Author Archives: Luke Scott

Tuesday Newsday – Horses for courses

Etihad Stadium's GlowFirstly, a big apology for my Tuesday post hitting the web on Wednesday this week!  I have been focused on my study as I participated in a coaching course over the weekend.  We also seem to be inundated with new and motivated Melbournian’s wanting to kick start their fitness regimes in the cold winter months to be ready for another hot Melbourne summer!  So Tuesday Newsday is here… On a Wednesday.

Anyhow Friday night I headed down to Etihad Stadium with a few friends from interstate and around 49,000 other Victorians.

My interstate friends hadn’t heard all of the whohaa about the surface down there at Etihad over the earlier part of the year.  They are Gold Coasters and the AFL hasn’t entirely invaded there community… Yet.

The ball was bounced and after the first contest and the noticeable slip and slide my interstate companions looked to me and asked “geez whats wrong with the surface?”.  Clearly a lot is wrong with the surface.

It needs a lot of work.  What needs to be done is not the topic of this post.  Enough is being said on every media outlet and talk back program, however the question I would like to ask is; What are the obligations of organizations to provide a safe playing surface for participants?  Personal Trainers included!

In my opinion it is inevitable with the state of the surface on Friday night that a serious injury would occur shortly as a result of the condition of the ground.  It was a blessing that no serious injuries had resulted that evening.  By all accounts by Saturday night there had been a considerable improvement.  A huge amount of work had been done over night with a positive result.  As you can see from the photo I took this morning whilst out with my morning customers the work to  repair the problem is continuing day and night.  Hopefully this weekend the result will be a safer state of play, and a greater spectacle for the supporters in the stand and sitting in front of their boxes at home.

All of that said as a neutral supporter that was one of the most exciting games I have watched live in a long time.  The draw for me was a fitting result!

However back to my question, as a personal trainer it is my responsibility to provide a safe location for my customers to train.  We are a mobile personal training company meaning we head out to see our customers all over Melbourne at varying locations and on a number of different surfaces.  It is our responsibility to ensure that wherever we train, our customers are safe and a duty of care is shown. My question is would you be happy to train on a surface such as Etihad?  Not if you are planted staying in one location, but if you are running, jumping, twisting, turning.  Would you feel comfortable with the risk?  If not, surely it is not appropriate for elite sport to be played on that kind of surface.  As a spectacle the the fans are not getting what they deserve and the athletes are not provided with a safe place of work.  I would love to know your thoughts.

Fake Fitness Fads And Phoney Fat Free Foods

Why is it that weight loss is an international multi-billion dollar industry which employs thousands and thousands of ‘experts’ and yet the world is just getting fatter?

Is it that the weight loss companies are spending their advertising money in all the wrong places, or is it that the fast food companies are simply spending more, or is it simply that people are too lazy to actually take advantage of all the information and products that are available to them?

Figures would suggest that people are trying to lose weight and will spend whatever it takes to achieve it, on the condition that they don’t have to do anything to get results.

Every other week, you can turn on the television and see some new powder, pill or gadget that will ‘guarantee’ you the body you have always dreamed of in only 6 easy payments. The thing is, by the time your easy payments are made, you’ve probably bought the next wonder machine.

It frustrates me to watch companies take advantage of people who quite simply don’t know any better, but that is and always has been the weight loss industries key to success.

Clients and friends often ask my opinion on anything new that comes along and my answer is invariably “any exercise is better than no exercise”. It doesn’t matter if you’re twisting or vibrating or holding a seductively momentous dumbbell looking gadget, in the end, if it elevates your heart rate you will burn calories.

In life you can only be sure of two things: death and taxes and in weight loss the only thing you can be sure of is that you need to burn more calories than you take in.

This is the part that most companies tend to leave out and the food companies will mislead consumers with. You see, these companies don’t want you to lose weight, because then you will no longer need to buy their products.

Here’s something I find amusing: A company can call a product ‘lite’ and it doesn’t have to be, because ‘lite’ isn’t a real word. On the other hand if the company uses the word ‘light’ to describe the fat or sugar content then it has to be.

Some companies use tricky labeling to mislead consumers. Next time you are in the supermarket, compare the Jalna yoghurt nutritional panels of the regular vanilla pot set yogurt and the ‘low fat’ version. This is actually something my girlfriend picked up on.

Firstly, on the low fat version they have reversed the columns so that the per 100gm and per serve tables are opposite, so at a glance the low fat version looks like the much healthier choice, where it is actually worse. It has much more sugar and only very slightly less fat, but enough to make the claim.

My advice to anyone that really wants to lose weight and not just line a company’s pockets is to be consistent with your exercise and nutrition. Talk to your personal trainer for professional nutritional advice and again before you buy anything that makes promises that seem to good to be true.


my business is fitness

Ben London is the author of the popular personal training and fitness marketing blog;

Ben specializes in innovative marketing and promotion ideas as well as offering effective solutions for utilizing social media to develop fitness businesses based on 15 years experience within the industry.

For your FREE fitness business assessment and consultation, contact Ben at My Business Is You can also follow him on twitter @mybizisfitness.

Tuesday Newsday – Is the best way to lose fat to do it quickly?

Personal TrainerI recently read an article in The Daily Telegraph on July 16, 2010.

The article refers to a study by Dietitian Katrina Purcell that was presented at a recent obesity conference. You can read the full article here. As I’m based here in Melbourne it’s great to be able to view all of newspapers online everyday!

The results of the study suggests that the best way to lose weight and keep it off might not be the slow and steady safe method that has been seen as the gold standard for so long after all.

It was suggested by Ms Purcell that one explanation for this could be psychological. Participants that achieved larger weekly results remained more motivated and did not stray from their path to weight loss as they were seeing measurable success. This is certainly a factor for many of the clients I have worked with closely in the past. Encouraging a focus on performance, health and fitness improvements will on fly for so long. People wanna see the numbers!

If your initial reason for starting on a life changing journey was weight loss you want to see some kilos off! It’s very likely you won’t care too much for your healthier blood pressure, or increased blood cell count. Not if these weren’t the motivator to get your butt into gear. At the very least you want to see your pants starting to slip around your waist to stay stead fast in your journey.

The results of this study however are initial. Unless new habits and behaviors that are sustainable have been established through out the journey my fear would be that once a goal weight is reach and the constant weight loss focus has diminished the kilos may begin to pile back on. The plan of the study is to follow up over the next three years, so I would be very interested to see the long term results of the study.

We all know stories of those who have achieved great things and changed their bodies only to be back to their starting weight (and then some!) after a rapid weight loss experience. This is the last thing we want to see. Rapid gains and losses of body weight place a lot of strain on over all health.

Whether the method you choose for weight loss is working with a nutritionist, a dietitian, a personal trainer, heading to the gym or a fitness center make sure it’s something you can stick with.

My advice. If your wanting a healthy body weight for the long term, don’t worry about the weight! Put everything in place to that will help you achieve the end result. Don’t stress about the time frame. And If you have put the appropriate steps in place required to changed your life to something that is sustainable for the long term the resultant weight loss from your change in lifestyle will be the most maintainable you can achieve.

Tuesday Newsday – Leadership

Mark WilliamsFor Tuesday Newsday this week I’m going to continue along with the AFL theme given the media here (as always) is currently overwhelmed with AFL news, particularly with the topic at hand.

Late last week another coach bowed out.  Stuffing punched out of him, and kicked when on the canvas.  He was a coach who had achieved a lot and hopefully his memory wont be soured in the way his career ended at a club in which he had so much history.  It’s amazing how quickly the media and football community will turn on a coach as soon as they smell a hint of blood.  Circling until they have their kill.  Today it seems that the pack has turn onto its next victim.  Bomberland looks like their next hunting ground, and dare I say it we may have another media driven kill before the end of the year if things don’t settle down.

But do the media have to shoulder all of the blame?  Surely not.  But yes, they would certainly contribute.

However this is not the focus of this post.  I wanted to focus on leadership.  What makes a good leader.  What can make an athlete, at any level, in any sport, want to run through brick walls, put their body on the line and achieve greatness?

Great coaches make a huge difference to sporting performance.  We all know of stories where a change of coach in a sporting organization has resulted in greatness with little change in personal or staffing, besides the person at the helm.

So what does that mean?  Does it mean the new coach has the superior game plan?  A greater understanding of the game?  An ability to gee up their chargers in manner that is truly heart felt?  Or is it a little of all of these?

Athletes firstly must respect their coach.  They have to want to play for their leader, enjoy being around their team mates and the institution they are involved with.  This is all ultimately driven by the coach.  They are in charge and ultimately shoulder the blame when things aren’t going well.

Teams need to be committed to a common goal and respect the person pulling the strings, even if they don’t like them.  When a coach needs to win the respect of the players mid season they are up for a huge task.  This is why I think Matthew Primus is a fantastic choice at Port Adelaide.  Given he is a past club hero, respect is not one thing he needs to earn.

But respect is definitely not the only thing a coach needs to have to be successful at the helm.  Making people feel appreciated, reward for hard work, knowing what makes someone tick.  All of these are things that are required.

So what type of coaching gets the best out of you?  Ra Ra ranting and pump ups, or clinical tactical coaching?  I think is is a very individual thing but one thing is for sure, with out the hearts and minds of your athletes a coach is always going to be pushing uphill to get results out of their team.  This goes for sport, business and life.

What are some attributes of great leaders you have worked under in the past?

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Functional Fitness Training

Functional Fitness TrainingIf you want to improve your lifestyle then you should be training to the principals of functional fitness. If you find it hard to cope with what’s required of you on a day to day basis you need to start training and do something about it.

If your in this category then Functional Fitness Training might be the answer.

The term functional fitness describes a process of training, not the end result.  It is relative to your specific needs.  For instance my needs as a 26 year old are very different to that of a 50 year old female.

It’s very easy to confuse functional fitness for your lifestyle with sport specific training. Yes, being in great physical condition is indirectly beneficial to most sporting endeavors, but each sport will have an intricate skills set that will need to be trained for or in other words you still need to integrate relevant training to improve your physical ability as well as rely on whatever natural talent you’re blessed with by genetics.  But remember, if your not an elite level footballer then your lifestyle does not perhaps require you to to have the physical attributes that come along with that profession.  However that said, can you ever be in too good a shape?  I doubt it.  Just make sure you first tick off the requirements of your professional and recreational pursuits first, then begin to take on the world!

Functional Fitness Training isn’t new.  It’s about taking things back to basics and stripping back the fads in the fitness industry today.  Functional Fitness is about the basics of human movement in its purest form.  It is about encouraging our bodies to move as effectively as when we would plow the fields every day and not sit hunched over a steering wheel on the way to work, at a desk all day at work and at the coffee table at night.

Functional fitness is about using all of your body at once.  This means the practical application of this type of training is endless.  Functional fitness is about teaching all of your muscles to work together rather than in isolation.

Here are some great guidelines to follow from the US based functional training expert Vern Gambetta.

Simple to Complex: Start simple, progressing to more complex exercises only after mastering the basic movements of each exercise.

Known to Unknown: The training environment should begin with controlled, low-neuromuscular-demand exercises and then proceed to less-controlled, more proprioceptively challenging environments.

Low Force to High Force: Train lower-force, more controlled movements until you can master those movements, then proceed to higher-force, ballistic movements.

Static to Dynamic: Start with exercises in a stationary stance, then as those movements are mastered, add more dynamic movements.

Lying to Sitting to Kneeling to Standing (Two legs) to Standing (One Leg): This essentially takes into account all the previous steps in the progression. Lying and sitting are very controlled and proprioceptively less challenging than going to standing and then standing on one leg.

Functional Fitness is designed to help you get the most out of your body. To help you become more efficient and enable  you to cope with the tasks of your day to day life much easier.

Functional Fitness is just as much about teaching your body to move effectively and efficiently as it is about improving performance.  There is no point working on the performance outcomes of an exercise until that exercise can be performed effectively and efficiently.  Take a 100 metre sprint time trial.  You would aim for the best time over a distance until you had learnt the most effective running technique, starting position, etc.  This way you will give your body the best potential of achieving the optimum result.

The concept is simple, just train your muscles to accelerate, slowdown and stabilize, to do this statically and dynamically, both fast and slow. Use compound (multi-joint) movements in various directions and at different speeds.

From elite athletes to seniors functional fitness is the best way for you to cope with the activities of your day to day lifestyle.

Before you should tackle this type of training you need to ask yourself a few things.  This is not to discount your self from this type of training, but possibly to add other elements into your training.  You need to know what your lacking, what you need to work on most.  So that the elements you are going to need to work on are worked on.

Posture and body alignment – Does your body align itself effectively.  Does your body sit the way it should?  Chances are all of us have somethings we need to work on here.  As we age small dysfunctions appear due to injury, our profession etc.  This doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel.  It means we should acknowledge this and add things to our training that will improve these imbalances and therefore improve our overall performance and condition.

Coordination – There is no point attempting to do a squat standing on a fit ball if you cannot first perform a normal squat correctly as your coordination wont allow it.  Once again, don’t give up, or revert to machine weight etc (as these don’t require coordination and balance).  Simply start slower and integrate exercises that will improve your balance and once again, improve your overall condition.

Flexibility – Can you touch your toes?  Ok that may not be entirely relevant but how are you going to improve your performance if you cannot work through the most advantageous range of movement for a specific joint.

Balance – If you want to get yourself into the positions that will require core stabilization you will need an element of balance.  Balance is also essential in your progression to more difficult exercises.

Core Strength – A strong core is the key to increased sporting performance.

So now that we know the elements that we need to work on, how can we progress fundamental exercises to be far more challenging for our balance or core? By moving from stable positions for exercises to unstable positions, we place more demand on our bodies and force the elements we are looking to improve to be challenged. Think of progressing from a deadlift as the balanced exercise, to say a single legged deadlift as the progression.
Progressions of exercises are limitless with some professional guidance. Single arm deadlift, Kettlebell deadlift there are many ways to make things tougher. And these progressions are in no way limited to just the deadlift.

So what does this all mean? Well, would you consider a seated machine chest press to have a high degree of transference to your day to day life or to a sport you’re involved in? Or would you be far better served with a staggered stance cable chest press? The standing chest press allows you to utilize the muscles of your core and rotate through a more natural plane of movement, where a seated machine chest press will not engage the same postural muscles and the transference to real life situations is diminished.  Like wise the functional exercises you choose as part of your training plan need to have an amount of transference.  Is there really any point besides the party trick aspect of being able to do a bicep curl whilst standing on a swiss ball? Unless you are a circus performer, this would have very limited transference to real world situations.

If an exercise machine requires you to be seated into a fixed position, or lying fixed on a bench to a position then it will not allow you to move through alternating planes of movements.  If you can not move through alternating planes of movement then it is unlikely you are working in a real world situation.

Bodybuilding training has developed extensively over the past 20 years and is extremely effective at building bulk and muscle but this size is rarely transferred into usable strength and increased athletic ability.  So if you are using this type of stimulus to increase your performance hopefully this post has encouraged you to rethink the way you are training.  However if you are using that type of training for aesthetics alone then don’t move over to functional fitness training.  Aesthetics are a result, but not the focus.  By integrating elements of core and balance training into your strength training sessions we can see a far greater improvement in your overall functioning and performance.

So, do you already train to the principles of functional fitness? What sort of benefits have you seen? What are the exercises that you have seen the greatest benefit from?  I would love to hear about your experiences.  Check back on this post often, as you can see it’s a long one, and it will be continually evolving!

Moderation in Moderation

Moderation in ModerationStarting, and continuing for that matter, on a healthy lifestyle plan can be tough.  Many people end up throwing in the towel as things get harder because they get bored with the monotony of there regime.

Remember always strive for balance in your life.  Balance your exercise with your rest and relaxation.  Balance your intake of fluids, ensure you are eating well.

And remember, everything in moderation and that includes moderation!

When you feel like having a blow out… Do it!  Just remember to get back on track with the very next meal, if not then, the next day.  Especially if you are feeling the effects of a hang over for example.  Get out for a walk at very least.

But remember always try to minimize the effects or size of your slip up.  A four day bender is not going to really do wonders for your waistline or fitness levels but a meal off once a week is something that can be accounted for.  Speak to a personal trainer about way you can minimize your blow outs, and hopefully be prepared better for times when you are at risk.