Studies have shown that seven out of 10 people who start an exercise program drop out within a few months. One problem is that most people jump into exercise without doing any planning up front. They’re just not prepared for the commitment involved. Are you ready to make exercise part of your lifestyle? Find out using the questionnaire below, which was developed by Sherri McMillan, MSc, co-owner of Northwest Personal Training & Fitness Education in Vancouver, Washington, and 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year. She has discovered that people who stick with exercise buy into the following four “Laws of Success.”
1. The Law of Possession: “If it is going to be, it is up to me.” Understand that you need to take ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of your exercise program. It may be tempting to blame your husband or kids or shift responsibility to your group exercise instructor or personal trainer, but you will be the one who actually exercises! Loved ones can support you and fitness professionals can help educate and guide you, but you must be willing to give up a sedentary lifestyle.
2. The Law of Effort: “Anything worth achieving is worth working for.” Exercise takes discipline, willpower, character, persistence and a commitment to delayed gratification. Starting and staying with an exercise program requires hard work, but you can do it!
3. The Law of Consistency: “I have to stick to the game plan.” Researchers have found one characteristic common to those who adhere to exercise: They move toward their goals one step at a time and are committed to constant, never-ending improvement. Consistency and persistence are key to achieving results. If you get off track for a week or so, it’s no big deal. However, if you are regularly tempted away from your program, you will not succeed. Regardless of busy work schedules or lack of energy, you must keep exercising. For example, if you want to be 10 pounds lighter 10 years from now, it is not what you do over the next eight weeks that matters; it is what you do over the next 10 years.
4. The Law of Self-Efficacy: “If I think I can or I think I can’t, I’m probably right.” If you immediately start questioning whether you can make the changes required to live an active lifestyle, you are going to have a difficult time. You must believe you can do it. But don’t think you have to make the changes alone. Get support from a personal trainer, an exercise instructor, friends and family, and/or online exercise buddies.
When we’re young, we generally take our balancing skills for granted. As we get older, however, we find that our balance (the ability to sense where our bodies are positioned and adjust muscle tension to maintain alignment) isn’t what it used to be. The consequences of losing our ability to balance are significant. Falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults. Every year, 30 to 50 percent of people over age 65 sustain a fall; many never recover completely. Even less serious falls can result in physical adaptations (i.e., becoming less active, moving more slowly) that negatively impact the quality of life.
While some effects of aging--such as impaired vision, reduced reflex speed and decreased sensitivity of skin receptors--can impair balance and coordination, poor balance is not inevitable. Many physically fit older adults practice the same balance exercises as recovery strategies as younger adults and, as a result, are generally better at controlling their balance than their inactive peers.
How can you maintain good balancing skills? San Diego physical therapist Deborah Ellison, PT, an expert in functional exercise design, offers these tips and balance exercises:
1. Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness. Improvements in this area will contribute to better gait, cardiovascular health, weight control, motor control, self-confidence and other factors that impact and strengthen your balance.
2. Practice Single-Leg Standing, or Yoga Balancing Postures. Start by standing on a solid floor and then progress to working on a thick carpet or soft foam surface. Also do side-to-side movements, such as side-to-side step touches or small squats, moving to the right or left. To add more challenge, use a wobble board (a device used by physical therapists that consists of a circular board on an unstable base), curbs, stairs or inclines.
3. Try Tai Chi, Qi Gong (Chi Kung) or Hatha Yoga Classes. These offer gradual and consistent balance exercises and training.
4. Practice Shifting Your Weight From Side to Side. If you stand on two digital scales, one under each foot, you will be able to tell how much weight is on each side. As you progress in this balance exercise, change the base of support by moving the scales closer together or placing them on a diagonal. With your feet still on the scales, you can also try sitting, standing or lifting an object from the floor.
5. Practice Walking Faster and Stepping Over Objects in Your Path. This will help improve speed and decrease hesitancy.
6. Improve Your Flexibility. Take stretching classes and learn how to do a stretching routine at home. Stretching exercises help increase your range of motion, particularly at the shoulder, torso, hip and ankle. Using a fitness ball will contribute to better pelvic mobility .
7. Improve Overall Strength. Lower-leg strength is particularly important for walking, maintaining dynamic balance and preventing falls. With the aid of a fitness professional, develop a complete strength program that will help you both reduce falls and recover from them.
8. Build Your Self-Confidence. Fitness programs increase your confidence and decrease your fear and apprehension about falling, thereby reducing your overall muscle tension. Develop your skills and your confidence by doing drills in which you negotiate curbs and stairs, and walk along a taped line while carrying cups of water.
9. Consult Your Physician. In some cases, custom-made orthotics (devices worn inside shoes) can help with balance. Also, your doctor will know if any medication you are taking may be affecting your balance.
10. Look for Professionals and Programs That Specifically Address Balance. As the population ages, balance exercises and training is becoming a more common component of fitness programs and services offered by personal trainers and physical therapists. Find a program that works for you.
Keep safety in mind as you practice balance exercises and training. Make sure walls, chairs or other objects are nearby to use for support, and do not practice balance exercises that are too challenging for you without the help of a professional.
No single factor is responsible for balance loss, Ellison notes, so it is important to participate in an integrated physical activity program that includes cardiovascular fitness, strength training, flexibility workouts, coordination work and balance exercises. In general, doing cross training and trying new activities--even simple ones, such as biking--will help you maintain your physical abilities as you age.
In Muay Thai there is nothing practiced more than the Thai roundhouse kick. Many techniques we use in Muay Thai are all to set up devastating kicks.
Unlike Taekwondo, we work from a very basic arsenal. By basic, I don't mean the technique. Nothing about a Thai roundhouse is basic. I mean that MT doesn't have a flashy arsenal of kicks like other martial arts. The big difference being that Thai kicks aren't really easy to master or learn, although they look like basic roundhouse kicks. All the power and speed used for these kicks require an awareness of your entire body, and the explosiveness used at the exact moment it's needed, from your feet to your hips to your knee and shin. The torque of your upper body, the whipping of your arms, they are all crucial. I've been training for several years and still don't think my Thai kicks are at there full potential.
For some reason many people who come through my doors expect to get their Thai roundhouse in one class. They leave frustrated that they don't have it right after one hour. This is when I have to have a very real conversation. One to encourage them and ease their stress surrounding "not getting it". I tell them it could take years to master your Thai kicks, but once you get them...they'll never leave you. Much of their dismay spawns from them feeling that they are doing everything I'm asking them to. "What am I doing wrong?" "I am turning my foot!" This is usually when I resort to recording them and playing it back in slo mo to show them what to work on.
This isn't annoying, doesn't upset me, and is completely normal. I went through it myself with three different coaches. Moments where I felt I was absolutely doing what I was being told, but they obviously were seeing something else. It's hard to be objective, especially if you're going off of feel and not vision. I can't see what I'm doing. I feel like I'm doing it right, but that's because I so very badly WANT to do it right, so I convince myself that I am doing it right. Well guess what, my coaches were watching...and I wasn't doing it right. I eventually learned to trust my coaches and that's when my real growth began.
The Bruce Lee quote is one of my favorites and it encompasses exactly what must be conveyed to anyone practicing Muay Thai. It just might take 10,000 kicks, probably more. I'm certain I passed that mark a while ago and still don't feel I've perfected it. Of course, I don't believe in the illusion of perfection, but I strive for it. This will keep me forever humble and always willing to keep learning and training.
Always get your kicks in!
Heavy bag training is great for strength and conditioning training. It can a be a fun and beneficial alternative to traditional cardio training. Some days I just prefer to hit something in lieu of other conditioning options. Primary running. A nice warm up with the jump rope, followed by shadow boxing and then 20 mins on the bag is a truly intense workout and will leave you spent...if you're doing it right.
Many people are aware of this and get heavy bags for their garage or basement and assume it's as easy as setting one up and getting some gloves. They bang on the bag wildly with no real concept of form. This can have several negative affects.
1. You risk injury: Many people don't even know to wrap their hands, let alone how to do it properly. This leaves their wrists exposed to injury. Even with expensive gloves with superior wrist support, the lack of knowledge on how to throw a proper punch puts you at risk. Let's not even get into the risk surrounding throwing sloppy kicks by slapping your ankle into the bag, or your foot, or toes. Another risk is the bag burn many novices gain by dragging their kneecaps, or elbows across the bag surface because they don't know how to properly throw these strikes or gauge their distance. There is also risk of back injury when a person isn't properly educated and hunches forward when trying to throw body strikes.
2. You develop bad form: This may not be a concern to some who just hit bags to let out aggression and burn calories. But I say if you're going to engage in combat sports training, you should at least learn a little about combat. You don't go bike riding for training without knowing how to at least ride a bike. Many beginners never keep their hands up. They cock back their arms and swing really wide leaving their entire face and torso exposed. They throw kicks with their hands at their waist and so on. This all develops horrible habits that not only impede your ability to fully benefit from the training method, but you are learning bad fighting habits that will be hard to break later. Another issue with bad form is not learning to use your entire body and put weight and momentum behind your strikes. This is ultimately what fighters use heavy bags for. To develop their power.
3. You don't fully benefit from the workout: You've heard the saying, "You can do 100 reps wrong and do 10 right, and those 10 will benefit you more." This is true of the heavy bag. Without the proper guidance most people use just their arms. They slam into their bag without using the proper compound movements that will engage their entire body. Proper form will give you an full strength and conditioning session by engaging not must your arms, but your core, and legs.
If you think about it logically. You learn how to use proper form in all the forms of exercise you engage in (I hope). Why should heavy bag training be any different. It's much more intricate that people give credit. Get into a proper gym and learn how to attack your bag properly and you will gain the full benefits of this outstanding form or exercise.
This isn't for anyone specifically, so don't read into it like I'm coming at someone in particular. I've just been asked this a lot lately so he's my answer:
Working out doesn't directly mean you're just going to consistently drop weight week over week. Get off the scale! You need to focus on more than just lbs.
How do you feel? How do your clothes feel? What can you do now that you couldn't do before you started training? There are a myriad of indicators that you are healthier and more fit. But too many people beat themselves down about the lbs and start in with the, "I keep training and I'm not losing anymore weight, why even bother?" Don't expect or give any pity if you say or hear this. You're responsible for being where you are now, and you're sure as hell responsible for getting yourself where you want to be.
The number one thing you have to remember if you are obsessed with lbs, and can't keep yourself off the scale, is that weight loss happens in the kitchen as much as it does in the gym. It's a marriage of the two. Working out and eating right. I tell people all the time, "I don't know what your eating or drinking." It's always the diet. It's about calories in vs calories out. What good is busting your tail to burn 600 to 800 calories 3 or 4 times a week when you're ingesting 3,000+calories, sugar, chemicals in processed foods, etc a day. The math is obvious. Starving yourself is just as bad too.
Please think about it all before you start convincing yourself to quit. Imagine what will happen when you stop training all together. You wouldn't put a high end supercharged V8 engine in a car and put cooking oil in the tank...no! You'd put the top oil, fuel injection cleaner, gas, etc. in everything else in life we put the best fuel, the best recommended whatever to make sure our things perform at their best. But expect less from our bodies. We think it's going to function and burn at a high level with sugar in the gas tank! Please think it through and do the research.