Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Home Workout Tips For Stay-At-Home Mums

Speak to most stay-at-home mums and you're bound to get the idea that MANY (if not most) have already given up on their dream of being able to fit in a regular exercise program into their weekly schedule, let alone attain a figure that is Lean, Toned and Attractive

Indeed, having had the privilege and opportunity to work with many such home-based mums here in Singapore over the years (in my capacity as a Private Home Personal Trainer), and having observed - first-hand - my wife's own stay-at-home child-care experience in the early formative years of my 2 kids, I can attest to the fact that it can indeed be a real challenge for many stay-home mums to even THINK of exercise, let alone DO it, when faced with the myriad of tasks they confront on a daily basis.

Challenges Facing A Housewife
Just think about this - the chores that every stay-at-home mum inevitably faces one day or another include: doing up the laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, vacuuming the house, washing the bathrooms, preparing meals for the family, chasing the kids around, picking up after them, putting them to bed, waking them up for school, getting them dressed, sending them off to school, and then shuttling them off to tuition, swimming lessons, piano lessons, ballet lessons and other enrichment activities etc etc (just listing out all these is already TIRING in itself!!) - on top of a whole host of other motherly duties and nitty-gritty stuff, and then hoping to squeeze in some exercise time!!??

No wonder many stay-home-mums have the view that regular exercise is a LUXURY, if not a near IMPOSSIBLE dream!

Thus, I have written the following tips with the hope that they can offer some solace and help to each and every self-sacrificing, but oft-too-busy mum out there.

Hopefully, with these tips, you'll be able to FREE yourself to experience - first-hand - the liberating effects of regular exercise and its manifold benefits:

Enjoy The Many Benefits Of Exercising At Home

1) Schedule TIME For Exercise

Like any other worthwhile pursuit in life, exercise is something that we simply have to PLAN for. Otherwise, it'll be squeezed out of our daily schedule before we even know it! The most successful exercise-mums that I know of - consciously SET ASIDE or even BLOCK OUT time slots for their personal exercise time. It can be as easy as just setting aside short 15-minute time slots thrice-a week for a start. Once you get the hang of it, and exercise becomes a habit, slowly start increasing the exercise duration, followed by its frequency. 

2) Put Yourself Into The MOOD

One of the strategies that I've learnt from a former client of mine is to get yourself into the mood for exercise the very FIRST THING in the day. For her, this means getting into her workout gear once she's up from bed, and then keeping it on UNTIL she's done with her exercise for the day! The act of wearing the workout attire acts as a "uniform" for her, not only reminding her of  her "appointment" with exercise, but also serves to 'psyche her up' for the workout to come! 

3) Create The Necessary SPACE

In most homes, the most practical workout space is the Living Room. Even if it's currently cluttered with furniture, knick knacks and scattered with your children's many unwanted toys; with just a little forward planning and physical shifting (which can actually serve as a good pre-workout warm-up, by the way), sufficient space can be created - in mere minutes - for a one-person workout area. Of course, you don't really have to limit yourself to the living area. Any space within your home that is feasible or practical - such as the garage, balcony, attic, garden etc - can also be converted into your very own 'personal home gym'. 

4) Keep It SIMPLE

FORGET about multi-station machines,weight racks, home treadmills or even stationary bikes; most stay-home mums I know - will NEVER EVER contemplate having these stuff in their homes, let alone use them!! To be honest, the only training tool you ever need is your own Body-Weight! However, if you really insist on having some gear - then a Medicine Ball, or a couple of Resistance Bands, and a Skipping Rope and your surrounding home furniture will more than suffice for most stay-home mums.

Regardless whether you intend to workout with just your bodyweight, or with the help of simple functional fitness tools as listed above, try to stick to the following recommendation:

A) Pick ONE each of the following Compound or Multi-Joint Movement Variations and do them in a CIRCUIT Training Style, each movement lasting about 30-40 seconds:
  • Squat Variations (eg. Standard Squats, Split Squats, Squat Jumps etc)
  • Hinge Variations (eg. Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Hip Thrusts etc)
  • Push Variations (eg. Dips, Push-Ups, Overhead Presses etc)
  • Pull Variations (eg. Inverted Rows, Upright Rows, Pull-Ups etc)
  • Rotate Variations (eg. Haybalers, Russian Twists, Rotational Lunges etc)
and then finish off the circuit with

B) ONE of the following Full-Body or Total Body Movement Drills to failure :
  • Burpees
  • Reverse Burpees
  • Swings (with medicine ball or haversack)
  • Chops (with medicine ball or haversack)
  • Rope-Jumping
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Skiers
  • Skaters
Depending on your fitness level, aim to perform 1-3 rounds of the above circuit.

Do also try to mix-and-match the above movements in as many different combinations as you can so as to create variety in your workouts, and to keep your body and mind stimulated each time you exercise! 

5) INCLUDE Your Kids 

For some stay-home mums, it might be near-to-impossible to workout in the absence of their kids. In such a scenario, try including your kids into your workout, instead of fretting over their presence. Try simple 'tricks' like: issuing a mini-challenge or a friendly competition (eg. "... let's see how many squats you can do, in the time I take to complete mine"), using active distractions (eg. "... see this skipping rope? Let's see how many rounds you can get in by the time I complete my workout") or even using them as dynamic resistance - especially if you have toddlers and kinder-aged kids; you can use your kids' actual body weight as resistance in movements like: lying chest presses, cleans, swings, overhead presses etc. (But please watch out for the ceiling fan, OK?) In the process, you kill 2 birds with one stone: your kids have FUN and LOVE you for it, while you get to do your workout. Sweet! 

6) Get HELP

Sometimes, despite your very best efforts, there will be days where things simply DON'T work out - whether it's an overly-clingy child, a broken down washing machine, or any other unexpected emergency. When faced with such situations, it's time to get HELP.

Rope in anyone you can think of - your next-door neighbour, your BFF, your mum, your in-laws, and of course, your spouse - and get them to help you out for that particular chore or area of need - just so that you can get your exercise done at the very least.

In such times, an extra pair of hands makes a world of difference! 

7) Just Do IT

Finally, all the advice in this world will be as good as NOUGHT, if you simply refuse to believe that you CAN make regular exercise a part of your life.

Tell yourself - once and for all - that you WILL commit yourself to regular exercise, and you WILL find a way to do it - come hell or high water.

Then like any bona fide stay-at-home mum would say (and do), just roll up your sleeves, dig-in and get down to it.

P.S. 

The above advice should be more than enough to get you started and raving to go.  

However, if for some reason, you still find yourself struggling to get started, or feel you need more advice, motivation, ideas or even supervision, feel free to get in touch with me. I'll see how I can be of help to you.

You may reach me at www.Body-By-Rick.com or at 96609457.

All the BEST!!

Yours Sincerely,
Rick Wong

Friday, July 29, 2016

Random Thoughts On Life, Fitness, Training, And More ...

It truly never ceases to amaze me how fast time really flies. By all accounts, 2016 has been a pretty eventful (and rough) year so far: with the spread of the Zika Virus across South America, the exit of Britain from the EU, and of course, the unprecedented spate of terrorist attacks across France, Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq etc ....

Here in Singapore, we can count ourselves pretty fortunate - being shielded from the bulk of the ills facing our world. However, as part of the vast humanity at large - nonetheless, we can't help but be affected still - in one way or another - by the spill-over effects of the above.

Truly, in such volatile and turbulent times as now, I - like many others - have been trying hard to make sense of what's really happening around us, while going about my daily life as a Husband, a Father, a Son, a Business Owner and a Fitness Professional.

Cozying up to the love of my life - my wife, Shirley.
So much so that in spite of the increasing responsibilities and commitments that I find myself encompassed with, I do realize - more than ever before - that I have been actively contemplating and reflecting upon the various issues in and around me.

The following are just some of the very random and personal thoughts that have popped into my mind this past week as I ponder upon the many affairs that pertain to our world, to life, fitness, training and more ....  

1) We need Love, Understanding & Compassion - more than ever before in our world today.

2) Always seek to live LIFE to the fullest.

3) CHERISH those around us because they will not always be around.

4) Sometimes the best thing to do is simply to Let Go and Let GOD.  

5) Love what you do, and do what you Love.

6) Educate, don't just teach (or preach).

7) Integrate, NOT isolate.

8) Train movements, not muscles.

9) Be Real. Be Yourself.

10) Exercise is BOTH a Science & an Art - learn to blend both together.

11) You Are (Really) What You Eat.

12)  One is NEVER Too Old or Too Young to start exercising.

13) Master Bodyweight Training - so you have no excuses not to workout anymore!

14)  Variety is the spice of life (and training).

15)  If you don't like what you see in the mirror, WORK on it!

16)  You LOSE what you don't USE.

17) Think FAT LOSS, not weight loss.

18) Learn to have FUN!

19) It's OK to have an Off-Day. Don't beat yourself up. Get up, get over it and KEEP GOING!

20)  Don't compare yourself to others. We're all DIFFERENT!

21)  ANY exercise is better than no exercise.

22) Train FUNCTIONALLY - and the aesthetics department will take care of itself.

23)  Poor lifestyle choices will OVERRIDE even the best training program in the world.

24) DON'T even think of adding resistance until you have learnt to manage your own bodyweight.

25) All the technology in the world can NEVER fully-replace the Human Presence & Touch - whether it's in the classroom, in the workplace, or even in the realm of exercise and personal training.

26) Seek Balance & Moderation - in all areas of life!

27) Keep Things SIMPLE - whether it's in training, eating, or even day-to-day living.

28)  Prioritize Sleep, Rest & Recovery!

29) Learn to FORGIVE and FORGET.

30) Above all things, Trust in GOD.

Chilling out with the kids

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hard Truths About Personal Trainers And The Fitness Industry

As a practising personal trainer and owner of a personal training business here in Singapore, I've been asked many times what it means and how it feels being part of the fitness community at large.

Well, I can't speak on behalf of every single trainer or coach here in the country - as there are simply so many different trainers, contrasting training approaches, varied fitness niches, and diversification of fitness services across the industry today.

More importantly, I'm sure every single trainer/coach out there would have his/her own personal and unique views regarding the profession too.

Thus, for the purpose of this blog post, I would rather focus on what I - or rather, WE, of the personal training industry - are NOT.

The following represents some of the most commonly-held myths and misconceptions about us - trainers and coaches - and my personal take on these issues, as well as the "hard truths" behind many of these assumptions:

1) We Are NOT "Know-It-Alls".


Contrary to common portrayal, the majority of personal trainers are NOT arrogant, loud-mouthed, "Know-It-Alls" - often too eager to impose their training ideas and opinions on every poor soul unfortunate enough to cross their paths!!

In truth, with the massive and constant flow of information on exercise, nutrition and training being churned out from sports laboratories and exercise institutions from around the world, it takes a brave (and extremely foolhardy) soul to claim to know EVERYTHING there is to know about fitness and training.

Simply put, there is absolutely NO way that any trainer or coach  - myself included - can boast to have ALL the necessary answers and information at our fingertips ALL the time!

To be fair, many of us DO try our very best to keep up-to-date with our profession and industry via the following means: subscribing to scientific exercise journals, joining professional fitness associations, attending seminars, workshops, conventions etc etc. Not to mention, the hefty time and monetary investments that we constantly put into continuing education and the pursuit of advanced/specialized credentials - all in the name of bettering ourselves and being able to serve our clients more optimally.

However, to expect us somehow to know EVERYTHING and ANYTHING under the sun about fitness or exercise or nutrition, and at the mere snap of one's fingers - is perhaps asking too much from us .......

Personally, having been involved in health and fitness for almost 20 years, and having committed myself to being a lifelong learner, I still feel humbled by the fact that the more I read and study about fitness and its related subjects, the more I realize that there is still so much more to learn about ......

2) We Are NOT Perfect Physical Specimens Ourselves.

In case you are still unaware, the majority of personal trainers and fitness coaches out there simply do NOT look like Greek Gods/Goddesses or Cover Page Models.

In fact, most of us DON'T even walk around with 5% Body Fat Percentages or even possess "Six-Pack-Abs" year-round!!!

Bearing in mind that our physiques are often a result of our own sporting backgrounds, exercise choices, genetic makeups, competitive schedules/cycles, training philosophies etc - it should be no surprise that we - fitness professionals - come in ALL Shapes and Sizes!!

Add to that, like everybody else, we are NOT robots but HUMANS - each with our own share of fitness struggles and health concerns -  including, but not limited to: current/past training injuries, structural dysfunctions, muscular imbalances and even existing medical conditions - all of which contribute greatly to our eventual physical make-up.

Taking myself as an example, being of relatively small Asian build, coupled with a high metabolic rate (which could both be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it), and a strong inclination to train functionally with my own body-weight - have all predisposed me to a physique that is more lean- and athletic-looking rather than one that is Heavily-Muscled and/or Herculean in nature (not that I would mind at all, to be honest :)) Add to that, past training injuries, existing dysfunctions/imbalances and personal lifestyle choices have all also played a part in how my body shape has evolved over the years ........

3) We are NOT All About Fitness And Nothing Else!

Contrary to popular opinion, we - Personal Trainers and Fitness Professionals - are NOT all Fitness Fanatics, with absolutely NO Life outside of fitness; and who choose to do NOTHING else but eat, sleep and breathe fitness 24/7.

In reality, most fitness trainers and coaches - like myself - have families and loved ones that we can't wait to spend time with, as well as our very own social life and interest - OUTSIDE of fitness.

For me, seeking BALANCE between the different aspects of my life have always been my main priority and challenge all these years, and that's why even with increasing business commitments, I have always made it a point to have blocked-out time-slots in my weekly schedule to allow me to LIVE MY LIFE - to do things that I truly enjoy, like: "dating" my wife, spending time with my kids, working out, getting close to Nature, doing some Quiet Reading, or simply indulging in any other pastime that fancies me at that moment ............

4) We are NOT Sadists Seeking To Push You Till You Throw-Up Or Pass-Out!

Recent fitness trends, exercise fads and media hype have unfortunately added to the misconception that a personal trainer's job is to push you over and beyond your limits - such that you either: 1) collapse from sheer exhaustion during your workout, 2) puke uncontrollably in the midst/at the end of your workout, and/or 3) ending-up so sore that you can hardly move a limb for a week!

 Add to that, out-dated and extreme fitness cliches like: "No Pain No Gain""Go Hard Or Go Home""Train Till You Drop" etc etc and you can see why so many people equate personal training with torture, abuse and sadomasochism!

Fortunately, the truth is far from the above. I can safely say that the majority of legitimate and qualified trainers and coaches out there do NOT subscribe to such extreme or drastic training measures. In fact, most fitness authorities and experts have unreservedly stated that such drastic and extreme training methods are not only scientifically UNSOUND, but also extremely UNSAFE!!

From a professional point of view, I believe that proper exercise programming should always have SAFETY as its Number One Priority. It should also follow a logical sequence of PROGRESSION (in terms of scaling difficulty levels) and then finally, only if  there are NO existing medical concerns, contraindications or complications - then the program should also seek to actively CHALLENGE the individual - albeit always WITHIN that person's capabilities and limits - so as to elicit positive adaptations in the body. 

Certainly, NO sound or proper fitness program should ever seek to push you BEYOND your limits (nor even to the point of vomit-inducing) - just in the name of fitness or training!!!

5) We Are NOT Miracle Workers!


Sadly, in this age and time, there are still people out there who believe that simply by engaging a personal trainer or fitness coach gives them a FREE PASS to a fabulous body and/or supreme fitness!

Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but that's NOT how life works!!!

The TRUTH is this: If you DON'T do your part - Nobody, and I mean NOBODY - can help you achieve that Ideal Body or Fitness of yours !

If one has been in this profession long enough, most personal trainers - including myself - would have come across the following types of clients - time and again:

- those who NEVER do their prescribed exercises or "homework" outside of supervised sessions,
- those who persistently FAIL to adhere to recommended dietary/nutritional practices,
- those who stubbornly REFUSE to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, and
- those who are always coming up with EXCUSES of one kind or another for their lack of progress and/or commitment ......

Please remember:  

A Personal Trainer is NOT a Miracle Worker! He/She CANNOT change you, if you are NOT willing to put in the required effort to change yourself!!

As Jim Rohn once said: "You must take Personal Responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change YOURSELF."

With the above account, I hope I have finally set the record straight - once and for all - on what we - personal trainers - are and are not.

Hopefully, these "hard truths" have given you some food for thought, and also, a deeper insight into the Life, Joy, Pain and Frustrations of every personal trainer and fitness coach out here on Planet Earth!