14/05/2015

Thursday TakeOver - A Personal Trainers View - James Travis

The Bad in each other .. 
 Whenever I sit down to write about fitness I try hard to be inclusive, I try not to make sweeping general controversial statements, I never write about things I don't understand or have no direct experience of or that which I am not prepared to enter into debate about.  
It's tough these days to bite your tongue - Internet experts with zero experience or accountability spout myth as fact and are inaccurate at best and downright dangerous at worst . I have no issue with enthusiastic amateurism in fact far from it - I believe healthy discussion and acquisition of knowledge are essential to self growth .  
However there is a lot wrong with the perception of fitness and what it does and should mean. I've written before about how aesthetics have taken over from health, quick fixes from hard work and all in a land where quick ignorance has become bliss .

Here is my view on the top things that are skewed within this industry of fitness .  

1) Bad ,bad ,bad awful advice - there is opinion of course - but ask yourself this - is it yours ? How was it formulated ? Do you have the nous to apply it to someone else ? Did it come from personal experience or from some column filling article fodder. There are some exceptional sources out there . Incredibly talented smart pioneering people who can break subjects down and make difficult concepts easier to understand . There is also some dross - try this diet / this workout plan / this leg routine / these supplements merchants - all objectivity, zero subjectivity . It is the latter that causes the fog of uncertainty that so many of you flounder in and fill accident and emergency and physio offices . Everyone has a plan until they don't know how to change the plan.  
 2) Bad ,bad ,bad awful coaching - To be completely honest most personal trainers are bang average . There are some awesome people in the industry - who care deeply about their clients and are extraordinarily good but like any job there are those that at best go through the motions . When you factor in the amateur layer below this, the whole ' you don't want to do it like that mate ' brigade then there is a whole culture of sub-standard gym work taking place. Being good at training is not the same as being a good trainer - knowing what a squat should look like is not the same as knowing why it doesn't . Knowing how to programme effectively - plan - change and adapt training to suit the individual whilst meeting their goals and emotional needs whilst the whole time keeping form and intensity at the right level and interesting enough . That is coaching - not training . This difference eludes a lot of people and to be fair it's because of bad PT's that they think it - it's not at all an easy job if it's done correctly .  
 3) Impatience - basically your whole life you have caused the problems you are now experiencing . Years of bad habits formed and ingrained into every ounce of your being . But yet you want to solve it in 4 weeks oh and you still want to go to that party on Friday and get hammered , then it's Gill's birthday meal so there will be cake - what's the best exercise for this ( holds up arm ) - I go on holiday In 5 weeks .
At some point there has to be a reality check - the purpose of coming to see someone like me is hopefully to speed up that road to Damascus moment .

I remember a guy once coming to see me in his mid 40's after some fairly serious spine surgery a few years prior . He wanted to lift weights - as 20 years before he had been fairly useful in the weight room . However now he could barely stand up straight and even squatting without weight caused pain and distortion in his movement. I explained how we could rebuild him through mobility exercises and realignment techniques to improve his physiology . He smiled nodded , completely ignored me - 3 days later he was standing under 100kg in the squat rack . I saw him about a year later in the supermarket after he had recovered from a spinal fusion . It's ok to want results - it's not OK to be unrealistic - oftentimes the flimsiest of self image is built upon the sands of quick results . 
Lay a foundation and build and develop -it really is the only way.  
4) Stop believing everything you read and hear - listen all food is super as long as it's not processed . Cavemen didn't live very long - you aren't a warrior ( probably , maybe weekend ) . The sheer unregulated nature of fitness and diet is actually frightening - companies use massively inflated claims to sell magazines / supplements / food based wonder cleanses . They will have very little if any scientific independent credence and will be based on whispering circles of friends who don't want to admit they have been duped so on it goes - or those so desperate for results they will do anything to get them . 
It is the same for exercise plans that will lift your butt in 30 days by simply repeating one exercise over and over ( that's my job gone ) or beach ready in 6 weeks type articles - all the worst kind of bullshit - praying on your fears and your readiness to part with your hard earned. 
Question it ? If it looks like a duck it's a duck but as the fitness industry proves time and again - the bigger and easier the lie, the more people believe it . 
 5) That it has to be fun ... Now for some of you this statement is unpalatable . Let me hit you up with this one final nugget of truth before I leave ;) . We live in a society privileged with free healthcare in a world where others die and fall ill because they do not have that privilege , that honour. Yet for most of you , the basic ability to maintain your own body is totally beyond you and someone else's responsibility. Going to the Drs office for every cough and cold to get handouts of medicine and equally valuable time taken away from the genuinely infirm and vulnerable and wondering why you can't get an appointment. You have a personal responsibility to look after your health not just for you but for everyone . If this means doing what you need to rather than what you want to .. Then guess what suck it up ;)  
- James





James is an experienced personal trainer who works from his own gym in South West London - he can be reached via his Instagram Page @JTravis_PT email james_travis@hotmail.co.uk & on Facebook. 
Skype Consultations available! 

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