LIVE Video – guided “Morning Movement & Intention Setting” workout

I went live on Facebook, early one Monday morning, to guide everyone through my current favourite morning routine.

You can repeat it or modify it and do this routine every morning.

The exercises are:

  • Box Breathing
  • Calf Raise with Shoulder Rolls
  • Ankle and Wrist rotations
  • Hula Knees
  • Opposite arm and leg lateral raises
  • Hip Rotations
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Standing Cat-Cow
  • Funky chicken neck
  • Head swivels
  • Side to side neck
  • Elbow flaps
  • Big Face – Little Face
  • Full body shake
  • Intention setting and deep breathing

Hint: if you make this a habit, it can prime you for an active and movement filled day.

Remember, this is meant to be a gentle way to wake up and get moving. I prefer to ease myself into my day but if you want to jump out of bed and do 300 Burpees instead – great! I won’t stop you. But this is my favourite way to get myself moving.

The 5 Move Workout – Workout of the Week #50

This is a simple but effective workout that you can do at home. You just need a little bit of floor space and a pull-up bar… and some grit!

The moves are:

  1. One pull-up
  2. One push-up
  3. One squat
  4. Plank for 10 seconds (or choose a plank variation)
  5. Jog in place for 10 seconds (with high knees)

Don’t let the “single rep” part of this workout turn you off – the transitions are part of the workout and I guarantee with all the up and down in this workout, your heart rate will climb quickly!

It’s Not About the Gym or the Gear

Photo of an olde timey gym

Spoiler: There are only three criteria that need to be met in order for a movement to become exercise. Read on to find out more…

Before I went live on Facebook yesterday, I did some digging into the history of the modern gym in an attempt to understand where movement and fitness went wrong for us humans – a species that has been in existence since the Middle Paleolithic (about 200,000 years ago) and has risen to be earth’s apex predator – even before modern tools, housing and weapons.

History of the Gym

It was only in 1939 (the year my father was born) that Jack LaLanne (the olde timey fitness legend ) opened what is heralded as the first Health Club in Oakland, California. At the time, these clubs were mostly dingy, dusty, cellar-like places with a boxing ring, a heavy bag, and a few rusty iron weights strewn around the area. This is where (predominantly) men lifted weights or trained for particular sports (not just in pursuit of picturesque abs and pecs).

The actual birth of what we now call Gyms didn’t happen until in the 1960s and 1970s.

In fact, it was Gold’s Gym in 1965 that likely signalled the beginning of this whacky modern idea that general health and fitness could be recreated in an artificial setting, rather than just by performing manual labour (as previous generations did). Then eventually, Joe Gold founded the World’s Gym chain in 1977 and this idea really began to pick up speed.

The Modern Idea of a Gym

So, 1977 is when the majority of the population slowly started to be introduced to the idea that gyms were a place that you could go to “get fit” but it didn’t really catch on until the 1980s. I was 6-years-old in 1977 (and didn’t step foot in a gym until the 1990s) and yet, many of my peers still hold the idea that they can’t get fit if they can’t get to, don’t like, or can’t afford the gym.

Huh… that didn’t take long, did it?

The same can be said for the gear we associate with getting fit. And I am not even talking about things like Peleton (which really only became popular in the last two years). Fancy running shoes, with arch support and built-up heals, came into existence after gyms did (in the mid-1980s).

Here is a thought experiment: when I imagine what would have happened if I had shown my grandmother (who lived to be 101, incidentally) a stationary bike and some compression shorts and told her to go “pedal this bike in her living room so she could get fit,” she likely would have whacked me with a carrot (fresh from her garden) and told me to go sweep the driveway.

The Real Issue

In the last week or so, most of us have suddenly been asked by our Medical and Health Providers to engage in Social Distancing and encouraged to stay home or, at least, meet up outdoors. And this has thrown us for a fitness loop!

Why are we all so lost and convinced that we will lose all of our fitness and turn into couch potatoes?

How did we become so brainwashed, so quickly, that we seem to believe that we can’t move our bodies, in interesting ways, on our own, when the local Rec Centre needs to close its doors for a couple of weeks?

Now don’t get me wrong, I was grateful to see people on social media get excited about my recent Get-Fit Guy blog post that contains 22 videos of exercises you can do at home but I was also saddened that people felt so lost and desperate before I posted it. I guess I feel this way because I don’t want to believe that in ~40 short years, our species has become so detached from full-body movement that we fall to pieces if we can’t attend our weekly yoga class.

My Challenge to You!

So, I challenge all of you who made it this far into this article (or rant) to dig deep into your creative minds, your memories of grade-school gym class, or just your basic understanding of how your body feels when you perform certain actions to see if you can come up with a way to do three simple things:

  • Raise your heart rate,
  • Challenge your muscles,
  • Tease your balance and mobility.

Because that truly is all exercise is.

You can dress it up in Lululemon and give it a fancy name like Foxycise, but in the end, to get a workout, that will bestow on you the health and wellness that you seek, that is all you really need to do.

Stair “step-up” Workout – WoW #49

Here is a great workout that you can do at home with a stair or any platform that can support your weight.

A step-up is a bodyweight exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the gluteal muscles in the buttocks. This is what is considered to be a general lower body conditioning exercise.

You can do all of the variations in this video as a progression or choose the variation that is appropriate for your level of fitness and mobility.

Bridge Variations – Workout of the Week #48

The main target muscle in the Hip Bridge is the erector spinae which runs from your neck to your tailbone. Doing this exercise stretches and engages your hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. On the other end of the movement, the rectus abdominis, obliques, and quadriceps get a workout due to the need to stay stable.

If you are feeling adventurous, you also try adding the Marching Bridge and the Single Leg variation. But don’t get carried away, master the basic bridge before progressing.

A healthy balance of hip strength and mobility is very important to ensure everyday stability and also to prevent overuse and athletic injuries. Achieving this balance isn’t a problem if you keep it in mind, don’t sit too much for too long, and occasionally weird out your coworkers by laying down in the conference room and doing some of these hip bridges!

More hip strength info in my article called 3 Hip-Strengthening Exercises for Power and Mobility

Comfortably Uncomfortable

Photo of a finish line

Let’s try a little experiment. If I asked you to go out and run, swim or cycle right now with no further instruction, what pace would you go at?

Chances are that you would go out and run, ride or swim at what we refer to as a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace. A pace that makes you feel like you are getting some benefit from it but also a pace that feels achievable and sustainable.

There is a good reason that we humans default to working just on the verge of discomfort. In fact, psychologists even have a name for it: Manageable Difficulty or (more whimsically) The Goldilocks Rule.

The Goldilocks Rule says: humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Or, comfortably uncomfortable.

Pacing

Let’s go back to that run I asked you to go at the beginning…

If I told you to go out and run really slowly, you would feel like you were wasting your time and would lose interest and motivation.

If I told you to go out and run as hard as you possibly can, you would also lose interest and motivation, not because you were bored, but because you were putting in an unsustainable effort that was making you feel like an out of shape failure.

The Lesson

There is a lesson there, not only for us athletes but for anyone who is trying to achieve a new goal. Make sure that when you put your plan in place to reach that new goal that you don’t set your effort level either too high or too low.

Let’s say you are trying to lose body fat. If you are hungry all the time, you have set your effort level too high. Being hungry all the time is unsustainable and thus you are doomed to run out of willpower at some point and eat everything in sight (and not because you are weak). Conversely, if you cut your calories by too few and never allow yourself to feel even remotely hungry, you will also fail and give up due to lack of progress.

This is a philosophy that is at the core of what we teach in the Weighless Program. Most diets ask you to lose weight too quickly and that opens a myriad of whoop-ass on your biology and your psyche.

Comfortably uncomfortable is the key to success
whether you are training for a race, a new job, a new hobby, or a life long goal.

Obviously there is room for some nuance, depending on how ambitious you are feeling that day. And sure, you can certainly endure the odd overly challenging day too. But when the scale tips too far toward unachievable, you are in trouble. At that point, back off and allow your ego to feel good about itself again before you test the waters and push yourself beyond comfortably uncomfortable again.

You need to have enough success to keep you motivated and enough challenges to keep you working hard. That is the sweet spot.

It’s not the Race, It’s the Plan

I have heard the same thing so many times in the years that I have been a coach. An athlete finishes their A-Race, takes a bit of a recovery break, and then eventually emails me saying “Now that my race is over, I can’t seem to get motivated to workout anymore!” – or – “I seem to have lost the motivation to exercise, now that the race season is over.”

Then, after they flounder around for a while, unsuccessfully trying to get magically motivated, they sign up for another race with the sole purpose of rekindling their motivation to exercise. And sure, that works… but I think they are missing the point.

I am going to say it: Motivation is overrated and overvalued. For my money, motivation can suck it.

Races are fun and I love helping someone achieve their race goals – but races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!

Races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail
on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!

You see, when you have a race on the calendar, you usually also have a training plan for that race. That training plan involves a concrete workout for most days of the week. This forces you to make room in your schedule to get said workout done. And that right there is the magic. At that point, motivation can go hang – because you have a plan!

The workouts are on your schedule and therefore you get them done. And you know what, you can do this even when you don’t have a race to train for! WHAT?!?!? I know right?

So, I am not saying that you need to stop racing (if you enjoy it) but you do need to give credit where credit is due. The plan is the real hero here, not the race, not some magical motivation imp sprinkling “you love to exercise” dust on you as you sleep, not even your goal of achieving and new personal best finishing time.

It’s not the race – it’s the plan.

If you enjoy this type of out of the (crossfit) box thinking, you might want to check out the mindset, lifestyle, and habit forming program I run with Monica Reinagel over at Weighless.Life. Or join our free Facebook group.

Dec 22 – I am grateful for…

  1. The opportunity to watch a bald eagle relaxing on a tree near our house while making up stories about how excited the other birds in the neighbourhood to have her visit.
  2. Knowing that my sister trusts and respects me the way that I trust and respect her.
  3. Possessing a demeanour that allows me to be approachable but worth listening to (I helped a kid at the gym today and I don’t think he wrote me off as “some bossy old guy”).

The Strut – Workout of the Week #44

Walking home from the grocery store, in the rain, carrying everything on my back, I decided to add a little extra movement to my day.

No need to change clothes or set any time aside. Just some extra movement tossed in to challenge my balance, leg strength, proprioception and coordination.

Don’t tell me you don’t have time to exercise 😉