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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Interview: Olympian Helen Glover

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Hi All,

We were honoured to do a short interview with Olympic Gold Medallist Rower Helen Glover, at the launch of the new Nissan Note.  Here is what she had to say to us!

Helen Glover

Hi Helen, congratulations on winning another gold at the World Championships! Can you start off by telling us how you got into Rowing?

Thank you very much. It was by chance really. When I left University I was about to take up a teacher training course but my mum saw a Sporting Giant advert in the paper, she called me up and said “why don’t you apply?” The only criteria set was that you had to be over 5ft10, even though I was 5ft9 ∏ I applied and it was a talent scheme looking for tall people to be directed into three sports which were handball, rowing and volleyball. The first stage was the paper application, and the second stage was where they measured you, tested your fitness and your potential to gain fitness. From that, 30 boys and 30 girls got asked to start rowing and 2008 was the first time I sat in a boat and picked up an oar all because I had applied through this scheme. I watched the Beijing Olympics when I had just started rowing and it made me realise what I had let myself in for and what a big task it was. The reason I started rowing was to win Gold in 2012, it wasn’t for fitness or recreational purposes, it was to win.

 

Wow, the Sporting Giant scheme sounds really good, how quick was your progress when you started rowing?

Quite quick really, having already competed in cross country running alongside playing netball and hockey  I was already co-ordinated and quite fit. The first year was a little frustrating and a little slower than I wanted because I was teaching at the same time, which killed me as I was getting up so early and going to bed so late trying to fit everything in. I won my first World Championship medal two and a half years after I started rowing which is very quick. I won Silver in New Zealand and I got onto the senior team two years after I started rowing which in perspective is really quick. So whilst I was teaching it was slow, but as soon as I got a bit of funding, it all accelerated quickly.

 

And how did winning Olympic gold compare to winning World Championship gold?

I feel like the World Championship Gold is something that has been a long time coming and it’s quite strange to become Olympic Champion before World Champion because there are World Championships every year. Whereas the Olympic Gold had huge pressure, excitement and buzz in the UK, the World Championships felt a lot more personal, and I was more determined to get it as it solidifies my position as Olympic Champion. It shows I can back up an Olympic performance and to become World Champion at the same time as an Olympic Champion is something that I feel really proud of.

 

Sounds like an amazing experience! So, moving onto your training regime, how often do you train?

In a training week we have 2-3 sessions every day. In the winter it’s based on mileage and getting our strength, and in the summer it’s about getting our power levels up.

 

And what does a typical session look like?

In the winter we’ll start with an hour and forty minute continuous row in the racing boat for about 24km. The second session will be on the rowing machine and we’ll row about 18km, slow and steady, more endurance based than anything. We’ll finish the day with a weight session, which we do about four times a week in the gym to gain strength and body mass. We do 6 hours a day of physical training, including warming up, cooling down and physio. Our days last from 7.30am till about 5.00pm.

 

What’s your least favourite exercise?

I don’t really like the rowing machine purely because of the monotony of it. It always hurts, whereas on the water you have your technique to work on together with a crew mate. On the machine, you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can and the only reward you’re getting is a number on a screen.

 

What your most favourite workout/exercise and why?

Love to run, but I don’t do much of it now that I’m rowing but every time I run my body seems to think I’m a runner again. I want to keep a certain body mass as I’m a little bit small and every time I run I lose body mass but I love to go home, go out to the sand dunes, stick my earphones in and just run. As a group, I enjoy working in the weight room as you can push each other and help each other lift.

 

And lastly, what do you do with your time away from rowing?

I don’t get a lot of time. When I do get time, I go back home to Cornwall twice a year where I like to Kayak and Surf and do all the outdoor activities I used to do when growing up. When I was growing up I used to run and swim so I just try and do as much sport as I can when I’m home.

 

 

Interview: Ben Pratt Talks Raw Milk

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

This week we spoke to Ben Pratt from Natural Food Finder about raw milk.  This is a hot topic at the moment with major mainstream news outlets getting involved in the debate with to regards to its safety.  Ben has done extensive research into raw milk and its benefits and is a chapter leader for the Weston A.Price Foundation. 

Tom Godwin: Hi Ben, it has been a while since we had you on last, it is great to have you back on!

Thanks Tom. It is great to be back chatting again about all things nutritional. It is great as well to see you getting involved in supporting local, whole foods through the Weston Price Foundation.

TG: You are heavily involved with the campaign for raw milk, what exactly is raw milk?

Yes I am very keen on encouraging the consumer to be more aware of and to retain the right to drink raw milk direct from the farm. Simply put raw milk is milk that has been drawn from a cow, buffalo, goat or sheep that has not been sent to a dairy or been pasteurised before consumption. The majority of milk today is sent to one of the 5 major dairies where it is pasteurised, homogenised and standardised before it is bottled and sent to the supermarkets for sale.
Pasteurisation is where the milk is rapidly heated for 20 seconds to 72 degrees Celsius to kill any potentially pathogenic bacteria. Pathogens will be killed, as will any beneficial bacteria. The fragile proteins in the milk will also become damaged at this temperature and the enzymes in the milk will be completely destroyed. Homogenisation is where milk is forced through a tiny filter valve at 2100 PSI which then breaks down the cream into microscopic globules so that they never gather into a cream line that settles on the surface. Standardisation is the process of skimming or removing the cream from the milk and then adding it back in at set or standardised levels. In the UK skimmed milk typically has 0.1% fat, semi-skimmed 1.8-2.0% fat and whole milk 3.5% fat. It is interesting that milk even from Holstein cows is typically 4.0% fat, whereas Jersey or Guernsey milk can be as high as 5.5-6.0% fat. So whole milk is not truly ‘whole’ it is just the standard fat content allowed in modern milk. So getting back to your question ‘what is raw milk’, it is milk that has not had any of these processes performed on it. Raw milk is not pasteurised, homogenised or standardised. It is milk in it’s absolutely natural state, directly from the animal.

TG: What are the health benefits of raw milk?

The answer to this question is not as straight forward as some people think. There are many claimed health benefits and then there are those that have been tested and proven through scientific research. Raw milk has been purported to provide a valuable source of all the essential amino acids, to be a source of probiotic bacteria, to contain immune promoting compounds, to be rich in approximately 60 nutritive enzymes, to provide a rich source of calcium that is fully bioavailable, to provide a good source of the anticancer compound CLA (if grass fed milk) and it is also a source of vitamins. These things all sound good enough, but perhaps a comparison to pasteurised milk will highlight this even more. Pasteurised milk will contain amino acids, but a proportion of these will be denatured, all probiotic bacteria will be destroyed, all enzymes will be destroyed, calcium will still be present but much less available for absorption, the immune-protective compounds will be partially destroyed, much of the CLA (if present in the first place) will be destroyed and there will be degradation of some of the vitamins present in the milk.

Perhaps the most publicised benefits of drinking raw milk are to do with a reduction in asthma and hay fever symptoms in those who have previously suffered. A recent study investigated this showing significant improvement in an article published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

TG: Why is raw milk so important?

Milk has always been consumed in its raw form. Pasteurisation has only become a product of the modern industrial age. It has only been common practice in the UK since the Second World War. To be honest raw milk is perhaps no more important than any other naturally occurring whole food. However, it is the increasing scarcity of raw milk and the intentions of others to remove raw milk from the food supply that makes it such an important issue! We are legally allowed to purchase tobacco, of which statistics suggest will bring about the death of 50% of its users, whereas certain groups claim that raw milk is too dangerous and should be banned no longer to be used for human consumption.

TG: Is raw milk safe?

Now there is a good question! Well that depends who you choose to ask! Ha ha! I recently watched a video recording from the Foods Standards Agencies recent board meeting where this was discussed. It is clear that despite the fact that they shared statistical evidence showing that there have been no deaths in England or Wales as a result of drinking raw milk for more than 17 years that some of those on the board had already made up their minds that it was unsafe. Not only has there been no deaths from raw milk, there has also been very few reported cases of illness either. This is point is even more stark when you consider that between 1992 and 2009 there have been more than 2500 outbreaks of food related illness from all causes affecting more than 65,000 people. Only 20 of these outbreaks were related to raw milk or cream which affected 242 people. This represents only 0.8% of the total outbreaks of food related illness and 0.4% of the people affected. Whilst it is appreciated that there is a smaller population that drink raw milk compared to pasteurised milk, it can hardly be said that raw milk is inherently dangerous on the back of these statistics. What about all the other foods that have caused more than 2300 people to be admitted to hospital and 149 deaths during the same time period from 92-09? Should the same stringent standards not be taken with these foods? As you can see this is a complex issue. If anyone is interested I have already written 2 blogs on the subject of raw milk safety. These can be found on Natural Food Finder at raw milk safety 1 and raw milk safety 2.

TG: Is it legal in the UK?

Consuming raw milk is absolutely legal in England, Wales and Ireland. There are no restrictions at present in relation to the sale or consumption of raw buffalo, goats or sheep’s milk. Cow’s milk has some restrictions. It can only be sold to the consumer directly from the farm through means of a farm shop or a delivery scheme. It cannot be purchased by an intermediate retailer who then sells it on to the consumer. There are approximately 100 small farms registered to sell raw cow’s milk in the UK with about another 35 or so who sell goats, buffalo or sheep’s milk. This makes the coverage of raw milk to the consumer somewhat limited. However, there are no restrictions in relation to the sale of unpasteurised cheeses which can be freely found for sale in most supermarkets, good delicatessens or cheesemongers.

TG: How can I find a supplier of raw milk?

Well to be honest the easiest way at present it to go to my website, www.naturalfoodfinder.co.uk and to visit our interactive Raw Milk Map to find which supplier is closest to where you live. We currently have more than 50 suppliers listed and continue to seek the information of all the farmers who produce in the UK. However, neither the FSA nor DEFRA are willing to part with this information so we are only able to add new details as we learn of them. We do have the largest online listing of raw milk producers in the UK so you chances of finding a supplier here first are pretty good. However, you may also get speaking to vendors and farmers at local farmers markets to see if they are aware of any registered raw milk farms. Hey and if you find one that we haven’t listed yet, be sure to let us know so we can share that good news with others.

TG: How can interested people get more information on Raw milk?

There are a few other websites that carry useful information regarding raw milk beside Natural Food Finder. Here is a list of options:

http://www.realmilk.com/

http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/

http://www.campaignforrealmilk.co.uk/

http://www.rawmilk.org/default.php

http://rawmilkinstitute.net/

Well Tom it has been a pleasure to share a little time with you again, especially discussing a topic close to my heart. It should be everybody’s right to choose the food they want to eat and if milk is to be one of them then to enjoy the full nutritional benefits it must be high quality, pasture raised, clean raw milk from local, sustainable farms.

Kesh Patel talks Posture

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Tom Godwin: May I first of all thank you for giving up time in your busy day to take part in this interview, it is great to have you on!  

TG:  For anyone who has not heard of you, why don’t you tell us a little about your background in the world of fitness?

KP:  My interest in fitness began while studying for my first degree; but it wasn’t until my second degree that I took my first steps in the industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. Several years (and many courses) later, I found myself in a Fitness Management role, and it was from here that my career took an exponential leap. Like many fitness professionals I made the decision to work for myself, and set up a private rehab/performance clinic and a training education company, both of which ran successfully for many years. During this time I was also fortunate to work as a lead tutor for a sports therapy college, as well as presenting/lecturing nationally for other health and fitness training providers. I had the opportunity to return to full time employment in 2009 for a leading training provider, where I now work in the area of Research and Development.

My personal and academic interests firmly lie in the areas of play culture, movement re-education, learning, and natural health and fitness, and when I’m not working, I enjoy practicing (and promoting the virtues of) the skills of La Methode Naturelle, barefoot running, yoga, climbing, gymnastics, Ginastica Natural, and general monkeying around!

TG:  I recently read your books on corrective exercise and posture (look out for a review coming up), what got you into this subject area?

KP: You know, I’ve always had a fascination with efficiency, especially when it relates to human (and other animal) movement. I was also inspired in the early days by the likes of Paul Chek and Gary Gray – who were using a strong movement-based approach with their clients; so when I started working with clients, I took every opportunity to use these principles and methods. At the time, I had a busy lecturing schedule within sports therapy, and realised there were knowledge gaps in my students, particularly in the context of rehabilitative exercise. These students, who had a vast knowledge of anatomy and therapeutic techniques, were not confident in exercise progression. Therefore, I decided to fill the gap with the Corrective Exercise book.
The momentum for the Postural Training book arose from working with rehab and fitness clients over many years. It also represents a different approach to postural training – one that was client-centric. Clients would come to me and say ‘I have this constant ache in my neck’, or ‘my low back hurts when I lift’. As well as addressing the specific problems they presented with, I would also show them how these problematic body parts connected to other body parts. By working on a problem area, and then rewiring the communication lines to adjacent or connected body parts, it was possible to effect a long-lasting change. Because I saw this as a re-education process (and inspired by the Feldenkrais Method) I used to refer to these sessions as ‘lessons’ – and this is what can be found in the book.

I mentioned the Feldenkrais Method. For many years I have been interested in somatic education, especially the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, and this has influenced my work significantly. Whenever I worked with clients, I would use Feldenkrais thinking combined with traditional exercises – an approach that produced significant changes to posture. As fitness professionals our knowledge of visual anatomy is often very good, but our knowledge of kinaesthetic anatomy is limited. We have forgotten what it feels like to sense and move. Thomas Hanna called this sensory motor amnesia. When you reduce the level of pain, or improve athletic performance in a client, by showing them how to integrate and use other body parts more efficiently – and in an environment that encourages physical and physiological learning – you are setting the stage for long-lasting change.
When you look at the lineage of somatic education, it’s one that is both fascinating and relevant, yet is often understated or disregarded in the industry today. Just because a way of thinking or set of methods is not seen to belong within certain industry norms and standards does not mean that it isn’t relevant or useful to that industry. With the Posture book, I wanted to show how alternative schools of thought could fit into a traditional fitness model, and hopefully stimulate a paradigm shift in the way we think about posture.

TG:  Why is posture so important in everyday life?

KP:  This is really a question regarding efficiency. If I can answer the question as to the importance of optimal posture, then I think the phrase ‘optimal posture is the beginning and end of efficient movement’ stands true in this respect. When we align our body segments optimally, we are better prepared for (and potentially more efficient at) the task at hand, whether it’s bending to pick up a child, getting into a car, or just walking up the stairs.
When I talk about alignment, I’m not alluding to the image of a straight or neutral spine. In many cases, this position may be optimal, however, it’s important to understand that our bodies are constantly reacting to our environment, and our ability to re-align or re-configure our limbs in the most efficient way, at any given instance, is the key to postural control in everyday life.

In addition, we should also consider the terminology we use when talking about posture. I’ve always preferred to use the term ‘optimal configuration’ rather than posture, as this provokes an awareness of how we are aligning ourselves, and is also a more dynamic term. Posture often brings up strong images of being static, and this is certainly not the case – we are always moving, and by therefore by default, we are always adjusting our posture. The term posture means so many different things to different people, and nowadays it’s meaning has become somewhat diluted.

TG:  What are the biggest causes of postural deviations?

KP: This is a great question, and one I’d like to answer by first revising what ‘good’ posture is. Let’s consider that to have ‘good’ posture, it is necessary to have a good configuration of the body segments, as well as coordinated control of the muscles that support and move these segments. It would then be easy to understand that ‘poor’ posture would occur when these control mechanisms do not work optimally. Furthermore, it’s important to consider that any number of stressors can affect postural control, and in such cases we will often seek alternative ways of moving, usually using an over-excited muscular contraction. Such an excitation (usually of a voluntarily controllable group of muscles!) makes fine motor control impossible. So we then enter a continual cycle where daily movement objectives are achieved by higher than normal energy expenditure, rather than economy of effort.

As an example, consider a child that is encouraged to walk before they have completed their crawling ‘training’. They will stand up and walk with unnecessary tension, which then becomes associated with a sense of effort and a particular body alignment. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that such a pattern will remain ingrained into adult life. This is an important concept because whether it’s a child or adult, faulty posture can arise if the end goal to be achieved is beyond the current means of the individual. While the objectives of many fitness programmes today are admirable, consider how many exercise programmes take people beyond their means – and that also goes for many postural correction programmes!

TG:  Can posture be corrected by yourself, if so what is your approach?

KP:  Absolutely, and it’s a simple process. In all cases, I would favour an approach that focuses on body awareness and movement. The following steps summarise some of the key points:
1.    Become aware of your posture by having it observed by an experienced professional. This should include a static and dynamic observation, as well as observations of breathing.
2.    Begin to introduce exercises and movements that further raise postural awareness – begin to notice how you bend, push, pull, twist. The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method can offer some useful insight here.
3.    As you begin to notice how you control your posture, start to challenge it further. Include exercises that challenge balance, alignment, spatial awareness, and ground reaction force.  Formats such as T’ai Chi, yoga, Pilates are excellent choices. A number of gym-based exercises can also be used – just remember to inject more awareness into the exercises.
4.    Look for familiarity of exercises in activities of daily living, and integrate these new patterns as much as possible. It is important to continually provide new contexts for movements. For example, once you can squat comfortably with minimal effort, provide a different context for squatting by using it to pick up a box,  a child, or shopping bag – give your body the opportunity and flexibility to explore the parameters of a particular movement pattern (generalised motor pattern)
5.    Make use of feedback and feed forward. Feedback is an important learning tool particularly during complex movements. However, it is also important every now and then to perform activities that engage feed forward mechanisms (anticipatory postural adjustments). For example, going for a walk in the woods, or a barefoot run, or simply playing with your kids in the park, will take the body out of a controlled environment and allow it to gain finer control of posture.
6.    Be patient, and make improvements in posture part of your daily life. As you gain better control, the more unconscious these new patterns will become, and the less you’ll need to think about them.

TG:  What are your top ten tips to improving your posture?

KP:  That’s a tough one, as there are so many things to consider – but in no particular order….
1.    Practice relaxed breathing on a daily basis, whether this is meditation, yoga, or simply taking a 5 minute time-out
2.    Walk around in bare feet as much as you can and where possible on uneven surfaces.
3.    Ensure joint stability and mobility are objectives in your exercise programme
4.    Always look for ways to minimise effort of movement – don’t be afraid to repeat a movement in a different way
5.    Explore new movements and activities as often as possible
6.    Re-cultivate fundamental movement patterns based on balance, gait, climbing, throwing, lifting, carrying and combat.
7.    Approach all movement with a sense of wonder, exploration and play
8.    Get at least 30 minutes of natural daylight (and fresh air) every day
9.    Pandiculate regularly throughout the day (look it up!)
10.    Eat well, play well, rest well

TG:  If I play a sport what role does posture play there and how can improving my alignment effect my game?

KP:  When the motivation for playing sport shifts to one that focuses on improving efficiency of performance (as opposed to solely winning) then improvements in posture and alignment can be tremendous. These may include quicker adaptations to unpredictable demands, a reduced risk of injury, and may even contribute to a reduction in total energy expenditure during sport.
A key factor for athletes – both recreational and elite – is how to improve efficiency and economy of effort. Therefore it makes sense that a body that is optimally aligned, and is able to control alignment well when demands increase, is probably going to exhibit greater efficiency. Almost every sport seen today has been expertly dissected to reveal that proper posture and alignment play a pivotal role in improving performance – the growing challenge for fitness professionals is getting this information across in an accessible way to those who play sport.

TG:  What is next for you Kesh, anymore books in the pipeline?

KP:  That’s a good question – you know, as I find myself approaching my 40th year, I can honestly say that I’m in the best physical, mental and spiritual shape of my life – so really, I’m just looking forward to what the next decade brings, and for the meantime will continue to do what I do well, and contribute to the industry when/where I can.
As well as further adventures in the world of posture, I will continue to pursue my long-time personal interests in physical education and play culture – and if another book comes out of that, I’ll be sure to be in touch!
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me today!

TG:  Thanks for giving up some of you time to share with us, it has been awesome!

Talking Function with Marvin Burton

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Marvin Burton is a highly experienced personal trainer and specialist in functional training.  We spoke to him about how and why you should make your training more functional.

Tom Godwin: May I first of all thank you for giving up time in your busy day to take part in this interview, it is great to have you on!  

TG:  For anyone who has not heard of you, why don’t you tell us a little about your background in the world of fitness?

MB:  Like many others I stared at the bottom. I Worked as a volunteer in a health club in return for free membership and experience.
I was quickly given the opportunity to work on reception leading to sales and memberships, gym floor and instructor, teaching group exercise, fitness manager, personal trainer and finally personal training manager.
I tested my knowledge by working on cruise ships as the director of fitness all over the world. On return I spent 6 years working with young adults ranging from 11-19 years old. In my spare time I studied sports massage, the GIFT internship in USA and Functional medicines. Since then I have become master trainer for TRX, ViPR, Watt Bike, Kranking, indoor cycling, Fitness Pilates and kettlebells
I write programmes for PT on the Net and currently I am the model for their exercise library.
Making use of my position I wrote my own qualifications, workshops for trainers and lecture at conferences. I am also used for consultation and modelling fitness equipment.
In 2011 I formed my own business called The Fitness Retreat Limited.

TG:  You spent some time as director of fitness on the ships, how were fitness levels on board?

MB:   Remembering that people were only on the vessel for a holiday, if they made it to me in the gym it was a minor miracle. I quickly realised my skills were best used teaching classes for the crew. They were my regular attendees although I gave seminars on arthritis, fat loss and healthy lifestyle each week.
Passengers would often try using the treadmills when the sea was rough or wearing “flip flops” (that was the only footwear they had) so I was more of a supervisor of the fitness suite.
To work on a ship, you need to be able to do and teach everything.
Answer to your question – very bad!

TG:  Your speciality is functional training, what is functional to you?

MB:  Function is being able to perform a task in the most effective way.
However, to improve your function I may need to train you for what you need, rather than what you want.
For example, a runner with poor motion in a hip would not be able to achieve their target if the function on the hip doesnt allow them to!
In answer to your question. Function to me is just a word that summarises the ability to perform a given task.
Nutrition, lifestyle and training. These 3 components dictate overall human function.

TG:  What are the most important aspects of training in a functional manner?

MB: The most important aspect of functional training is being able to do the simple things well. You need to be able to stable before becoming unstable. This is a good example of something that is overlooked quiet often in my opinion. Stick to the simple things first. The fundamentals of exercise and nutrition need to be followed firstly and consistently.

TG:  How does the average person build function into their training?

MB: Take what they already do and Manipulate the variables of exercises ( tempo, height, sets, reps, direction ) that would be my starting point. From this they will already feel and see a difference. For example, performing a chin up is an exercise that most people would struggle with. If we changed the hand position, speed or using the eccentric phase, these would all improve the overall ability of the client. From here we can build on success and develop the strength required for the activity.

TG:  What is your current favourite bit of exercise kit?

MB: I select the equipment based on the client. The things I most commonly use are, ViPRs, TRX, Kettlebells and the good old Olympic bar. I have a group class of 30 each week and we all have a 6kg ViPR an expensive investment but the versatility of the product allows me to train all ages and abilities at the same time.

TG:  What does the average PT session look like with you?

MB:  Always start with nutrition and lifestyle. This indicates what mind set they are in and if I need to spend more time on high intensity or low intensity training. Then we usually prepare the connective tissue, work on any strength training while they are fresh. Towards the end I focus on mobility and more specific tasks for them. This might be balance work, core or flexibility.

TG:  What is next for you Marvin?

MB:  I’m taking myself back to stage 1. Working with the general public on my  Fitness Retreat is rewarding. When you live with your clients for a few days you get the chance to ensure they eat well, sleep and train well. In return the benefits are far better and quicker. You can never guarantee a client will go home and follow your advice. The Fitness Retrat gives me this opportunity.

TG:  Thanks for giving up some of you time to share with us, it has been awesome!

To find out more about Marvin and Fitness-Retreat click here.

Brandon Alleman Interview

Monday, November 1st, 2010

TG: Hi Brandon, thanks for being interviewed. Could you start out by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

First, I would like to say thank you Tom, for the opportunity to share with your audience. I really appreciate that.
To answer your first question, I was very athletic growing up and was always interested in sports and physical activity. I was actively engaged in just about all sports and settled into basketball, track and field, and boxing competitively throughout my teenage years.

When I was 17, I suffered a back injury that would change things for me from that moment on. I had a hard time overcoming the injury with conventional methods of treatment (i.e. – physical therapy, etc.) so I decided I would take matters into my own hands. I read my first orthopedic and rehabilitation text at that time and was fortunate enough to rehabilitate myself and get back to my old “young” self again.

From there I decided to pursue a career in the health, fitness, and rehabilitation industry. I began working with clients professionally immediately out of high school and accumulated several certifications. Roughly a year later in 2000, a colleague turned me on to the CHEK Institute, Paul Chek, and the CHEK Certification Program. I took my prerequisite courses and completed my Level 1 training in 2001. From there, I immersed myself in the CHEK Certification programs and all that they entail and I moved from my home state of Louisiana to Rhode Island to be part of a very elite group of rehabilitation professionals. I worked there for 2 years heading up the clinical and corrective exercise for the facility prior to returning home to start a clinically based holistic health and corrective exercise practice that I run today.

TG: How important do you feel it is that individuals take responsibility for their own health?

This is one of the most critical aspects of attaining ideal health and wellness. As someone who has been in this field for a while now yourself, you are very familiar with the fact that many people believe that when it comes to their health and wellness, that “life is doing them.” They are a victim of poor genetics or some other “cause” of ill health. Taking responsibility for where one is in life, whether that be in terms of health and fitness or otherwise, is a necessary first step in “turning the ship around” so to speak.

I do feel that we, myself included, overuse the word responsibility. The word itself is very punitive and sort of has a stigma of blame attached to it – “Who is responsible for this mess?” I prefer to teach my clients that they are the co-creator/architect of their own health. There is no one or no “thing” to point the finger at for why you are where you are. I am personally a huge believer that 99% of the things that happen to us in our lives – we create. That is not always easy to accept, but for me, true nonetheless.

Health, fitness, rehabilitation, performance enhancement, etc., are not things that can be done “to” someone. An individual has to want to be healthy or fit more than the trainer, coach, or whoever, they are working with. If this is not the case, results will likely not manifest in a timely manner, if at all. So taking on the self-responsibility of creating more health and vitality in one’s life is an absolutely essential step to long-term success in my opinion.

TG: In what ways can people do this?

I feel one of the first ways this can be achieved is through attaining an awareness of the consequences of the choices we all make on a daily basis. For example, everything we choose to eat or not eat has a physical, mental, and hormonal consequence to it. Knowing what those consequences are, at least for some, may help to steer them in the right direction. I am of the opinion that the more you know about a given topic, the easier it becomes to make a better decision.

I also like the Ericsson Theory of Deliberate Practice. The main point of this theory put forth by K. Anders Ericsson, PhD, is that in order to achieve expert performance in any endeavor, one must engage in deliberate practice with the explicit goal of constant improvement.

There are four basic steps to Deliberate Practice and they are as follows:

(1) Practice

(2) Break the goal down into small, manageable components

(3) Enlist the help of a coach and be coachable

(4) Be prepared for setbacks.

In terms of applying the Ericcson Theory to taking responsibility for one’s health, one first has to make the conscious choice to improve his/her current state of health. Then they can choose to find a coach, someone like you or myself as an example, who will help them break that goal into small parts (what to eat, when to eat, lifestyle modifications, and on and on). Next, they have to practice implementing those small action items on a day-to-day basis and finally, they must be prepared for the occasional setback and be aware of how to respond if and when they occur.

TG: You are a CHEK Practitioner. What special skills has this given you?

That is a great question. The training that I have received as a higher level CHEK Practitioner has proven for me to be invaluable. I suppose the biggest take-away that I have received to date is the ability to accurately assess my clients on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, chemical, and even spiritual – to identify the root cause of their issues. Integrating this information into total wellness program design in order to give my clients whatever tools they need to foster health and well-being is what I consider to be my greatest ability as a CHEK Practitioner. The CHEK Program has been the catalyst that has helped me to help individuals who would be considered “challenge” cases. To anyone who has a passion for living a life of health and helping people overcome chronic pain and ill health, I recommend the CHEK Institute Programs without reservation.

TG: How important is the connection between body and mind?

Well, the two are inseparable. Without the mind, the body would not survive and vice versa. There is no body and no mind – there is only a body-mind. So from that standpoint, it is hard to overstate the importance of the connection. One thing that is very interesting is that if you look at the research that has been done on individuals with multiple personality disorders you find that one personality is near-sighted and another personality is far-sighted! One personality will be allergic to cats and another personality loves cats with no ill effects. It is the same body, but a different mind controlling that body.

By the same token, it takes a healthy body to support a healthy mind. I believe it was Socrates that would have his students practice with wrestlers because as he stated, and I may be paraphrasing here, “You have to be in shape to think!” Whatever it is that the mind conceives the body has to have the ability to support that idea for it to manifest. For example, my mind may hold the idea of running a marathon. But if I have spent the last 15 years living a completely sedentary lifestyle, I will probably run about 800 feet and then I will either pass out or vomit – or both!

I encourage creating a lifestyle that integrates mind and body to foster well-being. Many of the Eastern Philosophies do a great job of this. Meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, and all of the cultivations sciences are excellent additions to a really sound exercise program – provided they are executed in their truest form of course.

TG: What does your consultation process involve?

Well I usually have potential clients fill out an extensive array of paperwork prior to their Initial Consultation in order to maximize time during the consultation process.

Typically, I review past and current lifestyle factors, past and present medical and injury history, review any medical tests/imaging studies the client may have, set an overarching goal, address any questions that the client may have about the healing process, investigate financial and temporal resources available for healing, and establish the short and long-term commitment options.
From there, my clients are scheduled for their physical evaluations and we move forward based on those results.

TG: What are your top 3 tips to achieve weight loss?

My first tip is always to develop a healthy relationship with food. Many people view food as an inconvenience and do not realize that that attitude towards food has physiological consequences which can set them up for fatigue, weight gain, sleep issues, and a host of other problems.

Far too many people try to rely on their exercise programs as the primary tool for weight loss, when the focus should be on their nutrition. You will never out-train bad nutrition. How many times per week can someone exercise? Now, how many times do they typically eat? So where is the priority – the answer is obvious.

My second tip is to eat whole, real food and avoid foodstuffs that are processed, enriched, and/or fortified. It takes life to give life – that is the bottom line. The further from Nature your food is, the more difficult it will be to lose weight. The longer the shelf life – the worse the food is for you. Two very basic rules of thumb that I give my clients is that (1) If it was not here 5,000 years ago it will detract from your health not contribute to it and (2) If it has more than a handful of ingredients, or words on the food label that you cannot pronounce – do not eat it. That’s pretty much it from a very basic level.

I suppose my third tip would have to be to listen to your body. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals and communicating with us. We have to be still enough and have an awareness to listen and interpret the signals accurately. Headaches, pain, digestive problems, fatigue, sleep issues, and on and on – all of these are the body’s attempt to let you know to change your current habits because they are not serving you. If you continue to ignore the body’s signals, it will be increasingly difficult to achieve any health or fitness related goal you may have – or any other goal for that matter.

TG: What part do you feel nutrition has to play in overall wellbeing?

Hippocrates stated very clearly, “Let your food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.” Nutrition is your acquired life-force, or energy. It is an extension of energy from the Divine, or that which you feel created you. It is necessary to provide the body with what it requires to be healthy.

If you stop eating right now, you may live only 2 weeks –depending on your body fat levels. As I mentioned earlier, everything we choose to eat has a physical, chemical, and hormonal consequence to it. Unfortunately, we have added over 10,000 man-made chemicals to our food supply in the last 100 years, and very few (I believe it is less than 3%) of them have ever been thoroughly tested in any quantity.

Here in the United States, we have a very interesting silent experiment running and if I were to title that experiment it would sound something like this: “The negative health effects of feeding a healthy population of people overly processed and fast foods over an extended period of time.” The results are pretty clear so far – they get sick – very sick. Over 90% of the money spent on food in the US is spent on fast and/or processed foods and we have more disease of every kind per capita than ever before in history. This is not a coincidence.

If the quality of your nutrition/food is poor – so will your health be.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you.

The future is very promising. I am currently in the process of re-branding my company and I am writing an e-book which is at the present moment untitled. I am currently integrating a fair amount of Functional Lab Assessment into my practice and am also studying Traditional Chinese Medicine Food Cures and slowly integrating these into my practice where applicable. As well, I am designing a several 4-6 week presentation series on various topics such as fatigue, chronic back/neck pain, and weight loss to name a few. I plan to begin these presentations within the next 6 months.

On the educational front, I plan to continue to work towards my Level IV CHEK Certification and position myself as an Instructor candidate for the CHEK Institute.

Interview with Michael Jocson (Jocson Health)

Monday, October 18th, 2010

TG: Hi Michael, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MJ: You’re welcome Tom & thank you for this wonderful opportunity.  I started my career working as a manual physiotherapist and from there went through a somewhat Parcival journey searching for the Holy Grail even though I wasn’t aware of it back then. Back then, I did what I was always taught to do, which was study hard, work hard, and be the best physio, and most of all,….get results.  It wasn’t long before I started realizing that although I was getting results with patients, there were always those where it seemed I couldn’t do anything for them.  This along with a deceptive healthcare system in the United States steered me towards alternative perspectives such as the strength and conditioning, personal training, and nutrition fields.  From there I ran into Paul Chek’s work and he helped open my eyes to the possibilities that I was only previously unconsciously dreaming of.  I always had an intuition that there was something else missing or at least a different way of looking at the same old conditions and Paul taught me to not only look further outside the box, but to be the box, and still be able to come back within the box and put things all together so that everything flows.  After completing CHEK IV in 2007, like Parcival, I began to ask the right questions and break out of the mold of my old conditioning and walked away from a successful private physiotherapy practice and started working primarily as a CHEK Practitioner.  If that wasn’t enough, I then went through shamanic training with Alberto Villoldo and the box I was grown to be intimately involved with totally disappeared; meaning, even my identity as a CHEK Practitioner was dissolving.  Presently I coined a term “health consulting” to describe the eclectic approach and expansive manner in which I work with clients.  My “Ten second elevator speech” when asked what it is I do for a living is:  “I help people find the Soul through the Body by finding the Courage to change the Mind.”

TG: What edge do you feel you being a Chek Practitioner IV gives you personally?

MJ: As one scales the ranks in the CHEK Practitioner program, you develop what I like to call “perverted seeing”; not like a dirty old man sense but more in the way that you look at things from as many different angles as possible without necessarily accepting what is considered “acceptable” until experience dictates otherwise.  And even still, you are open to the fact that everything is constantly changing so what may be true yesterday, may not hold true today, or even tomorrow.  In CHEK Levels I to III, the intern learns about the Body in relation to the Mind.  In CHEK IV, they are prepared to relate the Mind with the Soul and after CHEK IV, the Practitioner is no longer the same because who they thought they once were no longer weighs them down.  I like to jokingly call this “CHEK V & Beyond” because the ego demands/wants/desires are exposed and the window to the Soul is shattered opened so that It can no longer be ignored.  The CHEK IV training is a process that continues long after Paul Chek gives you a hug and your certificate.  The “edge” personally for me, is the courage to LOVE.  Keep in mind that not all who have completed CHEK IV training experience this initially unless they have also completed Paul’s PPS mastery program.  I actually took a different route where I was called to follow the shamanic path and through that training learned to “wine & dine & sixty-nine” my shadows so that I can be completely present with clients.

TG: What benefits does it give your clients?

MJ: Imagine how awesome it would feel if you can go to someone whenever you had an issue and you can fully express yourself in an environment that felt safe, non-judgmental, peaceful, and perhaps most importantly, no separation which allows for empathy and compassion to fuel the healing process.  Imagine regardless of what was said during your session, healing happens simply from the both of you “listening” to one another.  Sometimes we can develop physical/mental conditions because we’ve forgotten how to listen – to our body, our thoughts, and our actions, as well as to others.  Someone can teach you how to listen simply by being fully Present with you and although somewhat subtle, may be the most effective approach to facilitate the changes necessary for healing.  The clients that commonly feel called to see me are the ones that have some very deep seated issues that are way beyond the physical symptoms on the surface.  My days of superficial “quick-fix” treatments are long past and what I offer clients is an opportunity to go deeper within; and in this manner self-empowerment happens.  There are a ton of professionals who are willing to work on the surface and provide “quick-fix” care…I’ve been there, done that, and have grown to where I am now understanding that some may not be ready to go deep, and yet many are…

TG: How important is the link between body and mind?

MJ: Great question!  The reality is that there is no separation or link between body and mind and it is probably more accurate to say body-mind instead.  We as society have been conditioned to what is called the Cartesian separation from the philosophy of Rene Descartes and Newtonian mechanics of reductionism where any thing can be broken down and studied from its fragments and a theoretical understanding of the whole is formulated.  The problem with this, which is being proven in the quantum sciences, is that the separation of “things” is an illusion.  It is actually not just body-mind, but body-mind-soul, three aspects of the whole Human Being, three sides of the same coin.  To refer one aspect without the other is fragmented and limits one’s Life experience.  I saw this a lot working as a physio where patients would come to me for chronic pain or such and no matter how much I addressed the physical aspects, there were always mental/emotional and Soul issues interfering with their healing.  We are now entering an epoch of Human evolution where we are beginning to learn, or rather remember, the Soul aspect of the three-foldedness of the Human Being.  The difficulty in this task was that how do we objectify one that is not an object?  And this is a question that can truly only be answered through experience and not solely by abstract thinking.

TG: How can we go about developing this link?

MJ: On the surface for your average, everyday person, there is perceived a link between the body and mind and it may be difficult for them to see the connections at first nonetheless acknowledge the two as one in the same.  Someone may be in love and have their heart broken and experience a heavy feeling around the chest is a classic example of the body and mind link.  To transcend the delusion of separation of the body and mind we can learn from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras where the fourth step, or limb, of yoga is called pranayama.  This is referred to as controlled breathing and the breath is the bridge that connects the body and the mind.  Awareness of the breath during one’s thoughts and actions is an initial step to “linking” the body and mind as one and this is commonly how beginning meditators are taught how to quiet the constant activity of the Mind.

Practices such as yoga or qigong or any meditative practice may also enhance or “enlighten” one to body-mind awareness.  I teach a simple technique where whenever one feels something off in their body to immediately at that moment ask themselves what was on their mind or what was going on in their life around the time they noticed their discomfort and without judgment or speculation to simply place it aside and see if a clearer picture, or message, is revealed to them.

TG: What part do you feel food has to play in the mix?

MJ: Food is like the great equalizer to bring together all aspects of the Human Being.  It nourishes the Body, calms the Mind, and soothes the Soul.  But when there is a disconnect between these aspects, food is more like fuel for the machine of the Body.  The Body becomes a slave to the Mind and the Mind a slave to the senses and the Soul becomes lost to the imagination.  As a result, food is used as a source for comfort, pleasure, and happiness and because many look outside of themselves for these feelings rather than within, it is no surprise there are so many overweight people.  Again, what is missing is a connection to the Soul aspect.  The over consumption of food distracts the Mind’s connection to the Soul and this is why in every world religion there is some form of fasting as part of a purification state for one to become closer to “God”.  Fasting brings one closer to their Soul/Spiritual natures because the Mind is less distracted.  The thing about food is to find the right quality and quantity for each given moment you eat that assists the overall rhythmic flow of your day.  Right eating is mindful eating, or conscious eating, where you are aware of your relationship to the food, you, and the greater scheme of Life.

TG: Why do you feel it is that the average person gives very little consideration to the quality of food that they eat?

MJ: Again, there is a conditioned belief that the Body is simply a machine and food (ie. any food) is the fuel and that food is food and as long as one has food in their belly it doesn’t matter what the quality is (and if it’s cheap, quick, and convenient, even better).  It is this conditioning that desensitizes us and our relationship to food, the food sources, and the planet that grows the food sources.  The paradox here is that the more processed and refined food one eats the more of a “robot”, or machine one becomes.  In other words, the less Human.  How do you think our ancestors were able to distinguish what plants, bugs, or animals were safe to eat or what plants had medicinal attributes and for what ailments?  Even in our modern times in the Amazon Rain Forest there are shaman who can “listen” to plants and know which is for what situation.  If you simply tried to eat more wholesome, fresh, organic or locally grown food and eliminate or minimize any processed food for a couple of weeks and then went back to eating junk food, you would be able to distinguish a significant difference.  Of course this would entail finding some courage to change the Mind by challenging some of its old beliefs but commonly it is when someone gets sick or hits “rockbottom” that they are open to even try something new.

TG: What are the most common barriers that your clients have to success and how do you overcome these?

MJ: Without hesitation it is the person’s mind/ego that has created protective mechanisms that are so cleverly engineered that one may not ever be aware of them until total chaos forces then to be known.  Each person is their own worse enemy because they have a shadow they are either not aware of or are aware of it but trying to resist, or fight, it.  The shadow is that dark part of us that we don’t want anyone to know about because we’re ashamed of it.  The ego can be so clever in hiding these shadows that we project our issues outwardly and recruit others to play along with our drama.  How often do you see someone that bothers you or pisses you off?  It just may be that they are simply acting out parts of you that you have not been willing to fully address.  If not, then it wouldn’t bother you, would it?  You see, in this respect we’re all liars.  And the more lies we refuse to address, the further away we push our Soul/Spiritual natures from us.

I help clients from where they are and commonly they are “stuck” in the Mind level so what I do is go in their mind and do what the mind does best which is wrap itself around things with its thoughts and have their thoughts wrap around themselves and then unravel them with several different perspectives and angles of the same issue so that eventually the Mind can start seeing through its own workings and self-willingly be able to “step outside” of itself.  It is then the client can get out of their Mind and start communicating with the Soul through the Imagination.  Now the Mind, rather than just communicating with the Body and the senses, can relate to the Soul as well and all three aspects learn to work together.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?

MJ: If I knew the future I would be considered a psychic which I am not.  But I can tell you my dream.  On the microcosmic level, the dream is to teach others to reconnect and relate with their Soul/Spiritual natures in this lifetime rather than wait for the period after death.  And to do this in a manner that is practical, real, and universal.  On the macrocosmic level, the dream is to move to Peru and open up a retreat center where anyone in the world can visit and learn their way back to Health.

TG: Thanks for your time Michael, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Website: www.jocsonhealth.com

Blog:  www.jocsonhealth.blogspot.com

Youtube:  www.youtube.com/mjocs

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/people/MichaelJocson

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Interview with Matt Brennan (MB Fitness)

Monday, October 4th, 2010
TG: Hi Matt, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MB: Hi Tom, it all started in 2002, I had picked up so many injuries from football, two which lead to unnecessary operations, so I wanted to learn more about my body, and how I could rehab these injuries without surgery. Whilst doing my reserach, I came across Premier training, and decided to re-train and enroll on the Premier diploma course. From there I set up MB Fitness, where I went to people’s houses for PT and massage. After two years I set up my first personal training studio. In 2007, I accepted the a role at  Ipswich Town FC as their first team masseur,  In 2008, I set up Grange Fitness on the outskirts of Ipswich, then just this month, I moved MB Fitness into a new functional training gym.
TG: Can you tell us a little about your gym and how it is different to the mainstream chain gyms?
MB: Well, as a trainer there is nothing more boring then standing next to a client on the treadmill pressing buttons, so I wanted to give the people of Ipswich something different, and after a lot of different training courses, hours brainstorming, and a few trips to some of the best gyms in the country (the one that was closest to my ideas was the underground training station in the north west) I came up with a gym that offers so much. Yes we have treadmills, bikes, rowers etc, people expect this, we also run regular fitness classes, but where our  uniqueness in Suffolk comes into play, is the metabolic resistance training classes, where we swing on monkey bars, flip tyres, pull sledges and basically functionally train! this type of training burns calories at a great rate, plus also increases strength and power at a much faster rate too, all this whilst having fun!

TG: What are your top 5 weight loss tips?
MB:              1. Set realistic and achievable goals.
2. Train regularly, intensely, and keep it varied.
3. Try to eat as many natural foods as possible – stay away from processed foods!
4. Have someone you can talk to about your fat loss problems, like a mentor or trainer
5. Stay away from the scales otherwise you will become obsessed      with what the scales show
TG: What part does nutrition have to play in weight loss?

MB: From my previous clients results, it plays a massive part of weight loss. Unless you combine training and good nutrition you will not maximise your weight loss chances. So many of my clients think they are eating healthily, however a food diary normally puts that claim to shame, once they put a little effort into planning and preparing their meals, the weight loss speeds up!
TG: How important is effective communication between personal trainer and client and how do you build this?

MB: I think it is a fundamental part of a good business for the trainer and for the client in achieving their goals. The way I build this is by being honest and upfront from the start. By setting realistic goals, and if a client isn’t doing their part, telling them, I think the client appreciates this and instantly increases their trust in me. If a member of my gym doesn’t come in for a while, I send a polite email reminding them of their goals and in most cases this is the kick up the backside my members are waiting for!

TG: How do you go about setting effective goals with your clients?

MB: I assess my clients every two months. We then set goals and agree how many sessions it will take to reach them. Two months later, If my client reaches their goals I reward them with extra PT sessions. If they do as I say but dont reach their goals for some reason, I still reward them with PT sessions for the effort the put in.

TG: How do you monitor their progress towards these goals?

MB: We have regular updates to check that the client is happy with the exercises and type of training they are following. If they are unhappy for any reason (exercise too hard, not enjoyable) we address this straight away and try a different approach to reaching the goals.

TG: What do you feel are the most important traits of a good personal trainer?

MB: Knowledge is essential, an understanding of your clients lives and how different people are is an advantage but as mentioned above, a good communicator is a must.
TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?
MB: Well, my immediate future lies with keeping my current members happy whilst trying to build up MB Fitness into the best training zone in the county! This year I would like to expand my knowledge so I can continue changing my clients lives! Going forward, I may look at taking the “MB Fitness empire” further afield, however after this last venture which took a lot of time and energy, a little more family time is needed.
TG: Thanks for your time Matt, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Interview with Robert Bray (W10 Personal Training Studios)

Monday, September 20th, 2010

TG: Hi Robert, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

RB: I started personal training initially out of one of the Fitness First health clubs in Queens Park.  I worked there as a freelance personal trainer for 2 years and really enjoyed my time there.  This gym was a hard gym to find clients in as most of the clients couldn’t really afford personal training but I managed to still get a 30 hour week of personal training on a regular basis here.  At the same time as working there I hired a personal training studio by the hour just off Baker Street where I trained one or two clients, this studio is actually where Power plate began and they shared an office with this studio.  This studio was tiny and had very little equipment it was at this point I decided I wanted my own studio at some point.

TG: Can you tell us a little about your studio?

RB: I opened Personal training studios W10 in 2006 as I wanted a place to train my clients from Notting Hill and Queens Park.  Personal training studios W10 is hired out to personal trainers by the hour and I am a personal trainer here to.  Personal training studios W10 is open 24 hours a day and we regularly train clients at 11:00pm and later.  Personal training studios W10 is a popular personal training location for businessmen and women who want to train in peace after a hard day.

TG: What do you think is the biggest myth in health and fitness?

RB: Just picking one is hard, but I would say my number one would be how often you need to workout, most guys think that if they workout 6 times a week they will get the best results, this is not the case, I tend to workout for 40 minutes at a time 3 times a week which for bodybuilding I find keeps me at the optimum level of muscle growth.

TG: What are your top 3 weight loss tips?

RB:

1.  Eat regularly
2.  Never skip breakfast
3.  Watch the amount of alcohol you are consuming this is what tends to be a problem for many of my clients.

TG: What are the most common barriers that your clients have to sucsess and how do you overcome these?

RB: Time is always the main factor, this is what most people say holds them back, everyone has time to workout each week its just that it’s not a main priority so they never come around to doing it.

TG: What should someone look for when choosing a personal trainer?

RB: When looking for a personal trainer go on reputation, personal training testimonials are very important check out their testimonials on their websites.  Don’t get caught up on qualifications I know of many bad personal trainers who have loads of qualifications, experience I always think is more important but qualifications are essential to.  There are a huge number of bad personal trainers in London just doing the job as they think they can do a few hours work and make a good living from it, they often have no qualifications or experience so be warned.

TG: What are the three most important traits a personal trainer must have?

RB:

1.  Punctuality- if they turn up late regularly don’t keep them on.  Good ones will always be early.
2.  Knowledge- ask them lots of questions, you are paying for their time and knowledge if they know what they are talking about they will have tons of answers and be happy to go into detail.
3.  Friendliness- you have to get on with them one on one, if you don’t like them then you won’t train with them week in week out so they need to be friendly.

TG: Can you tell us a little about what you have on offer at your studio?

RB: At Personal training studios W10 we offer one on one personal training in a private luxury environment catering for most fitness and weight loss goals.  What ever time of day you want training we can train you.  The gym has parking right outside the door at 50p an hour so is easily accessible and the studio is available for exclusive hire so you can train in peace.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?

RB: We are currently looking to launch another Personal training studio in Mayfair in the next few months and we are launching an online supplement store soon to go live on our site.  If you are a personal trainer looking for a studio to work from then please come down and check us out, its an affordable studio to workout of and most of our trainers have been working here for years.

TG: Thanks for your time Robert, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Interview with Monica Heiz (MJ Pilates and Wellness)

Monday, September 6th, 2010

TG: Hi Monica, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MH: Hi Tom thank you for reaching out to me.  My introduction to the Wellbeing industry began in College. I went to Florida State University in 1988, took a gym class & a Nutrition course and loved the idea of FITNESS & HEALTH. I declared my major; it would be a B.S. in Nutrition & Fitness.  After that semester I began a weight training & cardiovascular program on my own.  I would run or rollerblade outdoors, get on thestairmaster or bike in the gym.  I fell in love with weight training- I could pay all my attention to myself and my strength. I attained my Aerobic Certification, AFAA and soon after that began teaching Hi/Low aerobics, Sculpting and Step classes. Upon Graduation in 1993 I entered the world of Corporate Fitness, working at  big Corporations providing fitness programs, classes and health fairs. In 1999 I was ready to leave the paperwork behind and become a freelance Group Fitness Instructor in NYC, following my passion to teach Fitness. I certified in ACE and NASM personal training.  Over the years I educated myself attending conferences, workshops and trainings in all aspects of Fitness and Nutrition. By 2007 I had completed my STOTT Pilates Training and Wellcoaches Certification.  I wanted a place where I could share my love & passion for Wellbeing, more than “just a diet & exercise plan”.  I opened my Studio MJ Pilates & Wellness in November 2007.

TG: Can you tell us a little about your competition history?

MH: Competitions… I love everything about competing.  My first competition was a Regional Event in California in 2001 for the National Aerobic Championship (ANAC- now Aerobic Gymnastics).  I qualified for my first Nationals that year and again in 2002.  By 2003 I switched coaches, I worked with Roberson Magalhaes.  He is Internationally known as a World Champion Athlete and Choreographer. His ability to create dynamic routines, see me for my strengths and believe in me layed the ground works for me to pay attention to what I needed to do to win.  I am so thankful for all he has done for me. During my 2004 season I had a wonderful opportunity to train on weekends in Washington DC with Roberson & 5 World Aerobic Champions. It brought me to a new level mentally & physically.  In 2005 I trained by myself using all the tools Roberson had cultivated in me over the previous years.  I went on to win the National Aerobic Championship womens class II that year. 2006 I wanted to continue competing more frequently, so I decided I would give Fitness a try.  I loved it!  I loved the discipline of training, focus of planning.  I entered 5 Fitness & Bikini Competitions that year finishing in the top 5 in 4 of them.  2009 I competed in 5 Figure & Bikini competitions, wanting to compete not ready to commit time to a routine as I was focussing on building my business. November of 2009 I called Roberson to create music, and get ready to prepare a Fitness routine- my passion was calling- time to get back on the Fitness Stage.  In March of 2010 I competed in the Arnold Sports & Fitness festival Amateur Fitness finishing 5th.

​​​TG: What are the specific benefits that Pilates has over other group fitness classes?

MH:​What I love about Pilates is that it keeps us in the moment to the fact that everything in the body- muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons etc…is connected and works together. Like an intricate web.  The idea is to balance the web, not to pull to tight in one aspect of the body. I love that Pilates uses so many types of positions-seated, lying prone/supine, kneeling, side lying, rolling and so many types of movements- extension, flexion, lateral flexion, rotation.  The body is meant to move and Pilates encourage that movement!

I love the ability to create movement, strength and correct postural curves in the spine. I work with my clients to improve movement patterns and imbalances in the spine, shoulders & hips.  Pilates pays attention to breathing through in a balloon shape through the back, sides and front of ribs.  This is so valuable for everyone to improve, most people daily have no connection or attention to their breath.

TG: What benefits will the untrained individual experience when starting Pilates?

MH:​​When starting the biggest benefit is the feeling of alive, free and stress free.  You will begin to feel the oblique muscles around the ribs expand, stretch feeling toned. The spine lengthen & stretch decreasing pressure on the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine) The pelvic bones form a bowl shape. Now imagine that bowl filled with water and saran wrap over it.  If you turn the bowl over nothing spills out, the saran wrap is snug.  Create that visual in your pelvis. Your sure to feel stronger, more engaged in your abdominal muscles

TG: What does a day in your life look like?

MH:​​My morning begins about 5:30am- by 6:30am I am training a client or getting a workout in.  (Depends on what type of workout I want to do).

I have classes & clients through the morning. 1:00 I schedule paperwork, emails, general computer work.  3:30 I get another workout in…( I schedule my day like this because I like it, and it works for me)

4:30-9:00 classes and clients.

TG: Many people come to Pilates to overcome back pain, specifically low back pain, how effective is Pilates at addressing this problem?

MH: It’s important to understand what is going on in the lower back (lumbar spine)- with 5 vertebra- are they short, long, where is the curve and what other skeletal/muscular things can you identify.  So Lowerback pain comes in all shapes & sizes, there is no one size fits all solution. Pilates can help educate you on what is happening in your Lumbar spine and choose appropriate exercises, movement and body placement  to move you through a process to re-educate the spine.  With so many muscle attachments on the lumbar spine it’s important to feel your way rather than rush through movements.  You also have to address the spine as a whole not just the lower back/lumbar region- it’s a domino effect.  Pilates is great for looking at the Lower back, it should be done in a small group (no more than 6) or Private instruction.

TG: How important is correct nutrition?

MH: Food is Medicine- Nutrition is everything. Understand that just because it says “organic” doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.  I find some fruit in NYC “organic” from New Zealand.  That’s a long way- how does it really stay fresh? It’s about quality of food, how you feel after eating it and positive, uplifting thoughts and emotions. Look for local Farmers Markets. If you can’t pronounce the name you probably don’t want to eat it.  We are hunters & Gatherers

TG: You have a great studio, can you tell us a little more about what you offer there?

MH:​​Thank you.  I offer small group Pilates classes (maximum of 6 people) on the mat with Props, and Arc Barrel. Clients that take 2 classes per week receive 1 free weekend class.  I do this to give back for their support and commitment to my studio and themselves.  Private Pilates, Personal Training, FlirtyFloorwork- a dance class inspired by Pole dancing.  It includes sexy movements of the spine, hips and body.  Wellness Coaching offers people an opportunity to create new habits in health, stress reduction, nutrition, weight, exercise through weekly sessions and accountability. Nutrition Programming provides a thought out effective Nutrition Program for each individual client. Metagenics NutraceuticalSupplements.    Create the Body You Want is an all inclusive  program offering 2 pilates classes per week, nutrition program, weekly coaching session, exercise program, daily motivational quotes.   I want to share my passion for Fitness & Life with my clients. I want to give them the tools to be healthy and follow their passions.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?​​​

MH:​​I see myself writing in magazines, articles about Wellbeing. I want to reach out to families and children on the value of quality food and movement- it needs to be fun, joyful with laughter & passion.  I’m going to explore some Fitness Modeling.  Of course more Competitions & more education.  I’m fascinated by Tom Myers Anatomy Trains Program.

TG: Thanks for your time Monica, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Thank you, it’s been my pleasure!

Love & Kindness,

To fond out more about Monica, or her Pilates Studio please have a look at her sites!

Interview with Matt Brennan (MB Fitness)

Monday, August 30th, 2010
TG: Hi Matt, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MB: Hi Tom, it all started in 2002, I had picked up so many injuries from football, two which lead to unnecessary operations, so I wanted to learn more about my body, and how I could rehab these injuries without surgery. Whilst doing my reserach, I came across Premier training, and decided to re-train and enroll on the Premier diploma course. From there I set up MB Fitness, where I went to people’s houses for PT and massage. After two years I set up my first personal training studio. In 2007, I accepted the a role at  Ipswich Town FC as their first team masseur,  In 2008, I set up Grange Fitness on the outskirts of Ipswich, then just this month, I moved MB Fitness into a new functional training gym.
TG: Can you tell us a little about your gym and how it is different to the mainstream chain gyms?
MB: Well, as a trainer there is nothing more boring then standing next to a client on the treadmill pressing buttons, so I wanted to give the people of Ipswich something different, and after a lot of different training courses, hours brainstorming, and a few trips to some of the best gyms in the country (the one that was closest to my ideas was the underground training station in the north west) I came up with a gym that offers so much. Yes we have treadmills, bikes, rowers etc, people expect this, we also run regular fitness classes, but where our  uniqueness in Suffolk comes into play, is the metabolic resistance training classes, where we swing on monkey bars, flip tyres, pull sledges and basically functionally train! this type of training burns calories at a great rate, plus also increases strength and power at a much faster rate too, all this whilst having fun!
TG: What are your top 5 weight loss tips?
MB:              1. Set realistic and achievable goals.
2. Train regularly, intensely, and keep it varied.
3. Try to eat as many natural foods as possible – stay away from processed foods!
4. Have someone you can talk to about your fat loss problems, like a mentor or trainer
5. Stay away from the scales otherwise you will become obsessed      with what the scales show
TG: What part does nutrition have to play in weight loss?

MB: From my previous clients results, it plays a massive part of weight loss. Unless you combine training and good nutrition you will not maximise your weight loss chances. So many of my clients think they are eating healthily, however a food diary normally puts that claim to shame, once they put a little effort into planning and preparing their meals, the weight loss speeds up!
TG: How important is effective communication between personal trainer and client and how do you build this?

MB: I think it is a fundamental part of a good business for the trainer and for the client in achieving their goals. The way I build this is by being honest and upfront from the start. By setting realistic goals, and if a client isn’t doing their part, telling them, I think the client appreciates this and instantly increases their trust in me. If a member of my gym doesn’t come in for a while, I send a polite email reminding them of their goals and in most cases this is the kick up the backside my members are waiting for!
TG: How do you go about setting effective goals with your clients?

MB: I assess my clients every two months. We then set goals and agree how many sessions it will take to reach them. Two months later, If my client reaches their goals I reward them with extra PT sessions. If they do as I say but dont reach their goals for some reason, I still reward them with PT sessions for the effort the put in.
TG: How do you monitor their progress towards these goals?

MB: We have regular updates to check that the client is happy with the exercises and type of training they are following. If they are unhappy for any reason (exercise too hard, not enjoyable) we address this straight away and try a different approach to reaching the goals.
TG: What do you feel are the most important traits of a good personal trainer?

MB: Knowledge is essential, an understanding of your clients lives and how different people are is an advantage but as mentioned above, a good communicator is a must.
TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?
MB: Well, my immediate future lies with keeping my current members happy whilst trying to build up MB Fitness into the best training zone in the county! This year I would like to expand my knowledge so I can continue changing my clients lives! Going forward, I may look at taking the “MB Fitness empire” further afield, however after this last venture which took a lot of time and energy, a little more family time is needed.
TG: Thanks for your time Matt, and we wish you all the best for the future!