By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
January 24, 2016
When you have to stretch every last cent to the max like I do, doing something simple like going to the movies can be considered a luxury. It was kind of funny, how something that really used to be a huge part of my life is something I rarely do these days. But I changed things up a little on Friday night and watched “The Revenant,” which is Alejandro Inarritu’s ode to Terrence Malick. I say this because his last film, “Birdman,” was a technologically dazzling ode to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope,” and so Inarritu paid some respect to one of the more interesting film makers of our time. Now I say this because “The Revenant” is shot completely in natural light, with few filters and a realism that would make you want to take a shower the moment you get home. People want to give Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar merely because he crawled around in dirt a lot and slathered fake animal blood on himself like some people plop aloe vera. Also, his nasally whiney voice was hardly uttered, which is another reason why they will give it to him. People say I am a hater, I just say he is a terrible actor. He can’t hold his accents together (Blood Diamond, The Departed) and he couldn’t hold his limp together in this film (though that might be lazy directing). Anyway, hanging out with my buddy Scott and catching this movie helped remind me that the movie industry is eating itself alive and imploding, and I am waiting for the inevitable collapse. I watched trailers for “Captain America: Civil War,” which looks like tripe and spoils the outcome of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (provided if I had ever wanted to see that piece of garbage). Then I saw a trailer for the movie “Deadpool,” which if it wasn’t for ex-MMA goddess Gina Carano gracing the trailer with her fit and muscular hotness, would be pointless. I didn’t even know there was a sequel to “Independence Day” either, which illustrates how out of the loop I am right now. Here is something I can express with certainty, to hold a criticism of an industry is one thing, but you still need evidence to support your claim. You can’t go around making haphazard claims about something without immersing yourself. This is why I stay friends with all the crazy right wing people on Facebook, for I get to see some of the ridiculous stuff and much of the time factually incorrect nonsense they are posting and saying.
When you think about fitness, being healthy and consistent aren’t the only things you need to be weary of. Often times, you need those reminders to illustrate the importance of constant improvement. For me, I’ve been pretty much working on my own these last few months. Jon helps me along, trading his knowledge and guidance for this blog. Until I can scrounge up some cash to get one-on-one treatment again, that’s just the nature of our agreement right now. But this past week, all things kind of changed. With the hiring of a new trainer, Jon decided to give her a test and throw one of his favorite clients at her. I was pretty confident I could handle it, but man, this past week pointed out my need for improvement.
5. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE NEED FOR HELP
So Jon hired a new trainer named Hannah Farley, a ex-track athlete who graduated from Stanford (though jokingly, she stated her career was mostly injury riddled). Since she is new to Tucson and has yet to build a client list, he felt I would be a good candidate to break her in. I felt pretty confident when I showed up on Tuesday, for I knew I would be ready for anything she could throw at me. I gave her a large swath of old workouts I have done the last few months to give her an idea of what to expect. I was hoping for some ropes and TRX and maybe even some tire flipping. Personally, I got something worse. Hannah decided to put me through physical mobility assessment, and the results were quite startling. I was doing mostly flexibility and balance exercises, giving her an idea of what to expect and where I needed to improve. Like any genius that is capable of graduating from Stanford, she was thorough. Some of the things that were pointed out was the obvious issues with my shoulders, where usage at work has ruined some of the flexibility. But some other issues cropped up as well, like my inability to turn as far going to the left or how my legs are still pronating despite all the work I have put into straightening my feet and correcting those problems, especially when I go running. While I did get a good grade for the flexibility in my arms and legs, it once again proves just home much work I still need for my pesky core. You see, even though I already knew this, I never would have figured how behind I truly was on the issue. And that is why you need that second set of eyes to keep progress on you. While you can find a random trainer at any gym, getting someone to personally keep track of you might be worth the expense. Of course, you must also be willing to accept the criticism!
4. YOU NEED THE CHALLENGE!
I feel like I have kept a pretty good regimen over the last few months. I have built some decent muscle and I’m still losing inches on my slowly deteriorating body. But here is the issue I have been having. Have I really improved? It is great that I have the self motivation to stay on a program and consistently show up to work out. It’s great that I will crank out a minimum of three miles, no matter how awful I feel on that certain day (much like I did on Friday, where the sun was just killing me for some reason, but I might have been a little dehydrated as well). There are all these things I know I can do, but sometimes I wish I could do more. With the lack of a true spotter and a person that can give me different ideas, I rarely have those moments to test myself. The good thing about having Hannah around on Tuesday was she wanted to see just where I was with my weight lifting. We did some bench pressing and some back squats to kind of see where I was with those exercises. I kind of failed at the bench, calling it off at 175, but I was still pretty sore from the fact I literally filled two massive semi-truck trailers with boxes the day before. I only pushed myself to 285 on the back squat, mainly because my legs were pretty wobbly. While these are good numbers for most, it was a little sobering since I know I used to do better. But here was the good thing…I now have some good goals to reshoot for. Eventually, when the Chuze opens up near my house, I will definitely scrape together some change to get a membership (there are other gyms, but my friends are all a part of Chuze).
3. COMPLACENCY IS A BAD THING
Like I have already said, I have settled into a good routine over the last few months. Since I have the choice of what I want to do, I kind of choose a lot of things that suit me. I always try to work multiple parts of my body at a time, mainly my arms, back and core. But this is what ultimately happens when you settle into too many routines….you never test yourself with anything new. While I have been maintaining good form in my squats and my deadlifts and bench presses, I’m not doing enough unique stuff to try and work different body parts. One thing Hannah had me work on for our Thursday session was some weight lunges. First of all, I’ve been having balance issues due to my shoes and due to the fact I have been running heavy distances. You can imagine how awful I felt about myself when I was struggling to do lunges while doing overhead presses with 25-pound weights. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do this exercise, the issue was in my balance. I kept finding myself drifting to either side, and it was frustrating until I went with lighter weights. Of course, the issue for me after that was the fact I was doing something that was working me pretty hard. In fact, my entire session on Thursday was a bizarre experience of sorts. With Hannah there to “boss” me around, I was getting pretty darn sweaty and dirty. It was like the old days for me, using two gym towels to fight the never-ending stream of sweat. But that was a good thing for me. I really needed to experience that. Typically, I would just focus on a few things and spend my time killing those things. The difference with Hannah? I maybe worked through a dozen or so exercises of varying use and degree. She had me start the day with some complex and active stretching exercises with some squats and the aforementioned lunges as the follow-up. I then did a decent cardio-based circuit after all of that, doing deep push-ups, pull-ups and mountain climbers before moving on to some fun kettle bell work. All of this done within an hour. You see, when you have a limited amount of time to work with you, one tends to work a little harder. Throw in the idea of spending money to have someone push you, I think it would be much easier to get through this sort of situation. When I was done and rolling my legs out with the foam roller, it was one of the better workouts I had had in quite a while. I went home tired and sweaty, but I also went home feeling quite good about myself. Which leads to the next item….
2. THE HARDER YOU WORK, THE BETTER YOU FEEL
We already know about the correlation of endorphin production and exercise. When you work your butt off or do any type of heavy exercise, your body has a massive chemical reaction that gives you a sense of calm and peace. The more hippy set might look at it as realigning your chakra and removing the negativity, I just simply call it good stress relief (mainly because I am not really of the hippy sect). I will also throw in another thing to look forward to…accomplishment. Sure, Hannah didn’t know me well enough to really test me, I’m sure she was happy with the fact her workout challenged the heck out of me. So in reality, both of us probably went home a little happier that day. I can only imagine what it would be like for a trainer knowing they have a relatively fit client and challenged them nonetheless. So in that situation, it is kind of a win-win situation for everyone.
1. THE “AGONY” WILL BE WORTH IT
Now, as I describe all of this great stuff, the first thought in your mind is the cost. Yeah, I understand. If it wasn’t for my arrangement with Jon, I might never have made some of the strides I have made in my life. But look at the other benefits. I don’t spend much money on fast food anymore, mainly because it is rife with meat and dairy (which I don’t eat). I’m more disciplined with my eating and cook more often for myself. I’m easily healthier than I have ever been in my life, and my goal to try and squeeze into size 32 jeans seems to be moving along quite nicely, as I am now starting use the fourth hole on my belt and my size 36 jeans are feeling more comfortable. While I will admit, my fitness and health often times puts me in rough situations at work, at least I know I can survive the rigors without wanting to beat the heck out of someone at the end of the day. Plus, I have a lot of things in my life to illustrate just how much I need to keep doing this. Both sides of my family are rife with health problems, and here I am battling the demons of my eating problems like a champ. Wouldn’t you want that peace of mind? Wouldn’t you want to say that you conquered some of your biggest problems and are making a difference in your life? I know I can say that, and whenever I can afford some more one-on-one sessions, I will take advantage of that. Good health is extremely difficult maintain, and I would rather do what I am doing than rely strictly on science to save me. I’ll admit, there are plenty of days where I don’t want to work out or do anything, but I tell myself about the alternative. I remind myself what life used to be like, the days when I was glued to my chair while slowly but destroying said chair (I messed up two easy chairs during my life due to weight issues). So in spite of the wear and tear on my car, in spite of the time possibly spent sleeping in and watching Youtube videos or worse yet, stuffing my face….I prefer to take the crazy alternative. Personally, I’m pretty glad I had a chance to reset my fitness this week, giving me a glimpse of what I need to do i the future. Much like my eating regimen these past couple weeks, a fitness reset will greatly help in my development. And that is the best part about occasionally hiring a trained professional to help you out. I’m not talking a health or a life coach, I’m talking that wannabe boot camp instructor that dreams about making you sweat at night. After my Thursday session and the work I was going through, I told Hannah about my little signal phrase me and Jon have when the workout is really pushing me. “I hate you so much!” Yup, I kind of missed the days when I said that just about every session. I was glad I got to experience that once again.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.