Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poll Results - What's the most important quality of a PT?

Work is finally taking a slightly slower pace these days (maybe its because of the CNY holidays) and I am finally done traveling for work (and leisure as well). So I finally get sometime time to post something. Sometimes having a weekend with no big travel plans can be nice.

Anyway, enough chit chat, it’s time once again to review our poll results and see what everyone thinks and share why they chose the answers they chose. The question asked this time was: If you had to choose only 1 quality, what is the most important quality that a Personal Trainer should have? To be honest, all the 4 answers I gave were important but of course I wanted you to choose which was most important to you. Let’s just have a quick review of why each one was important and the votes that it received.

Well your personal trainer should know the basic science of fitness and what he is teaching you. You don’t want someone who doesn’t know anything about fitness teaching you. I honestly felt that this answer would get a much higher score but surprisingly, only 6 people voted for this. This goes to show that though certification is important, its not everything. Being a good personal trainer is more than just being a good student who can pass certification exams. You need to be passionate about it. I knew of one personal trainer in California Fitness who scored the highest in the certification course, but then I saw numerous clients shouting at him and sharing their dissatisfaction with him. So I guess I understand why this answer got such a low vote.

Looks Fit
This is extremely important to me and my vote landed here. As a personal trainer, you need to look the part. Do you really want to take fitness advice from someone who is fatter than you? Learn how to cook from an anorexic? In short, don’t sell Nokia hand phones to other people when you yourself prefer an i-Phone and use that instead of a Nokia Phone. To me, if my personal trainer looks fit, I am assured he has some basic knowledge on fitness even if he doesn’t have the paper to show it. Plus, I feel a whole lot more confident knowing that my personal trainer has personal experience on how to get there. Being fit needs a lot of self motivation, so I am sure he will be able to motivate me, the same way he motivates himself. Only 8 people out of 51 voted here and I was 1 of them.

Able to motivate me
This was of course the big winner of the whole poll by a huge margin. 70% of people felt that this was the most important thing to have. If you have a certification, look fit, but don’t know how to motivate people, the first 2 criteria are just wasted. It’s like having a Ferrari but not enough money to put petrol in the tank. What’s the point of having a Ferrari then? No wonder so many people chose this. End of the day, people want to be motivated to push themselves to the limit.

Good listener
OK, I know I kind of skewed the results by putting up a post about Personal Trainers who are hired only because their clients want someone to talk to. But in actual fact, being a good listener is important as well. By this, I don’t mean about him listening to your complaints in life or why your favorite TV Show got cancelled. What I was referring to was listening to what your fitness goals are and what motivates you as a person. A lot of personal trainers try to impose their own fitness goals onto clients without stopping to ask what their clients want. This is why being a good listener is also important to being a personal trainer. When your client shares his emotions, you need to listen to and connect with them. This way you can truly motivate them because you understand them better. So yes, listening is important as well. Only 1 person voted for this answer. Does the person who voted here want to share why you chose this?

So there you have it, what it takes to be a good personal trainer. For personal trainers who read this blog, I hope you are taking notes. :-) Anyway, what was your vote and what was your reasoning behind it. Do share and as usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Biggest Loser Asia - Part 2

Due to popular demand from last weeks post, here is Kasey’s second post on the Biggest Loser Asia. Take it away Kasey….


The Biggest Loser Asia is probably the best reflection of everything that's wrong with the fitness industry at large. WHY Fitness First would have their name attached is... well, just another part wrong with the fitness industry at large.

At first I was so astonished by the trainers Dave and Kristy's complete and total ABSENCE of any education whatsoever, but now I think I'm beginning to understand it. Given the premise of the show, which is to tear people down with no regard to their well being and completely screw them over under the pretense of 'getting in shape', you'd simply need trainers who really DONT know fitness, and will wear their ignorance like a badge of pride, as they smile and make complete fools of themselves.

Just to make sure, I decided to do a little research and find out what their qualifications were. I started at the Biggest Loser's website, where you can find a profile on all the contestants and even on the host, and yet you cant find anything on the trainers themselves. Almost like they're deliberately keeping the trainers info off the site.

I found 2 profiles for Kristy - one here:

and the other here:

So after viewing these, turns out I was right. She doesn't have any qualifications... at all. No degrees, no certs, nothing. This is probably why she gets snippy that her opponents team is drinking liters of water because she doesn't understand drinking water doesn't cause you to lose fat. Maybe understanding a few of the mechanisms behind fat loss, such as epinephrine, its effects on beta-2 receptorcites, the release of triglycerides from adipose tissue, the use of fatty acids in the aerobic pathway of energetics, etc might help.


Gosh, I cant figure out why my clients have all plateaued! Oh wait I have an idea! WORK HARDER!!! Oh what your knee snapped again? Well that cant be my fault (cuz I'm the trainer and all) - KEEP WORKING!(snaps a whip) "whhhPSSH!" HARDER YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING FATTY! As your trainer and someone in whom you've trusted your health and well being to, I will NOT be showing you any of the compassion or encouragement that one would routinely expect from a health and fitness professional!

Anyway, lets take a look at Kristy's profile, shall we? (Yes I'm picking on Kristy but that's only because Dave is not such a douche).

From the first link I provided earlier:

Although a little bit more low profile
Yeah being on national television is SO low profile. I mean its practically a mandatory step in the witness protection program - go on nation wide TV and tell everyone who you are! You probably mean her fitness background is low profile but that’s only because its embarrassingly absent of any of the qualifications you'd expect from a fitness trainer.

Kristy Curtis is no less accomplished than her counterpart Dave Nuku.

◘ A woman with noodly arms who probably couldn't do the exercises she demands from her clients with no education at all in the field she's supposedly an expert in? I'm guessing Dave wasn't training professional athletes.

She is one of Australia’s leading health and wellness expert

◘ HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH man!!! Seriously a f*cking kangaroo could do better!

who runs her own personal training business

◘ Running a business is an entirely separate issue. I don’t know what Kristy's business qualifications are, but if she can recognize market trends, understand supply and demand, anticipate changes in consumer behavior, manage a sales team, and keep comprehensive records of business transactions, then she might be great at running her own business! In fact as long as you've got the start up capital needed, you could skip the need to understand anything at all about fitness by hiring others to handle that for you. In other words: running a business is not a fitness qualification. Nice try though!

and is a Group Fitness Manager in an international fitness chain where she teaches classes all over Sydney.

◘ Only serves to reinforce my point. Maybe she's a good manager and can handle loads of paperwork, but this isn't a fitness qualification either. Its painfully obvious from watching the show that concepts such as fat loss are just wayyyyyy over her head.

Kristy has lived in London where she worked in the corporate fitness industry and her passion for fitness has taken her all over the world in spreading her message.

◘ Wow, what a fantastic way to keep a low profile!

Of Chinese-Australian descent, Kristy faced body image issues as a teenager,

◘ Really? Cuz, I mean, it’s so rare that teenagers have body image issues.

a struggle that she conquered

◘ Yea most people grow out of it.

and went on to become a National Aerobic Champion.

◘ Now this sounds impressive at first, but after considerable research, I couldn't find any aerobic competition Kristy had entered in which she won the championship title. That’s sort of a mandatory step in being able to call yourself a "National Aerobic Champion", with capitalized letters no less, with any degree of honesty. What’s even more conspicuous is that the year, date, and location are missing. Not even the name of the event where she supposedly won this title, or the name of the organization that hosted it.

I mean this is a truly impressive title! You don’t just go leaving it in the dark like that! Its possible she simply forgot to give any details when they asked for her profile, but its unlikely someone so accomplished in business would make an error like that. Not unless you were deliberately keeping details off your profile... much like keeping the trainer's profiles off the The Biggest Loser website.

I could be completely wrong on this, so to be sure, I tried sending an email to The Biggest Loser Asia website, requesting more information. This part of the site doesn't seem to be working, so its off to the site forums next! We'll keep you updated in the comments section.

Also just had a look at Dave's profile (seen here; ).

I wont go into my usual routine on this one, but he does seem slightly better. Although again, I think they might have been looking for people who *weren't* qualified and who would just provide more drama. I mean really, even on the website's forum under "Experts", where its written

"The host and the trainers are there to help the contestants lose weight."

There aren't even any replies! Not from experts or the trainers from the show! Did they just completely forget about putting this here?

Look forward to hearing your comments guys.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Biggest Loser Asia

OK, this week since i am absolutely swamped with work and traveling for work, Kasey Brown decided to volunteer a post on my blog as a guest writer. So take it away Kasey....


Hi everyone! Kasey here. Rajan's letting me sort of guest-write on his blog this week, so I thought I'd talk about the Biggest Loser Asia, which I just recently started watching. Mostly out of disbelief.

First I need to lay down a few scientific reasons behind why the show is completely retarded. I mean most of us know how retarded the show is, but we'll get specific. The entire premise of the show is ridiculous. The contestants are judged based on how much weight they've lost, NOT on how much fat they've lost. Does anyone here know how much weight you will lose if you fast for a week? Depends on activity level and metabolism of course, but whatever amount you lose, around 70% of that weight will be muscle, not fat.

The body has plenty of stored fats and carbs in the adipose (fat)tissue, but it does not store protein OR amino acids there. 1 protein is made of 20 amino acids. Each of those amino acids has an important job in the body. L-Arginine and L-Tryptophan help regulate hormones, while L-lysine assist in calcium absorption, bone formation, and fights viruses. L-Glutamine has a dozen different functions, as do the branch chain amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Out of those 20 aminos, 8 are ESSENTIAL (meaning you'll eventually die if you dont get them)

So where does the body store the aminos and proteins? In the muscles of course. And the body is more than willing to start tearing up its muscle reserves to provide itself with the vital tools (amino acids)it needs to continue living. Thats generally why fasting is a BAD idea, and eating 5 to 6 times a day is a GOOD idea. By getting protein in every one of those 5 meals, your body has no reason to tear down its own amino acid reserves (muscle). Since muscles are the primary providers of metabolic rate, losing muscle means fat loss becomes more and more difficult as time goes on.

This is also why the best way to beat a fat loss plateau is to start deliberately gaining weight. By eating more than you need and lifting heavy weights, you rebuild some of that lost muscle, which then helps you start losing fat again.

The creators of the show, and the trainers (hell even the contestants and most of the audience) are seemingly oblivious to any of this. As a result, the contestants work themselves to a dangerously unhealthy state, are extremely malnourished, and lose tons of muscle mass.

The real irony being that the show is supposedly related to the health and fitness industry, yet the contestants are the most unhealthy people I've ever seen. Underneath the layers of lose skin is probably a person with all the nutritional fortification of a holocaust survivor.

Call me crazy, but I always thought this is NOT what fitness is supposed to be. A lot of the people on the show have probably never consistently exercised or dieted before in their lives. Their first exposure to what diet and exercise should be like come from completely unqualified / uncertified trainers (more on that in my next post) who force them to do work they hate, while injured, and placing them on a

diet that are completely unrealistic.

I mean even in the United States Marine Core the training is brutal, but at least its productive. Physical training is given in measured amounts and they make sure you eat enough so you can see the results of your training. The point of yelling and screaming at you is to force you to develop coping mechanisms you'll need to survive in actual combat. The Biggest Loser Asia has you doing endless amounts of work that do nothing but place you in a catabolic (muscle wasting)state and the yelling / demanding is entirely pointless.

Contestants believe drinking loads of water before a weigh in is going to help, and no one corrects them on this because no one else knows any better either. The deficient diet and overtraining is probably why the contestants have so many various injuries, and yet the trainers still demand they train despite all the pain and injuries the trainers themselves cause without any considerable readjustments. Really, if your client's knee is hurt, how hard could it be to let them do bench presses instead of push ups, especially if the push ups are hurting the knee?

If someone has been weight training intensely, and he weighs in with a 0 kg weight loss, most likely he hasn't "plateaued" at all. He probably gained 2 kg of muscle while losing 2 kg of fat. This is actually the ideal situation - you want as much fat as possible offset by the replacement of muscle mass, and since a pound of muscle is smaller in size than a pound of fat, the contestants will definitely be getting smaller while keeping the same weight. So the ones who haven't lost any weight are actually getting healthier - and are chastised for doing so. Its like being healthy is actually a BAD thing!

There is so much wrong with this show, and I could go on... in fact I will go on next week (or whenever Rajan lets me post again)! Let us hear your feedback. Would you like to see more posts like this from me, or if you'd like to stick with Original Rajan Recipe?

If you found this post interesting and would like to know more about the exact how and why of fat loss and nutrition, ask us about Nutrition Science Level 1 course currently being offered from Kasey Brown Fitness.

This post was made possible by Fitness Malaysia, the letter H, and viewers like you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Should I workout when I am ill?

Just the other day I was telling someone how I have not gotten a flu in over 3 years now. With everyone around me having the sniffles, I thought wow, I must be in great shape. despite hanging out with people who had bad flus, i still did not get sick. But as luck would have it, I finally did fall ill and dealing with flu as I write this.

Anyway, the purpose of this posting is not to bitch about being sick, but rather to answer a simple question that many out there ask me. Should I work out when I am ill?

Well for starters, you should see your doctor when ever you are ill. Ask your doctor if its OK for you to work out. Now most doctors will tell you its better to stay at home and just rest, so this is where your own judgement comes into play. Doctors are not wrong when they tell you to skip the workout, and they have your best intentions in mind... which is to recover as fast as possible. But if you are a fitness addicts like me, I usually nod my head and then decide later if I should rest at home or work out.

For me, I usually decide based on how ill I am am. If all you have is a little blocked nose and nothing more, I usually hit the gym anyway. I usually go a little lighter on weights and at a lower intensity for cardio. I never push a full blown workout when I am ill. How light or how intense you should push all depends on how ill you are, and with years of work out experience under my belt, I am a pretty good judge on how hard I can push at the gym. So you know your body best, and will know how far to push it. now i am not saying you should go against your doctor's advice and workout when you are ill. i am saying that you need to judge for yourself if you are up to it or not.

If I feel pretty ill and have a fever, headache, sore throat etc, then I stay away from the gym all together. Trust me, even if you did go to the gym, you would not be giving your best, so its better to rest and stay at home. When I am that ill, the only thing on my mind is to rest and recover...not pumping iron at the gym. So rest, recover and once you are better you can go crazy at the gym again.

Some people tell me that working out when you are ill actually makes you feel better. So rather than resting at home, you should workout more. Well the feel good factor is usually due to endorphins released into your bloodstream after a workout. whenever you workout or do vigorous activity, your body releases feel good hormones called endorphins. It has little effect on actually helping you combat the illness itself. For the fastest recovery results, resting at home will be your best bet. You will still recover even if you worked out, but your recovery time might be slightly longer. So this again, is where your judgement comes into play. If you are not sure on what to do, its best to stick with your doctor's advice.

So in summary, follow these simple steps when deciding whether to workout or not when you are ill
1) Speak to your doctor first. You can even ask him if its OK to do a light workout and he/she will tell you yes or no. If your doctor is the kindd that works out, he / she may even tell you how hard you can workout.
2) You know your body best. So decide on how well you are feeling before going to the gym. If you feel like crap, stay at home. IF you just feel a little whoozy, then yeah, go ahead.
3) If you do decide to work out, ensure it is a lighter one (maybe about 70% to 80% of your usual intensity)

So I hope this helps to answer the question on whether or not you should workout when you are ill. With lots of people having the sniffles these days, I hope this posting will help you. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments