Reflections

Things I/We’ve learned over our years adhering to this lifestyle.

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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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

Zen-dom… biceps, business, and bliss.

Stardate: 2nd March, 2016

Hey all!

I often say that my lifelong dedication to fitness has positively affected me in all areas of my life. Training to be a competitive athlete, meant training to be better… period.

A better person.
A better business person.
A better everything really.
Discipline isn’t accidental.

But why the correlation?

Working out is mostly psychology. Yes, it pays to understand human physiology (- this is an understatement really). But when it comes down to understanding and manifesting success or failure… that’s psychology.

Think about it: A guy can lift a rock 100 times each day, and develop a strong lean body without any real understanding of correct movement ( – as long as he does what feels right, and isn’t living in the pie section of the supermarket). But it takes that psychological trigger to initiate that desire to want to get in shape in the first place. Think about it.

You thought about it didn’t you? And that’s my point: higher brain function, emotive responses, rationalisations – that isn’t physiology. Not in its purest sense.

*points to skull*

That’s grey matter.

A lot of trainers and trainees alike don’t understand that. The weakest link in your plan of attack isn’t usually your back, inactive glutes, tight hamstrings, or bum knee.  It’s your spouse. It’s your workmate who comments on your meals and weight daily. It’s your skinny friends who invite you dinner, feed you garbage because they can eat it without getting fat.

It’s you.

It’s your mind.

Luckily, the mind can be trained. Hell, most of the time it NEEDS to be trained. Most of the time, it needs to be trained harder than any muscle.

My clients mostly think that I’m some insane zen master, because I’m always dribbling the above. But they, like me, still practice that thing I like to call “Iso-Perfection” – Isolated Perfection… which, basically, is the process of drilling absolutes in to the subconscious.

Nothing exists outside of that absolutely perfect repetition.

Not music.
Not work drama.
Not your spouse.
Not the cunt who cut you off in traffic and cussed you.
Not the other 8 reps you should be shooting for in that set.

Nothing… outside of the immediate now: You, struggling against you… to manifest a better you.

And, I realise that this sounds like the opposite of everything your muscle and fitness magazine subscription and copious hours of youtube exercise-video-watching  would suggest… but, were you to think about it logically, you’d probably reach the same place as we.

Again… you thought about it… didn’t you? 😉

Studies show that stress increase cognitive decline. Yet so many of us prime the edge (i.e. force the fight or flight response) in an attempt to power through to a desired outcome.

But we fail. Repeatedly. We psyche up, when we should be calming down: immersing ourselves in the moment, experience, and environment.

Think about the number of times you’ve gone to lift something that you know you could lift, psyched yourself up, and failed… stressing about every little thing, except that perfect rep in that intentionally perfect moment.

And it’s the same for every other area of life: work deadlines,sex with a new partner for the first time. You name it. Performance anxiety is no joke.

So, what can we do?

How do we brainwash the brainwashing away?

1. Learn to activate, and deactivate tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision, like bacon, gets a bad rap. The world, and intellectual discussions alike, tends to be all or nothing: something is either the best thing in the world, or pure poison. Tunnel vision is one such thing. Pundits are quick to label it as negative. But successful sportsmen have been (successfully) using this manner of thinking (-did I mention successfully) for centuries. The problem lies in not knowing when to shut it off.

With myself and clients, I use it situationally: If my goal is a perfect set of 500 lb deadlifts, I switch it on just before my first repetition… right before I…

2. Visualise
We get what we focus on. This is true in all areas of life. Successful basketballers focus on the hoop. Successful golfers focus on the hole. Successful cricketers focus on the ball. Nothing else around them matters in that moment. Normal people focus on distractions and can’ts. How many times have you thrown trash at a garbage can and missed?

I thought so.

When I’m in the gym, before the start of my set, before my tunnel vision switches on, before I even touch the bar, I close my eyes and visualise. My hands travel to the muscles that I’m about to fire explosively. I touch, contract them, and imagine them hoisting an ungodly amount of weight in a stupendous manner. I talk to myself. And then I…

3. Quiet the mind – Practice mindfullness: The beginner’s mind
Jeffrey Brantley, and Wendy Millstine, in their book “Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind” defined mindfulness as: “… paying attention on purpose in a way that […] does not try to add or subtract anything from whatever is happening.”

They also defined the “Beginner’s mind” as: “paying attention to each moment and to your breathing as though you’re doing it for the first time, so that you’re curious and welcoming.”
Which is a mouthful mind you. The easiest takeaway of which is: “pay attention to your breathing.”

I often use verbal cues with my clients, and self for this purpose.:
  • “breathe”
  • “relax your shoulders”
  • “push your tummy out when you inhale” (-which is an uncomplicated way of getting a person to focus on expanding and contracting their diaphragm muscles… utilising full lung capacity – something that the average person doesn’t do).
  • “breathe”
I know this has been a lot to read.
So, here are footnotes… for those not inclined to read all the way through:
  1. Train your mind for better fitness results… and better life results. Period.
  2. Focus on perfection in the moment. Nothing else matters in that time. Nothing. Trust me. The world will continue to turn in those moments when you act like it doesn’t exist.
  3. Anxiety isn’t our friend. And life isn’t a competition. The only person you have to beat is you.
  4. I really like bacon.

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Vaaya Mudra – The yoga hand gesture for calmness

 

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