25 May 2013

Are you doing enough?

exercise healthyAs far back as 300,000 years ago in the middle paleolithic era we saw the Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens emerge. These early humans were hunter gatherer’s and so a daily hunt for food was a way of life. It is said they were extremely good at hunting mammoth, this would have been a collective effort involving hours of tracking, sprinting with spears and other weapons, leaping, jumping and throwing things at the beast, wrestling with it and eventually overpowering and outwitting it and then hacking it to pieces small enough for consumption.

Lots of hard work in short bursts of high intensities often day in day out. Some hunts would have been successful, some would not have been, but the same amount of energy would have had to be put into each and every chase. In between mammoth hunting trips early humans would have added finds from their food forragaes which could involve hours upon hours roaming around looking for edible matter, climbing over rocks and through woodland.

And when food wasn’t being sourced early humans would be working to make hand tools, build fire, make and construct shelter. Life was pretty physically grueling, most early humans had a life expectancy of about 30. In evolutionary terms we haven’t changed much from those days. Our DNA is the same and so with the event of the industrial revolution we have found a modern way of life that doesnt quite match our genome.

It all started with a man called Robert Owen in 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest. It seems like a rather nice life balance doesnt it? But if you consider that over the ensuing 196 years our 8 hours have become less and less physically laborious as technologies have become more and more advanced then you begin to see how we dont quite match what we are built for physically.

Our inactivity of course leads to the modern diseases we see so today; obesity, type II diabetes, back pain, some cancers, allergies, depression, etc….But what I find so startling is what people think an active lifestyle is and this is what I am hoping detailing the above will demonstrate.

Here is your day: You wake and move around, perhaps pacing fast but not running in order to get the kids off to school and get yourself to work for about 90mins. You sit for 8 hours moving your fingers. Sometimes you walk for 4 mins to a lift to a canteen where you sit (more) and eat. Sometimes you walk to the loo, this is about a 30sec walk each way. The you navigate traffic/buses whilst sitting (more) and perhaps moving your arms on your steering wheel. You come home and walk around the house doing chores, these can be quite demanding if you are lugging bags of washing up and down the stairs but otherwise involve moving objects around your home without sweating or attaining a heart rate high enough to get you into your aerobic training zone. You sit (more) and eat then you sit (more) and watch TV. Then you lie down in bed to sleep. Rinse and repeat for 80 years.

Sometimes you go to the gym. At the gym you work your body to the intensity it was meant to be worked (although not the manner it was intended if you use fixed resistance machines etc……another post!) You do this for 60mins, 2-3 x week. This is not a lot of exercise, this is a tiny percentage of your daily life spent moving your body at the right level. There are 168 hours in a week. Early humans would be physically active for about 90 of them, its what we’re built for. If you move for 2-3 hours a week it is no way near enough for longevity and good health. If you move for 5-6 hours its still not enough. You need to move for at least 15 hours a week, it doesnt have to be gym work, in fact proponents of the paleolithic movement have some good guidelines;

  • Exercise frequently, vary duration’s and intensities (including rest periods) instead of doing the same, extended routines in a gym or while jogging
  • Perform a variety of complex “natural movements” (such as walking, running, jumping, crawling, climbing, carrying, throwing, swimming…) that use the whole body rather than artificially constrained exercises that focus on specific muscles (like those afforded by most gym equipment)
  • Spend sufficient time relaxing, playing, and just “being in the present”, without worrying about later

10 August 2012

A day at the Olympics feat. Babyface Adams and da crew worldwide

Nicola Adams Olympic gold

I bought tickets to watch the boxing finals at the Olympics last year, more accurately they were bought for me as everybody knows how much I love boxing. I was so chuffed to be going and that the tickets were for the final of my favourite sport one in which I competed moons ago. But I didn’t actually put it all together in my mind until I got close to the Excel centre; An Olympic final, a historical first and what was to turn out to be a GB gold to boot!

Katie Taylor's fans London Olympics 2012

You couldn’t help but notice all the green shirts…. thousands of Irish supporters as apparently there was some tasty boxer from those shores on the same bill!! Walking up to the Excel centre they swarmed the streets and bars exuding pride and adulation from every one of each of their millions of pores. I wondered how they had ALL managed to be so successful in their ticket purchase despite the debacle here. But was hoping Katie would wipe the floor with Sofya as I thought she had fabulous shoulders.

Excel centre at the London Olympics 2012


The Excel centre looked cool, Ive never been to anything held here before. There were some people sitting in umpire chairs en route to the front door on megaphones. They had to repeat one line of text every 2 mins, I began to feel relieved I didn’t get sucked into the middle class wash of excitement to apply to be an Olympic volunteer last year. There was few rouge volunteers on megaphones; notably the guy on the DLR getting us all to chant “everybody in da house say hooooooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaa” and sticking the V’s up at his script. I noticed also that the British have a different…dare I say it clearer understanding of what it means to queue. I didn’t mind too much the pair squeezing in front of me to get their stuff on the scanner through security, but when they practically head butted me to get past ticket check I shot their chi with my Vulcan like dagger sonic boom meridian and that stopped them in their tracks.

Olympics boxing finalsInside the holding area of the Excel there was very little of interest apart from an even more condensed sea of green shirts….more rowdy and shouty than outside, I was both amazed and impressed that Katie had managed to orchestrate such a party and that the Irish were so strong. It made me think more about the glory of unification sport could exacerbate or even generate.

In a quiet corner away from the bars I found this stand (maybe because it was by the treat shed?) along with other Olympic boxing memorabilia. When I was boxing Nicola had pricked my consciousness….she was winning everything and I relished her skill and focus. In those days though I only had room for one idol; Lucia Rijvek, but Nicola did  a sterling job of coming second to her for me!!

Boxing for me now with BFC is a much better life balance than actually having to train like a dog….as the ones like myself who cant find the guts, determination or commitment to make it to Olympic platforms can still flounce around the gym pretending to know what we are talking about yet still have dessert and a drink.

London Olympics 2012 womens boxing final

Despite not really being interested in anything at the Olympics except the spectacle of the sporting events I thought this picture summed it up pretty well. I travelled from Brighton on a few trains where I had a seat and once in London found the Olympic navigation really well sign posted. The DLR was quick and easy and the navigation and facilities and helpfulness of the organisers and volunteers couldn’t have been better. If I was to be picky I would like to mention that I detested travelling on the tube. I hate travelling on the tube so much I would rather put sand grit in my bra, but on this particular occasion in mid August on one of the hottest days we have had so far this summer to be trapped underground in a pod full of people looking at the floor with B.O and attitude hurtling along at a zillion miles an hour through a back hole is the last place I wanted to be. Oh and arriving off the DLR in East London is pretty skanky too.

Female boxerOnce inside a yummy mummy asked the queen whether she enjoyed boxing. The Queen turned out to not actually be the Queen and was infact an old school female boxer who had paved the way for all of us lot.

I thought it was amazing that she ended up looking like the queen and what royal family member I may end up bearing resemblance to.

I loved the tone of retribution in her voice against all those who said “no” to her in her day and the way she preserved her dignity and femininity and thought if I seriously did end up with any of her traits I would be a very very lucky old bird!

Olympics 2012 ladies boxing finalFinally the show started. The girls touched gloves and the first round was under way. The atmosphere was electric, Nicola was boxing brilliantly and it struck me how great and yet weird at the same time it must have felt to have the entire stadium chanting your name. We were all at it, stamping our feet and bellowing like warriors in a tribe at her. She was so light and nimble flick flacking all around the ring; popping in to say hello to Ren’s left cheekbone then quickly darting out again to twizel to the left and then faint to her right before another dazzling flurry of punches.

olympic scoreI am aware my boxing commentary is special,  the next thing to occur was camera malfunction rendering me pretty useless as an Olympic reporter. However I have a memory of that night that I will never lose. Forget history in the making, forget national pride….lets talk about me for a minute here: I trained and trained and trained all my life. Im nearly 40 and still training all the time, I don’t fight any longer due to a disc problem but I pump iron, swing heavy things and run till myolympic score 2 lungs pop out of my earholes. When I was fighting fit, literally, and training all the hours under the sun I managed to get myself into the ring to kickbox for a British title and the same lack of fire in my belly that I still respect now in people I couldnt muster. I never cared for a belt, for people to say well done or she has this sash or that grading, all I ever wanted to do was train and spar. Its probably why Ive got a bulging disc in my neck and definitely why I absolutely totally wholeheartedly respect to the max those whoNicola Adams

get up and say “I’m prepared to put it on the line” “I want to test myself” “I want to show the world I am ready for anything”  Nicola Adams on the night of Thursday the 9th of August 2012 didn’t need a camera or a microphone, she doesnt need a sports reporter….you only had to watch her heart and show to see what stuff she was made of and what this occasion meant to her. Nicola Adams, I salute you.

Katie Taylor



Later that night there was plenty more tribal action amongst the crowd which I enjoyed surfing on. Katie Taylor won her bout, I was standing on my chair next to a hunchbacked ageing Irish man shouting ringside advice from the middle of a packed stadium like an old coach. I was amazed at how much plyometric energy she had left in her tank, when the judges called the final score.

After these amazing fights there was a middleweight contest and the best woman won. We went to the Southbank and had some lovely food before getting back onto the disgusting pod train which made me sweat on the back of my hands the humidity was so high.

This weekend the Olympics is over and normal life resumes; telly wont be on silent in the background 24hours a day and conversations will be far more diverse. I have been impressed with the Olympics and dare I say an iota of national pride has crept in it has been amazing to touch the world in this way from my door step and inspired me to get Rio tickets, I’d love to follow Nicola Adams story and watch her defend her Olympic title. I’d love to see Natasha Jonas again, did she come outa nowhere or have I had my eye off the ball too long?

London 2012 women's final boxing victory ceremony

25 July 2012

Taking life into my own hands at Bikram

My next instalment comes at day 65 of  84. Spurred to write this by a friend who asked me how I was getting on with my 3 month yoga/joint mobility/body weight circuit program. Her inference was that knowing my personality how in the hell was I lasting the course of such  inner strength training rather than my usual full on physical stuff. I replied truthfully which is that I have noticed terrific gains in range of movement and mobility since I started this, that I have now increased the intensity and sophistication of movement for the body weight circuits 5x since I started, way more than I set out to do. But that my mind was wandering during the yoga section and it was that section I wanted to improve upon. Hearing myself explain to her I’d added weight lifting and sprint training to my routine I couldn’t help be disappointed in myself weights and running is what I have always done, it keeps me in my comfort zone, I know it inside out. What’s wrong with me I mean how hard can it be to stick a poxy yoga program at the end of some flipping around??

The next day I signed up to 30 days of Bikram yoga. That will take me nearly to the end of my 3 month experiment and if I cant find the motivation to chuck a few poses into my routine I have a yoga school down my road that will make me do it. My sticking point with yoga is in it’s stillness-I tire mentally too easily, I get distracted and my mind wanders when I should centre it. I race through the poses without breathing correctly to get it over with so I can hop into the shower and get on with my day. I chose Bikram because it was supposed to be the more physical of the yoga varieties and less “hippy”. Let me tell you that if listening to a teacher whilst contorted discuss the merits of the poses massaging our ascending and descending intestines is not hippyish then I dread to think what a hippy class would be like. I managed not to laugh out loud, not because it didn’t seem ridiculous but because expending an electron of energy over what was required from us in that blistering heat definitely wouldn’t have been wise! After she told us we may become emotional upon exiting the camel pose I stopped listening and decided if I was going to come back there was no way I could listen to that.

On about day 45 of this experiment I managed to take a full face smack from an 11 year old at my boxing club! Somehow it caused further damage to a fragile area in my neck and a disc bulge that squashed a nerve running down my arm into my hand rendering 2 fingers completely numb ever since. Chiropractic treatment is gradually resolving the issue however the disc inflammation will reduce in its own sweet time, leaving me currently in a state of limited neck mobility.

About 20% of the poses in Bikram yoga entail full spinal extension with emphasis on looking behind you as you bend backwards. This is a horrific movement for me and causes intense discomfort. After that the compensation pose they get you into involves lying on your front with your head one way, ear to your mat. As well as this being nearly impossible for me it is the number one rule of chiropractic to avoid these positions with neck and back problems, so there was no way I was going to be able to play here either. Pushing so hard in the heat was one thing but damaging an already damaged area was all together another.

Leaving the studio I thanked the teacher…and although I will return and it does sound that I hated her, I felt that she did a fantastic job at motivation and instruction and seemed to have a great understanding and pedigree in yoga. As I walked out she told me that my neck injury (she saw it on my admission form but didn’t know what it was) would go away if I continued practising, I didn’t ask her where she plucked that wise advice from, but next time I’m able to mutter words upon exiting the studio I might tell her yoga cant save everyone but Ill give it a damn good shot before I’m beat!

23 June 2012

Barefoot running shoes in the gym









So did I mention I am currently training on a 3 month joint mobility/yoga/bodyweight circuits program?

No, well it came about after I came out of hospital a couple of months ago (5 days stomach decompression after my small bowel decided to stick itself together). I was feeling pretty crappy; weak, beaten and humbled by life forces. I wanted to start training again but having not eaten for a week and been on such a vast amount of pain killers it was impossible for a few more weeks. During that time I contemplated where I wanted to go physically. Something I dont usually do-for me it has always been about training as hard as possible to get as fit and strong as possible to lift more, run faster, box for longer. My mantra to push myself when I was flagging on hill sprints or whatever was “Are you dead yet? no? then go faster”

I decided I wanted a body that didnt ache and grumble from all the sports injuries I carry, that I wanted a good base fitness and strength but that I really wanted to be limber and agile and quick and light over anything else. So I designed an experimental program to test on myself. Each month the exercises change but throughout the experiment the protocol stays the same.

I am training on a 4 day cycle: A rest day, a medium day and 2 hard days. Everyday I do joint mobilisations and yoga-these are the tedious sections for my mind and it takes a lot for me to focus on this type of training. I force myself to do it, today is day 33 and I am pleased to say I have made huge gains in this department, my yoga poses particularly. I can feel the benefits already walking around with a much fuller range of movement, I feel more limber and natural.

The two hard days are tough but very short. Last week I ramped up the exercises and introduced some different ones so my session is longer and harder. This really works for my psyche as I enjoy the nature of these very tough physical challenges. I can feel myself getting much stronger-it is a different strength from the gains made through weight training, more subtle and a general feeling of overall strength rather than the muscle soreness you feel in isolated muscle groups from weights.

This training doesn’t fatigue me, I don’t at all feel that I am doing too much. Its hard when I do it and then afterwards I feel fine and can get on with my day without feeling too tired. Historically when I was training hard this wasn’t always the case.

As the sessions are studio based I have bought a pair of minimalist shoes. Barefoot shoes. An oxymoron? No it is a thin skin of a shoe that covers your sole to protect it from the ground but still allows the foot to move and flex organically. I like the way the sessions are without equipment and so very natural feeling and I feel connected to the ground in these shoes. I have started using them a little for running in too, I would love to use them more for this but having taken about 3 years to completely fix my plantar after I injured it from running literally barefoot on road and other hard ground for years I have kind of been a little worried to risk it again.

Anyway lets see what happens, the shoes are quite disgusting looking and I may be too self aware to wear them in public! I am looking eagerly forwards to the next 51 days of my program and will report again soon.


7 June 2012

Make the change work part II: Understanding the seven stages of change


You are still unconvinced of the need to change

  • Read about the health consequences of inactivity and obesity
  • Read inspirational stories of those who have successfully changed their lives
  • Speak to others who have changed successfully
  • Talk to your docotor about the health consequences of inactivity and the benefits of exercise

2. Belief but uncommitted:

You believe you should be more active but cannot get started

  • Visualise yourself as a new person: what you will look like, what you will weigh, what clothes you will fit into, how energetic you feel, how much younger you look. Contrast this with the old you.
  • Tally the health benefits: how exercise will reduce your chances of heart disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, etc…
  • Visualise new social possibilities
  • Be realistic about the alternatives: TV watching, more work, watching life pass you by as opposed to active engagement and meeting new challenges

3. Active planning:

You are actively planning the new you

  • Set a start date
  • Set small, achievable goals even minutes a day, 3 to 4 days per week.
  • Make a detailed plan including scheduling your exercise time into your daily planner for at least the next 3 months.
  • Be specific; when, how long, and where you will exercise, what back up plan you have for bad weather or unforeseen events including heavier work loads, illness and holidays.
  • Enlist support; let others know that you will be exercising, see if friends want to join you.
  • Set goals. Think about training for short races or even a half marathon if your a runner.
  • Believe in your self and let nothing stand in your way. Its your life!

4. Active engagement:

You are currently engaged in a training routine

  • Keep a training journal
  • Reward yourself every week, it could be a good movie, concert or another activity you really like
  • Maintain a positive attitude towards your progress
  • Be consistent
  • Dont worry if you miss a session, make it up the next day

5. Image creation:

You are not only training, you are creating a new image for yourself. You see yourself as a “walker” or a “swimmer”

  • Visualise this paradigm shift. You should be trying to define yourself by your actions-you are a “tai chi practitioner”, you are a “marathoner”.
  • Subscribe to magazines or journals that reinforce your new image.
  • Seek out others who are involved in similar activities

6.Image maintenance:

You have a new self image and only severe setbacks such as illness or injury will deter you from keeping up your training.

  • Make a backup plan for setbacks
  • Continue to refine your goals.Are you training for fitness only? Would you like to set a weight loss goal? Would you like to enter a competition?

7. The new you:

You are a new person

  • Expand your horizons by seeking more knowledge about your fitness pursuits.
  • Help others to become whole by introducing them to your techniques.
  • Consider writing about your experiences.
  • Maintain your training diary


4 June 2012

Turkish fitness and food exploration

Some of you may be aware of Brightonfit’s first fitness holiday in September. As part of the preparation for this holiday I went to Turkey last month.

So I just got back from a whistle stop tour of Turkey’s “turquoise coast”, cupping the south westerly corner of the country. The agenda ranged from measuring mountain running routes through to sampling local cuisine, primarily for the alpha phase of extraordinary fitness holidays yet mindful this was just a launch pad for future Turkish forays!

My top tip for an off road Turkish visit would be don’t bother looking for a map. They don’t exist. As one guide book said “asking for a map in Turkey only makes you look suspicious!”  My advice would be to instead do one of three things; EITHER find a walking fanatic who has written a little booklet of local walks with sentences in it like “upon approaching the tree with the red bark you will see a rise in the land line at which point turn immediately left down the ravine until you come to the third great boulder….” OR find a walking fanatic who has painted daubs of coloured paint onto rocks along a route he/she has mapped out and hope that when you are in the middle of nowhere, disorientated by the glare of the midday sun as you realise you are starving and without food, that you will find the next painted rock before you wring your sweaty socks out for a drop of moisture to drink….OR finally and perhaps most sensibly with hindsight would be to get a local to guide you.

And so it was that I drank my own sweaty sock drip.

The other surprising local oral delight was salad for breakfast. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were staying in a 2* pension or a 5* boutique hotel there was always some variant on a cucumber, tomato and olive breakfast. Most places would pad this out with eggs and toast, and there was always a selection of home made jams with huge chunks of “jammed” fruit floating in jellied suspense. After a week I began to suss a good salad requires kitchen love: you must peel your cucumber, roughly chop your home grown vine tomato, pick both black and green olives from your grove and serve with both virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and of course a freshly squeezed orange juice comes as standard. In fact “kitchen love” more commonly known as good cooking with fresh ingredients and no fuss was king in Turkey wherever I went.

Of course there were the obligatory British ambassadors sporting lobster red shoulders and patriotic tattoos who were catered for amidst the natural beauty and calm of the country in small but all to frequent pockets of plastic fantastic. Fortunately the tell tale signs of blackboards advertising happy hour outside bars and gift shops with wrist band stands outside them gave away the trash and you could drive by quite easily…..in stark contrast the photo for this blog entry was taken after about 3 hours of trail running/trekking having not seen a soul for the whole time. A lot of the place is covered in national parks and/or has no road access which makes for idyllic secret hideaway beaches and a fabulous natural escape.

My main objective this visit was to lay some foundations for future trips which was successful, I made some good contacts and stayed in some very contrasting areas and accommodation, in so doing picked up a little about the culture, tourist trade and geography. But the focus was most definitely on trip 1 in September: Whether you choose to hike/climb for a couple of hours to get to paradise beach or take the boat option you will deposit yourself on what is essentially a deserted beach with turquoise crystal clear water. My only complaint would be the lack of 100% sand coverage as this coast line seems to comprise 50% shingle. That aside the sheer mountainous drop in the background and the amount of sweat involved in getting here almost overrides that! Of course once we are there its up to you whether you relax and soak up the rays or carry on sweating to the beat of my shrills.

A slower session is planned in an disused church. In fact its a little more than just a church as it sits amidst 500 abandoned stone houses in a ghost village, latterly adopted by UNESCO as a peace village. I came across this whilst in the woods above Kayakoy where we will be staying and ran down into it out of curiosity. The church would have formed the centre of the village and is cavernous and dark thus providing welcome shade and cool. We will perform a primal fitness circuit once there before we loop around and down to the tarmac civilisation.

14 May 2012

How to make the change work

So you’ve been chugging along for the last 10 years working your way up the corporate ladder in the job of your dreams, your boss is great and your colleagues really supportive.

As time has passed you have become more and more absorbed in the process; You wake you rush to the train station you sit or stand like a sardine for a couple of hours with other people rushing to get to your office/cubicle where you sit and perform the work tasks then you go back to the train station and sit or stand like a sardine for a couple more hours to get to your home where you sit down to eat followed by some more sitting to do more work tasks or watch the television.

But your doing great at work, continually promoted with a bigger and bigger financial reward. The daily grind seems worth it when you look at your bank balance and your ever growing family, you love your family and would do anything for little Isa, she’s 2 next month and just toddling.

Somehow eating an M&S pre-packed dinner in front of the lap top seems the quickest way to stop your stomach churning, after all you simply don’t have time to cook tonight and bath Isa and get the final tweaks done for your big presentation to the board tomorrow. You tell yourself it wont always be like this and in a couple of years time once you are a director you will work from home and be able to pick Isa up from school.


Your fat, 45, you have high blood pressure, your stressed, tired, worn out, have a bad back, a dodgy knee, and don’t get much bedroom action!

You wake up one day and realise its all gone so quickly….Isa is doing her A-levels, her brother his GCSE’s….neither of them wants anything to do with their very un-hip father. Ever since that  parents race at the school sports day when you twisted your knee in the 100 metres Dad’s race and ended up rolling around on the floor shouting “man down, man down” You have never really earned back Isa’s respect. And now your baby is nearly all grown up, so one day you decide to make a change, a change that will earn back Isa’s respect, get your wife to look at you amorously again and most importantly make you feel alive, in love, fresh, fit and fabulous….where the bloody hell do you start?


  • Life changing changes usually work best when you are prepared to do anything to make them stick. Without exception.
  • The goal to making the changes stick is preparation.
  • Remove all temptations from the areas you spend time in; chocolate, booze, fags, crisps etc…
  • Build up a stock of healthy snacks in your cupboards that are tried and tested so you know you will be OK to plump for them when you get a craving rather than run out to the chocolate shop!
  • Plan and write out a daily structure so that you can see you do indeed have 45mins spare to fit in an exercise session.
  • Decide when you are going to start the regime and make sure it is realistic.
  • Do not go on a bender the night before. Instead as the date approaches slowly start replacing some of the things you have decided to remove from your life with some of the healthier options so that you go into your regime running not flat on your arse!
  • Stick to it like glue, do not ever, ever give yourself an excuse to not train or eat crap. If you fall off the wagon do not beat yourself up or further indulge just pull yourself together and keep going.




2 May 2012

Why do I do it?

When I qualified as a personal trainer I had a wealth of scientific knowledge from my Physiology degree, a great understanding of physical training principles that my training to become a personal fitness instructor had taught me, and an understanding of how the body worked under physical exertion from study and personal competitive sporting training and learning.

I was completely unprepared for the monumental amount of counselling and health psychology, behaviour remodelling and lifestyle coaching my role as a personal trainer would involve.

I learnt quickly that you must present a steady strong and calm front to your clients as they talk and  puff through their sessions whilst madly paddling to get it right for them behind this serene façade. And that simply prescribing an exercise session and taking them through it was the easy part, and the trick to getting results from clients performing to the best of their ability ran much deeper.

I learnt the root of personal training was understanding people and that being able to talk to them and motivate them in a way that they understood was key.

All of this takes time and experience (along with plenty of mistakes!)  I have drawn from my academic root and have often heavily relied on my own personal training experiences to get to the finished article, and still 15 years on am always learning.

I will have performed each and every session I deliver hundreds and hundreds of times personally, in different states of mind, at different locations, times of year, alone and in groups. I will have executed the same session with hundreds of clients over the years and learnt a tiny bit from each one to take forward to the next so as to re-mould and perfect the execution time and again.

There is rarely something I cannot resolve; a stubborn bit of body fat, an answer for someone who wont run, an alternative to dessert for a sweet tooth, a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, a solution to back pain, an answer to low self esteem, a rock to lean against whilst pushing through mental barriers or someone to offload to on a long training run after work…..

Q: Why do I do it?

A: For the only reason that counts: I love it, it is all that I know and all that I am, it defines me and I am great at what I do.


24 December 2011

Piste off ski

I have a heightened sense of personal space. I know about this, have done for a while, I’m ok with it. I pretty much always accommodate for it in my day to day…but skiing I have noticed does not allow for this. It puts me, as a beginner, in a mild state of panic when I hear the crunch and swish of some competent snow gliding colourful cloth wearing thermal base layering born in an igloo type lines me up to for a glamorous and slick double shimmy and leg bend overtake in a majestic swoop and curve…damn him for being so fine and perfect…why doesn’t he realise I need the entire width of the piste to maintain a vertical posture and complete silence please.

Snowboarders although carrying the most offensive tag to most skiers just by their very being, to me provide a slightly…marginally…less annoying existence. As a snowboarder carves the piste he makes more of a scraping noise. You know it’s going to be a teenage boy or a middle aged man usually, neither group I seem to find a problem speaking my mind to, and that he will either be completely masterful and just an annoying tw*t or so past it you feel sorry for him anyway so feel like leaving him alone to cope with hair loss and middle aged spread is bad enough without exacerbating his misery.

Due to the difference in the approaching scrape noise pitch I can calibrate my internal “annoyometer”. A skier of the aforementioned proficiency scores highly enough to get me to stop in my unbalanced tracks and wait for him to pass in the manner of someone who is so vexed they cannot even muster the words to communicate that. Oh but he knows…I throw such a steely glare and pose stridently across the piste until he passes, ashamedly, that only someone with no sense of personal space who was so oblivious enough to me as to enjoy the beautiful sunny snow filled mountains couldn’t pick up on that aggressive body language.

The snowboarder receives a slightly different handling. Firstly as previously identified he will be at a disadvantage in life so to be so harsh seems unfair. And secondly it’s not his fault he choose that outfit, it seemed fashionable in the darkly illuminated shop where the bass was so fat he couldn’t feel his own heartbeat.
In these displays of piste disregard I try and simply carve around his random tracks sometimes it works, sometimes I have to completely change my planned turn, which affects my course enough to wobble me enough to get my knickers in monumental twist until either I or he give each other the death stare or fall over laughing.

As for lift queue etiquette or general orientation and traversing around resorts with huge bits of heavy moulded plastic to one’s feet it would seem that no-one adheres to normal social conduct and gliding into a complete stranger is perfectly acceptable. As are body parts that need airing/warming/deblistering or wageling along with general acceptance of erratic movement.

Apart from all of the above, I’m not quite sure what I expected, I mean what exactly is normal about flying down the side of a mountain on bits of carbon fibre dressed in colourful and ill-fitting clothing (note the camel toe, both male and female) with gay abandon to what is often a very demanding serious and responsible daily existence?

24 December 2011

Running with wolves part III

Husky sledding in the Arctic goes down as the purist, most life affirming, soul satisfying combinations of passions rolled into one titanic experience that any dog lover could have.
I know dogs, I know dogs well, I know all kinds of dogs, I know dogs alone, in pairs and in packs, Ive run with them all, old and young, for years, dogs love to run and I know why (see running with wolves part 1). Yesterday they embraced my company….yet again unconditionally….although this time I was not the pack leader. From this angle I saw through a different lens, they exposed their infra structure, their vunerable underbellies, their magical sense of eachothers strengths and weaknesess, precise timing, speed, intuitive reactions, convincingly infinite power combined with a spirit that seemed impossible to dilute.

I was just a bystander, someone to provide reason to charge like a well oiled machine powered by redbull through the Arctic, a resistive force to load the sleigh down. 5 dogs pull a wooden sleigh carrying up to 2 humans, one stands and “drives” the other sits. The Sami will tell you shifting your weight from one foot to the other whilst standing on the back of the sleigh will steer it. This is not true. The dogs are finely tuned to eachother and have done this a bazillion time before thus despite which way you lean they will drive you the way they know or want. Invariabley this can cause some confusion at the human end, it would seem processing instruction from human to dog is not something I am used to being challeneged on. However once I gave over to it I had the full richness of the experience. Being driven by the dogs was blissful. The serenity, power, concentration, hard breathing, warm exhalation vapour trails streaming from their mouths, frost forming on their whiskers and eyebrows, tails straight out behind them as they pull and pull and pull hard every single paw revolution being important as it cycles through and presses the earth and rebounds with elastic recoil over and over. Their bodies contort with the force they generate against the harnesses in a bid to tug harder and drive forwards with more acceleration. The pursuit for speed is relentless, even after 90mins they were wild with anticipation for the chance of more running.

They are lashed in an X formation, the Sami ties an old dog with a young one at the front and back of the pack. The middle warrior seemed the steady one, a little grouchy, but as much of a workhorse as the others. At the front were the smart strong dogs, leading the way, stopping first, intuitively leading us all despite my initial protestations. The rear two were pure energy balls, leaping a foot in the air and yapping the minute we stopped, their bodies were almost entirely bent as the speed their back legs were driving us forward was faster than the harness allowed their front legs and thus the entire pack to travel at….yet the never once eased up, its almost as if they didnt mind being practically folded in half for the slight glint of hope that the pace may increase whereby they would be perfectly placed to take up the slack and power forward at a pace that was much more preferable!

They were small, all of the dogs, but hard, at a guess not much more than 5% body fat and ranged in colour….I fell in love with the black and brown young one at the back of our pack, who I struggled to not cuddle back when he jumped up at me and rested his head in the crook of my arm. His ears were folded forwards and he drove like a beast, character over brimming….id have given him my last rolo but the Sami seemed very strict;)