Friday, October 16, 2015


I used to be a software developer.  Systems engineer, code monkey, solutions developer, software analyst, my title had many names.

15 Years ago that was one of my biggest wishes:  to be a software developer.  To write code and make a difference to the computers and companies of this world.  My second biggest wish was to earn enough money to drive a BMW.  To me a BMW was one of the sexiest cars around.  I stuck a large photo of a BMW on my office wall, and worked day and night to achieve my dreams:  I taught myself basic computer code, picked the brains of those who were already experienced, made a pain and an arse out of myself, multiple times.  All so I could reach my dream.

And reach it I did.  One day I was presented with an award for best software development.  I was in awe, I was thrilled.  I had made it.  Soon after I could afford to buy a BMW.
I never bought my BMW:  by now I lived in South Africa.  And in those years a BMW was the most hi-jacked car in town.  In other words, far too dangerous to drive.  I bought a little Toyota instead.

Time went by, and I learned to hate the office politics around software projects.  I became unhappy, started comfort eating, became fat.

And one day a colleague asked me:  what would you like to do if you don’t want to do this anymore?  And I replied:  I want to own a gym.  He smiled, I smiled.  A crazy idea, totally impossible, you would need a lot of money to even start a gym, and no bank would lend me those funds.

But, a little voice said inside of me, why would it cost so much money?  You don’t really need expensive exercise machines, all you need is the money to study and become a qualified personal trainer.  So I qualified, and used my last $10 to buy a boxing bag on Trade Me.  Hung this boxing bag from the rafters, and placed an ad to let people know I was there for them.  A software analyst who was ready to analyse people and exercise.

And people responded, they came to see me and said:  please train me.  Over time more and more people said hey, I like your style, can you train me too?  Eventually I had too many people, and I opened a second fitness studio.  I developed a reputation, even more people came.  These days I have a waiting list of people.  Because I had a dream, I believed in myself, and that belief was recognised by others.

If anyone ever tells you something is impossible smile politely.  Then start thinking of a way to make it possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My confession

It is time I’m honest with you:  there is something I do you may not be aware of.  Because if you were you would most probably be shocked.  Or disgusted.  Or amused.  Or all of the above.

I do MMA training.  Big deal you might say, a lot of young men do this type of training.  It makes them fit and strong, and increases their self confidence.  Except, I am not a man.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not young either, it will not be too long before I celebrate my “half century”.

I am a middle aged female who does MMA training.  No, I do not compete, competition is simply not for me.  But I do the full contact fight training.  You might say that doesn’t count, it only counts if you compete and you are a champion.  But I think you are wrong.  Unless you have done this type of training you cannot judge it.  It is full on, and you need to be strong and tough.  Mentally and physically.

For those of you who don’t know what MMA is:  MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts.  Also referred to on tv as UFC.  It is a mixture of kickboxing, judo and ji-jitsu.  Your goal is to get your opponent on the ground, then submit them.

My mother is absolutely horrified I chose this sport to train in.  All her life she has tried her best to teach me knitting.  And crocheting. And cooking and baking.  Only to find her precious daughter can be a violent, aggressive creature who chooses to fight her way out of a difficult situation.  Not debate or politics, but hard fists.

But let me tell you a secret:  I have never received more respect or friendship than I do in the harsh world of MMA.  When you fight against someone and give it your all you expose your soul.  They will see your good side, and your bad one.  Your weaknesses are quickly exposed, as are your strengths.  When you throw all your strength and stamina into a round you can’t hide.  Everything you are is right out there for the world to see.  And that is a humbling experience, one that causes a tight bond between you and your training partners.

So the next time you watch a champion MMA fighter on tv or in real life, know this:  they have trained 6 days a week, 4 hours a day to be the best they can be.  All so you can be entertained, and they can prove to the world that their spirit is the strongest.  Because it is survival of the fittest after all…

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Winter is coming

Game of Thrones fans will know what I mean when I say:  winter is coming.  But when I say winter is coming the meaning is a lot more sinister than a bunch of wussy white walkers.

You see, I have Raynauds.  It is an auto immune condition that doesn’t just sound weird, it IS weird.  It was discovered by a French physician in the 1800’s so it has been with us for a very long time.  The cause is unknown, and all it means is this:  I am allergic to cold.  Yes you heard right, at the age of 47 I developed a severe reaction to cold weather.  Bummer, I guess New Zealand was the wrong country to move to… when placed in cold conditions my blood circulation comes to a stop.  My body revolts and reckons hell, who needs circulation anyway, it is over rated.

When this happens my hands and feet change colour in a spectacular way:  my fingers will be snow white, my knuckles purple, and the rest of my hand bright red.  I use it to scare the neighbour’s kids whenever they stray onto our property.  If I don’t get into warm surroundings it will spread to my toes, they go black and be so painful that I could swear they are about to fall off.

Should I still ignore these warning signs I will become nauseous.  The blood vessels to my stomach will shut down, and rolling waves of nausea are my reward.  Next step is the slowing down of my thinking, brain freeze is the real deal here, and I struggle to remember my name.  Yeah, that is my excuse anyway.  Normally a sure sign to find a warm spot somewhere.

For a long time I felt very alone with this condition:  most people I speak to have never heard of Raynauds.  Allergic to cold?  What are you, a freak?  Yet as time went by more and more people contacted me to let me know they too suffer the same discomfort.  Imagine spending most of your winter feeling nauseous, weak, and your toes and fingers in pain.  Lucky for me we have inventions like puffer jackets, heat pumps and alcohol.  They all do a great job of making me feel more comfortable.

I practice combat sports where bare feet are expected.  Not a problem, we have a solution for that as well:  my kickboxing trainer allows me to keep my shoes on in practice, and in ji-jitsu I can keep my socks on.  I wear thermal socks that are normally used in sea kayaking, and possum gloves for my fingers.  Three layers of thermal or a puffer jacket for the rest of my body, sorted.

Raynauds can be managed, and a semi-normal life lived in winter.  I may look like the abominable snowman but I’m warm and happy!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Putting the pause back into men

There are a lot of things that people don’t talk about in perceived polite company:  sex, puberty, going bald, etc.  Taboo subjects best ignored.  But did you know that the quickest way to clear a room full of men is to loudly mention the word “menopause”?

That little word makes eyes go round, faces go red, and many a man will look for the nearest exit.  Why that is I have never fully understood.  The average male will be happy to talk about sex, so what is the taboo around menopause?  Because all it is boys, it’s another hormonal phase in a woman’s life.  It will happen to your wife or girlfriend or daughter whether you like it or not.

And don’t think as a male you are exempt.  Even men are affected by this menopause.  Yeah no kidding.  Men call it their midlife crisis, we call it MANopause.  You become restless and irritable, and start longing for the good old days.  Maybe buy a Harley Davidson or sports car to prove you are not affected.

For a woman this part of her life is very important.  It signals the end of her reproductive years.  Just the thought of it can cause regret and depression in women who never managed to reproduce.  It is also the cause for hot flushes, dry skin, and yes you guessed it, weight gain.  When menopause comes to get you it will pad your hips, your bum and sometimes your stomach.  Your metabolism slows down, and suddenly losing weight is no longer as easy as it was 20 years ago.

The only thing that accelerates is hair growth.  Girls, you will grow hair in places you never even dreamt of.  And this hair grows at a pace that would put Usain Bolt to shame.  You will experience hot flushes but I find them quite nice in winter, it keeps me warm when the frost is biting.

I have been wrestling with menopause for the past 3 years.  I started a bit early, and that is ok with me.  And have found that the fitter I am, the less it affects me.  Take a break from training and hot flushes will be haunting me every night.  Stay as fit as I can possibly be and I hardly notice the difference.

I have had to change my diet.  More vegetables, less snacking, watch my alcohol consumption.  Because no matter how hard I train my body is determined I gain a bit of weight.  Short of starvation that is exactly what is going to happen, and I’ve made peace with it.

I will continue to take this world by storm, menopause or no menopause.  So boys, next time you hear this magic word stick around and listen, you might learn something!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Do you have culture?

Everybody has a weakness.  And I’m no exception:  I love cheese, I LUV yoghurt.

I’m in my element at a cheese and wine party.  But even more so when it comes to yoghurt:  creamy yummy yoghurt with strawberries, or lemon, or honey.  I use yoghurt as a quick “in between” snack, or as a pudding at the end of a meal.

Wow, you may think, she really does eat healthy.  So before you think that, STOP.  I went to the store last week, and found a whole new range of yoghurt’s on display.  They looked great, the container screamed “buy me”, the text on the packaging claimed you could not get healthier, eat this yoghurt and you will find eternal youth.

I picked up the container and read the ingredients.  And came to one shocking conclusion:  there was not one item, that’s right, not ONE item, that was natural.  I was looking at a long list of preservatives, thickening agents, stabilizers, citric acid, you name it.  I realised I was no longer looking at yoghurt but a chemical shit storm.  Am I disappointed?  Very.  The packaging made you believe this product is healthy whereas in reality it is anything but.

The next time you by something that claims it is healthy do yourself a favour, and look at the list of ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce the list, or it contains only numbers (those are preservatives), ditch the product!  If the ingredients are not natural, neither is the product.  Eating it will probably cause all kinds of allergic and/or auto immune reactions.
Which brings me to my next suggestion:  do you really want to eat something that is in a package?  Because that means it has been made in a factory.  And factories never contain good wholesome-ness.  What would happen if you ate products that were alive at some stage?  Like vegetables, chicken, beef, pork.  I tell you what would happen if you ate those products, and this is based on experience over the years:  you would get more energy, don’t feel the urge to snack as often, your stamina will increase tenfold.

So folks, let’s ditch the packaging and go back to the “good old days”.  The times when people cooked meals from raw products, and the only container in sight was a milk carton.  We live in a quick fix and “have no time” society, but if you don’t have time to eat healthy then you will have to make time to die.  Which would you prefer?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

That's Life

Life in my little household has been a bit hectic lately:  hubby has been in and out of heart hospital, he’s had insulin dependent diabetes for most of his life through unfortunate genetics, and it has not been kind to him.  Some of my friends are battling parkinsons and cancer, and my loving cat Brutus will visit the vet this week, suspected kidney failure.

There is plenty to keep me busy but is also reminds me that you should never take anything for granted.  Not ever.  Because the things you love can be taken away from you faster than you can blink.  And this includes your health.  People have lost money and homes, and recovered.  But once you lose your health you will have lost everything.
And this very thought takes me to something I see every day:  the main Basic Orange studio in Queens Drive is right behind McDonalds.  I drive past most mornings at 8 am, and the queue of cars waiting for a Maccas takeaway is almost spilling over on the street.  Every day.  And let me mention the “lady” who drove out of McDonalds the other day in her oversized car.  Big girl.  Almost ran over a pedestrian because she was so busy shoving hot chips into her mouth.  Then turned around and gave another handful to her toddler strapped in the back seat.  If you are reading this and know you are that person, I hope you are ashamed of yourself.  It is one thing messing up your own health, that is your choice, but to also mess up the health of your child?  Criminal.

I know this does not apply to you, you don’t visit Maccas and have a good diet and exercise plan.  Right?  But pretend for one moment this was not the case:  you DO visit fast food places on a regular basis, you are overweight, and couldn’t care less about exercising.  It will not be long before you become sick as well.  You could get diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, the list is endless.  But it will be something.

Not a big deal I hear you say.  We have medication, good hospitals, kinda-free health care.  But you forget that a condition like diabetes (or cholesterol, or high blood pressure, or obesity) accumulates over time.  Before you know it you will have lost your vision.  Maybe an arm or a leg, people with diabetes don’t have the best circulation in town.  Next to fail will be your heart, and the rest of your organs don’t want to miss out, they will not be far behind.

The point I’m trying to make here?  My husband had no choice about his diabetes, fate decided for him.  But you, you do have a choice.  Do you want to end up a sick person because you were too lazy to exercise, or do you want to live your life to the full?

I know that should you become ill you will follow a healthier diet and exercise regime.  You have no choice.  But why wait until you reach that stage?  What did you say?  Because it will never happen to you?  Yeah right, join the queue, it’s a long one.  Never, ever take your health for granted.  Take care of yourself now, for soon it will be too late.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Are you comfortable?

I have a large poster on the wall in my Queens Drive studio.  It is a photo of me getting whacked in the kickboxing ring during one of my training sessions.  The heading on this poster reads:  if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Wise words.  If I was paid a dollar for every person in a large commercial gym that works out within their comfort zone I would be a rich girl.  You know who I’m talking about:  the people who read a book on the bike or treadmill, the people who hardly work up a sweat and hog machines while texting on their phone.

If you are one of those people who go to the gym every day and amble along comfortably you will probably know what I’m talking about.  Have you reached your goal yet.  It doesn’t matter if your goal is weight loss, or strength, or fitness.  My question is, have you reached it yet?  Chances are you have been going at it for a year or more, and you still don’t see the results you were hoping for.

You see, this is where personal trainers come in.  They are trained professionals who know how to get the best out of you.  They spent a lot of time learning how your body (and mind) works, and they want to put that knowledge to good use.

And I will admit something to you, just don’t tell anyone:  I have my own personal trainer as well!  Without him I will simply amble along within that comfort zone of mine.  Most of the time.  I might not even find the gym in the first place because without that initial appointment I can find a million other things to do.  I run a full-on business after all, there is always something else to do that sounds like more fun.

So imagine I gave in to that temptation.  The temptation of doing anything but exercise.  I can predict what will happen.  Within 4 weeks I will lose my overall fitness.  After 8 weeks my muscle tone.  After 12 weeks my almost half century old body will show its age, and my stomach will grow. Boom, and right there you have an unfit, fat trainer.  Naturally slim?  Me?  Don’t you believe it, I have to work on it the same way you do.

So go on, you look comfortable.  Reach outside your comfort zone, and join me in a quest to improve your health.  Don’t expect your body to change if you don’t…

Friday, March 13, 2015

The F Word

Today I would like to talk about the F word.  The F word is recognised worldwide, in every language, every culture, and needs no introduction.  It is such an emotional word that parents teach their children not to use it.  Whole wars have been created over that one little word.

You guessed right: the new dirty F word.  FOOD.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for an overweight person to talk about their food habits?  Them telling you what they eat, how much they eat, how they eat, that stuff is personal.  Similar to stripping naked and parading in front of a large crowd.  A lot of my clients start sweating at the thought of a food talk.  So you know what?  Unless you want help with your food I will not talk about it.  It is THAT big.  When you are ready to talk about changing your food habits we will talk it through, but not before you are ready.

As most of you know, I have been overweight in the past.  And when someone asked me at the time what I ate I felt like running, punching them, pushing my head in the sand.  Anything but admit that I skipped breakfast.  Then ate the equivalent of a horse for lunch, a large chocolate muffin as a snack, a V drink to chase it down.  Have another large blueberry and chocolate muffin late afternoon, and made sure I had a large dinner.  After all, it is a very long time between dinner and breakfast, best be prepared.

My weight loss and change in body shape occurred only after I faced the truth:  I ate too much, I ate unhealthy, I was unhealthy.  And nobody likes to see that truth.  It is confronting, scary, out of your comfort zone.  But if you don’t change, nothing else will.  You will be left wishing for the rest of your life that you had a trim body, and you will continue hating those that are trim.

Do not hate the people that do have the body you are longing for.  Very few people are naturally trim and well built, there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes.  I always say people should not judge overweight people, you have no idea what their story is.  But trim people should not be judged either, you have no idea what they have gone through.  Trim people are simply people who completed their journey of healthy eating and exercising before you.  A very good reason for you to start now.

As a matter of fact, if you don’t start your journey now you will find your body quickly becomes your enemy.  There is no limit to the size of the human body.  Absolutely none.  If you continue eating too much and exercising too little you will grow.  And grow.  And grow.  Ever heard of people who had to be cut out of their own homes because they were too heavy to be moved? There is your proof right there.  Just in case you still have doubts.

Eat to live, don’t live to eat.  Sounds simple, but I know how hard it can be once you have fallen into bad habits.  My advice?  Change your habits one little step at a time.  Do not change them all at once, chances are you won’t make it.  But one small change every month, anyone can do that.  How about it?  Want to give it a go and see the rewards for yourself?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Relax in your slacks

Today my trainer said:  hey Claudia, did you write a blog this weekend?  If I didn’t know any better I’d think he actually enjoys reading them.  Or uses them as stalking material.  Either way I am happy to hear some people read my blogs, and give me a kick when I slow down a bit.  And before you ask:  what, the trainer has a personal trainer?  That’s right.  This trainer is the same as most human beings.  If I have a person waiting for me I’ll be there, raring to go to the best of my ability.  But if I don’t have anyone waiting for me I will always, always find something else to do.  That is why this world has personal trainers:  to keep you honest and motivated.

So I went home and looked at my cat.  “What should we write about”, I asked her.  She blinked, yawned and went back to sleep.  And that is when it hit me:  relaxation.  That little word everyone talks about it and very few achieve.

If we don’t relax we don’t sleep.  And if we don’t sleep we won’t get any work done, cause road accidents, develop ulcers and anxiety.  In short, if we don’t relax we are a mess.  Did you know that people who never relax actually gain weight due to the stress hormone cortisol?  As soon as your body is permanently stressed it starts piling on the pounds to ensure you have the energy to cope with this stressful situation.  You must remember that the body’s stress response was created for our greater good.  It was designed to protect you, to ensure we get enough of an adrenaline rush to get us out of trouble.

But our bodies were never designed to keep us out of trouble 24 x 7.  Adrenaline is constantly flooding our system now, and we are permanently in a fight or flight mode.  The manic pace of life and technology has ensured we never switch off, and the price we pay is anxiety, depression, illness and increased weight.

Yeah no kidding.  Increased weight.  When you are stressed you probably eat.  All.the.time.  So you rapidly gain weight.  And remember, your body does not have a weight gain limit.  It will keep growing for as long as you allow it to.  Unlimited.

Some of us don’t eat at all when we are stressed.  Now your body panics and decides to pile on weight.  After all, you are starving and it needs to protect you.  Right?  You can’t win, if you want to remain healthy and lose some weight in the process you better start managing that stress!

This is where we get to that other little word “exercise”.  You knew that was coming. Because everyone knows exercise releases stress.  A good sweat session is all you need to put you in a better mood, and any person suffering from depression will tell you exercise is a must in coping with their depression.

Then why do most people stop exercising when they are stressed or depressed?  Too hard, too much work, couldn’t be bothered they say.  I hear it daily, and I don’t understand it.  I know it can be hard to get out of bed, it can be hard to find your exercise mojo, we’ve all been there.  But if you KNOW exercise makes you feel better (and let’s face it, we all do know) why would you not do it?

Relax in your slacks.  Take a deep breath, get some sleep, and keep exercising.  When you exercise (and follow a decent diet) you can only move forward.  It is impossible to move backwards when you look after yourself, you can only continue to improve.  So why wouldn’t you huh??

Friday, February 20, 2015

Oh, how I wish to be sick

It has been a while since I wrote a blog.  Two weeks to be exact.

Part of the reason is the effort of running a business and looking after a husband with a dodgy heart, but part of it is de-motivation.  De-motivation of what you may ask.  The answer is simple:  I realised most people do not want to be healthy.  The average Joe Blog is happy to get sick and pay medical bills of thousands of dollars rather than prevent this sickness by doing a little thing called exercising.  And I built my entire business around showing people how to become healthy, it's what I do best.

The psychology fascinates me:  people will spend a lot of money on manicures, the hairdresser, massages, even a dog groomer (hopefully for their dogs) to make themselves feel better.  But when they look at me, a personal trainer, they make a big deal of telling me how expensive personal training is.  How they can’t afford it.  And oh, they don’t have time either, they are way too busy.  Too busy eating, too busy manicuring and pedicuring.  In short, exercise takes effort.  Pampering does not.  Pampering wins.

Unfortunately those are also the exact same people who will be most confused when they eventually fall ill.  Because sister, if you don’t look after your health you WILL get sick, whether you like it or not.  Your expensive hairdo and nails are not going to stop weight gain.  It will not stop diabetes.  It will definitely not stop the cold and flu.

Exercise.  That is what stops all those nasty things that will eventually bite you in the butt. Oh, I hear you say, I take the cheap road, I’ll go to the local gym and do my own thing.  Join a group class, walk on the treadmill while I read a book.  Fine with me.  But let me predict what can happen based on years of hard experience:

1. Your first month at the gym is great.  Everything is new, the instructors are cute, you are loving it.  Winter kicks in.  The days are dark and gloomy, and so is your will power.  You find one excuse after another not to hit the gym today.  Or tomorrow.  Or the day after.  In the meantime that gym is taking your money because you signed a contract, and let’s face it, they really really don’t care if you don’t show up.
2. You join a group class.  You love the vibe and energy, everyone around you is going flatout.  You don’t want to look stupid so decide to join the flatout gang.  But you forgot they have been doing it for a long time, and you have not.  You are too stiff to walk the next day, possibly injured.  You decide the pain is not worth it.
3. You don’t know how to use the machines at the gym.  They look so intimidating, you are convinced you need a degree in science to operate them.  You finally pluck up the courage and ask that cute instructor to help you.  They show you how to use the machines really quickly.  As in “let me show you how it works in 10 minutes”.  When you come back tomorrow you will have forgotten half the instructions.  So you feel stupid.  And feel everyone is watching you.  Believe me, they are.

After all that time you decide to spend money on a qualified and knowledgeable personal trainer.  Suddenly you see results (providing you listen to your trainer), and because your exercise is based on appointments you will show up.  Because bosses don’t cancel, right? You have a person who really cares waiting for you.  No more injuries, and there is variety in you exercises.  You realise McDonalds is no longer your friend, and your health improves by the day.  Imagine that…

My suggestion?  Stop imagining and spend your money on a personal trainer instead of a manicure.  Just book in for one session to see if you like the personalised attention, no contracts no fuss.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Real trainers

Thanks to “reality” shows (think Biggest Loser) a lot of people see personal trainers as yelling, oversized, intimidating bullies.  They see personal trainers as inhumane beings from outer space who are super fit and ready to conquer the world, hell bound on making you cry and suffer.  And humiliate you.  Don’t forget the humiliation.

Oh please.  These type of shows should be called “non reality” shows, or “let’s see how stupid you really are” shows.  Folks, a decent personal trainer does not go around yelling at you.  They won’t tell you how bad you are, how fat you are, or point fingers.  If they do, get rid of them.  Quickly.

The number of people who avoid me in a social environment because I’m a personal trainer can’t even be counted on the fingers of both hands.  When I eventually ask them what it is that scares them the word “Biggest Loser” pops up 98% of the time.  That oh so popular “reality” show succeeded in scaring people away from personal trainers in just a few months.  Wow, now that is what you call effective marketing…

The world “personal” says it all:  a personal trainer should be a qualified professional who is there for you, and you alone.  They are there to guide you.  To make sure you are motivated to turn up for an exercise session.  To make sure you do the best you can (all without yelling and calling you names).  To give you advice, and correct you if needed so you can exercise safely.

Did you know that qualified personal trainers spend years on their studies to ensure they are the best they can be?  They get to learn how the human body moves, how it is affected by injuries.  Yes we even learn how the mind is affected.  We spend hours and hours of our lives learning about you, often on top of full time jobs and families.  All so we can make sure you get the results you need, safely.  

The most common question I get from clients?  Hey Claudia, what did you do before you became just a trainer.  Just a trainer, I say.  It took many many hours of blood, sweat and tears to “just” become a trainer.  But thank you for asking, before I was just a trainer I was a software developer.  That little fact causes shock in most people.  You mean you gave up a lucrative career in IT to become a personal trainer?  Yes, that is exactly what I did.  It gives me far more satisfaction seeing people succeed in their individual goals than it is to hear someone complain about their computer software.

So the next time you meet a personal trainer, you know, “just” a trainer, spare a thought for the time that person spend away from their family to make sure you reach your fitness goals.  Safely and in one piece.  Then get your butt out there and exercise.  There is a reason this world needs personal trainers, and that reason is you:  you need motivation, dietary advice and safe exercising.  In a kind and supportive way of course, no yelling. Because without that exercise you will end up a weak, overweight and stressed out slob. Just saying…

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lessons from Leon

When I was at pre-school I met a boy called Leon.  We became best friends, inseparable. And when it was time to go to “the big school” we went together.  I spent my entire weekends at Leon’s place.  He lived far away from me, a good 30 kilometres, but I was a good cyclist, and always found an excuse to visit.  Leon’s mother was a single mother overflowing with kindness, and she was a great cook too.  My childhood memories are riddled with images of Leon and I playing superman, batman, wonder woman.  You name any super hero and we’ve done it.  And pancakes.  Lots of pancakes.

Slowly Leon and I moved towards our teenage years.  We cribbed homework, played pranks and still played super hero’s.  We became aware of the fact we were “different”. Awareness of boy and girl was growing, and one day I asked Leon:  what is different about you?  Leon, being the smarter of the two, had already figured this out, and said:  I’m not telling!  Wow, that was the wrong answer.  I remember shoving Leon into a corner of our school, and pulling his pants down.  Because surely any difference has to be down there! Yeah, I was right, the difference was right there.  Shock shock horror.

We turned 14.  My parents decided to emigrate to South Africa.  Leon laughed, said that in the future I will be married to a black man and have brown kids.  But will I stay in touch?  Of course.

Time went by.  Internet had not been invented yet, Bill Gates was still finishing school himself.  Leon and I wrote letters, but as time went by the letters became less.  And less. Eventually it dried up all together, and Leon and I continued our separate lives.  I missed him terribly, but mail was slow and my parents were always moving house.  When internet did make an appearance I searched for Leon but never found him.

Many years went by, and I eventually saved enough money to return to my hometown.  I went for a bicycle ride with my aunt, and with a shock realised the area I was in:  I cycled right past Leon’s house!  I stopped, told my aunt about Leon, pointing at his old house.  Oh dear, my aunt said, that was your friend?  Yes, I said, do you know him?  Yes, she said, everyone knew him….. turns out he gained a lot of weight and had a heart attack.  He died. His mother, sweet soul that she always was, found him.  And was so upset that she too died of a heart attack right beside Leon.  The town talked about it for years.

Did this influence my decision to start Basic Orange?  Deep down I believe it does, I still miss him today.  And we would have been 48 now…. It taught me at an early age that being overweight can kill you.  Does kill you.

So if someone says to you being overweight can kill you, and you laugh it off thinking that will never happen to you, well my friend think again.  Because your clogged arteries and excessive body fat can kill you any time, any day, no exceptions.  Just ask Leon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Work not working?

I’ve noticed a trend at Basic Orange:  every year around January and October I have clients going off the rails because they have “too much work, and therefore can’t find time to exercise anymore”.  The sad reality is that they are also often the people who need exercise the most.

For those people I have a message.  Basic Orange is fortunate to have clients who are very successful business people.  They are people who work super long hours to grow their business, turn over millions a year while juggling a family and travelling.  Yet they find time to exercise.  Because they realise that no exercise equals sickness, weak muscles and slow brain cells.  And that is something they simply can’t afford.  They reckon that a week contains 168 hours, and they make sure some of those hours are spent on their own health. They would not have been this successful without it.

I have a client who is a single mother.  She works three jobs to make sure her child can go to university one day.  Time is very precious to her but she too finds exercise time to make sure she stays sharp, and uses her “me” time as stress relief so that her child has a healthy mother that can look after him.  She sees a personal trainer once a week to learn more about health and fitness, and swims and walks the other days.

When people are faced with extra work loads exercise is often the first activity that goes out the window.  I’ve always found that strange.  If you can’t even spend time on yourself you will burn out, guaranteed.  And once you’re burned out you are no damn good to your job anyway.

If you tell me you cannot find time to exercise I tell you rubbish, that is just another excuse because you are too lazy.  You have time to eat.  If you didn’t you wouldn’t be overweight.  You have time to watch tv and read this rant, and I bet you spend a fair bit of time on Facebook or PInterest.

If you wrote down all the things you do in one day I am very sure there is more than one hour where you are not doing anything that will benefit your work.  Because you don’t exercise you feel tired halfway through the day.  You get up and spend time making coffee.  Or staring into space.  Or cat napping.  Or chatting to other people because you can no longer concentrate.  Things that would not happen in the first place if you exercised.

So let’s look at your choices, and what it will do for you:

1. You don’t have time to exercise.  So you don’t.  You will find your productivity at work drops, you’re irritable, small tasks look like mountains.  You spend ages fixing mistakes or apologising for your cranky behaviour.  Boom, that is exercise time wasted already.  That scratchy throat you’re feeling?  That is a cold coming on so prepare to get even less work done.

2. You exercise in spite of your busy schedule.  You get a lot done at work because you are fit.  And fit people don’t get tired in the middle of their day.  That irritating customer no longer seems so irritating now because your workout de-stressed you.  Your day is automatically better, you got so much done today that you can now spend a bit more time with your family.

If you don’t have time to exercise, prepare to make time for sickness.  Period.  So open your diary right now and book an appointment with yourself, you need it!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fat shaming. Don't do it

Today’s rant is not about you.  Or your spouse.  Or the rest of your family.  No, today I would like to put the spotlight on the general public.  Meaning everyone out there except you.

What does everyone else do that is so terrible.  I’m talking about everyone else because I am sure you would never do such a dastardly deed:  it is called fat shaming.  Discrimination against overweight people. You don’t get away with discrimination against skin colour, so why is it that people get away with discrimination against bodies?

As I discussed in a previous post, I know what obese feels like.  And I noticed a couple of things while I dragged my large body around this world:  people spoke to me as if I was dumb.  They would try their best not to look at my large stomach and complimentary big boobs.  The lady at the checkout asked me once how many more months before the baby is due.  And when applying for a new job I realised I could not compete with the slim and trim: studies have shown that employers give preference to the applicant who appears fitter and trimmer.

Strange, considering that in some cultures a full figure is a must if you want to find yourself married.  To those cultures a full figure symbolises wealth.  Thin people are regarded with suspicion, surely they must be ill?

When you see an overweight person, what do you think?  Do you think you poor person, glad it’s not me.  Or do you think that is disgusting, do something about it.  Or do you think hell, hope that never happens to me?  Whatever your thoughts, know this:  that overweight person might have a serious medical condition that prevents them losing weight.  (“It’s in my genes” doesn’t count because that is bullshit, that will be a rant for another day.)

That overweight person you are judging may recently have taken that first step to see a personal trainer.  It took a lot of tears and courage for them to get that far, but they are doing it.  It just doesn’t show yet, losing weight takes time.

That overweight person you are judging may recently have gone through a very traumatic experience, and is still in the process of dealing with it.  Comfort eating is still a big part of their life, but very soon they will learn to cope and kick your butt in the gym.

We are shamed for being fat, skinny, short, ugly, boobs that are too small, too big.  You name it, and someone will find a way to shame you.  Did you know there are fat shaming apps out there you can download on your phone?  Yeah no kidding!  Just to remind you that you have a few cuddly bits in case you forget.  So does all this fat shaming help?  Obviously not, from where I’m sitting it is making the whole world a worse place.  It is not enough that we have wars, famine and disease.  Now we have fat shaming as well, oh joy.  It prevents people from going out, causes depression and turns perfectly good people into introverts. Fat shaming causes more misery than it’s worth.

So don’t let the ignorant masses fat shame you.  There is no need to be ashamed, you are what you are, it is what it is.  And if you are not happy with who you are, here’s a hint: exercise.  A little action goes a long way!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Your excuse is invalid

I HATE excuses!

In the health and fitness industry we hear lots of excuses on a daily basis, if we want to progress in this obesity epidemic that is one thing that has to stop.

Wikipedia describes excuses as “a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation.”  And it is every trainer’s pet peeve.  Excuses drive me wild and is one of the reasons I’m offloading professional stress in this blog.

I signed up a new client to Basic Orange.  She was due to start on a Tuesday evening but never turned up.  So I contacted her to see if she got lost somewhere between her home and the studio.  Oh, she said, she is so sorry but broke her arm.  Therefore she could not contact me and she can’t exercise. So sorry, will contact you when I’m better she said.

One week later I bumped into this woman at the grocery store.  Here she was, 10 bags of groceries on each arm, looking perfectly whole and healthy.  Wow, I thought.  That arm fixed itself really quickly, aliens DO exist after all.

I’m sick with the flu, the text said.  Hope you get better soon I replied.  That evening I bumped into this sick person in a bar in town, enjoying beers with a few friends.  He put a lot of effort into drowning his flu that night, I admire his noble effort.  What was I doing in a bar in down town Lower Hutt I hear you ask?  Never mind, that is not the point I’m trying to make here.

Folks, why do you feel the need to make up excuses?  If you don’t want to exercise then that is fine.  It is your life, your health, your body.  Personal trainers can guide you but we can’t make you do something you don’t want to do.  

So if you suddenly find you can’t afford your training sessions anymore, or you got bored, or you got lazy than let your trainer know.  Often a trainer can help you make a better decision:  can’t afford your training sessions anymore?  Consider changing to a half hour session, or fewer sessions.  Or see your trainer every fortnight for a catchup while you do your own workouts in between.  That way you still get the knowledge and motivation of a qualified trainer without the financial strain.  

Got bored?  Let your trainer know so they can change your training or team you up with another trainer.  There are lots of ways to get the exercise spark back into your life.  

Got lazy?  If you want to look and feel good than unlazy yourself.  Don’t complain you are overweight or uncomfortable or unfit if you are not prepared to make a few small changes.

So the next time you think of an excuse, why not use all that energy to motivate yourself instead?  Excuse me while I go for a run…

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Introducing your ranting trainer

After years of pressure from well meaning friends and colleagues I have finally given in, and created a blog.  Not because I couldn’t handle the pressure anymore, oh no.  More a case of:  very few people listen to sound advice, I’m talking myself hoarse on a daily basis, let’s find a place where I can rant and rave.  A place where I can share my knowledge and experience in the confusing world of health and fitness, perhaps if I give my advice in writing it will stick.  Or not.  Either way it will make me feel better knowing I got all that good stuff off my ample chest.

Of course, if I was a doctor or a professor or a renowned psychologist people would swoon, fall at my feet and lap up any advice I give them, good or bad.  But I’m neither, I’m just one person who has experienced first hand the long walk from fat to fabulous.  Then went out and earned her National Certificate of Fitness so she can share this real world experience with people just like her.

Hell, even my bank was sceptical about my plans:  you mean you want our money to start a private fitness studio?  Are you serious, they said.  No way, that is the most ridiculous idea we’ve heard this year, please leave this office, you are wasting our time.  

I left the bank’s office with a $10 bill in my back pocket.  And used that $10 as a deposit on a boxing bag to start a 100% private fitness studio called Basic Orange.  You’re probably thinking why did I call it Basic Orange.  Simple:  I wanted a name that is easy to remember.  Something that doesn’t have the word “fitness” in it because everyone else already rode that horse.  “Basic” because exercise does not have be complicated to be effective, all you need are the “basics”.  And orange because I happen to like that colour. 

Why did I start a private fitness studio?  Well, during my fat to fabulous journey I felt intimidated by larger commercial gyms.  I felt everyone was looking at me (I have since learned everyone WAS looking at me).  I was surrounded by beautiful bodies and great muscles, and spent most of my time feeling depressed and inferior.  I went looking for a private gym, a place where it was just my big body and a trainer.  But couldn’t find one that private, no matter where I went there were always people wandering in and out, and in my mind they were all gawking and sniggering.

So I started a fitness studio that is SO private, some people think it’s closed.  A place where everyone is welcome and the doors are locked so nobody can wander in to gawk and snigger.  A place where you don’t get judged, and receive the advice you need to make that change you’re looking for.

And the bank, that sceptical institution I mentioned earlier?  4 years later they lend me the money to open a second private fitness studio.  No questions asked…. 

Stay tuned for a weekly blog in which I will try my best to give you the very best real word advice that I can think of.  Of course, if there is a particular subject you want more information on don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards
Your ranting trainer