Fitness

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

5 Supplements You SHOULD be using, that you’re probably not.

Stardate: 18th April, 2016

Greetings!!

supplements

As many of you would know, I’m not big on supplements. When asked “hey bro. Should I take [*inserts name of popular go-to fad*]”, my reply is always a blunt two-pronged one:

1: “I don’t take that stuff… I eat food. Lots of it.”
2: “Supplements… should supplement your diet. Novel idea. I know.”

The stuff I actually DO use isn’t fancy. It’s functional.

i.e. It’s the stuff nobody really cares about: the stuff that helps your gut et. al. work better. Why should YOU care about ’em though?

Simple: Gut health is everything. The gut impacts the immune system, the brain, our ability to gain muscle and mobilise fat stores, the quality of our sleep and skin. I mean, holy shit, why would you NOT be interested?

Let’s get down to it!

Here are my mainstays, and a couple notable mentions:

  1. ‘Colon Cleanse Powder’

…aka Psyllium Husk Powder. This product is usually sold as a laxative. But, that’s secondary. I don’t believe in the whole ‘colon cleansing’ notion… but I do recognise that most of the population suffers from a too-low fibre intake. Even dieters, who are eating loads of ‘bush’ (lol) often complain of constipation and the like. The average person, for one, severely underestimates the amount of fibre they eat and need… and it doesn’t help that shady companies represent the minuscule amounts of fibre in their products as something monumental. “Oh. Eat my cereal. It’s fiber enriched! 1 gram of fiber per serving (of 20 grams of sugar and other useless shit)!” What the fuck man?!

Guidelines indicate that we should be taking in 30 grams of fibre per day. i.e. 10-15 grams per 1000 calories. Most of us struggle to get in TEN grams per 2000-3000 calories. That’s crazy!

That. Is. Crazy.

Enter psyllium. One tablespoon gives you 5 grams of fibre. Personally, I blend 3 tablespoons in to my smoothie… and I’m currently up to 5 tablespoons per day.

Try 3 tablespoons per day, plus a couple servings of broccoli, kidney beans, and/or oatmeal spread over the day, and you’re set! 30 grams easy!

2. Probiotics

One of the things I’ve noticed about adulthood is the prevalence of digestive issues. And, it affects all of us… even the fitness personalities like myself. Stress is a major contributor. It absolutely wrecks the gut.  For one, it affects the balance of ‘good’ bacteria to ‘bad’. As this bacteria influences the immune system, we can generally say ‘Stress affects the immune system!’

If it were only stress though, this section of today’s article would be a lot shorter.

Unfortunately friends, our gut flora gets attacked from multiple other angles. Stress, the overconsumption of sugar and starch, wanton overprescription of antibiotics, the absence of prebiotics (i.e. fibre), Exercise (or its absence). Tonnes of stuff really.

A good probiotic is essential shit!

Pun.

3. Digestive enzymes (especially proteolytic ones like bromelain)

I’ve noticed, particularly in new clients, a lot of younger people are complaining about bloat, indigestion, gas… and generally feeling like their food just sits there. Some of them have that lower tummy pouch going on. But, upon pinching the skin there, one realises that it isn’t usually fat. It is legitimate bloat.

I mentioned the prevalence in younger people, because the above used to be an older person’s ailment: Usually an age-related decline in enzyme production, and quality (i.e. the elasticity of the actual enzyme’s protein – blah, blah, blah, science stuff). Nowadays, we’re living longer… but we seem to be aging faster. At least, our organs seem to be.

Fixing the diet, reducing stress, and adding digestive enzymes helps. Not just from the digesting of food standpoint (- which is pretty fucking major as a standalone). Naw… the addition of dietary enzymes can also reduce systemic inflammation. And, this means, enzymes can potential reduce our risk of diseases we shouldn’t even have been at risk for in the first place.

Anyhoo… That there is a rant for another time.

Back on topic: I like bromelain. I use a lot of it. I’ve used it to recover from injuries, swelling, soft tissue damage, and poor digestion.

If you try only one supplement. Try this.

And… while we’re on the topic of inflammation:

4. Quercetin

Quercetin, is basically a plant pigment…  a flavonoid, with SERIOUS antioxidative power, found in richly coloured fruits.

Being a great antioxidant aside, it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory (which means it can potentially help mitigate inflammation-based diseases such as insulin resistance, heart disease, arthritis etc.). It’s also proven to help with allergies, pain, and boost endurance.

Holy shit right?!

I use 1000mg per day. I don’t know if I’ll live longer. But I sure as hell plan on doing everything I can to improve my quality of life!

*pops another cap*

5. Chromium Polynicotinate.

I’ve written about chromium EXTENSIVELY in the past. For about 2 decades, it’s been a mainstay in my supplement regime. I can’t say enough about it’s benefits. But, I’ll rehash anyway:

It may aide in longevity.

It may improve insulin/carbohydrate sensitivity.

It may improve body composition.

It may [blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, super-cool stuff!]!

Bottom line? Chromium is an awesome addition… especially in a population, like ours, whose diets are so starch heavy! I mean, who DOESN’T want to be leaner, healthier, and better able to process carbohydrates? AND it’s cheap. Who doesn’t like not breaking the bank?!

*pauses for dramatic effect*

That’s it!

Hit the health store!

I’ll see you at bootcamp tomorrow!

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:
20160312_085018

 

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”.

IMG_20160221_084731

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

Last night, I punched my daughter in the face

But, before you report me to child protective services, let me explain: for the past 7 months we’ve been co-sleeping.

Co-sleep·ing/ˌkōˈslēpiNG/ (noun) – the practice of sleeping in the same bed with one’s infant or young child.

…Which I’ve been vehemently against, because I’m a 220 lb male with ZERO mid-sleep spatial awareness.sleeping w baby

Stardate: 10th February, 2016

So, last night it happened: after basically a 17 hour workday, I fell into a very deep sleep. I’d asked my wife not to put our little one between us whilst we slept, and at the start of the night she’d obliged. Somewhere during the night however, she moved Nevaeh to between us though. However I didn’t know this, until about an hour later when I felt a weird pressure under my left elbow… which woke me.

That pressure? The baby.

My elbow was resting on her forehead.

Did I mention that I’m over 220 lbs?
Her forehead!
I leapt up!

Jesus H. Christ, did that ever end my night’s ‘rest’. (- I say ‘rest’ because I used to average and be able to function on 2-4 quality hours per night. Presently, there is absolutely no quality to my nights.)

Immediately, I left the bed, and found something to occupy my brain until my alarm went off. That’s been the norm these past 7 months… when I actually attempt to sleep in bed.

Initially, we’d agreed not to co-sleep. There was a lot of conflicting research, as well as the loud “DON’T DO IT”s from my married female friends, whose relationships and quality of life had each been affected by co-sleeping. Some of my friends had pointed out that they’d read the blogs and tried it… and four years later, their children were still finding their way into their beds in the middle of the night.

My wife and her friends had different opinions, and read different blogs though obviously, because it was implemented anyway. We have, for the past two months, been trying to get our infant out of the behaviour however… but there’s been absolutely no progress on that front.

Please note: this isn’t a blame or shame post. I’m not calling out my wife or her people. I’m simply presenting a case for other soon-to-be-new dads and moms out there… from a guy who nearly crushed his beautiful daughter to death in his sleep. (lol – dramatic much?)

So what does the information on co-sleeping say?

Some pros!

  • It’s easier to soothe the wee one (- babies go back to sleep more easily as well).
  • Encourages breastfeeding.
  • Allows mum to get more rest at night (- rather, to sync her sleep patterns to the baby’s).
  • More bonding time for mum. Can lead to more intimacy for dad, if dad doesn’t see baby much during the day.

Some cons!

  • Less sleep for dad. Way less sleep actually.
  • Decreased opportunities for dad and mum to be spontaneous or intimate (- or spontaneously intimate) i.e. marital interference.
  • Less sleep for the baby. While those pro-co-sleeping claim that it results in more sleep, those opposed to it claim the opposite. The latter claim that the over-attentiveness (namely soothing every whimper) actually results in babies whimpering more… seeking out, and being rewarded with more attention as a result.
  • Terminal night-time dependency: the inability to fall asleep without the parent there; fear of waking up alone… and the like.

Like I said: there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. You, as a new parent, have truly got some reading ahead of you!

My conclusion though?
Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. There are tons of pros, as well as cons. Research, research, research… communicate, field test, buy some wine, and a sleeping bag.

Did I mention that I bought a sleeping bag? It’s blue. (lol)

Yours in fitness (… and hopefully [still] marriage),
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net