Welcome back to another week, another chance for you to move forward and grow stronger!
You may be following me on Instagram, and if you aren’t then you better get on it! You may also have seen some Facebook posts about ZUU and wondered, – What is ZUU? Well it is high intensity exercise using primal pattern body weight movements - there is a video at THIS LINK that can explain it more for you. What is ZUU to me? Well that is something that I hope to share with you today. To me it is a culture, a movement that teaches strength, resilience and brings enjoyment and excitement to exercise.
Four months ago I joined Virgin Active on a quest to make the world a happier and healthier place. I thought I was pretty fit; I mean I had done Insanity 3 times, lost loads of weight and although I wasn’t the most muscular person in the world I thought I could hold my own. Then I met ZUU…
During my first few shifts in the gym I kept hearing about this ZUU training; curious about anything new I decided I would go to a class and find out more. I discovered something that threw me way out of my comfort zone - it was fantastic! During that first class I was taken back in my mind to the sports fields at school, being part of a team where things were simple and the objective was give life your best.
I was hooked and I knew that to get better I would need to practice; I would need to push myself hard and grow stronger. If you have followed this blog for a while you might have read about how the mind grows stronger through exercise, how the sense of accomplishment after a good bit of exercise can liberate the mind, well ZUU just enhances that for me, and hopefully it will do the same for you too!
As an instructor with Virgin I have been sent on various training courses to get an understanding of equipment and training methods. I was lucky enough to get booked onto a ZUU course with Nathan Helberg, the founder and creator of ZUU. It was one of the best days of my life. Nathan greeted me with a big hug, he was genuinely happy to see me; he didn’t know me, that is just how he breaks down barriers and earns respect. In four and a half hours of training I learned more about myself than I had learned in the 2 years that it took me to lose weight. I realised that I couldn't shy away from my weaknesses; I needed to embrace them and keep moving. It was a pure Master Class that resonated deep within me. Every time Nathan spoke it was like hearing everything I believed about fitness. Take for example my slogan, 'Stay Strong and Keep Moving’ I thought of that because in my heart that is what got me through the tough times. ZUU teaches the exact same principles. I left the Master Class that day not only a certified ZUU trainer, but inspired and ready to pass this message on to others.
Nathan was brought up with the following values; earning and giving respect, being humble and truthful. The same principles that were taught to me through my family and school; they are values that every passionate ZUU trainer will talk you through in a class. These are old school values that the world has lost touch with. As much as I can talk about how each movement in ZUU can make the body stronger what you really come away with is a sense of personal strength through movement, something that the world needs now more than ever.
I could honestly write for days about how much of an impact this training style has made in my life; Nathan calls it, ‘A Movement Liberating Humans’, and it truly is. If you don’t believe how effective the workouts are and how proud and accomplished you will feel then follow me on Instagram or find me on Facebook and watch the Workout Wednesday videos. Get the drills done and see for yourself. Just remember that anyone can do ZUU, yes the moves are intense but that is what will make you stronger.
The movement is now in America and schools around the world are starting ZUU Chimps programs too; it will spread and grow because it is truthful, humble and inspiring. Check out this video where Nathan mentions that his 84-year-old father still trains with ZUU!
I hope you have found this post useful, as you might be able to tell I am excited and honoured to be a part of this movement! Feel free to share it with others, look up ZUU on YouTube and if you are member of Virgin Active or would like to get involved then get in touch!
Have a great Monday, Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
What is a flow state? Put simply, it is an optimal state of consciousness. It is something that we have all chased after at some point in our lives. In many sports you might hear people talk about being, ‘in the zone.’ Flow is the very thing that makes us come alive, I know that I can achieve this state by playing golf, or taking part in a ZUU class. So let's figure out how you find your flow state...
I was lucky enough to come across a book recently called The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler. He conducts several case studies on extreme sports stars; he centres his investigations on how the flow state has helped humans take huge leaps on the evolutionary scale in a very small period of time. He talks about the psychology behind some of the most daring men and women and refers to how they found their flow states and what it felt like.
So what does flow feel like? Well, for me it feels like I am calm yet excited, in control and creative, it feels like I can easily achieve what I set out to achieve. My mind becomes clear the world becomes my canvas and my body the paint brush. I'm sure it differs from person to person, and it is not something that I can control, in fact I don't think anyone can really control it.
Let me ask you these questions: have you ever lost yourself in a great conversation and before you knew it hours had passed? Have you ever been at work, really getting on with a project and looked at the clock to see that your day was almost over? The answer is bound to be yes, which means you have experienced a flow state! So how did you feel at the time?
Psychologists have determined that people with the most flow in their lives are happier and more productive people. A recent study in showed that 2 out of 3 adults hate what they do with the majority of their days. So if flow can provide happiness and the majority of us are not happy isn't it a case of trying to find out what triggers our flow? But how?
My advice is simple; start with something you really enjoy, it could be drawing, painting, playing a musical instrument, playing a sport, going for a long walk or writing and reading. Something that allows you to be alert and focused or happy and confident. For many of us it is about letting our creative mind take control. An example, Tiger Woods (I know, golf again), has said that he has moments where he doesn't remember actually hitting some of his greatest golf shots. He manages to get himself into a creative state that he can't really explain. He calls it a 'blackout moment', a moment where he is between being alert and focused and happy and confident. Have a look at this image to understand it better.
I'm talking about being present, being engulfed by the moment (staying in the moment) taking things second by second whilst doing something you love. There is not one true recipe for the flow state, you have to find it by trying something that makes you feel good, makes you happy and in my experience we as humans are happiest when we are moving with purpose, being creative and making the most of our lives.
The flow state is where dreams are born, don't you want to find yours?
Have a great weekend and I'll catch you again on Monday. Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
How would you like to start the week off with something inspirational? I thought I would write about a golfer that I have watched achieve some amazing results over the last few years. Golf is a huge passion of mine, I have been lucky enough to play golf on 4 different continents and have met so many amazing people through the game. One person I would love to meet and play a round golf with is a man called Erik Compton; a man who has had two heart transplants, a man who refused to give up.
Reading about Erik's life and watching him play golf in the last year on the PGA Tour are two very different things. When players make it to the PGA Tour we, as viewers, often forget or sometimes don't know about how they got there. There are many inspiring stories out there, but understanding that Erik's first heart transplant was when he was 12 years old should take the cake. After a heart transplant he went on to play golf and chase his dreams until the age of 28 when he drove himself to hospital while suffering a 'near-fatal heart attack.'
He bounced back after getting on his feet with heart number 3 and it seems like he has never stopped pushing forward. Last year he placed 2nd in the US Open and has been on his way up ever since. Check out this video for a little more on his story.
The reason I wanted to share this with you today is because Erik has not stopped chasing his dream. Sure he has probably had his fair share of luck a long the way, but in my experience luck comes to those who remain positive, who dig deep inside themselves and find that self belief. Erik's grit and determination is inspiring to me and hopefully to you too; he is proof that you can chase after your dream no matter the opposition that you face. You can become the strongest version of yourself if you just have a little faith.
Have an awesome day, Stay Strong and Keep Moving.
A happy Friday to you! I thought I would let you read a gym story today where I nearly died… Okay so that’s a bit dramatic, but kind of how I felt. First though, a quote! 'The mind is so powerful that we can set off the stress response by imagining ourselves in a threatening situation...' Bruce McEwen.
That quote really resonates with me, hopefully with you too. How many times have you sat and worried about something in the past or future? How many times has it kept you awake at night? I have found one of the best ways of keeping yourself from falling into this trap is by staying in the moment.
Staying in the moment is something I have always struggled with, I’ll give you an example: In January 2013 I invested in a gym membership because, well take a look at the picture... I took the day off work and booked an induction; I figured I would walk around the gym, see the equipment and then bam! I would have a six-pack! Nah not really, although I really didn’t realise how difficult it would be to get moving again. Sure I was working in hospitality and on my feet all day, but I had not actively tried to stretch or do any form of prolonged exercise in ages! After the induction I strapped my feet into a rowing machine, with great difficulty, then I realised that I couldn’t reach the handle without holding my breath. After crushing my lungs (big belly issues) I started to row, I passed the 5 minute mark and I was in serious trouble, my back was really painful, my arms were exhausted and I was so out of breath I you’d have thought I had just run after an ice-cream van.
I gave up on the rower and decided to head over to the bike. I figured it would be slightly easier than the lung crushing rowing machine plus I wouldn’t look like a wheezing heart attack waiting to happen. I got on and started to pedal, it was a wonderful bike, the screen was interactive and I was cycling down a lovely Californian Coastline. Again after 5 minutes the body and mind gave in, the saddle was killing my bum, my back was still killing me and my breathing resembled Darth Vader. I decided some stretching was in order. I had pretty much underwhelmed myself on the rower and the bike, stretching would be where gains could be made! Well, I can only imagine that the other people around me felt really sorry for the rather large man rolling around on the floor trying to reach his toes; either that or it was the best entertainment they have had in their lives! I had been in the gym less than 30 minutes and felt completely ashamed of myself.
I jumped on the tube, headed home and thought to myself, ‘I’ll never get fitter because I am so unfit.’ I thought about how long it would take me to get flexible again, to be fit enough to breathe. I thought about everything that I struggled with in great detail and then I gave up on myself. The membership fell away and I resigned myself to being unfit. I hadn’t stayed in the moment, I hadn’t realised that things take time. I sat thinking about how fit I used to be and how long it was going to take, past and future, I didn't congratulate myself for getting some work done and trying.
Months later, when I finally got back into training I kept it simple, I stayed in the moment, I didn't get ahead of myself, it was hard but I just kept saying to myself that showing up for a workout and getting stuck in was better than doing nothing at all. That was when the progress was made. We don’t become who we want to be overnight, we work each day towards who we want to become. We stay in the moment because that is where the progress is made. Staying in the moment is where we discover truth about ourselves, where we find our potential.
To wrap up this Friday’s food for thought I’d like to say that wherever you are in life, no matter how stressed you get, take a deep breath from the belly and focus on the moment you are in, embrace it. It is always good to learn from the past, but try not to dwell on it, bear in the mind the future but use the moment you are in right now to live and enjoy your life.
Have a great day and remember to Stay Strong and Keep Moving.
"STOP WAITING FOR SUMMER, FOR FRIDAY, FOR SOMEONE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU, FOR LIFE TO HAPPEN. HAPPINESS IS ACHIEVED WHEN YOU STOP WAITING FOR IT AND MAKE THE MOST OF EACH MOMENT."
Hello again to all you awesome people out there in the world! I thought this post would work well for a Monday is because every now and then we need to remind ourselves about how brilliant the human race really is.
I think back to London, when I stayed at home on my days off, ate too many Pringles, drank too much Coca-Cola, watched and read the news all the time. I was a mess, sure the food and lack of exercise didn't help, but I was also bombarding my brain with negativity; lets be honest it is hard to watch a news channel these days that doesn't show the darker side of humanity. I didn't give my self a chance to see the good in the world.
Sometimes we get so caught up in everything we forget how awesome we really are. Did you know that your brain has something like 100 billion nerve cells (Neurons) all passing information around at speeds over 100mph? How cool is that? Now think, if what we see and hear is bombarding our brain with more negative than positive, then what are we setting ourselves up for?
Here's something that might help us all, each day set aside some time to watch, read or listen to something inspirational, motivating and uplifting, try it every day and see how much it can help boost your mood. Hopefully reading this blog is part of that time :-)
It is videos like the one below that I always find inspirational, these people are a reminder of what we can do as a race if we put our minds to it. Take a few minutes to watch it, you may have seen some of it before but I'm fairly sure it will make you feel proud to be human!
Have an awesome Monday guys, Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
Friday's food for thought kicks off with a bit of time travel.... Whoohoo! Yep - I have invented a time machine! No, not really, but hopefully I have your attention...
Here goes the story… Back in 2011 I was pretty miserable working in a pub in London for a company that didn't pay well or on time for that matter, I was a manager and putting in a lot of hours for very little reward from up the ranks.
I decided to branch out, look for something new and find a more uplifting place to work. I went through a recruitment agent who looked at my CV, re-wrote it, and whisked it off to several companies, one company got in touch and before long I was sitting in a newly refurbished pub in North London across the table from the Operations Director; this is the point where you go, 'oooooooo.' The interview went well, I was on top form, rattling off KPI figures and talking about my ability to manage a team. It went so well that I got asked to meet The Big Boss at a later date after completing a SWOT analysis on one of their pubs.
I visited the pub on a Tuesday afternoon, listed my thoughts, before long I had a lengthy document typed up which I then sent through cyberspace to the Managing Director; A.K.A The Big Boss.
Fast forward a few days to the final interview. I remember the morning vividly, I took the tube, it was early (8.00am, which is early for a bar manager). I was still half asleep, and had decided that I would pack my smart shoes in a bag and wear my awesome comfy trainers on the tube. My feet hurt so much back then, mostly down the to extra weight I was carrying. As I got off the tube I realised that I had left my packed shoe bag at home! I walked up and down the street near the tube station, but strangely enough there werent any shoe shops open at 8.30 in the morning. Sensing a slight panic attack I figured I would just try and skirt the issue if it became noticed. I also decided not to smoke for fear of smelling like an ashtray, which probably heightened my sense of alarm. (For those who are new to the blog I was well into my, 'box a day lifestyle.' Click here to find out more.)
I found the pub and was led into the bar area to take a seat. After being kept waiting for ages I was eventually ushered into a room with The Big Boss; we shook hands and I was offered a seat. Then I suddenly remembered that my feet were very visible mainly because they were attached to the rest of my body. Like a true champion I blurted out, "sorry about my shoes, I forgot my nice ones at home." A solid start to say the least, but The Big Boss didn't really react; there were two other directors sitting in the corner of the interview room, whom I didn't even notice until I sat down. It felt like I was on Dragons Den and had tripped up the stairs on the way in.
I started conversation easily and we built a bit of rapport. We talked about my role at the time and my life up until that point and then he hit me with two questions I didn't expect... 1. "Why did you visit the pub and do your analysis on a Tuesday afternoon?” 2. “Why not visit on a Friday night when the pub is more busy?" My response was simple; "that was my day off, it was the only time that I could visit the pub for a drink." At that point the conversation shifted, I had angered The Big Boss, he looked me right in the eyes and said, "A good manager will always make the time."
The interview became more difficult from that point on, I was flustered and my answers to his questions became worse and worse. At the end I was left with advice to do more research, get some more experience under my belt and make contact again when I have thought things through a bit more. Bang! My hopes for a better paid job were gone; I became defensive and quite put off. With hindsight I learned some valuable lessons. One of the most important things I take from that experience is the fact that I was trying to sell myself as organised, effective and bright; but I showed up without the right shoes, and did my analysis at the wrong time. Let's face it you wouldn't want to visit a pub on a quiet afternoon to see how the place runs under pressure.
If truth be told I didn't like the industry, and maybe The Big Boss could see that, maybe if I was more passionate I would have made a bigger effort. The lesson still remains; if you want something bad enough then you will find the time and engineer a way to make it happen.
With regards to health, fitness and lifestyle I have learned the same lesson. If you really want it; if you have that burning desire to be fitter, stronger or lose weight then don't put it off until tomorrow. Organise your thoughts, look for guidance if you need it, then pave the way for your future, don't stumble along a path hoping it leads you there.
I hope you liked the story and the lesson I learned, we all have moments in life that we cringe about late at night before we fall asleep. Next time that happens try and pick out a lesson from that memory that you can use to make things better the next day.
Have a great weekend and remember to Stay Strong and Keep Moving.
Happy Monday folks and to those readers in America, Happy Labor Day!
With that said lets us start our week the right way, the positive way, without doubt.
Doubt is a funny thing because many of us know it as the 'comfort zone', it can take up hours of our time, it can leave us incapable of decisions for fear of failure.
Let us try this week and in the weeks and years to come to remove the question, 'what if?' from our minds and replace it with faith, faith in ourselves and faith in the world once more. This will help us become stronger humans and develop our characters. Put simply - 'We develop character only through effort, struggle, and learning, none of which we ever choose to endure when doubt has our ear.' - Brendon Burchard
Let us face the week with a positive disposition and remember to Stay Strong and Keep Moving...
Happy Friday guys! In keeping with the Food for thought Fridays I have decided to write this for the gym goers out there - for those who might want to try something new and get involved in group exercise.
If you are not a gym goer still have a read because it may come in handy one day or if you decide that you'd like to do a boot-camp class with a freelance PT… Now, enough of my rambling here is my list of TOP TIPS:
Don't be scared to try something new –
You'd be surprised how many people don't venture into group classes because they are scared to get ‘stuck in’ and come out of their comfort zone. Training in a new way could be the very thing that breaks a plateau and allows the body the chance to develop and become even stronger. I often hear people say that they are scared because, 'of how they will look', but progress doesn’t happen from the sidelines… After all, the saying, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is said for a reason.
Do your research –
Be sure to choose your class or activity that compliments your goals. For example, you may not want to commit to an aerobics class 3 times a week if you are trying to bulk up. You might want to get stuck in once a week on a cardio day though. This also applies to those who are new to a gym, be sure to ask questions and get an understanding of the features and benefits of the class, if you suffer from issues with your joints then a high impact session might not be the one for you.
Arrive early giving you time to limber up -
Try to get to the gym at least 15 minutes before the class, that way you'll have the chance to warm yourself up nicely and get the most out of your session in the gym. Class trainers will warm you up anyway, but that little bit of extra prep for your joints and can be the difference between a good workout and a GREAT workout!
Announce yourself and your experience level to the trainer -
This one you won’t be for every class, but if it is your first one then be sure to let the trainer know. Most good trainers will spot the newbie and offer a warm welcome to the class. This is also a great way of gaining some confidence as most good trainers will motivate and encourage your good work; they will also know when to modify the moves for you.
The biggest tip is to enjoy yourself, the reason group exercise is so popular is because everyone is working together and doing something they enjoy, kind of like a sports team. If you have fun with exercise it will do wonders for your confidence and demeanour, giving you something to look forward to in the days to come.
So there you have it, my top tips! If you have any topics you’d like me to write about relating to health and fitness then please comment below and if you like what you have read then please share it with your friends. I am really thankful for the readers of this blog and I’d love to reach as many people as I can with my ramblings…
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to Stay Strong and Keep Moving ;-)
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Brendan is the owner and head trainer at Raw Motion Fitness.