teow at Lorong Selamat – This particular stall was recommended by a colleague of mine who is from Penang. Overall rating – Excellent. The prawns were fresh and huge and it just tasted perfect. It is not halal, but if you are a non-Muslim, you must try it out. Thumbs up from me.

Nasi Kandar Yasmeen – we were supposed to check out the famed Nasi kandar Line Clear, but alas, we went at 1pm on a Friday and the guys were off to pray, so we went to Nasi Kandar Yasmeen which was just next door. I am not a big fan of Nasi Kandar, and neither is my wife. The food was so so only and I dare say we can get far better Nasi Kandar in KL. Took a piece of fried chicken, and it was hard and rubbery – clear sign of over frying, or re-frying yesterdays stock. So thumbs down from me on this one.

Jemputree – Now this place promotes itself to be a restaurant on top a huge tree, but don’t get fooled. It’s not on a tree and just on the road. Yes, the ambience was nice with a lot of trees and greenery around, but the fact remains, its not on a tree. Foodwise, I thought they were horrid. Wife ordered a Chicken Sausage Pasta and honestly, it tasted like Ayamas sausages and the sauce was straight out of a tin. Real bad. Double thumbs down from me.

Roti Canai Jalan Argyll – For those who are not aware, this particular restaurant came from very humble beginnings. It started out from a shack next to a building and now they have a shop inside a building. This roti canai is so popular that it was even featured on Travel 360, Air Asia’s in-flight magazine. The main difference I can taste between this roti canai and everyone elses, it is a lot more compact (padat) and not so flaky. But the thing that makes it the best, is the curry. Fish and Dahl curry mixed and poured on top. Just heavenly. One disappointment I had, the Roti itself was a little small compared to the last time I ate it. So definitely thumbs up for this on.

We did eat in other shops, but I honestly feel they are not worth mentioning here. Also, we went prepared to check out the beach, but finally decided not too, coz the beach at Ferringhi is not that good. Water looked murky and barely any waves. Sorry, but after visiting the clear water beaches in Sabah and Tioman, this really falls short of my expectations. But the night life in Ferringhi was great. Just rows and rows of restaurants and bars. For some reason, there is a huge number of Middle Eastern restaurants there. Don’t ask me why.

Sorry, no tips on Fitness this week, just wanted to share my little holiday with everyone. Have any of you checked out any of the places I mentioned? Would love to hear your comments on the food and things to do in Penang.