Archive for the ‘From my vantage point’ Category

Kettlebell Snatch

Posted: December 5, 2017 in From my vantage point

The Kettlebell snatch is one of the two lifts in the biathlon event in Kettlebell Sport. If you are not in it for competition, it is still a very dynamic and useful lift. It is almost a ballistic lift except that you do not throw the kettlebell but you, well, snatch it. It is an overhead and fast lift. It depends on your training goal if you want to do a few repetitions- like 10 and below, or do more, like 20’s and beyond.

But before you do so many reps, it is better to polish your snatch technique. Many, or probably all lifters who are learning how to do the kettlebell snatch experienced some slight bruising on their forearm. That is because the bell slammed hard on the forearm. It can be avoided by a combination of proper hand insertion and for some, a slight dip. There is more than one technique to do the snatch. In the video, one type is shown, although it may be a slight combination of two techniques especially for the right arm.

It is a great exercise or developing strength-endurance. It involves most major joints and muscle groups, it improves the function of your “posterior chain” of muscles, and it can even help improve your cardio-respiratory endurance to a certain extent. Over all, it is a great exercise that gives you a great bang for your buck by improving a lot of fitness and even performance related fitness components.

Each lifter will have a technique which would be best suited or him or her. And again, like everything, you need to learn some fundamental skills and then practice, practice, practice so you can improve. Good luck!

 

Young past forty

Posted: February 26, 2017 in From my vantage point

Slowly, the world seems to be telling me I am older. Or that I should be older. In a few months time I will be a grandfather to my niece’s child. More like a great uncle. And I will be turning forty two years old this year. Forty went by but I did not notice it. And I still think I am thirty. Maybe I am in denial.

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An early morning hike makes things interesting.

Around 3 years ago, I visited an eye doctor since I felt my eyes are having a hard time adjusting after I use my office computer. After checking, he told me my eyes were fine and still 20/20 vision. That’s great to hear! But he said I may need glasses when I will be 40 or 41. I wasn’t looking forward to it. Back in the office I found out that the extra protective screen over the monitor was slightly off. This caused the slight distortion. I taped it firmly in place and my eyes were fine since then. And I know they will be for a longer time, so I haven’t visited the eye doctor since then.

It seems the world is getting older. This year I went back home for a short visit to the city where I grew up. Some friends commented that I still look fit, while they look at their round belly. I thought my belly is not that flat anymore so I hope their comments are sincere. The city also changed. It is not the same city anymore. It grew older. It now overflows with people and their houses and cars. It still has lots of pine trees, but not as much as before. Like a man who is slowly losing his hair.

Lately on facebook, I learned that a classmate when I was in elementary school had died due to cancer. And that one of my best friends has just recently had surgery for a benign growth in his head. Another one has a benign one on his spine. Are men designed to deteriorate by age 40?

I used to be the newest guy in the department where I work. But now am one of the “oldest” both in age and years of service. Last week, I had to be a guinea pig in the physiology lab for a dry run for the series of tests for the athletes I train. I thought it would be easy. But I ended up almost fainting. On the actual test, the athletes fared better than me since they did not feel dizzy. I almost accepted that I was getting older. But when I looked at the results, I felt a lot younger since I still beat them in peak power! Now I plan to beat them still on the post test. If I can still beat guys half my age maybe I am not growing older. Maybe the world is growing older but I choose not to.

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Spending some time away from the noisy city refreshes the mind.

Forty is just a number. It is a good reference point. It doesn’t make us older. It is we ourselves who will decide if we become old. I hope to grow but not to grow old. I choose to grow young. How? I try not to “work”, I want to “play”. That way, I feel less stressed. Join a competition once in awhile- just make sure your fitness level is able to support you. If not, then aim to make yourself fitter. I also do not buy much clothes. In fact, I still have clothes I wore a decade ago. Which means I have to maintain my waistline. Although I have to admit I noticed a round belly while looking at my photos 4 years ago. I trimmed it down a bit. Maybe by age 43 I will have my 6 packs again. Hmmn… yes, that will be a great idea.

There are many factors that will make a strength and conditioning training program successful. Some of it are controllable while some are not.

One factor is the willingness of the athletes to carry out the program. It now seems that this is hugely influenced by social media. And guess who controls the social media? It is the big businesses who have money to pay public relations firms, advertising companies, and similar entities who can make people believe in something just by constantly feeding them the information about products they are selling. They present it in a very entertaining way. Ideas can be presented as scientific facts even if it is only partially true. Or worst, not true at all. Observe the advertisements and ads on TV and social media.

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The Split jerk is a very quick lift but it takes a few sessions to get it right. Sometimes you have to be good in 2 or more exercises  in order to do the split jerk well. It takes time to learn this.

 

I feel that as a Strength coach, I am fighting an uphill battle. Athletes sometimes come to the gym with a lot of preconceived notion of what is strength training. Some of them are grossly misinformed. It takes time to explain to them the process that they are undergoing. The worst situation is when their coach and even other support staff are also misinformed about strength training. It takes even longer to notice lasting effects. But not everyone is patient enough.

Sometimes I hear remarks that the strength training program is boring. Isn’t there a more fun way of doing it? I guess this is where science has to be blended with art. Sometimes the strength coach would make things entertaining. But only to a certain point. A very fundamental principle is that if we are to excel in anything, there should be consistency of effort. That needs consistent stimulus which is progressive in nature. Translated simply in strength training as: lifting consistently with gradually increasing intensity or volume. You have to train with the same exercises for a considerable amount of time, like months to years, in order to elicit a significant change. If we keep changing the exercises every session without having established a good lifting habit, skill, and strength, we end up doing an inefficient training program. This is because positive adaptations, if any,  would be minimal.

A strength training program would lead an athlete from their current zone into uncomfortable levels so as to make them adapt and perform better. It is mostly not fun. It is usually boring. Even intimidating at times.  Egos get hurt.

These training programs usually make use of the same free weight exercises. The may take many weeks before there seems to be some change. But they also change the athlete into someone who is stronger, and more resilient. Sometimes the athletes themselves may not notice the change. But if they have been writing down their training loads, they would realize it.

So if your strength training program uses almost the same barbell, or dumbell, or kettlebell exercises for weeks to months at a time; and is hard and boring, stick with it. It will make you stronger. You are in the gym to train. You are not there to be entertained.

When we were young, we tend to be impatient. We wanted quick results. Some are able to espouse the “train hard or go home attitude”. Take advantage of this to establish a good foundation in health and fitness.

After training hard for a few years or so, we naturally would want some rest. Which is fine. Our circumstances in life may have changed and we have to adjust our priorities. Our health and fitness may be great and we would not worry about it.

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Then complacency sits in. Days turn to weeks, then months. Bulging muscles slowly deflate. Belly begins to inflate. And it is so insidious that even if we notice it, we tell ourselves we can easily take care of it. Then we let another week or more pass by. We gradually became used to a comfortable life. Then we find it hard to get back into shape.

This is the strength of our “weak”enemy. It is so slow that we rarely take notice. By the time it gets our attention, it is already so far ahead of us.

So we decide to fight back. But as we age, our ability to recover is not as good when we were young. Yes, we can easily run as fast, or lift as heavy in a short period of time. But since we are not able to recover quick enough, we may get injured. Another trap by our enemy!

We should be smarter. Let us refocus. What is our goal? Do we need to rush? Are we ale to put in enough time for it? If not, can we have shorter training sessions but more frequent ones instead? Can we do a combination of low intensity-longer sessions on some days and high intensity-short sessions? What have we learned from our younger days?

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A wise warrior is the one who knows when to attack hard and when to retreat. They last longer in battle. They learn from mistakes and adjust strategies to defeat a cunning enemy. Men usually have to fight against ego. Our ego is hurt when we have to lift lighter than before. But sometimes, we have to take a step back in order to move forward. It is not “Train hard” mentality that makes you survive. It is training smarter. Train Better! Live Better!

Working in the gym can be quite interesting. I probably do not see as much drama as other Fitness Professionals but I still have observed quite a few incidents…fb5b66564a7852a7ddb53e4c2c04e64a

gym maskAthletes want to improve performance, people want to be stronger. The Strength Coach would assess, design a training plan, and then implement it. But from what I observed and experienced, a lot of people want something fancy. They want fancy exercise names, fancy equipment, they want coaches on their left side, right side, front and back to tell them how good they are. Let them do squats and they say the upper back is painful, or it is not sport specific enough. Let them do the squat in front of a camera and they would be squatting before you can even say “S” of the squat. Have them undergo a circuit and they say it’s tiring. Then, one day this kid saw an advertisement of a “hypoxic” mask which is quite expensive. It is no different from the cheap industrial masks worn to protect against some fumes. But the advertisement must have been really convincing. The athlete thinks he is so cool when he wears those contraptions since he sounds like Darth Vader. He does the circuit plus other circus exercises because he thinks he is so awesome and special and he feels like he is training hard.gay leggings I was about to ask him to quit it when another guy comes in wearing skin tight tights that it divides his testicles left and right. He probably thinks he is a ballerina but it is what makes him come and train. I was out of words when another guy comes in, hair in disarray with “jewels” unplucked from his eyes. Ok, it’s either he is in his morning look but he looks more like a zombie in the gym.zombie in the gym

Then there are those who have rock star fantasy. They wear those big, electric blue shades in the gym with matching hair. I have to turn off some of the lights, it must have been too bright.

Sometimes a guy comes in, loads the olympic bar with 2.5kg on each side, then does something which a cross between a dance move and a convulsion. It’s as if he was bitten by a zombie and is turning into one. Or them and their outstanding coaches who load the bench press with 40 kg total, and attach some weights with elastic bands… So out of this world training. They have not even developed maximum strength and they are doing those training tweaks to squeeze out max strength- which is not even there. They must have watched too many youtube videos.

There is also this guy who comes in using a Loftstrand crutch. He then goes to the side, prepares the plyo boxes, then does box jumps! Amaaazing…

And then this is one of the worst… As I was about to babysit, (I mean train), some kids, their sports coach comes and chats with me. Some parents were complaining that when I started teaching the kids how to lift, they were sore the next day. That probably I should take it easy. A paleo zombie must have eaten my walnut sized brain! I cannot understand what is going on. I was told to squeeze in 30 minutes to “train” some kids. I made clear to the management that I am coaching a senior team at that time who are supposed to be having the attention of the coaches, but I was told to squeeze in the kids. I told them the kids are a lot better off practicing their sport, or just let them enjoy and play. But the management has decided to agree with a big potato’s idea of adding some more training session for the kids in the form of weight training. Nothing wrong with weight training for kids, but in this city where I work, they bombard their kids with a very high volume of school work, and too many after school activities. Bedtime for them is 11:00 or 12 midnight. I was supposed to do my job. Yet when I do it, I was supposed to agree with something which is out of line. And when I actually teach the kids what they are supposed to be learning and experiencing in the gym, they should not be sore… WTF??? it stands for Where’s The Fart?

Now I am starting to think this is a costume party of some sort. Then what should I be? Oh, I forgot. I must play my part as the babysitter – cheerleader – grim reaper… Just great.. I need more coffee..

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Small things that we do actually add up to make us better or worst. These manifests as strange phenomenons in gyms. I am a Strength and Conditioning coach, not a sports scientist so my observations in the gym where I work all day  would not survive the rigid scrutiny of the people who come from the planet of the lab, or from the guys whose last names are hard to pronounce. I can’t spell it either but it’s something MS in PhD or something.

 

  1. You see, a lot of guys, not necessarily men, are attracted by the gravitational pull of the bench press. They exert a lot of effort in this exercise. Observe a subject male specimen perform what seems like maximum effort. Then watch as an attractive female walks by. The male subject would add more plates to his bench press. The size and weight of the plates are directly proportional to the curvaceousness of the girl’s hips multiplied by the the revealing factor of the tightness of the female’s yoga pants. Then the male subject would perform the bench press but the range of motion is reduced by a big factor. This factor can be determined by subtracting the male subject’s actual ability to his ego. The bigger the ego, the more plates but the shallower the movement. In short, don’t train like a fool. Train don’t just exercise. And train so you get better at something useful.bench press fail
  2. Adonis is alive. Due to the undulations of the Earth’s rotation caused by increasing rate of the unnecessary bashing of the 25 lb dumbell on gym floors, a wormhole has opened in our world and a vortex opens up once in awhile. Guess where it opens: right in front of the full length wall mirror in the gym just in front of the dumbell rack. You can usually observe Adonis doing dumbell biceps curls or ez-bar biceps curls. Once in awhile, he is mistakenly teleported to another planet- that of the Squat Cage. Chaos ensures when the tribe of the Squat see Adonis biceps curling their sacred Olympic bar in front of the Squat Cage.adonis
  3. Have you ever heard of eccentric contraction on the last rep? No? well, it is because it is now an endangered specie. Lifting a load requires your muscle fibers to shorten as myosin pulls the actin filaments closer. Lifting is not complete since what comes up must come down. So the myosin releases the actin filaments, supposedly still under control. This type of contraction, called eccentric contraction, can actually resist a higher load than concentric contraction. Yet, it has become a fad in gyms, for people to simply drop the barbell, dumbell, or whatever they are lifting, to the floor after the last concentric contraction. Their reason behind is mostly ego related- to make a loud smashing sound so as to attract attention. But as per my unscientific observation, the last, and probably the most important bit of the set, has been wasted. It could have been a chance to be still under control even when you are tmale_crossfit_athlete_dropping_barbell_on_headhe most tired in that set. Keep repeating- being in control of yourself even when you are at your worst, and it manifests in your life. You would learn how to persist when things are at their hardest until you achieve your goal. Do the opposite- letting go of your discipline and self control when you feel a slight discomfort- and it also manifests in your life: you will lack any discipline to push yourself when you are out of your comfort zone.
  4. empty-can-4017644A noisy can is an empty can. It is also true in the gym. Some trainers seem to know it all and would comments on clients of other trainers or athletes being trained by other Strength coaches. Yet they themselves do not know how to lift. Their clients, or athletes for Strength coaches, also do not know how to lift properly and have not made substantial improvement but they keep on talking and talking as if they know everything. What is interesting is that they can fool a lot of people. That is because people tend to believe somebody who is talkative and assertive while knowledgeable individuals tend to hesitate to mouth around quickly since they analyze and put things to perspective first before giving comments. The lesson here is, if you are going to choose your Strength coach or trainer, observe him or her first, and observe his or her athletes or clients. Be careful when asking for comments since those making comments may have been fooled too. And talk less, do more.

 

People go to the gym to train and/or to make up for some insecurities. The gym is a place where a person can make his or her mind and body better. But it can also be a place where the body may start to look better but the mind degenerates into self-centeredness. So instead of training primarily to feed the ego, train to discipline your mind and your body. Simple good manners and gestures count a lot. Train Better! Live Better!

 

Train like a lady

Posted: December 17, 2015 in From my vantage point
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A lot of ladies are able to radiate their beauty because they train, either in the weights room or with the activity that they love. Beautiful here means they have inner beauty that manifests in how they carry themselves. Ladies who train to improve their physical strength and abilities have a certain aura of confidence which sets them apart and makes them outstanding. There may be a lot of pretty faces out there and a lot are so unattractive due to their vain or other unlady like characteristics. Here are eight things that a lady should do when training be it in the weights room, boxing gym, or anywhere else:

 

  1. Practice good hygiene habits. Putting on makeup, having colorful nails and the latest hairdo are useless if you stink. Lipstick won’t hide teeth stains and plaque. Beauty cannot shine out if it is covered by lousy grooming. Good grooming is beautiful.

 

  1. Shave armpit hair especially if you wear sleeveless shirts. This is obviously a part of hygiene but has to be emphasized since it really stands out. Visualize a lady with make up wearing sleeveless body hugging shirt doing pink dumbell presses while seated on that red stability ball. Zoom in on her armpits as she raises her arms. You see thick forests hidden under each armpit. Instead of emitting fresh oxygen, those dark forests emit fumes rich in sulfur and nitrogen. Now zoom out you vision and look at her face. What do you see? Definitely not a gorilla. That’s an orangutan.armpi

 

  1. Dress modestly when you train. It takes two to tango and girls who wear clothes that reveal their internal organs are inviting a lot of attention. It is good to show off your assets but do it in the right place and don’t overdo it.

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  1. Lift weights first before you do your cardio. Most ladies say they do not want to be muscular and want to trim off that bulge. They also want round, firm butts. The way to do that is to train big muscle groups with enough intensity so that they would increase your metabolism. The squat exercise trains the gluteus maximus,  gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, adductor magnus and longus, quadriceps femoris, rectus femoris, erector spinae, and around a dozen more muscles with latin sounding names. I intentionally used those anatomical nomenclature since people want things to sound sophisticated so they would buy into it and feel it makes them so complicated too. Then after your strength training, you can do those cardio exercises while snapping selfies with pouty lips. That burns 2.738% more calories. Selfies with teasing cleavage burns 3.28% more.how a lady trains

 

  1. Use less make-up and ornaments. The gym is not a place to show off jewelries. They would only be damaged, be lost, or cause unnecessary injuries.

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  1. Long hair should be tied in a pony tail. Long and untied hair can get into your eyes or anybodies eyes. They can get entangled in cables. And they distract you every time you execute the exercise.

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  1. A lady, or anyone else, should not starve herself just before training. Yes, most ladies are obsessed with decreasing their body weight and most starve themselves to do that. If you have not eaten for the past 6 hours or so, have a sandwich and drink a glass of water or fruit juice 30 minutes to 1 hour before you train. Good food is good fuel. You need to fuel your neuromuscular system to be able to focus on what you are doing. Ok, you are looking for those words: You need to have enough GLUCOSE so that you can ENGAGE your CORE, FIRE UP your GLUTES, ACTIVATE your POSTERIOR CHAIN and STABILIZE your glenohumeral joint. There…

See related topic:“Why Lose Weight?”

  1. A lady is not afraid to become physically strong. Strong but not necessarily big and muscular. Sometimes ladies may hold themselves back due to perceived “norms” that ladies cannot lift heavy. Ladies can definitely lift heavy without becoming too muscular. It just comes down to a well guided strength training plan. Whatever your fitness goal is, increasing muscular strength helps you reach that goal- be it to lose body fat, to be able to cope with taking care of children, or to be among the best athletes in the world in your sport.

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    Credit to Grace. Among the best Karate (Kata) in the world.

 

The lady athletes who train need not be told about these a lot of times or they find out the hard way. It may be a bit different in commercial gyms but if you plan to train in any gym, remember that good grooming is a must. I remember one time my wife and I were in a group Muay Thai Class. One time, there was a lady in the group who had a terrible body odor. It was already an embarrassing situation so everybody was trying not to make a fuss about it. But when the instructor told us to pair up, the tough looking guy closest to her was so quick in grabbing a partner at the opposite end of the gym. No one is that tough against a terrible body odor. 

Ladies who truly want to be stronger and better at what they do are some of the best trainees to work with. They acknowledge their weakness and listen to feedback. They are truly beautiful since they know how to take care of themselves- with good grooming and a healthy lifestyle. These ladies Train Better! Live Better!

Related post: How a Real Man Trains

A man has to be strong. Strong in body, stronger in mind, strives to be undefeatable in spirit. A man does not need to be very massive to be one. But he needs to be strong for people who depend on him. Here are 6 things that a real man would do about training in the weights room:

  1.  Acknowledge your weakness.

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Everyone has his weakness. Even Superman has a weakess. Training is a form of acknowleging a weakness and working to lessen that weakness. In the bodybuilding weights room, the guy who has enormous arms, mountainous shoulders and hulking chest but with twig like thighs is an example of someone who has not acknowledged his weak areas. Men shoud accept negative comments and learn from them. If you have no weakness, there is no need to train. And that’s boring.

2.  Train as a gentleman.

A real man puts the weight plates, dumbells, and other toys back where they should be. I am assigned perpetually on the late shift in the gym where I work. I took it as a man and tried not to moan about it… I said tried. Other guys might be too scared to see the beings that appear on the gym walls at night anyway. There was a time when the cleaners were told to clean up the gym in the evening. When I got back to the gym after my dinner break, there was this old lady cleaner trying to tidy up the floor. She was attempting to put the 45 & 35 lb plates back to the plate rack. They were strewn across the floor by the supposedly big and strong guys who used the bench press and on the smith machine an hour earlier. They left a big mess. The lady could be my mother. Since I can’t speak her language, I just motioned to her not to bother with the plates and dumbells. It is not her responsibility in the first place. It took some time of re-educating those university guys about gym ethics. Sad to say, the mess still happens, but not as much. Real men train hard to make this world a better place, not to make a mess. We desperately need good examples. So be one!

3.  Train like you mean it.

bp spotMake pretend training does not make you stronger or better. If you do this, do not get your strength coach involved either. He can also play make pretend and pretend he is spotting you on the bench press when he is actually pushing the bar down to your neck. And he can mean it.

4.  Use that strength or you lose it.

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Exercise aficionados call this exercise the Farmer’s Walk. In here it is called “Don’t wait for the facilities department to refill the water dispenser, just do it yourself walk.” exercise.

Training for aesthetics is great. But better back up all those bulging muscles with useful work. If you don’t use what you have, it will be just for display, then it will fade away. So take the stairs, refill that water dispenser, and be more useful. If you were on a farm, you can train all day. Do some farmer’s walk with those grocery bags.

5. Train to prepare but prepare to train.

“Be prepared!” I love the Scouting movement and this is what I learned from it. It taught us, as young boys then, a lot of skills and we had great adventures. Training in the gym is preparing for life’s challenges. But then how can you train when you forgot to bring your training clothes? There was a time when one of the kids I was training forgot his pair of shorts for training. He was asking me if I have a spare one. I told him to go home and get his. I wanted him to learn his lesson and to take accountability. But then this colleague of mine lent him his shorts! He probably would lend his toothbrush too. The supposedly golden opportunity for the athlete to learn suddenly disappeared. Anyway, the lesson will always present itself until learnt. Going back, forget about your smartphone, or gloves. You can train better without them. But this what you should do. The night before your training session, put in your bag a clean training shirt, a pair of training shorts or pants, socks, training shoes, a towel, a water bottle with water, your gym access card if there is and if you are required upon entry. Optional would be some snacks. Your phone better stay in your bag. If you have those apps for training, it is your choice if you would use them. On your training day, you just grab your bag and you are ready. Serious lifters bring their own lifting belt, wraps, and straps. But they do not need this reminder. This is more for those who still did not develop the habit or lifestyle of incorporating training in their schedule.

6. Train for others first, for yourself second.

valstrengthtraining coastguardTraining for yourself is easy. But remember, others depend on you. Train to keep your body strong so it can withstand the challenges that life brings, be it physical or otherwise. Majority of the fittest people in the world may not be professional athletes, but fitness is a big requirement in their calling. They are enduring challenging conditions. They are doing what they do in order for other people to live comfortably. They are the farmers, construction workers, manual labourers, coastguards, soldiers, firemen, security guards, policemen, EMT’s, miners, fishermen, and many others. Many cannot afford to train in gyms but they get fit because of what they do on a daily basis. Some have to have extra training since failing in their task means other people’s lives are affected. So dedicate your training to those around you. Remember, when you train for others, you train with honor, you Train Better, Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.

The circumstances in life is different for everybody. Some are born with genetic predisposition to be obese, some with bulging calves, and other perceived “imperfections”. The further away our predisposition is from our “model”, the harder it would be to attain what we want. People are naturally drawn to what is beautiful.
The media can influence our minds into what to think as “beautiful”. But what is beautiful? It can be anything. So we should strive to bring out what is beautiful in us rather than trying to attain a certain standard of “beauty”. It is refreshing to see the fashion and modeling industry come up with “plus size” models and outfits. It is time that we realize that beauty comes in different forms.

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Photo courtesy of google.

Since people come in all sizes and shapes, training programs come in an infinite variety too. We just need to choose what works best for us in achieving what we want. We take into consideration our circumstances and be pragmatic rather idealist.lady athletes body types

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Keep in mind that we are in a consumer oriented society. Facts can be twisted by businesses to sell. If you ask “experts”, you may get conflicting advice. Google has too many experts for you to choose from. Try facebook! Almost everyone there is an expert. Most probably you would listen to the one who will tell you what you want to hear. But most likely, that may be different from what you need to hear. That is why coaches who know how to train an individual to reach his/her maximum potential may not have much clients. Being honest sometimes is not appreciated. Probably clients want their Personal Trainers to bend to their whims.  If they refuse to “dance to the music”, clients would leave and go to the trainer who knows how to talk and to please the clients, but not necessarily train. The clients may
have stated their goals but their expectations are different. Or the coach may not have listened well and is imposing what he wants that the client does not need.

To get straight to the point, ask yourself what is your goal. Better write it down. Then ask yourself WHY many times over. Most, if not all, would lead to the most basic answer “because I want to be happy…”. To be healthy makes you happy, to be sexy, to be attractive… What makes you into such? You have many options. You can take some pills, go under the knife, or have an expensive wardrobe. Some would do the old fashioned way- they train, and avoid eating too much oily and creamy stuff or too much of any food. They rest well. It takes discipline and perseverance. It is not easy for some.

So what does this have to do with fitness? If you think being healthier open & honestand fit makes
you happy, that’s great! If you think a personal trainer or coach can help you, that’s correct. But choose very well. Some are good in talking and entertaining their clients. If you are happy just to chat with someone while you pretend to train, that’s entirely up to you. Some are coaches and they would train you, and probably chit chat is not what is in their minds. They may not be very good in entertaining. But that is how they produce tangible results. If actual results are what you are after, you would be better off with this type. You know that each session may not be easy but that is how you can improve. The final say is up to you. You walk your own path. There are many out there who can show you how to get to your intended destination.
Ask how they intend to train you, who they trained, and other stuff. A mentor commented that teaching and coaching is about relationships. That’s true. There are many technically good coaches but may not work well with particular personalities. If the trainee and the coach or fitness professional respect and listen to each other, the training program is easier to design and implement. So have a clear goal and be honest to yourself and to your coach. That way you would be happy to Train Better! Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.

The Magic Pill

Posted: September 29, 2015 in From my vantage point

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Morpheus

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That was a famous line from the 1999 movie “The Matrix”. In real life, what if you were given a medicine that when taken regularly, would reduce the negative effects of aging, would you take it? If you plan to enjoy your retirement years, remain independent, and most of all healthy, you should. It is your decision but I am here to influence you.

But it is not a pill that you swallow. It is something you have to do. It is called regular physical activity- exercise in short. Given the consumer mindset of most people in our society today, something has to be bought, and has to be expensive, for it to be given importance. It also has to be convenient and packaged colorfully. Exercise is no different.

Depending on its presentation, people would either love it or hate it. In the fitness industry, there are all sorts of hype to promote the business of fitness. Sometimes, the information in the advertisement is misleading but then, for some people, it is what gets them to exercise. It would be better not to wait for something wrong to happen to you before you start exercising. I am not working for a commercial gym and in my current situation, I do not have to sell my services. I get paid the same amount if I train a hundred or just one athlete. It is not a joke, it does happen. I just find it helpful for me to write a blog where I can channel some of my thoughts which can be easily shared since a lot of people ask for information. So I just have to write the facts and my own personal observation. No sugarcoating. No fancy packaging. It may not be attractive, but it should be useful. It is even free. That could be the worst part. If it is free, people won’t take notice. The message may not be absorbed. Well, it still won’t change the fact that a regular physical activity is a worthwhile endeavor. It improves the quality of life. It is like a fountain of youth. When I was a Strength Coach in the Philippine Center for Sports Medicine, I was lucky to have chatted with John Baylon, an outstanding athlete and Judoka in South East Asia. He started late in the sport of Judo but he loved the sport so much that he is able to withstand tremendous challenges and was he become an unbeaten Champion in South East Asia. He said something like “A day without Judo is like a day without sunshine.”

People would have a particular activity that they would love. It is never too late to do something. You may try walking or cycling and it may lead you to what you want to do. The bottom line is do a physical activity you love that it makes you look forward to doing it. That is  way better than choosing to swallow a handful of pills everyday just to be alive. So if you ask me would I choose the Blue Pill or the Red Pill. My answer is I would also take the green, orange, and yellow. Those are M&M’s! I see them as trail food! Train Better! Live Better!

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