The Stuff of Nightmares – my fitness fears


Terrified fitness fanatics take part in Ghoulist GRIT, the Halloween high intensity interval training workout from top Kiwi fitness brand LES MILLS

It might sound odd but there’s usually something that scares me every single day – not the jump out of your skin, shock scary – but the constant worry and doubt of something going wrong.
The biggest dangers are in the gym  -it’s home to a number of large pieces of equipment and some extremely heavy weights.  The fact that these are then put in the hands of the sometimes mis-informed, general public, can fill me with fear. The weight plates they use might not be placed properly on the bar and fall off onto someone, cables might be loaded with too much weight and snap and people can use the equipment in odd ways, that they really weren’t designed for – it’s an accident landmine!
When you’re watching the TV or video clip and it happens to someone else – since it’s taken out of context and isn’t personal – it can be seen as quite funny!  There are loads of clips on YouTube and You’ve Been Framed of people slipping on treadmills, gymnastic rings snapping and so on – some extreme versions even made it into the Final Destination horror film series but the reality is that accidents can happen, they do hurt and can cause serious and long-lasting injuries and even death. Regardless of whether it’s from mis-use, inexperience or faulty equipment – the thought of someone being seriously injured in the gym is a constant worry.
In addition to this (working in this industry) there is also the financial impact of accidents – both in the cost of repairing or replacing equipment, as well as possible litigation or insurance implications.
More often than not though, the things that give me sleepless nights and small panic attacks, can be something  most people would see as fairly minor……
For example, the other day I was teaching a class in a new venue where despite getting “assistance” from 3 staff, we couldn’t get the mic to work properly.  Every time I spoke, the music would cut out. It might not sound like much, but it meant that I couldn’t say as much as I normally would, so people could still keep in time with the music.  I was really embarrassed and knocked my confidence, and because I couldn’t talk/coach as much as I would normally – I felt that I hadn’t delivered a great class.  There’s been other times where my mp3 player stopped working, batteries ran out, people slipping on the floor, even one time splitting my shorts at the back! There’s a multitude of things that can break-down or go “wrong” and my fear is that because of these (even though I know some are out of my control) someone might think I’m rubbish or not done my job and complains.
Thankfully, it’s very rare that something does go wrong, but they’re always there at the back of my mind – like walking down a dark street at night always looking over your shoulder.
My answer is to try an prepare for the worst!
When it comes to my classes I always want them to have fun and a great workout, so I’ll ask for feedback especially if something  is new like a new exercise, format, venue or playlist, so that I know what worked (or not) to make it even better next time.
I will also try to arrive 20 mins early to set up and I keep spare batteries, cables, mics, clothing etc in my bag in case anything breaks and will go round to make sure I ask if anyone has any injuries or is new etc so that I can keep a closer eye on them and/or give them options.
In the gym we check and clean the equipment fully and regularly during the day and I would always take time to explain proper form and use during inductions. I will also stop anyone using equipment incorrectly or with bad form. Yes I know some of them may find it annoying if I stop them mid way – but at least I know I’ve told them, so they can avoid hurting themselves. Should something happen -being properly insured is a must and it’s surprising the number of instructors that don’t have it.
Even with my slightly OCD prep, you can’t control everything and things will occasionally go wrong and I know you can’t please everyone every time.
At the end of the day though, it’s good to be a little bit scared – it keeps me alert and focused!
As much as I might worry, for some just walking into a gym is scary let alone starting a new exercise programme or class and it’s that thought that overcomes my fears – I want to be that bright light that banishes the darkness.
What’s your fears? How do you deal with them?
Until next time, have a fun Halloween  – just watch out for those “treats”, the calories can be “tricky”!  LOL.

Wi-fi Don’t Fail Me Now! Fitness on YouTube


So this week follows quite nicely on from my last piece on fitness videos. The number of PT’s, celebrities and to be fair, a surprising number of members of the general public regularly post their fitness videos on YouTube – some are full workouts whereas other show the correct technique for a particular exercise or provide hints and tips and nutrition advice – in that sense, it’s a great resource for finding new things to try or make the most of your workout or how to change/improve your diet.
There are a number of names on YouTube that have made it big in fitness the most recent being Joe Wicks (if you’ve not heard of him – think of a buff Russel Brand) he posts a number short HIIT workouts both with & without equipment on his channel The Body Coach– the channel also runs alongside his Instagram account popularised by “Lean in 15”, where he shows how to make a healthy meal in 15 second videos. His combination of  shouty, cockney “banter” and good looks have made him very popular. Controversially, while I think his workouts are great – I have a slight issue with the tagline – the “Lean in 15” – is a slight misrepresentation. The recipes naturally take longer than 15  minutes to make when you include the prep, and his workouts are actually 15 to 25 mins but some of these don’t include a warm-up or cool-down.
For over 500 full home workouts with various timings and focus, one of my favourite channels is Fitness Blender. It’s been run by a husband and wife team for the past 6 years and they do fantastic no nonsense, clear and simple videos. No fancy locations or gimmicks and there’s no music to distract you from the workout – you could always put your own music on in the background if you want to.
For those that hit the gym, there’s a couple of weight training specific channels I subscribe to: ScottHermanFitness channel is really well laid out with videos comparing exercises to find which is better, routines, supplement and technique advice and how to videos, and if you want the science behind exercises and nutrition Jeff Cavaliere of Athlean X lays it out for you straight up without any BS, and they have a sister channel Athlean XX aimed at female weight training.
I have a bit of love/hate relationship with YouTube – I have a few channels I like, but YouTube always makes suggestions of related channels you might like to try – then an idea pops into your head – “Oooh I wonder if they have any videos about Boogie Bounce classes” and that’s one of the great things – you can find pretty much any workout type you like on there – pilates, weight-training, interval, dance…. some are straight forward, others do it with a bit of humour, and can pick up some really good ideas and tips both in terms of exercise or your diet.
Even some of those old VHS videos have been uploaded so that you can enjoy them again
The unfortunate thing is that like everyone else, I fall into trap of the YouTube loop and inevitably end up watching gym fails that make me wince and wonder why the person filming didn’t stop them…. that and cat videos!
Until next time – have fun searching and hope you don’t lose your wi-fi connection!
Here’s a couple to get you started:
Fitness Blender 10 minute Abs

 Scott Herman – How to Build a Meal Plan

M.O.S. Pump It Up Dance Workout

Video Killed The Class Instructor Star?


I grew up in the eighties so when it comes to working out in front of the tv, I was pretty much there when fitness videos really took off and seemed to go from strength to strength.
Fitness vids were huge, with Jane Fonda taking the crown as queen of fitness, her workout video was the biggest selling and she would eventually make a whopping 22 of them selling 17million copies collectively – AND what’s more, she’s still making them!
For us in Blighty, the Green Goddess and Mad Lizzie were soon in on the action on our breakfast TV screens, giving us a daily does of fairly gentle aerobics.
The nineties best selling fitness video came from Cindy Crawford aka The Body, and Mr Motivator and his obscenely er……. bright lycra unitards pumped it up on breakfast telly.
In the naughties we lost our regular TV workouts, but it certainly didn’t stop the trend for working out in front of the TV and Davina MacColl is probably our biggest success having now released 12 DVDs.
The number of celebrities both male and female that have made exercise videos over the years is unreal. I think one of the reasons for their success however, is as well as letting us the public get an understanding of how they lost weight etc, I know a lot of guys that have watched the videos simply to see a particular celebrity getting into some interesting positions whilst wearing very little clothing.
I have tried a few of the videos myself – well I say a few – but actually it’s probably too many to mention – from Ryan Giggs Yoga Type workout, to Tae Bo, to the Ministry of Sound’s Pump It Up (which followed in the success of the music video for Eric Pryd’s  “Call on me”), and I’m sure I’m not the only one, who’s first watch of a new video is not dressed in my sports kit and trying it out, but sat on the sofa with a bag of crisps – ha ha
The naughties also saw a move from TV screens to computer screens (and more recently phones!).  Thousands of personal trainers and instructors now put out regular workout videos on their YouTube channels. With some even becoming so popular that the video workout has switched to real classes in fitness clubs like Insanity, and others providing an On Demand service, so that you can do your favourite classes at home, or since it’s available on your phone or tablet – while you’re on holiday!
Some centres are now taking it even further an have virtual classes with the video projected onto the wall with specialist lighting and works particularly well for spin classes where it can be like cycling on a rollercoaster.
It’s this combination of streaming web workouts, smartphone apps and virtual classes that has some class instructors worrying that they will be out of a job! I know of at least one club, that only has “virtual” classes!
Fitness videos in their various formats have done so well for a number of reasons – for one it means that you can workout at home without the potential embarrassment of making any wrong moves, or any needing any special kit or the latest fashion trend (you could even workout in your pants if you wanted), and if it gets too hard you can simply stop and not have to answer to anyone about it.
Secondly, it means that you can try something new. For every class type, there is a workout video you can do at home – pilates, street dance, interval training, weights…. there’s a video aimed at all levels, genders and abilities.
Finally, it’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership!
While I would agree that fitness videos are great because they empower you do give it a go and can provide a really good workout – I think they do have a certain place in someone’s exercise routine.
They are brilliant as a quick fix, or if you’re just starting, however….  they can never replace the buzz or team bond of a group exercise class and because there is no-one else with you, you also miss out on someone checking your technique to make sure you’re exercising safely or to make sure you are pushing yourself and if you’re not really working out or having fun, there is the risk that you will think it’s not a great workout and stop!
In this disposable/on demand society we live in – just like most other things you watch these days, once you’ve seen it once or twice, it then tends to get left on the shelf and even more so –  don’t fall into the trap of binge watching and actually start doing something!
Until next time….