General Fitness

Advice the average Joe can take to heart and apply relatively easily.

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.

me

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

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Of Curried monkeys…

Stardate: 22nd January, 2017

Hey all!

A number of you, having read our previous article (“What’s in your post-workout shake?“), expressed interest in seeing other moderately exotic but doable recipes you could try at home.

So here’s one, from this morning.

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The backstory:
Following @jaysmilezz’s workout this morning… I proposed a #smoothie challenge. “Pick a colour”, I told her. “I’ll make something healthy, delicious, and relevant to your goals… In that colour.”

She picked yellow.
Yellow of all things.
I mean… who picks yellow?!
Yellow foods have great anti-inflammatory effects… but they’re generally not what you think about chugging down in a smoothie.

Anyway… challenge accepted.

Our #smoothieoftheday? I call it a Curried Mango Monkey.

Ingredients:

  • Ginger
  • Curry
  • Fresh Mint
  • Coconut milk
  • Whey protein
  • Nutmeg
  • Frozen mango
  • (Optional: Low caloric sweetener of choice, to taste.)
  • (Optional: a pinch of cayenne pepper.)
Now… this was fucking delicious. Perplexingly delicious layers of atypical flavours.
But, ‘healthy’?
Let’s dissect that claim.
Curry:
‘Curry powder’, is actually a blend of several spices. Depending on the region of acquisition, those ingredients can be turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cumin, sweet basil… with sexy additions like fennel seeds, ginger, and cinnamon… each of which has health benefits on to itself.
Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric, which gives it [and curry] that rich yellow/orange colour) has been shown to have CRAZY antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We’re talking reduced joint pain, reduced plaque build-up in arteries… and SO many other potential applications. And this is just ONE component of curry powder. I hate the word superfood… but, were I one to toss it around, I’d definitely include curry under that umbrella.
Mango:
Mango is LOADED with antioxidants, which may have cancer preventative/fighting effects. Some of these include quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid and methylgallat. Its enzymes can positively impact digestive health. Mango may also clear the skin up, as well as positively impact your sex life.

Yes.
Clean, clear skin.
And sex.
Win.

Mint:
Mint is delicious.
The end.
No, but seriously, its amazing flavour aside… mint can positively impact digestion, reduce nausea and headaches, improve mood and perceived energy levels, as well as positively impact alertness. Due to it germicidal and antibacterial properties, it has been shown to improve oral health, as well as skin health. Its enzymes are also being researched for their cancer-fighting potential.
Also… did I mention how fucking delicious it is?
Shit.
(NB: We discussed the health benefits of whey protein, coconut milk, ginger, nutmeg, as well as the neutrality of non-caloric sweeteners in our previous article.)
So… how does the Curried Mango Monkey stack up?
To re-cap:
Low in calories… A moderate amount of fibre… High in protein… Moderate in health-promoting fatty acids… Loaded with potentially amazing, naturally occurring, phytochemicals.

Let me know what you think, in the comment section below. 😉

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

I don’t want to get ‘Too Big’.

Stardate: 26th November, 2016

A young lady walks in to my studio for the first time. She looks shy. Skin-tight leggings,  a form-fitting – bust-accenting top. In any other setting, she would’ve been the most confident person in the room.

Here though – surrounded by sweating, heaving, radiant coils of muscular humanity… she feels out of place.

Immediately, her walls go up: “I just want to tone. I can’t [*inserts list of things she hasn’t tried, and can’t possible fathom wanting to try*]. I don’t want to get ‘too big’.”

I. Don’t. Want. To. Get. Too. Big.

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This is a common one-liner… an immediate handicap many women apply to their journey in to the world of fitness; colouring their course with “can’t”… failing to realise several things:

  • Female Bodybuilders train for a decade or more to look ‘huge’ (- and, really, ‘huge’ is relative… as many of them are still tens of pounds, and several inches smaller than the average non-exercising female).
  • Getting huge doesn’t happen by accident. It takes voluminous, consistent workouts, a consistent caloric surplus (of specific macronutrients, to boot).
  • It takes good genetics.
  • For many, it takes drugs. Let’s be real.

Getting ‘too big’, is difficult for the average guy. So, honestly, it shouldn’t even be a talking point for the average female… No offense intended.

“I couldn’t train with you. Your clients train too heavy!”

‘Heavy’ is exactly the type of training you *should* do as a female. No… it won’t get you ‘too big’. Big requires moderate-to-heavy training PLUS volume… PLUS all of the other stuff mentioned above.

What heavy training *will* do though, is force adaptation: Stronger bones; Stronger muscles; stronger connective tissue; higher body awareness.

Think about the strongest female athletes. With the exception of some olympic and power lifters, and maybe throwers (who tend to consume calories to surplus),  the stronger athletes are the leanest. Sprinters. Gymnasts. Rock climbing enthusiasts. Crossfitters. Common theme?

Strength.

But, don’t take my word for it.
Check out some of the ladies on my roster:

#bootcamp tonight..

A post shared by Corey Narkissos Springer (@narkside) on

 

@serenawalker Not poolsharking #girlsWhoLift

A post shared by Corey Narkissos Springer (@narkside) on

@serenawalker #girlsWhoLift #metabolicConditioning

A post shared by Corey Narkissos Springer (@narkside) on

#bootcamp yuh r******.

A post shared by Corey Narkissos Springer (@narkside) on

#bootcamp ..the love connection

A post shared by Corey Narkissos Springer (@narkside) on

You get the picture.

Lift heavy shit!

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net