I have recently downloaded and began reading a rather excellent Fitness Guide from Examine.Com who regularly provide unbiased, well researched independent advice on many aspects of the health and fitness industry. One of the first questions Examine.com raise in this guide is “What does it mean to be fit?” and I thought this question would make an excellent topic for a blog post, so here we go!
What does fitness mean to you? I’m sure if I asked this questions to all my clients I would get many different answers and these answers would, I think, depend on some of the following points :
- What is your current fitness/health level?
- Are you injured?
- Do you have a specific goal in mind?
- What is your mental approach to your health and fitness levels?
- How much sleep do you get?
- Do you find it easy to relax?
The list could go on of course but let’s look at some of these points in general terms for now.
What’s Your Starting Point?
Firstly, as we are, at Ealing Fitness Clinic, a centre that focuses on getting clients back to fitness after an injury or health problem the “current level of fitness/are you injured” question is a really important one.
For some of our clients just being able to play a recreational game of tennis again after a knee injury is all they are looking for; they come along for a few sessions and we work with them, showing them exercises they can do on their own and “send them back out onto the court”.
One really good example in recent times is a client who was referred to us through Lisa Opie, our in-house Osteopath from Osteopath West.
This particular client was only a few weeks into his recovery from a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament, which is a very long recovery process indeed and being from a sporty background he was more than keen to get back to some level of fitness so he could play golf again. Fast forward 12 months, during which this client worked with one of Personal Trainers on a weekly basis, and he is back to playing golf twice a week, pain-free, which is something that is really, really important to him and something which brings him a lot of happiness.
Where’s Your Head At?
For this one, I am going to use myself as an example.
Being in the health and fitness industry I am reliant on being able to practice what I preach and keep myself as fit and healthy as possible in order to set a reasonably good example to my clients. As a much younger man, I was a runner and could boast some decent times for distances from 1500m up to a half marathon and in the last few years I have, on and off, taken part in my local 10k fun run the YMCA North London Fun Run & Festival .
However, I always find it such a struggle mentally, to get myself out and do the training that I need to do; and the reason why? Well, if I’m being honest it’s because I can no longer run 10k as fast as I used to now that I am over 50 (albeit only just!). I can get around 10k in 50 mins or so and that would be fine, but I put myself under loads of pressure and tell all my friends how I used to be able to run 10k in under 40mins and then I realise, of course, that I can’t get anywhere near 40mins now unless I’m prepared to train/run at least 4 times a week! And guess what? I don’t want to do that!
So, rather than continually disappoint myself and end up, year after year, not doing the run I have decided to think about choosing something else to train for, something that I could really enjoy, something that I could really get my head around and throw myself into.
As well as being a personal trainer I am also an England Boxing coach and once a week I coach at my local boxing club, Total Boxer in Crouch End and these guys put on Fight Nights twice a year for any club members who wish to participate and put their boxing skills against another evenly matched club member. The events are very professionally organised and run as a White Collar event would be and, long story short, I have decided to enter and will be fighting on 27th April 2019!
Now, boxing is something I love; I love doing it, I love watching it and I love coaching it and now I love training for it! I am very very motivated for my upcoming fight and am training 5 x week, week in, week out. I love the variety of the training which involves running, weights, bodyweight conditioning and specific boxing sessions and it is this variety which is one of the big factors in my enjoyment.
Obviously, I am not suggesting everyone should enter themselves into a Fight Night, but everyone absolutely should try and find an activity, sport or thing, whatever it is which they can enjoy so that they find themselves exercising regularly and actually enjoy it!
One big aspect of training and exercising is to get to a stage where you can allow your body to relax mentally as well as physically and following on from that, to enable you to have good regular sleep.
Relaxation and good sleeping patterns are the cornerstones to everything we do as human beings and we, at the clinic, are now seeing more and more clients coming to us citing stress levels as one of the biggest factors in their decision to start/maintain regular exercise and, in some cases, clients have specifically stated that one of the main benefits they are looking for from their exercise is to start getting, on a regular basis, a good night’s sleep.
If you use public transport in the mornings to get to work, have a look around you next time and see how many people are asleep, trying to fit in a nap before work; I’m willing to bet there will be a lot. Why should they need to sleep so early in the day when they have just had a night’s sleep? Well, obviously, their sleep is being affected, and whilst we won’t go into detail on how best to get a good night’s sleep in this post, exercising regularly plays a massive role in establishing good, regular sleeping patterns. And whilst a better night’s sleep, may not be a conscious marker in any decision to exercise, you show me someone who doesn’t benefit from a good night’s sleep on a regular basis!
So, as you decide what fitness means to you just ask yourself what do you really want to achieve from being fit and healthy and, as you’ve hopefully picked up from this article, we’re not talking about weight loss, fat-loss or dropping a dress size etc ( all very valid reasons of course) but focusing more on :
- A Lifestyle doing things you really enjoy and want to do
- Aiming to make exercise enjoying and not a chore
- Being able to relax more
- Being able to get some good regular sleep
We’d love to hear from you on this and, who knows, we may even be able to help you towards your health goal whatever it might be!