Fitness – Stretching

I thought I would blog a little about the value of stretching. I used to stretch a lot in my younger years and always enjoyed it. Back in my teens and early 20’s, before I did my weights workout I would always do a whole body stretch ‘workout’ for 15-20 minutes. I carried on with this stretching routine for years and became quite flexible as a result, but when I suffered a serious lower-back injury in my mid-20’s I stopped stretching as I found it was aggravating my back. Lately, however, in my mid-40’s I’ve been getting back into stretching and am enjoying it and seeing the benefits once again.

There are some great benefits to stretching and staying flexible, especially as you get older. As we age, our muscles become less limber and the range of motion in our joints can decrease. We start to find that ordinary everyday activities and movements – like bending down to put on our shoes, or reaching up to change a light bulb or get a can of beans off the top shelf – seem a lot harder than they were when we were younger. Also, in modern Western society our lifestyles have become much more sedentary over the past 50 years. We now spend a great deal more time sitting down hunched over computer screens or watching TV, and as a result we lose more and more flexibility with each passing year.

The great news about stretching is that anyone can stretch regardless of their age or current flexibility level. Many stretches are very simple to perform – and some stretches you can do even while sitting watching TV, working on the computer, or even in bed! Also stretching does not have to involve a huge time commitment, but it will provide you with great results! Some of the benefits you can expect from a regular stretching program are:

  • Increased circulation in the blood to various parts of your body
  • Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
  • Increased range of movement in your joints
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Faster recovery after injury
  • You will feel better!!

Here are a few pointers to be aware of as you begin a dedicated stretching program:

1. Be consistent with your stretching routine

Like most things in life, you won’t experience the benefits of stretching unless you consistently stretch! One great thing about stretching compared to aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (weight-training) exercise is that stretching workouts are usually much shorter – in some cases only a few minutes. Put some stretching times into your weekly calendar and watch yourself improve!

2. Be careful when stretching cold muscles

Stretching cold muscles can cause injury, so if you are not warmed up and you want to stretch then you do need to be careful. Some studies have shown that stretching cold muscles actually decreases muscle strength and power for up to an hour after stretching, so usually it is best to do your cardio or weights workout first and then stretch afterwards. There are some fitness practitioners who say you should never stretch before working out – only stretch afterwards – but I think this is a little extreme. As I mentioned in my introduction I stretched before doing my workouts for years and it worked for me. (The reason I stretched before my workouts was that I found that I was too tired after my workouts to stretch, and I never did it unless I did it first!) Ultimately you have to create a fitness routine that works for you, but if you are stretching cold muscles you do need to be careful!

3. Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension painful

Stretching should be pleasurable, relaxing and beneficial. Many people believe that to get the most from their stretching they need to stretch to the point of pain, but this is a great mistake. You don’t always have to stretch to the full range of motion of the joint – and beyond! Just take the stretch out to where it feels comfortable and then gently try to stretch just a little beyond that. If you sense pain then back off the stretch to where the stretch is still ‘stretched’ but pain-free.

4. Your flexibility changes

A person’s flexibility levels change from day to day. Your energy levels, your overall health, the weather, and even what you had for dinner last night can affect your body on a daily basis, so you may find you can’t perform your stretching routine in the same manner with the same results at each session. Don’t worry about it; just keep going and look for improved flexibility over the months and years, not necessarily over days and weeks.

5. Never throw your body into a stretch or bounce when stretching

Stretching should be fluid and gentile. Stretching slowly and gently helps to relax your muscles, which in turn makes stretching more pleasurable and beneficial. This also helps avoid muscle tears and strains which may be caused by rapid, jerky movements.

6. Try to increase your time in each stretch

Time yourself and try to increase your time in each stretch by a few seconds each week. Start with 10-15 seconds and try to extend this by 2-3 seconds each week until you can hold a stretch for 30 to 45 seconds.

7. Never stretch an injury

When a bodypart is injured you need to be careful. Stretching an injured bodypart can cause further soft tissue damage, so it is best to rest the injured area until it is fully healed. After you feel your injury has healed sufficiently, then begin stretching the area again but proceed very slowly and carefully. Stop if there is any pain and continue with recovery treatment (rest, heat, ice etc) until the area is fully healed.

8. Stretch your whole body

While stretching is ‘flexible’ (excuse the pun) in that you can spot-stretch different bodypart’s which you may have specific trouble with, it’s best to stretch your whole body and keep it limber. Your body works as a unit and keeping your whole body flexible is something that will benefit you for life. Some muscles and body-parts like your neck and wrists can be stretched for just a few minutes a day, but it is preferable to have 2 or 3 periods each week where you stretch your whole body for a longer period of time, say 20 -30 minutes. I currently do a whole body ‘stretch-workout’ twice a week for 30 minutes after I have finished my cardio workout and it really helps me feel (and be) more limber. The weblink at ACC NZ provides you with a whole body basic stretching routine.

By following the above stretching tips, you’ll be performing your stretches properly and maximizing the benefits which stretching can provide.

Bryce Staveley – Fit 4 Life Staff

Fitness – Why Fitness?

At Fit 4 Life we encourage a healthy fitness philosophy.  What do we mean by that?  Well fitness is one of those things that can easily be taken to the extreme, either extreme inactivity or extreme obsession.

We believe it is very important for everyone’s physical and mental health to include some physical activity in your schedule.  The NZ government recommends 30min of moderate activity every day.  Statistically only 52% of adults in NZ have 30min a day and 10% of NZ adults are active less than 30min per week!

Being physically active has great advantages:

  • better overall health
  • more energy
  • lower stress levels
  • increased self-esteem
  • better posture and balance
  • better weight management and weight control
  • improved fitness
  • stronger muscles and bones
  • better sleep and feel more relaxed

Keeping active can also reduce the risk and/or effects of a number of health conditions:

  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • strokes
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers (especially colorectal, breast and endometrial)
  • depression
  • osteoporosis
  • osteoarthritis
  • stress
  • some respiratory conditions.

At Fit 4 Life we want to help you to find a good balance of activity in your life.  We offer a variety of group classes as well as program options to help you find an enjoyable way to add regular physical activity to your schedule.  If you ever have any questions or need some advice come talk to any of our friendly staff or volunteers.

Jason – Fit 4 Life Staff

Friendship – Understand You to Understand Others

Have you ever asked yourself the question – why is this person not like me? I have…LOTS!  When you’re a kid it doesn’t matter so much, but as you get older and move into more serious relationships like dating and marriage or the change that comes with adult children interacting with their parents, these things take on a magnitude they didn’t have before. These are the areas that create conflict, miscommunication and misunderstandings which if left unchecked lead to broken relationships, divorce and a lot of loneliness.

My husband and I started dating when I was quite young (he was a few years older) and at first everything was blissful. I loved that infatuation time. Neither of us hurt each other, everything was so new and exciting and we loved everything about each other….then reality hit. As we moved into a more serious, long-term dating relationship we started finding niggly things that just bothered us about each other and then there were some more serious things that had us questioning, should we even be together?Around that time we discovered a book that helped us hugely – Personality Plus by Florence Littauer.

Through reading her book we discovered that there are different temperaments, each with strengths and weaknesses which contribute to the dynamics of a relationship. As we began to understand each others strengths (and weaknesses) we began to see that the other person was not our enemy, but rather someone who just approached life differently and that was ok. We were able to give more grace when we understood the WHY – why they acted they way they did, or talked the way they did. Personality Plus saved our relationship and we’ve now been married 23 years and together 26 years.

Basically Florence describes the four temperaments as discovered by Hippocrates the
“Father of Modern Medicine”. He discovered that people tended to fall into four groups which he believed came from the amount of each of the four “humours” found in the human body so the names reflect that belief – Sanguine (red blood), Choleric (yellow bile), Melancholy (black bile) and Phlegmatic (phlegm). Now, we know better nowadays, but we still use these words to describe the four temperaments.

"Hey, how you doing? I'm great, what an awesome day..."

The first is the Sanguine – this is an extroverted, people-oriented temperament. These people are fun, exuberant, enthusiastic, love being with people, energised by groups and parties, talkative, vibrant, child-like, talk with their hands and love telling stories. Every party needs a Sanguine. The basic desire of the Sanguine is to have fun whether it be work or play and their basic emotional need is for approval and attention. The Sanguine has some corresponding weaknesses as well. As they are a talker, they can dominate conversation, become repetitive in their story-telling and be overly loud whether in speech or laughter. A Sanguine is generally not very organised, spontaneous and struggles with personal discipline – all gung-ho at the beginning and then peters out halfway through. Sanguines can appear to be insincere as they are very much “out of sight, out of mind” kind of people. When they are with you, they are very focused on you, but once you’ve left, they’ve moved to the next person. A Sanguine is often very driven by their need for approval and often become overly concerned with how they are perceived, whether physically, in their home life and other areas of their life. This drive can lead to conflict avoidance and paranoia about what others think of them. So, that’s the Sanguine!

"Grr...."

The second of the temperaments is the Choleric. Like the Sanguine, the Choleric is an extroverted temperament, but different in that the Choleric is task-oriented. The basic desire of the Choleric is for control. They are the temperament that loves to lead, thrives in leadership positions and excels in reaching goals and targets. They love to get things done, produce and work hard. The Choleric is very efficient, highly intelligent and very decisive. Cholerics are the achievers of the temperaments. They are initiators and are outgoing, though this will look different to the Sanguine out-goingness. The Choleric’s basic emotional need is acknowledgement of achievement and appreciation. They love awards and certificates and need to have appreciation expressed for tasks they have done. The Choleric is a strong temperament and because of this their corresponding weaknesses are also strong. As the Choleric desires control this can lead to controlling behaviours like bossiness, dominating, argumentative, lack of empathy and insensitivity to the needs of others. They can be workaholics as they are so driven to accomplish tasks, often struggling to relax or just take a break from their tasks. A Choleric wants the credit, is impulsive and is more likely to experience angry outbursts or become impatient and frustrated. These behaviours can make the Choleric difficult to live and work with, but once they understand who they are and others do as well, the Cholerics are high achievers and very interesting people.

"Sigh..."

The third temperament is the Melancholy. The Melancholy is an introverted temperament, but like the Choleric is task-oriented. The Melancholy’s basic desire is to be perfect. The Melancholy is an organised, detailed, methodical personality that enjoys things being done well and to a very high standard. They enjoy lists, spreadsheets and charts and routine is their best friend. They like things to be as perfect as possible. The Melancholy tends to be the artistic temperament and loves art, music and beauty. They are loyal, sensitive, thoughtful and deliberate in whatever they do. They don’t need many friends, but the ones they have they are very committed too. The basic emotional need of the Melancholy is for order and sensitivity. However, many of the Melancholy’s weaknesses stem from their desire for things to be perfect. They have high standards and become extremely disappointed in themselves or others if those standards aren’t met. Often their friends and family have no idea of the standard they are being measured against. This perfectionism can drive the Melancholy into moodiness and if left unchecked to depression. That feeling of never being good enough permeates the Melancholy world. Because people disappoint them, the Melancholy is very selective in relationships and tend to bear grudges when wronged. They naturally look on the negative side of things and struggle to believe the best of people. They are easily wounded when they feel that they have not been treated with sensitivity. However, the Melancholy has a big advantage over the other temperaments and that’s their self-discipline. Out of all the temperaments, when they understand their personality and their weaknesses in particular, they often experience the most personal growth.

"Um....hello"

The last of our temperaments is the Phlegmatic. The Phlegmatic is an introverted temperament like the Melancholy, but is people-oriented like the Sanguine. They are not outgoing, but love hanging out with people and being in social situations. They are easy going, kind, caring, consistent in their emotions, relaxing, gentle, good mediators and very soothing to the other temperaments who struggle more emotionally. The Phlegmatic’s basic desire is for peace. They’re ideal environment is one that isn’t too chaotic, is stress and conflict-free and has people in it. They aren’t the initiators, but do enjoy talking and sharing with others when asked questions or have a particular interest area. The basic emotional need of the Phlegmatic is for respect and self-worth. The Phelgmatic is not a high-achieving temperament as they are very deliberate and can be hard to motivate, so their emotional need reflects their need to be appreciated for who they are, not what they do or accomplish. The Phlegmatic is very easygoing, but that can lead to a “laissez-faire” attitude, and to laziness and procrastination. As the Phlegmatic doesn’t like conflict, this can lead to conflict-avoidance which is not healthy in relationships whether home or work. The Plegmatic tends to be unenthusiastic which is frustrating to the other temperaments and tends to not show a lot of emotion for anything – good, bad or otherwise. When pushed the Phlegmatic can get very stubborn and is incredibly hard to get them to do something they’ve decided they won’t or can’t do which can lead to conflict with other temperaments.

Well, that is a quick summary of the four temperaments. I hope you learned something about yourself and others around you. It is really important to remember that understanding the temperaments is not about putting someone in a box or trying to “tell” people what they are or should be. Rather, it is an opportunity to get to know yourself better in order to have better relationships with others. If you understand the temperaments it becomes easier to adjust how you interact with someone based on their temperament. It’s a great tool to have.

Get a copy of the book (or borrow one from Fit 4 Life) and ask us for a copy of the test. We’ve been given permission to distribute the tests by Florence Littauer so no need to worry about that (if you were :))

Have fun and feel free to contact us if you want more information.

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

Fitness – Fitness for the Mind

One of the perks of working at Fit 4 Life is that we have a great fitness centre equipped with quality equipment which I can take advantage whenever I like. As I’ve written in other blogs, I enjoy working out and still train hard three to four times a week (although I do miss having some of the advantages of youth such as pain-free joints!)

Of course, everybody knows that physical activity is good for the body but at Fit 4 Life we also believe that life is more than just the singular dimension of the physical realm, and so we encourage our members to develop health in other areas of life including financial, social and spiritual fitness.

This week I thought I would blog about fitness for the mind. There’s an old saying out there that goes, ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste’, so what are a few ways we can develop and improve our mental health?

I’ve listed ten simple activities below to help improve mental fitness which I found on this website.  The blurb in italics below each heading is from this website, but I’ve also added my own personal comments under each of the blurbs to show how I participate – or don’t participate – in the recommended mental health activity.

1. Play Games

Brain fitness programs and games are a wonderful way to tease and challenge your brain. Sudoku, crosswords and electronic games can all improve your brain’s speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. You’ll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day — spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.

Our family has always played lots of games (although we’ve slipped a little in the last year!) Often for our family fun-nights we play games together and we usually play a lot of games when relatives come to stay. Sometimes we hold an all day ‘game-marathon’ where we play six or seven different games throughout the day as a family with a prize for the person with the most points at the end. (If you do this be sure to choose a variety of games involving luck, skill and strategy. If you select all skill and strategy games like 500, Risk and Monopoly then younger family members can become bored and they are disadvantaged). As I think back to my childhood my family was always playing games. In fact, even now when mum has us all over for lunch or dinner we usually end up playing card games after the meal. Games and game playing is a great way to keep your mind active!

2. Meditation

Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness.

To me, as a Christian, meditation is prayer. I don’t sit around chanting mantras but I do have a healthy prayer life. At times in my life I have kept a daily prayer journal, although now I usually just pray as I go about my daily business plus I including some specific prayer times a couple of nights of the week when I am by myself. You have to be conscious about including prayer and meditation in your day, or the day just seems to ‘go by’. (As an example, we meet as a family every weekday morning before the kids leave for school and have a ‘family meeting’ during which we always – or almost always – include prayer). The important thing with prayer or meditation is to be conscious about it rather than mindless. Having a focal point such as things to give thanks for, or even pressing matters of concern, helps to focus your mind and prevent it from wandering.

3. Eat for Your Brain

Your brain needs you to eat healthy fats. Focus on fish oils from wild salmon, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flax seed and olive oil. Eat more of these foods and less saturated fats. Eliminate trans fats completely from your diet.

I don’t have much to say here because probably in the West we’re getting enough fat for the brain!  My wife has been making my son take fish-oil tablets, as someone told her that it was good for improving kid’s memories and their retention. (I’ve also been sneaking a few of them myself, as my wife and kids say that I am beginning to forget things!)

4. Tell Good Stories

Stories are a way that we solidify memories, interpret events and share moments. Practice telling your stories, both new and old, so that they are interesting, compelling and fun. Some basic storytelling techniques will go a long way in keeping people’s interest both in you and in what you have to say.

People tell me I am a funny story teller. I don’t think that I am, but I realise that I do have a lot of stories – mainly because a lot of bizarre things have happened to me throughout my life! Stories come out naturally when you have a relaxed and trusting atmosphere, so create a dynamic where you can tell your stories – like going out for dinner with friends or family meals. In my family we eat dinner together as much as we can, and having that kind of forum often turns into story-telling time. In fact, just a couple of nights ago I ended up regaling my children with some funny stories from my childhood, and I also shared about things that my grandparents had done that really impressed me when I was growing up. It was a lot of fun and it’s also a great way to capture the past and not forget it. Story-telling is great for the memory!

5. Turn Off Your Television

 The average person watches more than 4 hours of television everyday. Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more. Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body.

I don’t have much problem with this one. I don’t watch much TV apart from the occasional nature show or a documentary on the History channel which intrigues me. I recognise that TV isn’t going away anytime soon and I’m certainly not a TV Luddite; (we have two TV’s in our home, although one is mostly used for watching DVD’s). But it does concern me that so many people spend so many thousands of mindless hours watching the tube. Rather than being a source of entertainment it really is ‘amusing them to death’. There’s lots of research on how detrimental TV can be to your mind and body which you can check out on Wikipedia . From a mental health perspective, one of the biggest problems with TV is that it does all the ‘thinking’ for you and you don’t really have to use your mind. When you read a book your brain has to create mental pictures and ‘work’, whereas when you watch TV it provides all the images for your brain so your brain is actually quite sedentary. We also tend to remember a lot of what we read, whereas try to recall even 10% of what you watched last night on TV and you will struggle to do it!

6. Exercise Your Body to Exercise Your Brain

Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practice balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain.

I have no comment here apart from encouraging you to come and join Fit 4 Life!

7. Read Something Different

Books are portable, free from libraries and filled with infinite interesting characters, information and facts. Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics and random books. Not only will your brain get a workout by imagining different time periods, cultures and peoples, you will also have interesting stories to tell about your reading, what it makes you think of and the connections you draw between modern life and the words.

Following on from point six about TV, the title of this one should be probably be shortened to say, ‘Read Something’! Reading is a dying discipline and the world will be the poorer for it. Ask ten people under the age of 25 what they are reading (apart from the compulsory reading of their school text books) and eight of them will tell you that they don’t read anything! This is a tragedy, as one of the greatest actions humans can participate in is reading. Of course I am promoting the reading of quality and/or educational literature – not the reading of trashy novels or that sort of thing. I love to read and I always have between 6 to 10 different books on the go at any one time. (I have them lying all around the house and even at work, and whenever I have a few spare moments or am eating a meal I usually pick one of the books up and keep reading). It’s a sad fact that when I left school at age 17 for the next eight years until around age 25 I didn’t read much at all – apart from bodybuilding magazines! However, I have more than made up for it in the last 20 years, and now own an extensive library of books in a multitude of literary genres including history, biography, philosophy, Christianity and religion, finance and investing etc.

All of this reading has had a huge positive impact on my life and I can testify that reading on a broad range of subjects is fantastic for mental health. In fact Charlie Munger, the vice-president of Berkshire Hathaway, (Warren Buffett’s company), was quoted as saying, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero”. Well said Charlie!!

8. Learn a New Skill

 Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook and building an airplane out of toothpicks all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about.

I’m not sure I will ever be a great cook as my wife excels in that area, and I don’t see the point of learning the skill because of this. But I do try and learn new skills when I can especially if I see that they are practical and helpful. I have three brothers – two older and one younger – and they are all good at building things with their hands and with engines, mechanical and electrical stuff and that sort of thing. (I was always the klutz in my family when it came to these tactile skills and stories of how I messed things up and broke things abound in my family). However, down through the years through a conscious effort on my part I’ve been able to pick up a few basic carpentry skills and the like. I’m still not great with mechanical stuff, but I feel I have more than made up for it by taking the time to increase my financial and investment skills, so I now pay mechanics to do the work for me rather than fooling around with it myself – only to strip another thread on the engine manifold and then take my anger out on something in close proximity with a sledgehammer(!)

Learn some new skills, but realise part of good mental health and fitness also involves staying calm and serene.

9. Make Simple Changes

We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. But the more something is ‘second nature,’ the less our brains have to work to do it. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to the grocery store, use your opposite hand to open doors and eat dessert first. All this will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.

 This one is challenging for me as I am a creature of habit. I like my routines, especially my travel routines as they help simplify my life, make me more efficient, and allow me to put mental energy and focus into areas where it really counts – like thinking. If you want to eat your dessert first and open cupboards with your left hand go ahead… I doubt doing these sorts of things will radically contribute to better mental health, but it probably won’t hurt!

10 Train Your Brain.

Brain training is becoming a trend. There are formal courses, websites and books with programs on how to train your brain to work better and faster. There is some research behind these programs, but the basic principles are memory, visualization and reasoning. Work on these three concepts everyday and your brain will be ready for anything.

 I checked out a few of the recommended websites. You can sign up for crosswords, Sudoku, Mensa tests, lateral thinking websites and so on. There’s a lot on the internet to help provide challenges for your brain, and although I’ve never been a huge crossword fan I have set up a reminder in my Outlook to try doing a crossword once a month over the next year. (We’ll see how it goes towards improving my mental fitness and health!)

So hope you found some of these ideas and thoughts useful.

Bryce – Fit 4 Life Director

 

 

 

 

Postscript

This blog is quite long already – but who cares. (You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to!) Anyway, I had written what I had written above when I started thinking about how music could also be a great way to increase one’s mental health and fitness.

 Music is ubiquitous and is found in every culture and civilisation since the dawn of time. Music has communicated stories and transferred knowledge of history and tradition down through the ages. It inspires us to action, challenges our emotions and even connects us with the divine through worship in song. There’s even an old saying – evidently from Playwright William Congreve – that ‘Musik has charms to soothe the savage beast’. (I’m not game to try singing a song to a pit bull the next time it attacks me, but there’s a lot of good things about music, and so take advantage of inspiring songs and lyrics to improve your mental fitness).

 Having said this and in line with my earlier comment about how young people don’t read anymore but are rather immersed in TV and video, I decided to find out what the most popular song in New Zealand is right now to see what the younger generation are listening to and see how their mental health and fitness might be improving through their choice of music.

 From this website  I learned the number one song in New Zealand right now is called ‘Party Rock Anthem’. I had never heard of it before but Wikipedia gave me the following information about the song and the group:

“Party Rock Anthem” is a song performed by American electro hop recording duo LMFAO, featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. It was released as the second single from their second album ‘Sorry for Party Rocking’ in 2011… The single has gone to number one in Australia, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, France, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It also reached top five in Canada, Norway, Italy and the United States. The song spent eleven weeks at number one in New Zealand and ten weeks in Australia. It is the longest running number one single in New Zealand since Smashproof’s hit single “Brother” in 2009, selling over 30,000 copies there, whereas in Australia it is the longest running number one single since I wish I Was a Punk Rocker With Flowers in My Hair by Sandi Thom in 2006 and is the best-selling single of 2011 and decade so far there. It has sold over 1,350,000 digital downloads in the United States alone, and has reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_Rock_Anthem

There is some benefit to be derived by staying in touch with the world and keeping up to date with trends, so I thought perhaps I had been missing out on something. In additional research I learned that LMFAO consists of two rapper DJ’s called ‘Redfoo’ and ‘Skyblu’, and that the Youtube video for the song ‘Party Rock Anthem’ has had over 109 million views so far. (Also one of my co-workers explained to me what the acronym ‘LMFAO’ stands for but I’m not prepared to tell you!)

I was highly intrigued to find out how people in possession of names such as ‘Redfoo, Skyblu and Goonrock’ could improve my mental health and fitness through their music, and it turns out I really don’t feel that they can.

In fact to prove it I have decided to reproduce the lyrics to the number one song in NZ, ‘Party Rock Anthem’ below for you. (Actually, only the first half of the song’s lyrics have reproduced as I wasn’t prepared to print the second half, seeing they didn’t contain anything more profound than the first half!)

LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem Lyrics

PARTY ROCK
YEA
Wooo!!!!
LET’S GO!!

Party rock is in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time
And we gonna make you lose your mind
Everybody just have a good time [X2]

We just wanna see yaa!

 Shake That!

 In the club party rock look up on your girl

She on my jock non stop when we in the spot
Booty move away like she on the block
What the track I gots to know
Top jeans tatto cause I’m rock and roll
Half black half white diamino
Gane the money out the door

I’m runnin through these hoes like drano

Yoooo!!

Hey!!! I got that devilish flow rock and roll no halo

We party rock yea! that’s the crew that I’m reppin
On the rise to the top no led in our zeppelin

 Party rock is in the house tonight

Everybody just have a good time
And we gonna make you lose your mind
Everybody just have a good time…  

I respect that in the free world LMFAO can produce this kind of music – if that’s the right term for it. They also don’t have to read my blog; but if you believe lyrics like that improve your mental health and fitness then you probably also believe that a man named ‘Himmler’ dressed in an SS uniform ordering you to take a shower in a gas chamber is doing so because he really cares about your physical hygiene!

However, I do agree with LMFAO and the words of ‘Party Rock Anthem’ on one point, and that is in the second to last line when they wrote, “we gonna make you lose your mind…”. Well said Redfoo, Skyblu and Goonrock… well said.

Fitness – Tips on Getting Fit & Losing Weight

A lot of people come in to the gym wanting to get fitter and lose some weight.  These are great goals and usually go hand in hand.  Here are a few tips to help you lose weight and increase your fitness.

Diet

What you eat and how much you eat are pivotal parts of a weight loss plan.  I am not talking about dieting, but having a healthy diet that you can maintain throughout your life.  Eating a well balanced nutritional diet will give your body all the energy and nutrients it needs to keep you going all day and help you sleep well at night.  Check out this link for some great nutrition advice.

Metabolism

Your metabolic rate is how much energy your body uses to keep you going.  As we age our metabolic rate slows down so we don’t need as much energy.  If you stay active you will raise your metabolic rate and burn more energy.  So staying active is the key.  If you are just starting out then start slow and build up your activities as you go. Walking is a great exercise to start with.  It is low impact  and can be done by almost anyone.  If you can, try and walk for at least half an hour. Our bodies do not burn fat right away so you need to keep active for a longer amount of time to get the optimum fat burning.

Fitness vs Fat Loss

Can you have one without the other?  Yes and no.  In order to increase you fitness level you need to challenge your body.  Walking is great for losing weight if you are unfit because it is low impact, but it will not greatly increase your fitness levels.  If you want to increase your fitness and burn fat try using interval training.  This involves combining a short high intensity exercise with a longer low intensity recovery one.  Here is some more info on setting up an interval workout

Including resistance exercise in your workout will also help raise your metabolic rate.  The more muscle you have the more efficient you body will be at burning energy.

Fitness and weight loss can seem complicated and confusing at times.  There are a million different opinions about these topics and a lot of them are great.  There is, however, some misinformation out there, so let me know if you have any questions or would like some help implementing some of these ideas.  Here at Fit 4 Life we want to be a fitness centre that helps you reach your goals in a safe and fun way.

Jason – Fit 4 Life Staff

Fitness – Aerobic Fitness – What if you don’t wanna run?

A couple of weekends ago my wife and I got up early to go and watch some friends running the Auckland half-marathon. Personally, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of aerobic exercise. I’ve always preferred anaerobic exercise like lifting weights over aerobic activity. I also think my position is somewhat justified, because none of the thousands of runners that ran past us while we were waiting for our friends to come by looked happy to me. (Two hours of running – or four hours or more for some who were doing the full marathon – is a long time to be miserable! Our friends were pretty cheerful though)

Still, aerobic exercise does have some great benefits for the body such as helping with weight loss, increased endurance, increased HDL levels (the good cholesterol), and keeping your body limber and active  (See the website link below for 20 benefits of aerobics

(Of course, there are also some physicians who believe certain people receive no benefit at all from aerobics, although that’s depressing! Check out this article.

So because the many benefits of cardiovascular fitness cannot be denied, I do include some aerobic exercise in my weekly workout routines in spite of my personal preference for lifting weights.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to make my aerobic sessions at least semi-tolerable.


a. Keep aerobic sessions to 20 — 40 minutes in length.

We’re not all called to be marathon runners, but the great news is you don’t need to run for two hours.

You can get 80% of the benefits of aerobic exercise by doing some reasonably energetic cardio work for 20-40 minutes just a couple of times a week. In fact, there are some medical professionals who believe you only need 10-15 minutes of aerobic work a couple of times a week to receive most of the benefits!

To get the most benefit in the least amount of time, I do my cardio sessions twice a week for 30-40 minutes to supplement my weights workouts and bring some positive stress to my cardiovascular system. When it comes to cardio work, for me it’s ‘get it done and get out – as quickly as possible’!

b. Do something you like

You won’t keep something up if you don’t like it, but the good news is there have been a lot of new creations in the world of cardio exercise over the last 40 years in the fitness industry. Group classes like Step Up, Body Combat and Zumba have taken off. Also, new machines and designs such as Concept II Rowers, Cross Trainers, Recumbent Bikes and so on, now mean there’s a lot more choices for people who want to improve their aerobic fitness.

Of course at the most basic level, you can always go for a run – but I hate running. I have tried it (honestly… I have) but it doesn’t suit me. All those years of doing heavy squats at the gym have left me with sore tendons in my knees, and the pounding on the pavement stress that running brings exacerbates my knee pain, so I don’t run.

Instead, I prefer using the Concept II rower for 20-30 minutes which gives a great whole-body cardio workout, working both lower and upper body. At the end of my rower workouts I also include 10 minutes on the punching bag combined with step ups, which is a great way to keep your heart rate up for a bit longer (not to mention the benefit of also releasing some aggression over things that are currently bugging you!)

c. Vary your intensity

I’ve learned through the years from my weights workouts that it’s not good to train at high intensity at every session. That’s a quick way to get injured, plus it’s mentally tough to keep lifting your heaviest weights in every session. The same thing applies to cardio/aerobics work.

In my weekly cardio sessions, one of them is performed at a lower intensity while the other is a harder session. Try mixing it up with hard/medium/easy sessions so that you actually look forward to your workouts – both weights and cardio.

One way I vary the intensity of my cardio sessions and make them more effective is by including burst intervals in them. Burst training has been shown to develop improved VO2 max levels – which is generally regarded as the best measure of a person’s aerobic fitness level.

(The science of burst training is not complicated, but the explanation is quite lengthy of how it works so read Clarence Bass’ article on Japanese scientist Dr Tabata’s research on how to involve burst interval training in your aerobic work, to improve your VO2 max results).


d. Know your priorities

Aerobic and anaerobic work requires different methods of training to be maximally effective. Unless you’re a decathlete or something like that, most people will naturally be drawn to one type more than the other.

If you’re trying to increase muscle mass and size then you’re going to focus more on anaerobic exercise. If your goal really is to try and run a marathon, then you’re going to have to focus more on aerobic work and less on the weights.

And that brings me some perspective on how I approach my weekly exercise schedule. Although I am now in my mid-40’s, I still love trying to lift as much weight as I can and be as big and strong as my genetic potential allows. That means I am always going to put more energy and intensity into my weights workouts than I do into my cardio work. I am primarily a lifter, not a runner!

My weights session last between 1 to 11/2 hours twice a week, whereas my cardio work – while also being two sessions (carried out on alternative days after I have done my weights workout to allow better recovery) last less than half the time of my weights sessions.

Also, if I ever feel my body getting a little run down then I will drop one – or sometimes even both – of my cardio workouts during the week rather than miss one of my weights workouts. (However, if I am ever sick with the flu or something like that then I don’t do any exercise at all, but rather let my body recover!)

The key is to know what type of training you prefer and then to focus your training on the kind of exercise and routines that will produce the results you want, which is why my weekly exercise schedule is tilted more to weights than it is to cardio exercise.

I respect and admire my runner friends who tell me they really love it. (I also keep reminding them that if God truly wanted us to run marathons then he wouldn’t have given us cars!) But for me, lifting weights is always going to be my first love when it comes to exercise. Aerobic exercise is something I try and incorporate as efficiently as possible! See you in the gym…

Bryce – Fit 4 Life Staff

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!

Bryce

Fit 4 Life founder