Keeping a Grip

One of the things I have been looking into lately is grip strength.  I had someone come into the gym who wanted to work on his grip strength and so I did some research and found some interesting stuff out there.

It doesn’t really matter how ballooning your biceps or chest are, if you don’t the strength in your hands and forearms you won’t be able to lift heavy weights.  There are a lot of interesting videos and write ups on the internet but here are a few I found with some useful information:


Jason – Fit 4 Life Fitness Instructor

Dating by the Alphabet – Fun Ideas for Dating

Life can be hard.  Relationships can be hard.  However, life and relationships are also a beautiful gift!!  It’s a known fact that one of the best medicines in life is a good laugh!!  For me it’s important to make time for my family and friends, to build memories, have fun and a good laugh, even through the hard seasons of life.

One of my favourite relationships in my life is my amazing boyfriend, Coops!! We both lead very busy lives but we also want to prioritise our relationship with each other too.  So other than our fun spontaneous visits and hanging out with our families and groups of friends, we have a ‘date night’ once a week (or at least this is our aim…flexibility is our friend too!!)

Coops learned of this great idea for “date night” from his mentor – “Dating through A-Z!!” We took this on board in our relationship this year and it’s really helped us to be creative and make an effort for each other, showing we care for one another while having lots of fun in the process of organizing and being on the receiving end of the surprise date too.  It’s always fun to have something to look forward to!

So, what does this look like?  Well, we alternate organising the date and whoever organises the date, pays for the date.  This helps us both to be creative and it’s not overwhelming to organise all the dates!  It also helps our pockets too as we can make it as cheap or as expensive as our budget allows for each week!  It’s been fun to incorporate ideas/places that are meaningful and significant to us, letting us learn more about each other as we do life together.

A-Z Dates so far…

Awesome gourmet burgers in Albert Park (including my favourite “Avocado) and watched an amazing film…Avatar in 3D at Skycity Cinemas.

Balloon theme! Clues for each idea for the date were inside the balloon and had to be worked out in order to move onto the next part of the evening.  Lots of encouraging B words were put inside a bundle of balloons    too and the other person had to put together the paragraph! (This turned out to be harder than I thought!! So Baking and B treats were given to make up for this. (There always seems to be a chocolate bar for every letter of the alphabet.) Bike riding around the Beaches from Okahu Bay to St Helliers Bay and up Bastion Point followed with dinner at my favourite Bar and Bistro  – “Reservoir” . We finished off with Banoffie Pie and a movie.

Candlelight dinner followed by experiencing the amazing “Chocolate Boutique” store in Parnell.  We went “caminando” (a Spanish word meaning ‘to walk’). Coops lived in Argentina and speaks Spanish fluently so Spanish is often added into the vocab of our relationship! After all that Chocolate we went up North Head in Devonport and ended up relaxing back home on the couch watching a complete dud of a movie, so we found the good old Cosby show and had some good laughs!!!!

Dominos pizza and hitting it out at the Driving Range ending with a walk down in the Domain (having very interesting talks) and delicious Dunkin Donuts for Dessert!!

Eggs Benedict cooked by my personal handsome chef Coops, and thanks to the flexibility of my man he put aside other ‘E’ plans to help me study for my Personal Trainer EXAM!!!

Fondue at ‘Fit4Life!’ (This is cooking fish, chicken, steak and vegetables in oil).  We were given Flowers from some lovely friends/cousins to enjoy for our table setting!  Later we watched a Film snacking on Frozen yoghurt and Fingers (choc) for a treat!

You may like to try this idea in a different way.  For example, try it from Z-A or spell out a special word/phrase that’s meaningful to you both or use your names/surnames, Initials…the list is endless!!  Also this idea doesn’t have to be exclusive to dating relationships, it’s something you could do with your husband/wife, daughter/son, niece/nephew, granddaughter/grandson and even just with your best mate to have some fun and build great memories together enriching your friendships and life!

So my encouragement to you is to have FUN with it!!!


Your Fortress

The night time can be harsh particularly when you are alone or lonely. In the past few months, there have been times where I haven’t been able to sleep because of things we are going through, or Jason has been away when we have received sad news, making it hard to survive the night. It is dark, quiet and still. It is a feeling you don’t forget. (As Good Friday approaches, I wonder too, how intensely alone Christ felt that evening, when he was praying on the Mt of Olives before he was betrayed- Luke 22:42.)

It is especially in light of these situations that I think of Psalm 91, as it has been a comfort in the moments when I have felt afraid or vulnerable. It reminds me that God is my refuge and my fortress. He is also my shelter and my dwelling place. He rescues me and protects me. I can rest in His great shadow.

Maybe it is because the psalmist uses such familiar terms relating to physical cover that I like, I’m not sure, but these words of God’s protection and presence have been priceless to me as I have read it over and over in the past two years, when fear has seemed overwhelming. I was initially challenged to read it once every day for a month, and from there, I have come back to this psalm repeatedly.

If you are going through a lonely time too, I hope you find some rest in God’s word. (If you are like me, I still often seem to forget that the Bible is the best place to go to first.) I encourage you to read Psalm 91 over and over too, so maybe you will remember it at times when you need it most. Here’s the link to that passage if you want to have a read.

Sarah – Fit 4 Life Staff

Four things I wished I had learned earlier about money

1.       Profits are better than wages

Few people will ever get wealthy by working as an employee of a company. Unless you happen to be one of the favoured few who make it to a CEO position in a NZX-50 or Fortune 500 company,  or were blessed with the right genetics and/or good looks to make it to the top in a highly paid professional career such as football or acting, you are destined to be stuck earning wages in the mire of the rank and file – just another one of the millions of people laboring for the average wage,  which in New Zealand is around $25 per hour or about $45,000 per year  before tax(!)  After paying PAYE, ACC, living costs, repairing your car and spending what little you have left on the movies and McDonalds happy meals, what remains is often so meager as to be embarrassing. It’s fairly obvious that you won’t get wealthy that way. You must begin to think of yourself as the CEO of your own business – You Ltd. You are the CEO, CFO and everything in between of your own private company. Take what little you have and start to change your circumstances by investing it so that compounding interest (my second point below) can begin to work its magic.

2. How Compounding Interest really works

Somebody once wrote that $1000 invested at 8% interest will turn into $23.4 quadrillion dollars in 400 years time, and that it was just the first 100 years that were the hardest! Like most people raised in New Zealand, I first learned about compounding interest in high school (I think I was in fourth form at the time…) But it’s one thing to know about something, and another thing altogether to know and understand how it really works! It wasn’t until I was 35 years old that I really began to understand how compound interest works and to begin using the principle to increase my financial wealth. But when you understand it, it’s really quite a simple principle. Even the smallest sum invested can grow into tremendous size if left for a long enough period of time at a reasonable rate of return. For example, one dollar invested at a 10% return for 50 years will grow to be 117 times larger; at 15% it will grow to be over 1080 times larger; and at 20% it will grow 9100 times larger! That is the power of compounding interest. The problem with compounding is that 50 years seems so far away and we have real financial needs right now, so we often end up robbing our future to live in the present by spending all our money. I’m not suggesting I have found the solution to this problem – at least not for everyone. But I can say that you don’t need to invest all of your present money for your future. Even setting aside just 5% of your money today can still provide you with wealth for your future. Obviously committing 10% – or higher – is better but at least make a start! Commit 95% of your present wealth to dealing with your present day financial problems and challenges, and the remaining 5% to letting compounding interest work for you and your future. The most important thing is to get the power of compounding working for you now – today!

3. Residential Property is highly overrated as an investment

New Zealand has a love affair with residential property. Most likely its due to some remnant of our British roots, when the colonists who came over here from England in the early years of NZ history to escape the industrialrevolution were finally able to enjoy, and take pride in, owning their little slice of heaven – the quarter acre block – upon which they could grow their own vegetables and enjoy a walk on the beach in the evening(instead of having to climb up chimneys for 16 hours a day back in the motherland). However, be very careful before investing in residential property. There are many costs associated with owning this asset class, and often novice investors are suckered into buying a property only to find that they have overcommitted themselves by not having done their sums correctly. Also the returns are pathetic when you take into account alladditional expenses like mortgage payments, rates, insurance, wear and tear, rental vacancies and so on (expenses which are often neglected or ignored in the neophyte investors calculations). Investing in residential real estate is better than doing nothing I guess – although doing nothing has much less emotional and financial hassle! As much as the Real Estate Industry touts it as a wonderful investment and wants you to buy, try and get a copy of Duncan Balmer’s book ‘Stop: Do Not Invest in Residential  Real Estate’ (now out of stock, but you can find it in second hand book stores and occasionally on TradeMe).  Duncan shows clearly why Residential Real Estate is highly overrated as an investment. Also read chapter 5 of Sir Bob Jones book ‘My Property World’ for an insightful look at why Residential property is not the greatest investment for people to play around with. PS In case you were wondering, yes… I used to own 3 residential properties and speak from experience on this one!

4. How The Share Market works

My first foray into the share market was three months before the 1987 stock market crash. This was an experience I never forgot and I made two classic mistakes. The first was that when I invested in 1987 (I would say ‘gambled’ nowadays) I had no idea what I was doing. My stock selections were made purely by random selection and I got what I deserved – a financial drubbing. However, my second mistake was the same as Mark Twain’s cat, who sat on a hot stove once and would never sit on a stove again – even if it was cold. I stayed away from the share market for the next 12 years, and as a result I missed out on enjoying the huge gains that the markets of the 1990’s produced. I returned again as the new millennium was beginning – after my foray in residential real estate – although this time with more knowledge, by deciding to educate myself on how the markets work and this time to go in with my eyes open – or at least half open! My education has required the reading of many hundreds of books and articles and also learning about the share market and its workings by investing real money, but I am far better off today from having done this. The global recession certainly rocked the financial markets around, but this year has been my best ever with my returns up well over +100%. I continue to make new mistakes. (In fact, Jesse Livermore the famous speculator once said, “The mistake family is huge”) But staying invested has certainly been worthwhile; plus the satisfaction of producing your own financial results and not abdicating responsibility to a ‘ticket clipping fund manager’ (in the words of Sir Bob Jones) is extremely satisfying. The information is out there and readily available for all who wish to learn about this fascinating area of modern financial life. I just wish I had learned this in my teenage years and not in my mid-thirties!


Lessons from a lifetime of lifting

There’s an old saying in the gym scene that goes, You never know just how far you will go when you first pick up a barbell’. That’s really true – at least it has been for me.

I first started working out when I was sixteen years old in my Glenfield home gym. Next year, I’ll have been lifting iron for 30 years. I’m now in my mid-40s and I sometimes think about how far I have come since I first picked up that barbell all those years ago. Where have the years gone?’

Leo Tolstoy once wrote, ‘Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man. But another surprising thing that can happen is the results on your body after working out for so long! So I thought I would share a few lessons that I have learned over nearly 3 decades of lifting.

a) The journey is worth it

If I could go back 30 years, while there’s a lot of things I would change if could do it all again, I would still make working out a regular part of my life and weekly schedule. It’s been fun to watch the effects of heavy lifting on my body over the years. The gradual increase in strength and the changes that take place in your body like getting bigger and stronger, and gaining in confidence, are very satisfying. Also, I have found that the discipline I learned from being regular and consistent in going to the gym and working out was able to overflow into other areas of my life – even into areas such as my spiritual faith and financial investing, where I saw additional benefits from having a disciplined approach.

b)    Obsession must be tempered with reality

For the first 10 years of my lifting career my goal was to become Mr Universe. I trained obsessively five, even six, days a week for two hours a day. My diet was exceptional; I tracked everything I ate and recorded all the details. (I remember my mother complaining to me one time because I used to throw the egg yolks down the sink and eat only the egg whites!) I read everything I could about bodybuilding and the great bodybuilders of the day or the previous decade, like Schwarzenegger, Columbu, Mentzer, Bannout, Haney, Labrada, DeMey and so on. In fact, that was all I read and pretty much all I did. While there are parts of those 10 years that I enjoyed and I wouldn’t change them if I could go back, the reality is that I neglected many other important areas of life in my pursuit of that dream which I regret now, like ignoring some relationships, and my financial and spiritual development.  I also regret spending 10 years pursuing a dream that could never be. The reality is to make it to the top in modern bodybuilding competition you need three things:

  • The right Desire I had plenty of this. Only passion can make a person disciplined enough to train hard and eat right for a decade in the pursuit of a goal like becoming Mr Universe. The reality is that to make it to the top in any sport you need to train hard, consistently and intelligently. But even doing these things is not sufficient sometimes as my next two points show.
  • The right “Dad” (meaning having superior genetics) – The reality is that your genetic potential is determined at birth. While lifting weights can partially redress some genetic imbalances or shortcomings, such as improving your basic strength and power, if you’re five foot two inches tall and you think you’re going to be the next superstar in the NBA you’re dreaming! Top bodybuilders are genetically superior and they have naturally big muscle belly plus good symmetry and pleasing anatomical dimensions. This was granted to them at birth when they picked the right parents to be born to. I was born with small calves, narrow shoulders and broad hips; my muscle insertions have long tendons, meaning it is difficult to gain huge muscle size with such long tendon attachments. Becoming Mr Universe with these genetic shortcomings meant my chances of making it were greatly reduced.
  • The right Drugs – The reality is that all top bodybuilders take anabolic steroids and other synthetically produced hormones to give them increased size and recovery ability. I didn’t know this back when I was pursuing my obsession to be Mr Universe 25 years ago. (It’s probably talked about more these days in the media, but when I started training in the early 80’s bodybuilding magazines and articles were very hush-hush about the whole drug and steroid scene). The reality is that to make it to the top in the sport of bodybuilding – like attaining Mr Universe and Mr Olympia levels – you need to take steroids and you need to take a lot of them. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you. I’m thankful that I never did, as a lot of top bodybuilders who I used to read about in the magazines in the 80’s are now dead.

Check out a few of the following links for just a partial list of top bodybuilders who died young. Notice how many were in their 30’s and 40’s. Heck… some were even in their 20’s!! (If you see anyone on that list with a life span of over 70 years like Grimek, Reeves and Gironda it was because they were old- school lifters of the 40’s and 50’s who didn’t use drugs!

c)    Pain is a sign that something is wrong

My biggest regret in looking back over my years in the gym is that I often ignored pain signals and kept on training when I should have rested. Today I am reaping what I sowed. Some of my tendons are constantly in pain and my lower back is weak and unstable due to a serious injury I had while deadlifting when I was 25. (The reason it’s bad today is because I didn’t go and get treatment for it as soon as I injured it, but instead I kept on training ‘through the pain’. I was an idiot and still suffer for it today). You don’t have to be in a hurry; your body is created to last you for a lifetime, but if you get injured and don’t seek proper treatment and/or take some much needed recovery and rest time, you will reap it in your later decades. Trust me on this one..!

Despite these issues, I still enjoy working out and keeping fit and healthy, but definitely am more careful and listen to what my body is saying. I’m no longer a “hero” about pain and have realistic goals. Here’s to keeping fit and healthy throughout your lifetime!


Fit 4 Life founder

Watch this space – Articles from our Glenfield gym, Fit 4 Life

Hey all….we’re looking forward to posting some articles on here real soon. This week we’ll be focusing on physical fitness. Come  back and check out the article later in the week. Next week, we’ll be looking financial health.

In the meantime…..come and check out Fit 4 Life in Glenfield or look at our website