Monday, August 10, 2009

Running On Accountability

Running On Accountability :

If you were to ask any of my clients they would probably tell you that the past few weeks I have been a little extra sharp. They might say that my words were at times excessively harsh and maybe the workouts slightly too demanding. After debating this issue with a few clients I decided to explain myself with both personal training and group clients in the form of an "Accountability Meeting".
The need for this was obvious in the way we all were acting towards our health and training. I had noticed that it just seemed like there was a collective stall that had occurred and almost everyone had lost sight or track of their goals. This derailment was obvious in the way clients had started showing up later and later, putting weight back on, and just unable or unwilling to push it to the limit while training. I needed to put the brakes on this and do it fast! So the meeting put several key demands on my clients and myself.

1. Show up ready to go and give it your all! We all have great, good, and not so good days but regardless 100% for that day is always available. It may mean that one day a person can run all the way to the top floor without stopping and then another day that same person can only make it to the 3rd floor but it will still be the best they can do.

2. Each week we have to find ways to get 8+ hours of cardio in. This doesn't include every minute of my class or any other class or dvd. What I and 100's of professionals in the business see as cardio is the period of exercise where you SUSTAIN a target heart rate for X amount of minutes. After training for bike races and such for all these years I learned that while a proper warm-up and cool down is great, it really isn't correct to count this as part of the workout. So lets take the average spinning class, I have instructed these before so I feel comfortable breaking it down.

Average Spinning Class is scheduled for a 1hr block at a gym.

5 minutes for setup and allow for everyone to arrive

5-10 minute warm-up

35-40 minutes of actual cardio which is most of the time anaerobic

5-10 minute cool down

So in reality there is really only a 35-40 minute period where you are actually in that "pure" cardio zone. To the left you can see a basic chart of heart rate/exercise zones. Simply put Anaerobic exercise burns up the quick energy stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen or sugar if you will. This is easy access, quick burning energy that comes from eating simple sugars carbohydrates etc. Staying in this zone burns up your glycogen storage's and your body likes this zone, it's easy to convert this fuel into energy and it's easy to replace. The primitive part of the body and it's physiology is set up to use Anaerobic "exercise" zones to fuel flight or fight situations, think of the Gazelle and the Cheetah.

This fuel is available but it doesn't last long and like the chase it will generally end in life or death after a short period of time. So at the end of a primarily anaerobic workout you feel exhausted, throw a few high fives around and head home. The only problem is that the first meal you sit down too after that workout is most likely going to replace all that simple fuel you just burned off! So that's why I think classes such as mine or anyone's are great for general fitness and core strength but mean little to turning on those fat burners. I won't even compare the average dvd workout since those things are CRAP! and I will save my breakdown of those for a later blog.

In the chart above it's surprising to see that most fat burning occurs at a relatively low heart rate. This is a slow burn that only occurs with a constant steady pace along with a constant regulated heart rate. This physiology comes from back in the days of our wandering/gathering ancestors and the need for efficient fuel for long days of looking for food and going long periods without. Lets face it, the instinct for us all is to over eat and conserve energy by relaxing. This life would be great but in excess it leads to what we all are struggling with each day. The urge to eat way too much and in turn do way too little exercise. So that brings me up to point/challenge number three.

3. Let's all, including myself, keep a log of what we eat and the type and duration of exercise we participate in for a week. Counting calories will come later but this first week is to establish the habit of recalling and being honest about what is happening each day. Everything does count, it doesn't matter if it's a diet coke or a piece of candy, it matters. A well kept exercise/food diary is one of the constants I see with all my clients that are successful.

Anyone who trains with me knows that I work with my clients. I work with them when it comes to their budgets and I work with them when it comes to their schedules and goals. One of the biggest insults as a trainer is to take a huge hit in the pocket to get someone through the door and then in return they show their gratitude by not showing up on time, constantly rescheduling, no showing, and most importantly not taking the experience seriously. When I sit down and justify a "good deal" I think well "if this person is successful and reaches their goals, they will tell friends and bring me more business". This strategy only works in the client is 1. successful 2. encourages their friends. So in the end my clients are walking/running/cycling advertisements for my business and when they fail they are walking advertisement of my failure. There are several things have to take place in this situation, I have to find out where the breakdown is occurring and fix it. I feel that in this situation the breakdown is occurring in accountability. Accountability in both directions, I have become tolerant and maybe to kind in my expectations and in return my clients have put the bar up so low it's impossible to see positive changes. So I hope that turning over this new leaf in accountability will have a positive turn for all of us.
So that brings up the "Running On Accountability" theme of this blog. I never expect anything of anyone else that I am not willing to do myself. Last night is a prime example of what I am talking about. Over the last 3 months I have ran every day without fail for 40-90 minutes sometimes more. I might incorporate cycling or some other activity in my workouts but the running is always there. I think running/walking is something everyone for the most part can do and by finding time everyday to fit it in I am leading by example. I understand that not everyone can go ride a bike for 80 miles on a Tuesday but certainly you can fit a 40 minute walk/run into each day, so I do it!
This past weekend was the weekend before my sons 6th birthday and time was extremely limited for exercise. I went on a bike ride yesterday afternoon but after spending most of the morning/afternoon hunting down one final gift for him I missed out on the chance to run. I spent the evening with him playing Wii and had a blast but the thought of missing that run was weighing on my mind. I thought "oh shut up you did ride so your not being a total bumb" but then the thoughts of all the comments about accountability I have made to my clients kept coming up. "You can make time" or "you can find time it's there" and "if you have to get up at 5a.m. to do it, well what are you waiting for, no excuses!", echoed in my head over and over. So after getting home I headed out the door at 11:05 p.m. to get in that run. I am not going to say that I didn't find being out there so late to be crazy a few times but with each step I felt better. Then half way through the run I met another guy running in the other direction and for that brief second under the street lights of Ridge Avenue we acknowledge one another in this sweaty labor breath "Hello" and right there I knew I was doing the right thing. We all struggle with the same challenges but deal with them in different ways. The main thing we all have to do is seperate the reasons from the excuses and get off our butts and get out and do it.

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