easy ways to live well

If this January, like last January you are feeling rubbish, then surely there is nothing simple or easy about living a healthy life?

Certainly January 2021 was the month we emerged from a difficult first year of Covid, many of us, with an extra stone or two we needed to lose. If you have spent the last couple of years praying for vaccinations and boosters thinking that it is the only way to keep yourself safe, then do also have a good long think about your exercise and overall health. Yes, this option may take some work and new lifestyle habits, but we have got some really great suggestions in this article of easy ways to live well and simple changes that you can make, that might just get you heading in the right direction before the spring.

Working Out

  • Find Something to do that you enjoy. You don’t have to go to the gym and wander round machines in order to look good and feel fit. In fact quite often if you take that approach in January it’s likely to make you more miserable as the place will be very busy and you might not get to use what you want to. Lots of other options are available like taking up a sport, Zwift bike riding/racing, home workouts with a kettlebell or get rucking in the countryside with a weighted backpack at the weekends.
  • Get the Most Bang for your Buck: Far too many gym based fitness programmes focus on working individual body parts. This is fine if you’re a full time bodybuilder or figure competitor that has 8 hours to train every day but the real world doesn’t allow for that. To build muscle mass quickly and burn more calories, try to choose exercises that involve multiple muscle groups such as deadlifts, squats, cleans and snatches. A question we often ask in our group sessions is to count the number of joints you are using; the more joints used, the bigger the exercise and more muscles are used. 
  • SPRINT! Jogging/Running is a very popular choice for New Year fitness campaigns but it all too often ends in tears with abandoned campaigns. If you’ve failed to keep up a running programme then you don’t need me to tell you this. If you are determined to run then try sprinting once per week as part of your routine. A session such as warming up first then running 10 sets of 3 lamp posts as fast as you can with walk back to the start for recovery can leave you feeling strong, powerful and with a high revving calorie burning body for several hours after.

Motivation

  • Join an Exercise Group. This is a really good way to keep motivated and become accountable for your workouts. Every evening we send a group message to the people in our Team Training group to ask who is attending the next day. Once you commit then there’s no going back! What’s more, the encouragement you give and receive can be enough to cement meaningful friendships with people on the same mission as you. This change can be a really easy way to live well for the long term. As the friendships grow, the gym becomes your social and not your chore.
  • Buy Yourself Some New Fitness Kit. Anything goes here from a £5 skipping rope to a £10,000 bike. Buy it with the money you’ve committed to save from the nights off the booze and food and make sure you’re up to use it in the morning. Get so much use from it that you can look back in years to come and remember this “thing” was the turning point. 
  • Workout 1st Thing of the Day! There’s literally no time to find excuses. Life is constantly changing and where we think we might have more time because of labour saving devices such as smartphones and delivered shopping, research shows we have less and less because we are taking on more tasks. So many times we have known people to abandon an exercise session because something “more important” has cropped up but that won’t happen if you put your trainers on 1st thing. The best bit about working out the moment you get up though is that you will feel amazing and be far less likely to make poor choices with food and drink for the entire day. 

Mental Health

Often the New Year can leave us feeling low. The high of Christmas is over, we’ve spent too much money, we’re stuck in the same job and relationship and it’s still dark and cold. 

  • Sleep: sleep is the foundation for everything that is good in life and when anyone joins the Team Training group the first book we advise them to read is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Get yourself 8-9 hours every night (how you do it may be a challenge but if you achieve it you will not regret this) and try to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day including weekends.
  • Get Outside and Walk Every Day: January is the thick of winter and we will rightly spend most of our time indoors because it is dark and cold. Make it a priority to leave the house or office in daylight hours for at least 15 minutes a day to go for a walk. Just the fact of exposing our skin and eyes to daylight and feeling whatever the weather of the day is releases chemicals in the brain that will make us feel happy. Happiness is something unobtainable from food, drink, smart phones or tv and the happier we are, the less we will crave the others. 
  • Be with Positive Upbeat People: Positive upbeat people are usually found exercising first thing in the morning so once again this is advice to get up, get your PE kit on and get physically active with other people. More and more of us are working from home these days and if we go through an entire day without leaving the house or seeing anyone it only has dire consequences for our mental health. We always tell our home based workers to get in the gym for the early sessions as it’s often enough to make them feel a lot happier for the rest of the day once they’ve had a laugh with others. 

Building Fitness Resolutions 

  • Set Realistic Targets: Yes you’ve heard that a million times but it’s true. If you’ve tried big resolutions and failed then you know aiming big immediately doesn’t work. Examples of realistic targets could be:
  • If you know you need to reduce your alcohol intake then reduce it – don’t ban it! If you currently get drunk out of your mind 3 times a week, try getting drunk out of your mind twice per week. Once you’ve adapted to that, try for once! You must see it through though.
  • Forget trying to lose 3 stones in weight, go for half a stone. If you get there, aim for another half stone and so on. You will see so many positives and successes rather than a huge misery if you fail to reach the big number. 
  • If you are new to or resuming exercise then hitting hard ferocious workouts every day will not end with the body of your dreams, it will likely end with injury. Try for a day on day off approach until you feel strong enough to add consecutive days. 

Gym Myths

  • Men – Stop Bench Pressing for a Big Chest: If we had a pound for how many times we have seen men make a beeline for the barbell and bench in a quest to obtain dinner plate pecs… An impressive torso and chest requires so much more than that exercise alone. It requires a distribution of effort all over the body and very importantly it needs exercises like deadlifts and squats in the programme to create a bigger anabolic response. Deadlifts and squats though? Yes because they require hard work and people that work hard are more likely to have impressive pecs!
  • The Treadmill Won’t Make You Lean: Ever since the marathon boom in the early 80’s we have believed that jogging slowly for long periods of time will make us thin because that’s what marathon runners do and they are skinny. Running long distances won’t make you skinny – skinny people like running long distances! Being in a calorie deficit will make you lose fat and although the treadmill can help, basing your entire hopes of a stunning body on persistently running a long way is not where the answer lies. Vary your workouts but spend most of your time in the weights room creating lean defined muscles which will look fantastic if given the right nutrients to grow. 

Nutrition

  • Don’t be too restrictive. If you have spent the last 4 or 5 weeks eating whatever you like and want, changing to eating just salad is too much too soon. In January it is really difficult to not have any comfort foods or take aways. So be kind and allow yourself some foods that you love, just eat less of them. If you increase your exercise then you are still progressing. You are just making changes that are more sustainable.
  • Try to focus on making all of your meals full of nutrients. So if cutting out all sugar, carbohydrates, fat and basically everything that you have ever read in a food article is bad for you, is too extreme, then don’t do it! It might be that if you are completing more regular exercise, then swapping out some of your favourites treats for healthy options might be a gentler way to start your health journey. Think about swapping your Saturday night takeaway for a nicer nutritious homemade meal.

    Swap your fish and chips or curry for home made burger and chips. A high meat content burger is full of filling protein. Make your chips from sweet potatoes and olive oil which are full of healthy fats and vitamins. A good portion of peas will once again provide vitamins and protein as well as carbohydrates to get you to the gym the next morning or out on a nice Sunday morning hike. You can even go crazy and still have a wholemeal bun. Think about making an enjoyable meal that gives you nutrients, but will be ten times better than a take away. It is changes like these that are more likely to become good habits because they are not too extreme.
  • If you are determined to lose fat then it really is a matter of calories in versus calories out. Move more, burn more calories and eat less. Please though, do not reduce your calories too quickly. If you cut down to 1200 calories per day, you will lose weight quickly for sure, but it will be really hard to keep eating so little. Once your body gets used to surviving on so few calories, you will need to eat even less to continue the weight loss. Start off with a health 1600 – 2000 calories per day. See how you feel after a week or two. If you are not losing around 1 pound per week, then reduce or increase your calories by 100 per day.

If you haven’t let yourself go over Christmas then make sure you do in the future! It is a time for consuming more and sharing good times with friends and family. Enjoy yourself, it’s not a crime. Come the New Year though, it is time to do the work.

If you are struggling with your fitness and health and don’t know where to start then get in touch. We have the support network and expertise to help you make the changes this year, that will see you feeling far better next January than you do now. A warm private gym awaits so what are you waiting for?

everest

“Each year 11,190 men in the UK die from prostate cancer. 11 grams is the average weight of a prostate. 1190 x 11 grams is near as damn it 130 kilograms. We’ll carry 130 kilograms somewhere and we have to make it somewhere tough. No point carrying it somewhere easy. Up and down Snowdon it is then.”

“What about those who can’t make that day?”

“They’ll need to do something else. I know – ascend the 8,848 metres height of Mount Everest on foot or bike, indoor or outdoor over the course of November.”

“Sorted.”

And that was pretty much the conversation surrounding this year’s Team Training challenge to raise money for the Movember charity which amongst other things raises funds for research into prostate cancer. 

The next challenge:

The next challenge was to fix a date for Snowdon, find out who was doing it and to decide what form the 130kg would take. 10 men committed for Remembrance Sunday the 14th of November and it was decided that the 130kg would be split between them in rucksacks – roughly 13kg each made up from weight plates, sand and water. 

Note: Carrying 13kg on your back 9 miles up Snowdon and 9 miles back down is hard. Go carry 13kg to the end of your road and back to get an idea. Rough terrain plus a steep incline and descent makes it all the more difficult but we love stuff like that, and integrated into a structured fitness programme it can be very beneficial too. More on the benefits of rucking here.

The day arrived and all made their way to the foot of the Pyg Track to begin the ascent. 5 men from our Team Training group plus another 5 willing friends and associates. The descent was down the Llanberis Path. I’ve got to mention at this point that unfortunately I didn’t take part in this climb. I’ve got a knee injury that’s preventing me from certain activities and this is one. Onto what I did for Movember later….

Back to the mountain

The weather was as good as they could have hoped for and visibility was great.  They had a very special remembrance service at the summit “For me, the best bit of the hike was getting to the summit 5 minutes before 11am on Remembrance Sunday and witnessing an emotional tribute with 1 minute silence on the top of Mount Snowdon above the clouds” said Amit. Many thought similar. 

Prosecco, thanks Ben, and samosas, thanks to Amit’s wife, were consumed at the top to fuel the descent.

It’s events like this which are so important for many of us at the gym.

As Andy mentioned, “…it was having a laugh and getting to know the guys better” which was the best for him. Part of Movember’s charity work is to help men with mental health issues and prevent suicide and what Andy said there is so important to what happened that day and what we try to do every day; get guys to hang around with each other, have a laugh and share in the struggle. Yes going to the pub and getting drunk is bonding and having a laugh but it’s not the same. Alcohol is a depressant where uniting in hard work to achieve something of significance only results in happiness and feeling good.

It’s the whole ethos of what we do at Team Training

James echoed similar words. “Having never climbed more than a flight of stairs, the achievement of overcoming a new challenge and pushing beyond my comfort zone was great. The best thing though was the amazement on my little boy’s face when I showed him a picture of me above the clouds at the summit. Having that experience and sharing it with a great group of men was made all the more special by the kind donations to a wonderful charity picked up along the way.”

What else did we do:

As mentioned earlier, for those who didn’t climb Snowdon that day, there was the option to ascend the 8,848 metres which is the height of Mount Everest. It could be done indoors or outdoors on foot or bike and this is what I chose. Before any of you reading this give me a drubbing when I tell you how I did it, I’ll give it myself first. I climbed on the Wattbike on Zwift. Yes I sat on the bike indoors, switched on a computer and linked my bike up to ascending a hill. I didn’t get wet, I didn’t get cold and I stopped whenever I wanted. It wasn’t “really” hard. It was tough because I set speed challenges for certain climbs I did over the month but I always knew I was going to achieve it. 

Man of the Match

One man who deserves particular credit here is Glyn Knight because he went and did it the proper way; well not as proper as climbing Everest in shorts and vest but still good enough. 

Over the course of many mornings in November, Glyn drove to a local steep hill called Old Pale in Delamere Forest where he ran up and down it until the height of 8,848m had been completed. There was rain, snow, darkness and and many times he really didn’t want to do it but he did. Oh and he was in the Snowdon climb too. He gets my vote for man of the match. 

We raised a huge amount of money again and it is still coming in.  Last count we were at £3,650 raised for Movember and a further £2,319 for Macmillan Cancer support. In total it will be another £6,000 raised from a small group of men.  Thanks to Stephen’s company APC Cardiovascular Ltd too as it matched funding to a pledge of £500 per fundraiser, a total contribution of £1,000 this year.

It is amazing what we can do when we have a challenge and get together as a team. It makes any project far more doable unlike tackling a huge project on your own. 

Thank you to all our sponsors and of course the team :

Stephen Law-Lyons arranged this great event with the following men:

• Amit Patel

• Andy Firth

• Ben Flynn

• Ed Jackson

• Glyn Knight

• James McEwen

• Kris Ellis

• Matt Westmoreland

• Paul Connor

• Wayne Hasselby

In my research for writing this piece, the articles I’ve read come largely from the financial media and associated economists. The general narrative talks of statistics relating to longevity, GDP, the age of the population, NHS funding, socio economic status and taxes. Mostly matters in which I have no expertise. The advice then follows to have your health and wealth assessed annually by suitable professionals and after that to take action on the advice you receive. The final point there being extremely important – taking action!

Where I will come from is to talk about what I see going on with people who are similar to me. How shall I describe this bunch? British, middle class, middle aged, suburban, German car driving types! Will that do? Not offended anyone yet have I? If you’re reading this then you probably fall into that bracket, at least with two of the entry requirements anyway.

So what is the state of your health and fitness and how much money have you got? It’s worth knowing because it’s likely that these two will most influence what you are able to do and how long you are able to do it. Or, how long you can keep doing everything you love for as long as possible before you snuff it. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. A lot better than “Get a beach body for the summer” or “Triple your wage in just 3 hours a week from home” that’s for sure!

Not 5 years ago I would have ran a mile from talking about health and wealth and the reason was because I had tons of one but not the other – you can probably guess where the scales tipped. I’m still a lot healthier than I am financially secure but the reason I feel confident to talk about this now is because yes I know lots about health and fitness and I action it to help me daily but I now understand money more and I have a plan to get more of it. For 45 years I winged it. “I’ll be alright. I’ll have money for my future, it’ll happen sooner or later.” I spoke like this (if I was forced to think about it) but honestly? I had no clue how to get money or what to do with it if I got any! I never had any advice and felt too embarrassed to seek it.

My biggest fear was picturing the future me, strong as an ox, indestructible but at the same time 100 years old sat in a council flat in front of an electric fire with only enough money to set the heat to one bar. The fear increased and became the third force that kicked me into action to DO something about it. So I did.

As I mentioned, I still haven’t got sufficient money, not enough to support the lifestyle I want in my old age, but I now know how much I need, I have a plan on how to get it and how to make what I’ve got grow.

Read more

Video personal training is new, it’s exciting and it’s here to stay. What’s best about this is that it’s a complete win for the consumer as they are going to have so much choice, literally being able to choose from any coach in the whole world and take them anywhere they desire.

If you are somebody that likes to workout from a public gym then the previous model was that you would join your chosen gym, think “I need a PT”, then ask the question who is available? You look at the profile board and you pick who you like the look of. Your decision might be based on a number of factors: qualifications, experience, their own lifestyle, the condition they are in, past achievements, whether you fancy them or not, many things.

The norm……

After an initial consultation (usually only with one trainer which I always found surprising as I have consultations with several people before buying service from them. Actually having said that, maybe one was all people needed with me! My infectious, wit, charm and charisma more often than not would win them over easily!) you would begin your journey usually after you’ve purchased a “block” of sessions where you had the sole attention of the trainer and paid them by the hour for it.

The world is full of a million trainers but by following this model you get the choice of up to perhaps 10. Possibly none of them are the right choice for you. I worked this way for 7 years when I was operating out of a big gym chain and although I did have a lot of success, there were times when I took somebody on and we didn’t click. Because there wasn’t a lot of choice, the client was left ultimately dissatisfied. That is what happens a lot.

It’s a whole lot different now with video training and as we come out of lockdown we are going to see an explosion in it.

With the previous model, the trainer has his or her time to sell and unless they own their own facility they are limited to training one person, two at the most, in the confines of a gym. It has to be this way because there are other people using the facility at the same time and it isn’t possible to “bagsy” all the kit and use it for a group of clients. Because it’s always been this way, personal training – once past the “learning phase” has become expensive.

I’ll explain further. When I take somebody on, it is my goal to teach this person to look after themselves. This, in my opinion, is the best way to train, these are the most beneficial exercises for you and this is the intensity and recovery you should take. The other areas of sleep, relaxation and nutrition are important too but for the purpose of this article we are covering fitness. Once a client becomes educated and formed new habits (it takes different times for different people) anything after should be maintenance – providing we are not working towards a specific goal in a specific time frame.

Maintenance through workouts that are anywhere north of £25 per hour. If you are someone that will only train out of a big gym then this has been your only option for a workout with personal attention. Now it might work for you and you might really enjoy working one on one with face to face contact with your coach. It’s good. I’m not knocking it. This is what I do!

Things have changed though.

When the first lockdown was forced upon us, I, like millions of others, sh1t myself! I couldn’t carry on the way I used to. I knew I had to try something and I knew I had to go online. I was terrified of it but I HAD to (3rd Force here. You’ll change when there is a 3rd force in place) go online. I thought it was going to be terrible. I thought everyone would leave me or I would have to reduce my prices because of this inferior service I was delivering. I tried my best though. I went to all my clients houses and delivered kit from my gym which I know every trainer doesn’t have but I do so I did and made sure they were all equipped for top class sessions.

I signed up to Zoom on the Friday night and come Monday morning I nervously logged on as did the others and within a few sessions I was flowing as so many of us now are with video communication, not just in Personal Training but in all industries. Over the last year, this has become normal, it’s the way it’s done now.

So what does this mean for the gym goer wanting to buy personal training and perhaps seeing it as an expensive outlay?

Well firstly, as I mentioned earlier, it means the client can choose from any coach in the world and take them anywhere with them on their phone. People are always on their phone these days so things would not be out of the ordinary to see somebody looking at a device in the gym and performing a workout. Back in the day, we PT,’s were fiercely protective of anyone coaching in our building who wasn’t paying rent but it’s not possible to enforce that now via video. You can’t walk up to somebody who’s squatting who has earphones in and say you can’t look at your phone while doing that. It’s impossible to police!

But here’s the even better bit for the consumer.

They can now join in a group session and reduce the price of their supervised workout! The basics of it are, you join a training group and perform the session the coach has planned live while they are working with you. Granted not everyone attending will have the same kit available but if you have a good coach then they can work with that. This system can’t work with a Joe Wicks workout with 5,000 attending but in can work in a group of up to say 12 at a time. With that number you get the personal attention still.

This is what I do now and it works a treat.

When the gyms were open in between lockdowns I coached several group sessions where some were at home and some were in a gym and everybody got great service. We can join in together, have a laugh, have a brilliant session and feel great afterwards though being a part of the team. It’s affordable, you can choose your coach and you can have outstanding service all much less than you would pay one to one which means you can train more and achieve more.

It’s a very exciting time for personal training once the gyms reopen and I can’t wait to be part of it!

Northwich Life

Northwich life is a great life, and I should know because I have lived here for most of my life.  Moving to a new area can be really daunting so it’s great to have a bit of an overview to give to people who might not be sure where to fit in and how to make friends quickly when moving into a new town.

So, what are the things about Northwich Life that would make me suggest to someone thinking of moving here, that this is absolutely the best place to live?  Well, there are rather a lot of options, but I am going to talk about the things that I love the most.  The Northwich gym that I run and have put my heart and soul into over the last 2 years, the amazing walks that are all sat on my doorstep and the location and fantastic places to buy property.

My Northwich Gym – Team Training UK


Several years ago now I was brave enough to set up and run the Northwich gym known as MPA with my ex-business partner.  As is often the way with new businesses, the energy and enthusiasm wanes and unfortunately, we had different ideas of where we wanted to take the business. This crossroads ended up being a blessing for me and my new gym was born.  A venture that I decided to pursue on my own so that I could control the gym to be based around my passion for community, competition, friendships, mental health, and of course amazing exercise coaching!

I now run a gym providing personal training in Northwich in a private facility.

Why does this make Northwich Life great?

Well, it’s because I also run team training UK from there which is group personal training and the perfect place to make new friends if you are new to Northwich.  These classes always make sure everyone gets involved and trains at their level, but we also meet outside of the gym too which is the key.

Team Training have hikes and walks at the weekend and meet up socially in surrounding areas for drinks and pub quizzes too when we get the chance.   Hikes and walks can be in the wonderful Marbury Park, along the river Weaver, Anderton and further afield to Macclesfield Forest.  Drinks have been held in The Hartford Hall, The Kingfisher at Kingsmead Northwich and Gusto and The Lost and Found in Knutsford.

So, my gym is really a great place to come and make friendships while changing your lifestyle for the better too.

Weekend life and walking local to the Northwich area:

One of my favourite things about my life living in Northwich is that there are so many great walks really on my doorstep.  I have lived on Kingsmead for most of my time here and have loved being able to nip onto the wonderful River weaver walk within 2 minutes of leaving my house.  This walk can go all the way along to Winsford and beyond if you really want tot test your legs.

In the neighbouring Hartford Marshall’s Arm woods also brings you to the River Weaver but on the opposite side for a completely different walk.  If you take the tip road opposite Pure Gym in Northwich there is another wonderful walk that can take you around Anderton and Marbury taking in the beautiful canal routes.  Walking from Anderton can also take you all the way to The Leigh Arms for a well-earned pie and a pint too.

Property and location in Northwich

Northwich is a great location with property prices just that little bit cheaper that Hartford or Knutsford and great rail links to all over the county.  The Northwich rail line can take you to Chester and Hartford one way, and Manchester, Altrincham, and Knutsford the other. Northwich is also up and coming with many bars and restaurants opening over the last few years and a funky food court market like the one in Altrincham promised over the coming year.   We have a good cinema, a fantastic Waitrose, and some amazing schools in Hartford just down the road. 

Overall Northwich is a great place to live and if you are looking to get fit and make new friends this January then get yourself along to my gym too and I will welcome you in!

https://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/northwichlife/

https://www.alltrails.com/england/cheshire/northwich/walking