MYTHBUSTER

January 25, 2008

Hey all! I’ve seen many of you in the gym in the past few weeks no doubt working on your New Year’s resolutions and I wish you the absolute best with it. I have also been approached many times in those same few weeks with some questions that I feel need to be addressed and clarified. There are some common misconceptions about how to train in order to achieve a specific goal for both men and women.

What follows is an outline of what I’ve been asked the most and a few other myths that people believe about training and working out. One of the most common and misunderstood myths out there is that you can spot reduce fat in specific areas without affecting other areas of your body. WRONG. The human body simply doesn’t work that way. In order to lose bodyfat in one area you have to lose it everywhere. I hear it all the time: “Mike, I do 100,000 crunches twice a day and I can’t lose this fat off of my stomach!” Look, ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t matter how strong or “in shape” a particular muscle is if it’s covered with two inches of fat.

In order to bring your bodyfat to a level that’s to your liking you have to: 1) pay attention to your eating habits and correct whatever mistakes you are making. Get with one of our trainers for some advice. You never know…you just might learn something; 2) either increase the intensity of your resistance training, cut down on your rest periods between sets, or both; 3) stay consistent with your cardiovascular training and continue to push yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to burn more and more calories; 4) challenge yourself to learn more about fitness through books, the internet, and the trainers in our gyms.

The next most popular myth I hear and see acted upon is that if you simply perform higher reps you can “cut up” and get ripped. WRONG. You get “cut up” and ripped through proper nutrition and cardiovascular training plus high intensity resistance training. If you have any questions regarding getting cutting up and ripped ask one of our trainers to clarify what I just touched on.

The last myth I’m going to talk about today is one I hear a lot of the younger guys talking about. As matter of fact, I had a 19 year old approach me a few weeks back. Here’s what he said to me, “I don’t wanna get too big in case I stop working out because I don’t want my muscle to turn into fat.” PEOPLE, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR MUSCLE TO TURN INTO FAT. The reason this myth exists is because when guys get big and muscular their appetite increases along with the size of their muscles. In order to support the new muscle mass you have to feed the machine, so to speak. Then, for whatever reason, some stop working out. What they don’t stop is their high calorie eating habits. Their activity level decreases due to not working out but they continue to eat 4,000 or more calories a day. Guess what? If your activity decreases but you continue to eat a high calorie diet and can’t burn off those calories your fat levels are going to increase while your muscles atrophy.

Let’s get this straight: MUSCLE IS METABOLISM. Muscle burns calories even when you’re sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing. That means that the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. So if you’re eating 4000 calories a day to support a lot of muscle and then suddenly you lose a lot of that muscle for whatever reason but you STILL eat a high calorie diet those extra calories are going to be stored since you no longer burn them off. So yes, your muscles get smaller and your waist gets bigger but that isn’t because your muscles turned into fat. They simply shrunk and then you didn’t adjust your caloric intake accordingly. Excess leads to excess.

Not to beat a dead horse, boys and girls, but don’t believe everything you hear. There are a ton of experts in every gym across the country, so ask yourself this simple question when presented with any type of fitness “information”: “They may sound like they know a lot about this but do they LOOK like they know a lot about this?”

Hey all! I hope every one of you had a great Christmas and perfect start to the New Year! If you didn’t…well, it still isn’t too late to turn 2008 into a fantastic year. As far as I’m concerned it’s NEVER too late to do something positive, including bettering your fitness levels. What I’m going to talk about today may or may not hit home to quite a few of you reading this.

How often have you started a new year with tons of resolutions only to let many, if not all, of them slip by the wayside? Many a smoker has promised themselves and loved ones to quit smoking once the new year hits. For a few days or even weeks they do very well, not smoking any cigarettes, only to have a weak moment and light up. Once that first cigarette is smoked they adapt the mentality that they just can’t quit. WRONG! On average it takes smokers four to six attempts to quit for good, so just call this attempt practice and try again.

Nothing worth having ever comes easy. For those of you that have achieved financial success remember all the long hours and sleepless nights you invested to reach that level of success. Still others have attained a level of fitness success that at times seemed impossible to achieve, yet here and now it’s a reality. The reason behind these successes is one and the same. These people turned what was once a chore into a habit which then became a lifestyle. The point being, they made a commitment to themselves and their goals and stuck to them through all obstacles. No, it wasnt easy but yet they presisted. They were times in all these success stories when it was thought that maybe they took on more than they could handle and times when all seemed lost, but they stuck chin to chest and bullishly moved forward.

The point I’m making folks, is that all of these people had a very specific idea of what they wanted and did whatever it took to make their goals a reality. The other point that needs to be made is that NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE ANY BETTER THAN YOU! I may not be the biggest success you’ve ever known but if you consider where and how I grew up, in the city of Detroit, I can proudly say that I’ve made more of myself than many of my old high school counter parts.

Here’s a quick history outline of my past: my senior year in high school I weighed an excessive 151lbs with dreams of playing college football. Even some of my coaches advised me to focus on other avenues to get to college yet I persisited. I could have very easily agreed with the naysayers and adopted a negative attitude. Instead, I worked my butt off and landed a scholarship to Eastern Michigan U. where even the coaches there got a chuckle when they first saw me. The strength and conditioning coach, the honorable Mr. Bud Doba (man I hate him!), told me more than once that I was too small for the great sport of football. Yet every single day I was the first one at the gym and the last one to leave. I was going to play football and no one was going to stop me from doing so.

Long story short, folks, I became a three year starter at cornerback anb free safety. There were many times I thought that I just couldn’t do it. I remember many times leaving the gym or practice field thinking I wouldn’t come back yet somehow I managed to show up the very next day and gave it my all each and every time. The pay off was magnified every time I talked to an old high school friend. I could tell you countless stories of people I went to high school with that ended up in prison or destitute and dead broke because they allowed the naysayers to influence them. Instead i stuck by my belief in self and overcame what many said I couldn’t.

I’m no better than anybody else and that’s why I fully believe anyone can achieve anything IF they set they’re minds to it. Set short, medium, and long term goals and do whatever’s necessary to achieve them. Develop a game plan or strategy for each goal you set. In terms of fitness goals and what you want to achieve in and outside of the gym goal setting is very important. Decide on which goals you really want to achieve and make reality. You’d be surprised just how much you want out of your gym membership if you write down your prorities. Maybe you have certain bodyparts you want to focus on or a specific date in mind to achieve a certain level of fitness. Whatever it may be, put it on paper. Next to those goals write down a plan to achieve them.

If you’re having a rough go at developing a plan of success it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk with one of our trainers. That’s our job! Let us know what it is you want to accomplish and let’s develop a plan together. No doubt we can help you and it’ll be an investment that will pay off for the rest of your life. Let’s make 2008 GREAT! Good luck and God bless!

New Year…New You?

December 27, 2007

The new year’s almost upon us. In just a few days we’re all going to usher in the New Year with millions of resolutions and promises to ourselves and loved ones that very few of us ever keep. I’ll give you the perfect example: for almost a full 6 years I was a smoker. Yes, I was a smoker. And every year for those 6 years I made a resolution to quit. Every year came and went and I was still inhaling dozens of chemicals dozens of times a day. I told my wife at the time that I really wanted to quit but I must admit that most of it was just to get her off my back. Not until my daughter was born did quitting smoking become real to me.

I remember visiting Myrical’s pediatrician (yes, that’s her real name and she’s the most beautiful soon-to-be 8 year old on the planet) for a wellness visit and her asking me if I smoked. My answer, of course, was “Yes, I do smoke.” Now remember folks, at the time I was a Special Operations Medic in the military. I was supposed to know the negative effects of smoking (I did) and know better than to smoke at all. However, I found every excuse in the book, and some not in the book, to not quit. Until that day, that is. My daughter’s doctor told me how I was affecting Myrical’s life. That even if I smoked outside my clothes would still carry multiple carcinogens and potentially harm my daughter. “Nuff said.”

I quit that very day and I’ve not had one cigarette since. Yes, I have smoked the occasional celabratory cigar, but never another cigarette. You see, what I needed was a real reason to quit. I needed something to motivate me from the inside. Once that happened there was nothing in the world that could get in the way of me quitting.

My advice to any and all readers out there is to identify what it is you really want to committ yourselves to in the gym. What’s real and what’s all talk? Some of you may want a complete overhaul of your appearance. Others may want to compete in a triathalon. There are so many potential goals out there that I simply cannot list them all. What I’m saying is: decide what it is that you really want to achieve and set goals to achieve it. Maybe take a picture of what you used to look like or a picture of someone that you’d want to look like and put it somewhere that you know you’ll see it every single day. Set yourself short, medium, and long term goals in order to achieve your ultimate goal.

Get with one of the trainers and ask them if they know of any motivational techniques (read tricks) that can help you along the way. Try something new like a spin class or a few sessions with a trainer to give yourself a kickstart into the New Year. Whatever your goals may be, they are all achievable, if you simply believe in yourself enough and take action. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you all the very best the New Year has to offer! See you in 2008!

Imagine That

December 17, 2007

Okay, I understand it’s the holiday season, where friends and family gather for good times and giving. I understand that because of the season people will do things during this time of year that they probably would never do otherwise, like drinking eggnog or indulging on seasonal sweet pastries. But…and you knew there would be one…when is enough really enough? When is it time to hit the “off” button or at least shift down a gear or 3?

I had a conversation with a good friend this weekend that blew me away. Let me tell you just how the conversation went without giving away his name (Guido), or too much information about him (he’s a paramedic in Fort Lauderdale and I’ve known him since our service in the Navy together…sorry Guido,lol).

The conversation started in regards to his workout program and how he’s getting stronger by the day, which is good for him since his goals are strength increases and overall muscle building. However, about 5 minutes into the conversation he made a comment about how he doesn’t understand why he’s gaining inches around his waist. 3 1/2 to be exact; over a period of 1 month! So I asked him what his nutritional intake looked like. Without hesitation he said his nutrition was spot on, which is why he just didn’t understand why this was happening. He went on to tell me he eats 6 or 7 meals a day (perfect!) and never, ever misses a scheduled workout. His protein intake was adequate (200mg/lb), if just a little low for his lean body mass (220lbs), his carb intake seemed fine (roughly 300gms) and fat intake was virtually non-existant. so how in the world is he gaining so many inches around his waistline???

As if on cue the conversation took a turn when, in the background, I could hear his fiance telling him to hurry up or else they’d be late for the party. “What party,” I asked. “Just some Christmas party for her work,” he tells me. “It’s been non-stop for the past month, bro,” he continues to say.

So I asked, without really implying anything, just how many parties he’s been to. The answer to my question was dead silence….

“Hello?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” he says, “I’m just trying to think about how many we’ve been to. I think 6 or 7 so far and we still have 2 or 3 more to go to.”

“Sounds like fun,” I say and start laughing. Guido, being the man he is, instantly realizes why I’m laughing and lets out an audible sigh. “I can’t believe this! I’ve been shooting myself in the foot for a month. All those drinks and all that food! I never even thought about it. Dude, I must have eaten more than a thousand calories at each of those parties.”

You see, folks, it’s so easy to lose track of your fitness goals during this time of year. Especially if you’re a socialite like my friend Guido (yes, that’s his real name). Without realizing it he partied himself into an extra few pounds. It can happen to any of us. He’s just one example of many, many more out there.

So my point this week is this: if you plan on stopping at a few Christmas parties just try to stay aware of what you’re eating and drinking and how much. Guido’s case may be a bit extreme, having gained almost 3 and 1/2 inches around his waist, but there are people out there reading this right now and realizing why they’ve gained an extra 7 or 8 pounds this month. It’s too easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking we can just do a bit of extra cardio to burn off the excess calories we eat at parties and functions. The truth of the matter is you can avoid all the extra sweating and endless time spent on the treadmill by watching just how much you eat and what you eat at these parties. How hard is it really? The better question is…how badly do you really want to be in the shape you say want to be in?  

Look, I’m not saying you should sequester yourself and not go to these parties. That’s what the season is for. What I’m saying is there has to come a point when you say, “enough is enough.” Remember all the time you’ve already put into you quest for optimal fitness and keep that thought at the forefront of your mind when you see that eggnog in front of you. Instead of having 6 of these and half a dozen of the other simply downshift and enjoy 2 of each. Trust me when I tell you, it makes one heck of a difference in the long run.

So, by all means, go out. Enjoy the season. Have merry times and good food. Just have merry times and good food in moderation. Merry Christmas!

Leave Your Ego at the Door

December 13, 2007

I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time and I’ve seen some very “interesting” things. One of which occurred last week while I was working out. There was a gentleman doing barbell curls inside the squat rack at Gold’s Gym in Brooksville. First, let me just say that the two bodyparts I see being bombarded and overtrained the most are biceps and chest. Every man seems to want them bigger and better and expect that to happen NOW!

Well, this man’s quest for bigger biceps was no different than hundreds of thousands before him. It was obvious that he believed it was all about how much weight he could lift, not necessarily about how hard his biceps were really working. His barbell curl looked more like a crazy hyperextension for his lower back than anything even remotely resembling a biceps exercise.

Picture this, if you will: he had a 45 poud plate on each end of the olyimpic bar, totalling 135 pounds, including the bar. The man himself only weighed 150lbs, give or take, and that’s with his clothes on. He grabbed the barbell with a grunt and instead of curling the weight with the strength of his biceps he leaned forward to almost 45 degrees and jerked his back up and backwards until he was leaning 45 degrees in the other direction! His arms stayed bent at 90 degrees from beginning to end, never having gone through any range of motion that would help him in his quest for larger arms mass.

I decided I should try to give him a pointer and maybe he’d accept my advice. I guess I should’ve mentioned that he was in his mid to late 40’s and I’m 33 (yeah, I know, I look much, much younger, lol). I approached him and asked if he minded if I showed him something that could help him and he said, “Sure.” So I go on to tell him that if he simply dropped some of the weight off of the bar and corrected his form that he’d get much better results and his biceps would actually start to grow again.

I was told in no uncertain terms that, ” I’ve been doing this for 20 years! I know what I’m doing!” Well, ya know something, he really didn’t. Less than 30 minutes later I overheard the same gentleman telling another gym member that he was fighting off a nagging back injury. Well, imagine that! Looks, folks, injuries come and go no matter how safe we are in and out of the gym, but why go looking for one just to say you lifted a certain amount of weight. Had this guy checked his ego at the door and done his lift SAFELY there would’ve been much less chance that whatever lower back issues he was battling would still be existant.

I see it all too often and I’ve seen it for too many years. You might even be one of them. If you are please take my advice and check your ego at the front desk. Watch what kind of results you can get once you actually start to feel your muscles working instead of simply lifting as much weight as you possibly can.  When was the last time you’ve seen me barking at the ceiling because the weight was too much? Exactly my point.

So there’s my first of what I hope to be many stories and issues I can relate to you over time. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

Hello world!

December 5, 2007

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