Has exercising become all about body image? Today there is so much focus on how we look, with the main focus on losing weight to feel better about ourselves.
Along the way we seem to have lost the basic fundamental of exercise - health. We are losing the understanding that looking good is a by-product of being healthy. Exercise is about healthy bodies and healthy minds and exercising for our well-being.
People would perhaps feel under less pressure in our society in general, if we exercised to gain health benefits for both body and mind and we enjoyed the rewards of this - feeling better mentally, reducing stress, being in better health physically, reducing our risk of diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc.
As we do this, as we stop weight-loss being the focus and understand it will happening naturally as part of the correct programme under the correct guidance, we can go some way to people enjoying exercise for what it is. The ability to move, get healthy and feel great. Let's not allow our profession to go the way of so many areas of our society, with the focus solely on body image and not on well-being.
It was back to basics for me recently, being a guest at my nephews sports day.
It was so inspiring - children and their enthusiasm are great and I am a firm believer we could all learn a thing or two from them!
Run free I say - and yes I did get collared into a race - it was the grab an adult and I am pleased to announce I have not lost my touch and I won against all the dads!
So the GB athletes are set to miss the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony...the decision has been made, but is it the right one?
I can understand why some people may be upset at this choice but I think it probably is the right choice for the athletes, as performances on the track are what will be remembered, not Opening Ceremony attendance.
At the end of the day athletics is an individual event - yes they are all part of the Team GB but when they step up to the line, it is them and them only. They are the ones that compete and it is a very solitary thing once on the track... you are on the World stage and the World judges you and you alone. It has to be about making the best choices for the athlete. The crowd may very well want to see GB athletes at the Opening Ceremony, and one could argue it is all part of the spirit of the Games. But I leave you with one thought - after women's 400m final, for example, if the GB athlete does not perform well - do you think the country will be thinking - oh well, it is ok, at least we saw her at the Opening Ceremony???? I somehow doubt it too!!!!
Whatever your view, the decision has been made and the Games are going to be a fabulous event - it is about performances and we all want to see our guys do well in whatever their sport and discipline.
Athlete's are remembered for their performances and this is where their legacy lies.
When I refer to barefoot running, I personally do not literally mean running with no shoes on, it quite simply is not practical in the society in which we live for one, and more importantly for me, has far too many health and medical implications. Bruised metatarsals we do not want! I simply mean running in a minimalist trainer that is not as built up as many on the market today are.
Barefoot running is a much debated subject at the moment. It has lead me to thinking more about what we put on our feet as runners and wondering if the science behind many running shoes has become too complex. Are trainers actually taking away from how we should run naturally. For the neutral to mild pronator in particular would running more closely to the way our foot naturally moves without being constricted too much by shoe for example, lead to more sustainable running programmes, i.e less injury in fact! Today, too many neutral to mild pronation runners are pointed towards more shoe than they actually need.
I must admit - I am not one for all this five-finger malarky - in fact, I find it a bit strange if I am honest. The majority of us, quite simply, have worn shoes for too long to start going that minimalist and we would risk introducing a host of problems. And as advocates of the five fingers suggest we need to learn to run a new way to manage the shoe, I do not think this is realistic. Most of us are too set in our ways! Our bodies have adapted over the years to our own particular styles, and they manage our little quirks quite efficiently, if not as "biomechanically" correct as some sports scientist might like!
Many trainers recommended for the neutral to mild over-pronator have a great deal of bulk around the heel area, lack flexibility and are very built up often on the inner side of the shoe - so I think a happy medium is required. Some of the latest shoes on the market offer new options to the neutral runner. They have the benefit of a flexible sole, along with cushioning and allow the foot to run freely, so at the same time building up strength.
With some of my clients, I feel their trainers are limiting their progression in running. So I encourage them to introduce minimalist running shoes gradually into their running programmes and build up the mileage slowly with caution, I will also incorporate a strength plan that runs alongside the transition and then I can ensure they will have continuity of training... Important to all runners!
Remember each individual is different and "barefoot" running will not be for everyone. Go wisely - and ultimately do what is right for you and your feet.
I am seeing it more and more often these days and it concerns me! The workout looks really good. It seems challenging, definitely lots of jumping around and awkward body positions and the PT (optional of course) may shout rather a lot (usually words to the effect of "come on, one more time, come on, one more time")...
The workout looks like all the latest celebs must do it, makes you feel like you can't breathe at the time and you certainly can't walk the following day - so it must be really good for you right??
Add to this the fact that all your friends say it is good, as they also couldn't walk after, plus the alluring part that some A-lister somewhere mentioned (even if only in passing) that it was good - so it must be?!!! Right?!!!! And it most certainly must be effective!???
Some of the exercises that are prescribed for clients to do today really do make me worry!
Break them down biomechanically and they are very damaging to joints and the human structure. They lack so many of the raw fundamentals to exercising properly - so please choose where you get your exercise guidance from wisely! If it feels really wrong - it probably is! If you can't walk or you pick up an injury straight away, ask yourself - how can this be good for me? I really, really wish more people would!
Yes be amazing at what you do - excel and discover the wonderful movement that the human body can achieve, but build it up gradually.
So go exercise and have fun. Work out till your pulse is racing and you feel you are really achieving - but do do safely and start from the beginning and if it seems boring at times, at least it will give you longevity of sessions, effective weight loss, increased fitness and sustainable results!!! You will be able to walk the next day and within a month - hey you will still be able to walk with no niggles and with the results really starting to show!
Anything worth doing and achieving has no short cuts!
P.S. Top tip - a lot of popular and widely publicised exercise "methods" can often involve an element of starvation - which is why the results are achieved swiftly. But more often than not the results are not sustained - but more of this next time!!!
My client Colin Jackson is currently rehearsing for the Strictly Come Dancing Tour and I am very proud!
The power and strength and endurance of dancers is not to be underestimated.
When he does these stints for Strictly, I definitely notice the difference in the gym, on top of already brilliant core ability!
There are many sporting disciplines that do ballet on the sly! I know of a certain ex-England Rugby player that executed a lot of the main principles of ballet!
As part of my training programmes, I offer a core-conditioning element that incorporates a lot of these values! It puts a new spin on strength training.
It is better to start at the beginning, than not start at all.
We all get daunted by something that lies ahead of us - myself included. Something that we know we need to start but just need to overcome the inertia to actually get going.
No matter how daunting, by taking little steps at a time, these will gain momentum and before you know it you'll be on the road to achieving your goal.
If you've never started a structured fitness regime before; tried to start and not maintained it or have been fit but had a break and now need that extra motivation - that is what I want to help with.
You see, I know exactly how it feels. I've been there. Sure I was an athlete - but that doesn't mean that fitness always came easy to me. Sometimes it was very hard, very daunting.
I had meningitis once - that was a long lay off from sport. I lost a lot of confidence but with the right support, I took that small step, then another, then another. Before long my fitness returned.
It wasn't always easy, and I'm not going to kid you - there'll be times when you want to quit. But with the right support, the gentle reminders of the light around the corner, you'll get there. I believe you will.