Fitness-Holistic

Articles about sub-areas which require emphasis too if adhering to a healthy lifestyle is of the utmost importance.

The Dark Side of Fitness

Aka: Why I’d never say to a client: ‘you look great! You should compete!’

AKA: Why I probably will never step onto a bodybuilding stage again.

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Stardate: 16th March, 2017

Of late, the subject of competing in fitness has come up a lot. Usually it’s via the question, by the middle aged lady in the supermarket: “hey… Do you compete?”

Sometimes it’s a new client-hopeful… who integrates the thought of competing into their end-goal, because they see it as the ultimate achievement.

Sometimes, it’s via a former competitor… who, broken – post-retiring, can’t seem to find the wherewithal to get back in shape.

Today’s entry addresses that broken soldier.

Please note: i am NOT trashing the hardworking individuals who undertake the sport. Neither am I making excuses for those who choose to leave. My only motivation for today’s post, is to discuss that which is never discussed… which needs to be.

Hi. I’m Corey.
11 years ago, I retired from competitive bodybuilding. I’d had 7 very exciting, somewhat successful years within the sport. My name was known. My photos graced the walls of gyms. My shelves were full of trophies. But those weren’t my only momentos.

Nope!
I had a laundry list of issues:

  • Injuries (overuse, tears, malalignment).
  • Digestive issues (adult-onset food allergies and intolerances… Namely to almost all “clean” foods which the fitness-minded depend too heavily on).
  • An unhealthy relationship with food (- competitive athletes go through phases of extreme caloric restriction, followed by a period post-contest where they “reward” their successes with copious amounts of “bad foods” which they’d deprived themselves of for months. Yes… We binge. The most weight I’ve gained after a 3 day binge is THIRTY-THREE pounds. Yes. 33. 3 days).
  • Skewed self-awareness, self-esteem, as well as self perception (- for years, i didn’t take my shirt off at the beach… for fear of the comments. They were always either stupid, insulting, or sexually-charged… and none of that was what i needed. I mean, who needs someone telling them “where are your abs? Maybe you need to train harder” or someone shouting “steroids” as you walk by? Worse still were the women who’d ask crap like “is everything on you as big as your arms?” A lot of people ask how one could be “thin skinned” like that, after “prancing around onstage in a man-panty”… But hell, up there you can’t hear or see anyone. The stage of life is way different. And many of us leave the sport ill-equipped to handle the attention hypermuscularity nets. Further, many of us forget that the condition we slaved to achieve was only meant to be held for a night. So we end up beating ourselves up for the rest of our lives trying to maintain what wasn’t meant to be).

I mean, i wasn’t the worst off. But i struggled… Bad. And worse still, i watched peers struggle and fail to reclaim control of their lives once they stopped competing.

Maybe i was “stronger” emotionally/cognitively/mentally… Or whatever.

Maybe i was lucky.

Whatever the reason… I persevered, developed a way of living that allowed me to reclaim my health, peace, and abs… And managed to figure out ways to apply those precepts to my clients, so they too could avoid crashing and burning like my peers and i did.

“But… I WANT to do a show. I’m not like you. I’ll be okay.”

Maybe you will be.

One thing I’m not, is a pessimist. I that a dose of perspective goes a long way. So, rather than discourage you from competing, let me instead provide you with a checklist to keep you out of the psych ward.

DO:

  • Figure out why you want to compete. Whether you win, or don’t place at all, that reason will be your mission statement and anchor.
  • Surround yourself with objective people who are capable of critiquing you in a positive way. What you DON’T want is someone dragging your ass through the mud just because a chocolate brownie talked dirty to you and slipped itself into your mouth last night.
  • Set realistic timelines and goals. Stick to them. You didn’t put on that 30 lbs of fat you’re trying to lose in 8 weeks… Ergo, you shouldn’t expect to lose it in 8 weeks. Is it possible? Yes. Can it fuck your brain up? Yes.
  • Set rest days. Stick to them.
  • Talk to someone outside of the sport: Outside of your peers, family, and circle of friends; a professional. Often, our support bases are inadequate. Sometimes, they well-meaning but unintentionally cruel. Sometimes, our objectivity fails when it comes to those close to us. Whatever the case, talk to someone who’ll actually listen… to listen.
  • Hire a coach… a good one. Yes, there’s lots of free information out there. A lot of it is bad. A lot of it is confusing.  Did I mention that a lot of it is bad? Fuck, fuck, FUCK.

DON’T:

  • Starve yourself.
  • Compare yourself to others. The only person you need to beat, is that person you were yesterday. And, while that may sound cliche, this is the only truth that matters.
  • Force yourself to step on stage. You aren’t indebted to anyone. If you feel unsure about any part of the process, switch to something that makes more sense. I can the hear pundits now: “blahblahblah… passion… blahblahblah… dedication.” Guilt trip. Nothing more. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. Your journey is about you… and only you… and there is no finish line.

Hopefully, these words help at least one of you.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

6 months to live

Stardate: 16th January, 2017

“Ask him”, a woman’s voice said.
“Excuse me sir”, I heard a boy say. “Are you a trainer? Can you train us?”

I smiled, angling my head in the direction of those voices. A mother. Her three young boys. It was June of 2016… in a random carpark… at a random mid-morning hour.

“I have cancer”, the mother informed me. “I’ve been given 6 months to live. I’m going to beat it though. So, I’m going to hire you for 12 months.”

On July 7th, I pulled in to her driveway. Off and on for months, we trained hard. 6 months passed. She was still alive.

Last week, during month number 7, she messaged me. “I have bad news. The cancer’s spread to my bones. I am in SO much pain.”

She didn’t respond to any of my follow up messages. Her doctor had basically told her to say her goodbyes. I thought… Christ… that our last conversation, would be our last conversation.

Stage 3 cervical cancer.
Stage 3 lung cancer.
Silently, I stalked her social media… vicariously experiencing the days through her eyes.

This morning… Monday, 16th of January, she showed up at my door in workout gear.

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“I don’t know if this makes sense”, she said.

She’d given up.

I haven’t.

To date, she hasn’t documented her fitness journey.
Today, I’m sharing a snippet… without revealing her name or face.
Hopefully, your kind outpouring will encourage her to do the same.

…to know that she’s supported, loved, and admired.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

What’s in your post-workout smoothie?

Stardate: 15th January, 2017

What’s in your post-workout shake?

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A lot of people find the planning and execution of this meal confusing: an exercise unto itself, taken to extremes.

Either, their shakes:

  • nutritionally, are akin to a sugar-laden milkshake
  • are only protein powder
  • are only fruit and ‘super foods’ (mostly sugar, plus sugar, plus a hard-to-pronounce additive)
  • are a smorgasboard of foods considered ‘healthy’, that taste HORRIBLE (and digest equally horribly) in combination, and are thus not a sustainable meal.

Your postworkout smoothie should provide the substrates necessary to facilitate the shift into recovery mode. It should provide adequate protein, some fatty acids, and (depending on your goals, and diet over the course of the day) some carbohydrate. My personal preference as well, is some fibre. Additionally, it should not take your over your daily caloric allotment. Neither should it cause gastric distress (- the latter being a heavily neglected point, as many people believe that farting away their lives after a shake is just part of the process. It isn’t. Shouldn’t be rather).

Personally, I believe every ingredient should have a purpose.

Take @jaysmilezz’s smoothie this morning as an example.

Ingredients:
1. whey protein
…rich in Branch Chain Amino Acids, particularly Leucine, which promote muscle growth. It may help to reduce systemic inflammation, and aide in inflammatory conditions such as IBS.

2. natural peanut butter
…contains healthy fats, some protein, fibre, antioxidants, and it’s effing delicious.

3. hemp seeds
…excellent source of healthy fats, some protein, may help to balance our hormonal profile… and adds great texture.

4. oatmeal
…rich in antioxidants, and fiber. May help to lower cholesterol.

5. flax meal
…high in fibre, low in carbohydrates, may improve the condition of skin and hair. Also, may help with post-meal satiety.

6. kale
…PACKED with micronutrients. Honestly, this space isn’t big enough to delve into this nutritional powerhouse.

7. sunflower seeds
…rich in bone-strengthening nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and copper… as well as selenium and numerous phytochemicals. Sunflower seeds may improve mood, as well as thyroid health.

8. coconut milk
…great source of lauric acid, which is both antibacterial and antiviral in effects. This fatty acid may also improve cholesterol levels, and be cardioprotective.

9. ginger
…helps with digestion, and eases gastric distress. Additionally, it may help reduce exercise-related muscle soreness.

10. nutmeg
…may improve cognitive function, reduce insomnia, aide digestion, increase immune system function, and aide in detoxification of the body. Also, it’s sexy and delicious. Believe that.

11. vanilla extract
…antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity. Also, tastes effing amazing.

12. non-caloric sweetener and angostura bitters (optional)
…These are optional ingredients. I like them, because bitters (- namely the main ingredient: gentian) can aide in digestion. The multiple herbs and spices therein can also have very positive effects (- AND, they add an amazing flavour profile). The major drawback however, is that it is infused with ethanol. So, it may not be suitable for people who are restricting alcohol and ’empty’ calories. Additionally, non-caloric sweeteners are a matter of preference. Many theorists disagree on the ‘healthiness’ of their addition. But they serve our purpose in moderation.

Purposeful.
Specific.

We’ve tonnes more easy recipes over at getnarked.net too.

Check ’em out.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

Your name: The Workout

Stardate: 12th March, 2016

Hey all!

So… of late, many of my friends and clients have been inboxing me with a particular workout concept.

It’s called the ‘Your Name’ workout… where, as the title would suggest, the make-up of your name determines your workouts: really, each letter corresponds to an exercise and rep range.

There are many variations of it. And, I’ve been avoiding each one LIKE THE PLAGUE! (Lol)

Today, I decided to stop being a punk. I stepped in headfirst. Here’s the version i tried:

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I’ll be honest… Even after I spelled out my full name, middle name inclusive, it was a bit too easy. So, I tweaked it.

Here’s how it went!

“Your Full Name” Circuit:

1st round:
  • Frog burpees: 20 reps
  • 20 crunches
  • 20 reverse lunges
  • 60 second plank
  • 60 second wall sit
  • 12 plyometric lunges
Comments: The frog burpees were extra work I added in there to make the first round of movement a bit harder. A moderate warm-up. Not bad! Everything’s feeling pretty darn good. I’m not feeling those two leg-dominant workouts I did yesterday at all!

2nd round:

  • Full Burpee (with push-up): 10 reps
  • Weighted arm circles: 10 lb kettlebells x 20 reps
  • 15 push-ups
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 60 second plank
  • 25 push-ups
Comments: So… I added weight to the arm circles, and added full burpees on the top end. Jesus Christ. My lungs! Am I supposed to be winded? Maybe I’m supposed to rest between exercises, instead of switching between them immediately, like a madman.
Maybe…
Hell, there’s only one round left.
“Maybe” be damned! I’ve got this!

3rd round:
  • Plyometric squats: 10 reps
  • 30 bicycle crunches
  • 30 tricep dips
  • 1 minute full plank
  • 1 minute forearm plank
  • 10 push-ups
  • 20 ass-to-calves squats x 135 lbs
  • 60 second wall sit
  • 60 second plank

Comments: Ok. Maybe I was a bit ambitious here. I feel like DEATH warmed over. To the challenge, I added plyometric squats, triple the number of dips, and also tossed on a 135 lb barbell for the squats. In my head, I was thinking ‘this won’t be so bad. I squat WAY more than this. Everything else will be pretty straight-forward’.

Clearly, I have no idea what ‘easy’ or ‘straight-forward’ actually mean however.
Did I mention lying on the floor curled up so tight, that I started to fade in to the carpet?
Holy crap!!!
Now… by this time, I’d completed my workout allotment. I’d knocked off my entire name, PLUS extra stuff. A rational-thinking person would have said ‘excellent. I’m proud of me. Time to leave here, to get that smoothie I’ve earned.’
But, like I said: I’m pretty silly.

Enter – the 4th round:

  • 8 ass-to-calves barbell squats with 185 lbs
  • 8 Bodyweight plyometric squats
  • 8 full burpee with push-up
  • 16 quadruped hip extensions (ie 8 reps per side)
and… for Extra credit:
Barbell standing overhead press: 3 sets: 115 lbs x 10 reps each.

My face at the end:
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My thoughts?
Let’s see:

The ‘your name’ workout can be a pretty solid fat-loss/conditioning workout… for both the beginner and intermediate trainee. Well… for the beginner moreso. For the intermediate and up, I’d suggest tweaking it in ways similar to what I did. i.e. Throw in at least one serious strength movement during each round (aside from the warm-up sets).

Additionally, the temptation here would be to half-ass it through the movements.

Don’t.

I know, I know: “It’s hard. I want to get through it as quickly as possible.” – #BlaBlabla

Just don’t.
Injury, with routines like these, is *very* common… particularly when fatigue sets in, as it invariably will. Focus on the quality of movement. Focus on being VERY explosive and landing safely/gently on each rep.

Cover those bases, and you’re on your way!

(Did I mention how fried I was? Holy Crap! and I still have a bootcamp to teach this evening!!!)

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

Fitness: The Power of Words

This morning… I awoke with an overwhelming spirit of “can’t”.

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Stardate: 21st February, 2016

Hi.

Some of you know me: Corey Springer; that insane fitness guy from St. George – “I mean… did you SEE what he made those people do with those tires? Oh hell, are they about to push trucks?!!” – That guy.

Some of you are clients of mine… and aware of my super-long work days: 7-12 one-hour long Personal Training (PT) slots per day, plus 3 hour-long bootcamps per week, plus a couple hours per day of administration and cleaning/upkeep.

Some of you, just see the end product.

Both groups of you miss two things, that I plan on sharing with you today.

And they are:

  1. Despite appearances, I struggle with my own personal fitness… daily!
  2. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, I fail.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about not failing.

Today, I woke with a spirit of “can’t”. For whatever reason, I missed several workouts this week. To accommodate, I’d thrown in some sessions on the days I had bootcamp. So, needless to say, by the end of those days, I was pretty fried mentally and emotionally. Friday and Saturday were like that. Today, Sunday, after my first client – I had absolutely no interest in doing anything exercise-related.

A glass of wine maybe. Some cuddle-time with my daughter and pups, maybe. The cardio I was supposed to do? Hell no.

“I can’t. I am not able.” – These are the words I’d told myself over and over, from the time my alarm went off at 4 a.m… conditioning myself to a day of failure.

And, I would have failed… had I not walked past the mirror and caught a glimpse of the sloped-shouldered, dejected guy there.

It was me… but it wasn’t. The weight of my words bore down on my frame, contorting me into someone unrecognisable. Someone who I, in that moment, no longer wanted to be.

I grabbed my bike. I grabbed my gear. I whispered to myself: “I can.” And, I hurried out through the door. In my haste, I even forgot my water.

2 kilometres in – “OH MY GOD! My legs are burning. How am I going to get home?!”

4.4 kilometres in – “This isn’t so bad. But how am I going to get home?”

7 kilometres in – “My lips! Oh God! I’m parched! But, I’m making it! Why is there so much broken glass on the road? Will I get a flat tire? Is that RAIN I smell?!”

8.9 kilometres in – “I can do this. I can.”

10.94 kilometres – As I live at the top of a hill, I had to sprint the last 50 metres. My lungs were shot. My legs were shot. My legs were shot. Did I mention that my legs were shot?

 

…but I made it.

I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t fed my subconscious different words.

You may have rolled your eyes at this point, if you haven’t done so multiple times before now. I get it. I truly do.

I don’t look like someone who’d understand your struggle. I’m not the fat teen I was (- the fat teen that hardly anyone remembers as being so, because my current persona is so overpoweringly-Mr.-fitness). I’m not the heavily medicated asthmatic teen I used to be.

I’m also not the 20 years old, with no responsibilities.

I’m you: mid-30s, a full time business (-three really); a wife, a daughter, two dogs, and bills that need to be paid every month.

I am your body issues, your deadlines, your logic. All of those things affect my life, as they do yours.

And, like you… I am also my words.

So… Will YOU join me, in changing your defining phrase today?

You “can”.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net