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Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Fitness and the Martial Arts

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

This week I have the great honour to publish a guest post by a good friend of mine Lun Lok, Lun has been involved in a number of different martial arts and is embarking on a journey into fitness.  Lun is a guy who really knows his stuff and has written a short post on the importance of fitness in the martial arts.  I hope you enjoy the article and feel free to comment and share!  Also do have a look at Lun’s amazing Martial Arts Blog.

Martial Arts: Fitness is not just about kicking and punching by Katagulong Guro Lun Lok, BSc(Hons)

There are indeed many ways of getting fit, and fitness aims are not limited to or defined by gaining muscle, kicking higher or running faster. Training in martial arts, as is widely known and accepted, gives you programme of fitness not just lasting on one of those special tailor-made 6 week crash courses, but actually for life. Through my own research, I have found that martial arts can not only give you a healthy social life, but also get you mentally fit.

I have asked many great martial artists what it is that keeps them going in their chosen styles. I have had responses like:

“….given me a life worth living and a way of life much more than just simply a hobby or interest”.

“…I have gained so much from martial arts on a physical and mental perspective.”

“A place that I can return to anytime I want. A place to meditate, remember, laugh, reflect, learn from, apply all of the lessons to life. Martial Arts has given me a never-ending journey, a ride that I will always be on….”

“It also gives a sense of belonging, a part of a family as no matter the style or discipline we are all drawn together”.

“Martial Arts caused me to awaken to life. With this came a much-needed sense of personal power, coordination (getting in touch with my body), confidence (discovering who I really am), and a passion and direction to help others experience the same.”

You know what? It’s true. I will never stop doing something related to the arts. I am currently studying Tai Chi (Sun Style and Chen Style), not because I am older but because I still love the arts. Never say never,though.  I might well venture back into an MMA class one day. The physical fitness benefits gained in such a class are tremendous. But the main goal, whatever art you do, is daily practice. It’s a strange thing really. You know when you visit a gym and see those people chatting, standing around the machines or hogging the weights…you can’t do that in a martial arts class.  Doing that in the gym gets you nowhere, but just try that in a martial arts gym, and your fingers will get burned.

From the statements given, what can you deduce from the first one? Let’s discuss: “A life worth living”. Simply, martial arts saved this guy from self-destruction. Enough said. What do you think about the second statement? This person is rich! Not financially, but look at what he says.  He has benefited immensely, both physically and mentally.  The final 3 statements are self-explanatory. Read into the last one and you can tell that this person has gained in a mental sense too.

Martial arts training will introduce you to a wealth of different exercises that you may not see in other sporting endeavours. There will obviously be some cross-over, and when I was asked to write this short essay, I was thinking about the exercises involved. I thought about things like hindu squats to really give your quadriceps a burn and your lungs pumping hard, (try 50 or more) crocodile press ups with your hands in the position like a crocodile has his legs, star jumps, bunny hops and other light warm-up exercises. But really there would be little point in writing about such exercises. The benefits from these movements are well-documented in any exercise magazine or website. It’s the number of exercises and the knowledge gained that helps you as you must focus and concentrate on the task, and get fitter at the same time. Go back to the guy who made the statement about a life worth living. It’s the positive vibes gained from martial arts exercise that helped him. With martial arts, he was able to reframe his life. That’s important, very very important. If you want the how-it-all-works-biochemical-and-physiological-science about it all, please be directed to Google, and type exercise science, myosin, ATP, Krebs Cycle, muscle spindles and proprioceptors. You could write volumes on all of that and then new research comes along to give you more or correct you at the same time. I will give you one set of exercises to follow though. The upshot of all martial arts training from a physical fitness point of view is that you can gain through daily practice a way to:

  1. Gain flexibility
  2. Gain co-ordination
  3. Gain stamina and endurance – aerobic fitness
  4. Gain focus – be mentally prepared
  5. Get stronger
  6. Gain respect and confidence
  7. Gain methods of defending yourself
  8. Gain energy and power
  9. Improve your health overall

There are obviously more, but once you start, you embellish your own canvas.

Here is the “TON”.  You could actually rename it “PAIN” instead. You won’t forget it in a hurry, and you won’t need any of those fitness DVDs from those late night TV infomercials or pay £99.99, plus postage for anything…

3 sets, 10 reps each of

  1. burpees
  2. shoulder-width push-ups
  3. frog sit-ups
  4. squat springs
  5. narrow-grip push-ups
  6. crunches
  7. tuck jumps
  8. wide-grip push-ups
  9. hand over knee sit-ups
  10. squat thrusts

To wrap up then, I think the mental attributes that you develop in martial arts or on par, if not higher than the physical benefits. Unfortunately as we age, the body slows down with reduced hormone production, but the brain keeps going a little longer. However, as an all-round endeavour to improve your life on various levels, martial arts is, in my humble opinion, number 1. Don’t forget there are internal martial arts as well as external, where you build up your qi, but that is a subject on an even higher level. Whatever the case, all structured exercise is king, and martial arts gives you that and much more.

Thanks for reading this short article.

Top 10 Fitness and Nutrition Books

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Hi All,

I get asked all the time what my top 10 fitness and nutrition books are, so here is my list (in no particular order)!

1. The Metabolic Typing Diet

2. Good Calories, Bad Calories

3. The IMPACT Workout

4. Mindless Eating

5. How to Eat, Move and be Healthy

6. The Dark Side of Fat Loss

7. Paleo Solution

8. New Rules of Lifting

9. Cholesterol Myth

10.Corrective Exercise



The Best Fitness I Phone Apps

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Hi All,

As more and more of us move to using smart phones, and especially I Phones. Many of my personal training clients across Manchester have asked, knowing I am a big I Phone fan for my top fitness I Phone apps.

I Map my Run – This is a great little tool to map the runs/jogs that you do.

Sprint GPS – This is a more comprehensive activity log, you can track run/jogs and bike rides. The app allows you to map the route you have taken, it will work out some vital stats such as distance covered, average speed, and calories burnt. One of the best things about this app is that you can control your music from within it.

I Fitness – This app is more of those of you who work out in a gym. This app allows you to deign and track your resistance based workouts. It has a library of exercises that is always being updated, this can really help to keep your workouts fresh.

The above fitness I Phone apps are great tools to help motivate you and make the all important recording keeping easier.

If you have any further suggestions of apps that you think other readers of the blog might fid useful, please do post them as a comment.


Ian Burbedge Interview

Monday, September 28th, 2009

padbox_logoIan Burbedge is the technical skills behind one of the most realistic and in my opinion most versatile fitness boxing systems on the market.  Pad box uses Ian’s experience as a amateur boxer and couples this with his skill as a personal trainer!


Tom Godwin: May I first of all thank you for giving up time in your busy day to take part in this interview.

TG:  Let’s start from the beginning, what got what is your history in the worlds of fitness and boxing?

IB: I started boxing when I was twelve years old and continued competing until I was in my mid twenties, as a senior at my club we’d sometimes help coaching the juniors, so you could say I’ve been training people since I was 18, I always trained a couple of people after I finished competing, before personal trainers were about ha ha, but having always kept myself fit, I was encouraged by a good friend of mine at the time to take over the circuit class he ran at his gym, so I did a basic Instructors qualification to take the class over, and then moved on to take further qualifications to advance my knowledge not only for my benefit but for that of my clients as well.

I also hold a professional trainers licence and I work with English Light Welterweight Champion Lenny Daws and a couple of other pros as well.

TG: Who have been your major influences in the world of boxing and/or fitness?

IB: My first boxing coach definitely he really looked after us, whereas when I first started boxing there wasn’t many coaches that did, from that it was boxers such as Charlie Magri and Jimmy Flint, who were very good British pros’’ in the early eighties and I used to go and watch them train, which was great for a young amateur, on the world scene I loved Sugar Ray Leonard.

On the fitness side of things I tended to stick with boxing, but there were some good instructors in gyms I used who I often used to bombard with questions, I firmly believe we should never stop wanting to learn, even now Andy Scott (who I run Padbox with) often discuss and try out new and different training methods, we’re never going to re-invent the wheel, but as coaches we all must keep evolving.

TG: Boxing is having a bit of a surge in popularity with a lot of schools adding boxing to their curriculum.  How important do you feel that it is that boxing is supported at a grass roots level?

IB: Vital, it’s where the next generation is going to come from, I believe with school children, teach them non contact boxing and give them the option to see whether they like it or not, if they do, then they’ve got a basic knowledge to take to a club, I think clubs are getting better at looking after all the boxers they have, it can still improve because quite often only potential winners are looked after, I’ve seen boys who weren’t good at the start of their boxing blossom and become quite good, and they could be lost to the sport if they’re not encouraged, everyone who climbs in the ring even for sparring is very brave and deserves to be looked after.

TG: What are the benefits of Pad Box training for the average personal training client?

IB: Because we’ve tried to make it as realistic as possible, without anyone being hit, I think it gives people that have never boxed before an idea of what boxing’s all about, and for those that have boxed they can get a good workout without the full on training demands they had to have previously.

Then looking at it from a fitness point of view it’s the cv and muscle toning that most clients are after.

TG: Your Pad Box courses are hugely successful here in the UK, tell us a bit about your motivation to launch the course?

IB: It started by seeing fitness instructors in gyms and parks, holding pads miles apart and just getting their clients to smash pads without any real knowledge of what they’re doing, then the client says “I’m doing boxing” where my point was “ no you’re not you’re just smashing pads”, I used to do a workshop every now an again for a good friend of mine who runs a personal training company teaching padwork, and she challenged and encouraged me to develop the course, and with the help of Andy we did just that.

TG: What do you feel sets you apart from the other boxing courses available to personal trainers?

IB: It’s realistic, the methods we teach are all “proper” boxing punches and moves, we get through a lot on the course which is all practical, but it’s taught in a relaxed atmosphere, because feel that if people are paying for a course they should get a lot from it and enjoy it as well.

The other thing is I vowed if ever I did a course I would look after the people who come to do it, like many others out there I’ve done many many courses and once I’ve paid my money that’s me done, with Padbox our first retake if needed is free of charge, people who have passed the course can come back and practice with us on a course again free of charge, and we’re only at the end of a phone or email for advice if needed.

In the new year we’re hoping to set up various workshops and refreshers for all of our coaches.

TG: You have just developed a Level 2 course, tell us a bit about what this covers and when will you be launching it?

IB: We’ve developed six more reactionary moves to add to the four on the Level 1 course, so the Level 2 qualified coaches will be able to take rounds of boxing just by holding the pads and not having to give any instruction at all, so the client becomes a boxer having to react to the coaches pads as they are now a “live” opponent, which will be as realistic as you can get without being hit.

The first course is in September this year.

TG: So what is the best bit about your job as the Course Director for Pad Box?

IB: It sounds really corny but it’s been meeting so many  people, I’ve made some really good friends out of it, and I really enjoy doing the courses, especially after getting all the paperwork done, we’ve got a good friendly team and we enjoy the courses and without coming across arrogant I think that comes over to our students, because as I said earlier we want them to enjoy the course as well as learning about boxing.

TG: What plans do you have for the future of Pad Box?

IB: There’s a Level 3 in the future definitely, Although we’ve had people travel from all over the UK to us at the World famous Peacock Gymnasium,  We’d like to get around the country a bit more, although we’ve done private courses in many areas our first “away” open course is in Manchester in October this year which we’re really looking forward to.

So a few more around the country would be really good to do, there’s also a possibility of doing courses in Spain which would be very nice indeed, but we want to keep Padbox moving forward which means not only the courses but also the work we do in schools.

TG: Ian, thanks for giving up time in your day to talk to us, it has been a pleasure.  Good luck with Level 2

Thanks very much Tom, it’s been a pleasure, and please accept my apologies if I’ve waffled on too much, all the very best on behalf of myself and the team.

Read my Review of the Pad Box course.

I strongly recommend the Padbox course to any personal trainers out there, have a look at our review of Level One here.  A review of Level Two will be posted in the near future.  Fore more information on PADBOX click here.

John Izzo Interview – One of the USA’s best personal trainers

Monday, September 14th, 2009

John Izzo is a role model for many personal trainers out there, he has lead the way in the industry for a number of years being top of his game in both the technical aspects of personal training but also in the business side.  For a number of years John has also helped to teach the next generation of personal trainers and help to give them a solid foundation of education and application to allow them to go out and make a positive impact in the lives of their clients.

john_izzoJohn Izzo

Tom Godwin: First of all may I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

John Izzo: Tom, I’m flattered to be asked. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

TG: What first got you interested in the Personal Training industry?

John: Geez…I think it was my passion to better myself with these crazy looking metal things called plates and barbells…hehehe. When I saw improvements in my strength, appearance, and performance—I felt better physically and I had an optimistic outlook on life. That feeling was –and still is– addicting and I truly believe, what separates people from “living” their life versus “life living them”. When I was in my first fitness-type job, I was a YMCA fitness instructor working part-time while I was finishing up my undergrad degree. As for weight-lifting, I started weight-training at a local Boys Club, and then I joined a neighbourhood health club called Body-Force (no longer around). So by the time, I got my first “fitness job”, I was pretty familiar with exercises in general. During my stint with the YMCA, members were approaching me constantly for advice, opinions, and assistance. This was around 1998-99, and the personal training industry, as a whole, was just starting to take off. I enjoyed helping people in the gym with exercises or simply feeding them my advice. When I researched what a ‘personal trainer’ was…I kind of fell into it. I think you discover that the things you are good at seem to find you—rather than you find it.

TG: You are a very influential person in the world of personal training, maybe you could give us a brief outline of your background in the industry?

JI: I started lifting weights when I was 15. I purchased my first weight set from a department store and it contained cement filled plates. I built a pseudo-gym in my attic and worked out with my cousin. About a year later, I started lifting weights with my friend at a local Boys Club. I was a sponge to constantly learn the newest and latest techniques to make me stronger and leaner. I was working out constantly and taking numerous supplements, and reading tons of magazine articles. By the time I got to college, I had grown to 175 pounds and bench pressing 315 and squatting 420. I was athletic and decided to pursue a “health” degree because I wanted to learn more and more about how overall health is something that we can “control”.

Growing up, I saw old people become sick, or become sedentary. I thought that was part of life and that health was an aspect that we as a human species could not control. So with my undergrad studies, I wanted to learn more about how communicable disease, nutrition, physical activity, stress, and health-care affect our overall being. I figured if I can control certain factors in my life, my health and life could further be enhanced. In 2000, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health Promotion. Shortly thereafter, I picked up my personal training certifications through ACE and NASM.

TG: Who have been you major influences within the industry?

JI: Oh gosh…there are so many. I actually started a blog post for the month of August outlining my top 10 most influential people in my life. As far as fitness industry—I would have to go with firstly, Juan Carlos Santana. When I first heard and saw JC speak –I knew he was the type of trainer we all wanted to become. He was energetic, compassionate, motivating, and empathetic. He was strong, knowledgeable, and he had a presence. He is the total package when it comes to being a trusted fitness professional. He knows how to talk to clients, deal with different people everyday—from MMA fighters to grandmothers—and he is a loving family man. I was fortunate enough to interview him and he was a great contribution to my website:

Other influences include Coach Mike Boyle. When his book “Functional Training for Sport” came out, it made me look at my own training in a different light. I really bagan to understand that you can train general population clients like athletes, as long as they are progressed appropriately. I’ve seen Mike speak 5 times and every time, I take something away that makes me shake my head and say “yeah, that’s it or that’s why”.

I really like Gray Cook. His FMS screens make my job easier. His work really influenced me to look at the ENTIRE body—not just the working muscles.

From a business standpoint, I think Alywn Cosgrove has really intrigued me. He has an undeniable business savvy about him and alot of it has to do with his content, his research, and how his audience digests his information. Year after year, Alwyn puts together great products that work and are scientifically sound. That is great for business and you can’t beat that.

I also like Eric Cressey—I love his writing! He puts out great info that is backed up by research and his real-world experience—and he practices what he preaches.

I also have some personal influences that have helped me be just an overall better person and professional.

TG:  Of your many achievements in the world of fitness, what would you say has been you best to date?

JI: I think my contributions to NASM’s (National Academy of Sports Medicine) textbook for the Introductions to Personal Training course. I think what makes it sweeter to me, is that I was contacted by NASM because they found some of my writings online—mainly through my book ‘Secret Skills of Personal Training”, and they enjoyed the information that I provided to entry level trainers. That is what I set out to do, is simply educate new trainers that step foot into the industry with really no clear “map”. I try to set their right foot forward to lead them into the direction that leads to long-term success as a professional. And to be recognized by NASM to help out with its mission was an excellent honour. It is a solid organization with really knowledgeable people at the helm. I support NASM as an education provider and advocate their curriculum because I believe it is the most complete and concise way to develop training programs.

TG:  What would you say is the most important attributing factor that a personal trainer must possess and why?

JI: I think it is important for trainers to become fitness professionals. And by that I mean is act professional. I meet too many trainers that have not become fitness professionals yet, because they carry themselves in a lackadaisical demeanour within the business. Many trainers—even online—make too many jokes, show less and less compassion, ridicule, or don’t carry a sense of understanding towards the general public—which consists of many of their potential clients! Many trainers are too engulfed with their looks, cell phone, texting, relationships, or they simply don’t know how to carry themselves around public. And lot of them, go into the field thinking that they can make their own hours, live freely, and become millionaires. But the sheer truth is, most live pay check to pay check and they don’t know why that is. If they can simply “tune-up” their character, and act in a more dignified professional manner, I guarantee their business will take off.

In order to become a professional and be referred to as a “professional”, it takes performing some self-inventory AND a little coaching. The situation with the industry today is, many trainers become certified and go off to work on their own–creating their own business. So, these new trainers don’t have anyone there to provide comparison, feedback, or critiscm. So I ask you: how do you grow as a professional when you don’t have a “business mirror”? Every working stiff needs a scale to measure their value in a profession. It is how you grow towards success.

I think I learned the importance of projecting a professional image when I became a manager. It made a world of difference, when I sat across a table with 4 different trainers and noticed that the education and passion to train was there—but the attitude was not.

TG: You have released a number of great Personal Trainer Education products, such as your ‘Eye of the Trainer’ and ‘Moving More Muscles’ DVD’s.  I understand you are in the process of releasing a new DVD, ‘The Shatter Proof Spine’ can you give us a little more information about it?

JI: Thanks for asking. Shatterproof Spine is my latest DVD product and my first in 2 years. I conduct workshops for trainers that are interested in learning information from reputable sources, and maybe are not familiar with seminars like Perform Better or big names like Cook, Boyle, or Cosgrove. So, I created a smaller-scale workshop format that typically gets up to a dozen trainers to attend. In my latest product, Shatterproof Spine, I talk about the issues I come across daily working with golfers with bad backs. I’ve seen it time and time again—where desk workers become prone to back pain and it robs them of life. It robs them of playing golf, playing with kids, or simply mowing their lawn. So, after reading alot of the materials put out by Start McGill, Shirley Sarhmann, and Dr. Larry Foster, I decided to condense it down into an easy to understand lecture and practical. During the video, I show slides of actual clients of mine, assessments, and exercise drills that I put together to help those with bad backs.

I think from a personal standpoint, it shows my growth from say 2 years ago. My public speaking skills have improved over the years and my use of powerpoint makes it easy for the attendants to firmly grasp the concept. You can check out a one minute video preview of the DVD here:

TG: You have a hugely successful blog (, where do you get your ideas for posts from?

JI: Thanks. My blog is really—exactly what I think about on a daily basis. It is a collection of things I deal with from exercise programming, client issues, meeting with other trainers, or personal thoughts that I put on paper. Sometimes, I get an idea for an article and it comes out in a blog post—and it usually consists of a topic that I find many people having a hard time digesting. In the age of the internet, so many of us are quick to recite word for word what “so-so” wrote or the latest research—but many don’t realize that once the program is developed, delivering it to the client, executing it, and maintaining it are a whole different story. I want to show that side of it. I’m not the only one, there are tons of fitness professionals that do what I do—and I think it’s important to show the “trenches” side of personal training. It seems there is too much emphasis on glam and money in this industry. If you really put your heart into something that you love, its not always sunshine’s and rainbows.

TG: What does the future hold for John Izzo?

JI: Well, I’m working on another project with NASM focusing on the business aspect of personal training. I can’t say too much about it, but I am co-writing some material with them. With the release of Shatterproof Spine, I’m hoping that the fires will really catch in the industry and consumers will find that my products are educational and there is nothing I make that “promises” you millions. I give you the tools—to make you better. If you can make yourself a better professional, the millions will follow!

I will continue to write articles for my website and other online publications. I am putting together a calendar for 2010 of interviews I will be conducting. I’m going to try to get some pro’s back on that really gave me a good stuff this past year. I would like to also follow up with another book. Secret Skills of Personal Training is gaining some steam, so I’d like to add more information to it with a follow up book. I am getting married in 3 more months, so my time has been dedicated to clients, lifting, and wedding plans—but as soon as things settle down, I plan on pursing my NASM-CES certification (corrective exercise specialist). So, things look…busy. But I don’t mind it. I like hard-work. It makes me feel like I accomplished something—just like snatching a heavy weight or hitting a PR. You feel good afterwards…

TG: Thanks for your time John!

No problem. Thanks!!

Now that you have heard a little about John, why not have a look at his awsome range of DVD’s and books that are a must in the collection of any personal trainer, or fitness enthusiast.  Find out more here.