Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A rant for the chics who don't workout

Let me get one thing straight, I am not a muscle junkie.  I am not obsessed, I am determined.

This may confuse people, in fact I know it confuses people.  I was recently accused of being self-obsessed with my physique.  Yes, I am concerned about my figure.  If you meet a women who tells you otherwise, shes lying. Simple.

I spend a good portion of my day in the gym.  I train hard, I eat clean.

I do not spend my weekend smashing bottles of wine, and sitting around fires feeding off fatty pieces of meat.  I choose to be fit, I choose to be healthy and I choose to be strong.  I don't go out of my way to tell people I follow a strict routine, I do not bop my head to "Girl look at that body, I work out"... one look at my body and you'll know that I don't sit on my ass, eating donuts and moaning about where I could be physically.

In no way am I saying that I have reached the pinnacles of physical perfection, but I am saying that I work my ass off to get where I'm going.  Nobody cares about where you want to be, if you not willing to commit to getting there.

I hate to disappoint but the concern surrounding my will to work hard on my body, is not for narcissism, arrogance, pretension or self-worship.  Its for longevity, its for the ability to combat sickness, to recover quicker, to self protect, for efficiency and most importantly,  as a women, a sister and a daughter it is for when my children come, to be strong and able to run with them, climb with them and simply be with them for a very long time to come.

I am not here to make you feel bad, or lecture you about your unhealthy diet or current levels of fitness.  I am here to stand up for what I do,  for what we fitness 'chics' do. I don't do it for the vanity, I do it because its the one thing I have control over.  Its the one thing that I own.

You can take away everything, my property, my cars, my investments and my finance but I'll always have my body.

My body is a vehicle to transport my brain and my brain deserves a ride that offers extraordinary performance.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Interview with Terence Mitchell

I finally managed to get a few minutes alone with Terence, in between his busy training schedule, active lifestyle and devotion to his clients, as owner and strength and conditioning coach at Mitchell Strength in Ballito.

Terence hails from a background of old school training techniques, where his methodologies are based on styles that have always worked, no gimmicks and no fashion.  His no nonsense approach to training has earned him the respect of coaches across the country and continues to be an inspiration to students and athletes across the board.

Terence has worked with EFC pro fighters Neil Diesel and Stirling Shaw as well as pro boxer Zane Mundel, not only is his practice effective for sportsmen but the countries top strongman competitors Marc van der Haer and Gerhard van Staden found themselves working under Terence's direction and guidance.

Here is what the Mitchell had to say:

Mitchell Strength has been a part of Ballito for the last year and a half now, and in that time you have created quite a noise along the coastline with your old school methodologies and garage style training techniques.  Where does your experience draw from personally and how do you find your approach to training more effective to those of the commercial facilities?

Well firstly everything begins with the barbell, if we going to talk strength.  This simple tool has proven itself for decades.  The basic compound barbell lifts have built super human strength in lifters and athletes, lifts such as the overhead press, the deadlit, the squat and the bench press.  At MS I don't reinvent the wheel.  I guess my major influence is real warehouse/garage style gyms found in the USA and the Eastern block of Europe.  In these gyms all the shit and clutter of the modern world is stripped away and what is left is the flesh and bones, the stuff that gets the job done.

I literally started training guys in my garage in 2007 and even in those early days we lived on the basics, heavy kettlebell and barbell press, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts and squats.  When I didn't have enough actual weights we would just use very heavy sacks of grain and sand and large stones and anvils.  For conditioning we flipped heavy tires and dragged heavy sleds outside on the road.  People would drive past and think I was nuts, and basically tell me I'd never make a success of this craziness, yet I cared little for their thinking and knew my path.  Almost 5 years later, the results and success of my methods have been shown.

How do you feel about the current hype surrounding functional training methods and how do your styles differ from the commercial antics of today's training techniques?

I hate hype and I hate trendy!  All through my adult life I have kept as far away as possible from those very things, and right now it seems everything under the sun is hyped to be functional.  Look at it this way, if Joe X can deadlift over 200kg for reps, squat his body weight on a barbell for +20 reps, press heavy bars, bells etc, crank out reps with extra weight hanging around his waist on pull-ups and dips, sprint hills, hammer out heavy prowler and sled sprints and trains his wrists and grip for show stopping strength, is he functional?

Damn right!  Would you want him on your team? Would you want him on your side in a fight? Think about it?  All this 'functional' bullshit is a last minute ploy by all the globo gyms and wannabe trainers who are trying to cash in on a 'cool and trendy' term when REAL people have been doing legit functional training for the last 90 years.  

Walking is functional, breathing is functional, movement is functional.

You have inspired me to be a better coach and a better student, what is the greatest advise you could give an aspiring strength coach?

Wow, thank you, those are truly kind words.  Here goes:  Get respect before money.  It does not work the other way around.  Maybe for a short while but the fall will be hard and fast.  Your integrity as a trainer is and will always be your foundation.  People are not stupid, they will work you out sooner or later and see through any deception if you don't value yourself and live and die for what you believe in.  This is not a get rich quick game, be prepared to work and suffer and sacrifice.  

One word that nobody wants to hear is SACRIFICE.  I have not taken a holiday or break from my gym since 2009, when I went to the US to meet and learn from a top US strength coach, not live the dream in Thailand.  Early mornings, long days, always rushed AND always thinking about the performance of others.

Get used to investing in other people as you not only become their trainer but 90% of the time you become their friend, and they will start to trust you so don't blow that trust or abuse it.

You have worked with many renown coaches worldwide, and have earned yourself much respect within the industry locally, where to next for you?

I've been fortunate enough to get to know Andrew Durniat and since meeting him, we have become very good friends.  Andrew is everything I have explained in my previous answers and everything I hope to become as a world class strength and conditioning coach.  Over the many years I have followed the work of many top US strength coaches such as Joe Defranco, Eric Cressey, Chad Waterbury, Adam Glass, Jedd Johnson, Zach Even-Esh, Mike Bruce and last but not least Mike Mahler, whom Ill be fortunate enough to meet and work with later this year.

On a daily basis you work with people from beginners, to athletes to weekend warriors, what inspires you the most working with such a diverse group of people?

The unmotivated and unconditioned people need to be pushed BUT the elite and professional need to be held back to a degree and harnessed otherwise they end up going ape shit and completely wrecking themselves in the gym.  The balance of working with middle aged soccer moms and pro fighters is off the hook and this keeps me on my toes.  I truly get more pumped and inspired when my clients achieve a legit PR than when I get one myself.  In the videos of my clients you can always hear me going nuts in the background because I live for their continued progress and success in the gym.

Terence, thank you so much for your time, your encouragement and your ongoing support.  Your advice goes a long way.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Fashionable Function

My profile describes me as a local modern girl with old school philosophies.  I train hard and I train mean, and I strive to follow in the footsteps of those that gained real results from real methods for real reasons.  The Romans, the Greeks, the Soviets trained for optimal performance, not for show.  I believe in these methods because I train for 'go' and not for 'show', all though the 'show' comes nicely along with it.

Lets focus on the old school philosophies.  The word that has gotten my attention the most of late is 'functional', this term is being thrown around like a loose woman's name at a frat party.  This buzzword is being described as something that is 'new', a 'novelty' and the fitness giants have latched onto it like sharks to an open wound.

Over the last few years there has been a huge transition in the fitness industry towards functional training, and facilities are branding this dynamic form of training as something new, advanced and cutting edge.  The only thing that is remotely new about this form of training is the tools that are being implemented into the training and being sold and misinterpreted entirely.  The bosu ball, the balance dome, the TRX, the bloody pvc piping and other bits of balloon that are being fed to the public as forms of functionality.

Functional training is and was where it all began, before the scientifically engineered machines came onto the scene, before our gyms were littered with false plastic gimmicks.  Functional training mimics every day activities, training the body for practicality.  At no point during your day, if you are classified normal, and not a circus act will you be balancing on one hand hanging from a cable from the ceiling while shifting heavy foam pipes with your eyes closed.  That is not practical, that is stupid.

Training is not meant to be entertaining and fun, we do not paint faces and bounce around like the Easter bunny.  Training is only fun if you, like me, enjoy feeling the gradual onslaught of pain surging through your muscles, if you entertain the feeling of numbness through your entire body and enjoy the sensation of energy.  Yes to us, that is why training is fun.

Your training is your time of day you dedicate to improving your bodies performance, improving its function, strengthening its every element.  Doing this requires dedication to the boring, as my coaches always say to me, boring works.

Training like they trained back in the day, the old school way.  For unbelievable strength in the glutes, hamstrings, and back - you deadlift and you squat.  For core strength and upper body power you tackle the bars, your lift kettlebells, you drop and consistently tackle the push up, you flip tires, you do it again, and again and again.  For conditioning you push sleds, pull sleds, battle ropes, lift kettlebells and you do it again, and again and again.

These methods work, kettlebells, pull up bars, dipping bars, bar bells etc are what were used back in the day before the commercialized fad of gyming hit the world, these methods were tried and tested by soldiers in battle.  These methods work, and have always worked, they are not new, they are not advanced and they are not a fad.  They are effective.

Today's functional is dysfunctional.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Analyzing my Snatch

I am infatuated with the kettlebell snatch.  The mechanics behind this technical move, the energy systems involved, the plyometrics and dynamics of this power exercise gets my blood pumping and my adrenaline surging.

It is not something I have mastered yet its something that I strive to perfect.  In order for me to do this I need some constructive criticism, I have started blending a mix of techniques into my snatch routine to activate different muscle groups and prolong fatigue where possible.

The first video is me performing my normal snatch, thumb facing forward with little rotation in the swing and pull.

Analyzing the pro athletes of GS especially the woman, I noticed that the preferred technique is some what different to the methods I find myself using.  

The next video is of myself performing the snatch using the technique more popular in GS, this style is new to me yet I find it far more effective than the method I have been using, effective in the terms of prolonging fatigue and sustaining endurance.

If there are any identifiable areas that can be improved, I would love some feedback

Monday, 09 January 2012

Fat free kettlebells

So its January, and some of us are sitting with that ghost of  the Christmas pudding hanging a little too comfortably around our waists.  No doubt the majority of the population had their fare share of candy canes, mince pies and one or two glasses too many of the fortified wine.

Now three weeks later, we back at the grindstone and sitting uncomfortably behind our stomachs. With more than half of you having set a new years resolution that included the words exercise, fitness or health.  My advice to you is to get up and grab everyday by the bells.

Kettlebells are not just strength tools but tools that melt fat off the body.  With correct coaching, within a matter of weeks you will be flushing Boney M's last Christmas track down the toilet.  When training with kettlebells for fat loss it is essential that you lift heavy and explosively (with progression of course).

When lifting heavy and lifting explosively your body makes use of the strongest of the muscle fibres.  Lifting heavy requires more energy, the higher the energy output, the more energy is required, resulting in a higher rate of calories burnt.

The majority of kettlebell movements are performed balistically and these movements such as the swing, clean, snatch and jerk all demand a high energy output.  High energy output again equals high calorie consumption.

Spending 40 minutes of your hour long gym session staring into the abyss while running on a treadmill is just not going to give you the kind of results a kettlebell workout will.  No doubt the treadmill will burn calories, but once you step off, the calorie burn stops.  Kettlebell training combines strength and cardio into its movements, so once that bell touches the floor and you walk away, you are still going to burn calories and this is due to the post exercise oxygen consumption being so high.

The natural movements performed, engage all your muscles, whereby your muscles work together in synergy, the more muscles working as an integrated unit the higher the consumption of oxygen and energy.  With the movements involved in kettlebell training, often your body is in an unbalanced or dynamic state, for example when snatching, there is more weight being distributed to the one side of your body than the other, and this state triggers a plyometric response from your body which results in a higher caloric burn.

There is just no waisting of energy when it comes to these awesome bells, you have to use a lot of energy to lift them, so with every lift, every swing and every movement you are generating a burn.  

Make the change today, find yourself a certified coach and get fitter, get faster, get stronger and get leaner.

Listen closely, and write this down, the only time it is ever too late to change yourself is when you're dead.  Until then, you are simply making excuses or lying to yourself.