In this opening session of the Core Balance Podcast, I talk briefly about my experience as a personal trainer, and how you can think differently about fitness in order to achieve your goals.
This is the Core Balance Podcast, I’m your host Chris Janke-Bueno.
Several years ago, I started my personal training career at the YMCA and I always heard interesting conversations at the YMCA because, don’t get me wrong there, there’re a lot of people who go there to work out and they’re very serious and they really want results and they get the results. And then there’s a group of people who, you see the same kind of group of people every single day and they don’t seem to be really doing anything except for talking and it’s unfortunate because I feel like they’re wasting their gym membership.
But there were two people talking one day and I overheard the tail end of their conversation. One of them said to the other, “So, when you come to work out what do you do?” and the other person said, “I do both.” And I know what she meant, she meant she does both weights and cardio but it just struck me how limited our choices are at the typical big box gym. We have a whole bunch of cardio machines on one wall you know, the ellipticals, the stairmasters, the treadmills, the bikes and then on the other end of the room, we have all the weightlifting equipment. And that’s it, there’s no open floor, there’s no kind of personal discovery area and when I talk about that it’s more like when kids are at the playground, there’s no fancy equipment, there’re just things to climb on and the kids are doing the exploring. As we kind of become adults, we get kind of backward I think. And we let the machine tell us, “Okay, this is what you’re going to do, this is how long you’re going to do it, this is how many calories you’re going to burn.”, and it’s going to be very boring whereas, when we’re kids it’s very fun, it’s active, it’s engaging, right?
So, that’s kind of what I’m going to talk about today. I like that lady’s answer, “I do both, weights and cardio.” Let’s change it a little bit. Let’s embellish it a little bit. Let’s say, that we do both at the same time and not only do we do weights and cardio but we have fun. And I don’t mean fun like I’m watching a good movie on my stair climber or I’m reading a good book on my bike. I mean, have fun like your workout feels like play, wouldn’t that be great? I feel like that is the ultimate, right? Not only do you enjoy the results of going to the gym but you enjoy the process of getting those results because it was just so much fun you didn’t even remember that you were working out. It’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m getting fit at the same times I’m playing here.”
So, a lot of things have to happen in order for us to feel like we’re playing while we’re exercising and I know you know one of the things has to happen, we had to really change the paradigm in our heads. The paradigm has, in a way, created for us by the big box gyms, by the commercials that we see you know, all these things but I feel like this is vitally important that I want to talk about today.
At the end of all my ranting that I’m going to do today, I will be giving you some simple practical techniques that you can add to your life immediately and take to the gym with you or you can go workout at a park or wherever you want to go. And I believe this is really important. I believe it’s important because health and fitness really are the foundation for everything. Think about any goal that you want to achieve, whether it’s a business, financial goal, maybe it’s a family goal, maybe it’s a personal goal, whatever it is, health and wellness are the foundation to every goal because if you don’t have health, you don’t have anything, right?
What’s the line that people say sometimes that when you’re young you sacrifice your health to gain wealth and then when you get older, you spend all your wealth to regain your health I mean, that’s so true. As funny and kind of cliché as it sound but it’s really true. So, I think it’s really important that we take that fun aspect and we infuse it into our workouts and even stop calling it workouts, that’s kind of a negative connotation as well, but I do think it’s vitally important.
So, how do you do it? How do you make exercise fun and how do you do both at the same time, weights and cardio? Let’s dissect that a little bit, what are weights? Well, weights are just external pieces of equipment that your body moves and in the process of moving that you feel resistance, you feel tension in the muscles. Really, what matters is that tension, your body has no idea if you’re lifting 5 pounds or 50 pounds, what it does know is tension. If you’re able to produce tension in a muscle without weight then that’s all the better because you don’t have to go out and buy fancy pieces of equipment, all these apparatus and create your basement gym, you can just create tension.
Let’s just do a quick exercise here, a quick practical demonstration. Standing there or even sitting there, bend your elbow 90 degrees as if you’re doing a bicep curl. And now, I want you to really imagine like you’re holding a weight in your hand, I want you to clench your fists. I want you to engage all the muscles in your forearm and I want you to move that weight, that imaginary weight through a range of motion bringing your hand closer to your shoulder. And as you do that, I want you to bring the side of your pinky toward your shoulder more so, your thumb is almost going away from your shoulder and your pinky is going towards your shoulder. What that does is it actually contracts the biceps even more.
Now, can you feel tension in this? You should be able to and if you can’t I would say that you should practice this before you start doing anything like bicep curls. You need to really be able to find that muscle before you work it. Now, what is all these relate to, why am I having you contract your bicep, because that’s the most important thing really in any kind of workout, is knowing where you should feel it and then being able to feel it there.
So, one of the exercises that I want you to be able to do is actually a kind of a whole series of exercises. I call them quads or hands and feet so quads, so four and they do happen to work your quadriceps, a couple of them do quite a bit. Crawl around like a kid, I’m sure you know a bear crawl. Basically, imagine a baby crawling but instead of a baby crawl I want you to lift your knees up a little bit off the floor. There’s another really good one called crab walk where you are facing the ceiling, your chest is facing the ceiling, your arms are back behind you, you’re on your hands and feet and you’re just crawling around like that.
Now, these exercises and things like these are really, really good for creating tension in the muscles. For example, in a bear crawl, you’re going to feel the front of your shoulders and your chest, probably a lot in your abs and even your quadriceps, your thighs. The crab walk, you feel a lot in your upper back, the back of your shoulder, the triceps which is the back of your arm, maybe the hamstrings and the glutes. And so, I want you to just become aware of these different types of exercises that will allow you to get resistance work and cardio at the same time and kind of have a bit of fun too you know, it’s a little unpredictable, you’re not 100% sure of what you’re about to do.
And so, how do you apply this in your life? I don’t know what gym you belong to or where you go so, it may not be feasible for you to do this up and down the aisles in between machines and that’s totally fine. I feel the best time to do this is at home and it does not have to be a long period of time. You can do this for 2 minutes, 3 minutes, take a little movement break while you’re at the computer and just kind of crawl to the refrigerator to get a little snack. Things like that make your life about movement and then take these brief periods to your computer, your desk or whatever you’re doing as kind of a break for your movement instead of the opposite way around. Right now, you’re probably sitting at your desk and you take very brief movement breaks. I just want to encourage you to infuse these types of movement into your day to day workout so that when someone asks you when you go to the gym, “What do you do?” and you can say, “Well, I do weights and cardio sure but this other stuff that I do is way more fun, way more fulfilling for me and I feel like it’s moving for the sake of movement. I’m not trying to burn these many calories or I’m not trying to bench press this much or anything like that.”
I would invite you to check out some of your sample workouts because we include a lot of these quad exercises and those are located at mycorebalance.com. Check out some of these sample workouts, they’re free, you can follow along. Most of them are 10 to 15 minutes, a good way to just add that to your life and again, create all the benefits that you need.
You’ve been listening to the Core Balance Podcast, I’m your host Chris Janke Bueno, we’ll talk next time, until then let’s be fit, let’s be healthy, let’s be happy. It’s good to move so, keep moving.
Stop relying on willpower, motivational tricks, and pump-up strategies and learn how to top into your inner fitness fire with Chris' 60-minute audio book: Ignite Your Fitness Passion (published 2015)
Relieve your back pain with this easy-to-follow video program designed to get to the root cause of your pain: muscle imbalance. Check out the Back Pain Module.
Learn the basic principles that make a successful fitness program with Chris' 60-page book, Functional Strength: The Key To Pain-Free Movement (published 2008)