Monday, May 23, 2011

Your Brain is Portable, Your Facility is Not

Does one with no gym membership, no experience, and no time really have no way of hiring a personal trainer and actually achieving results?

When I met Eric he was a tired, stressed father who came home everyday from work designing HVAC systems in a 4 x 6 office, to a house filled with chores ranging from picking up the kids from karate, hockey practice, or track and then taking out the garbage, paying bills online, or helping the kids with homework. Eric was a devoted father who encouraged his two children to engage in extra-curricular activities like sports and social groups. His wife was a dedicated mother whose day resembled his – along with picking up food from the nearby fast-food Mexican restaurant every night and filling the cabinets with quick-bite snacks for the late-night talk show that they religiously watched weekdays while the kids slept. This was the only time Eric had to himself…between 9pm and 12am. During this time, Eric watched TV, read, or retreated to small-talk conversation with his wife. Eric usually complained of restless nights trying to sleep, or waking up to eat at 3:30am. Eric was snacking at work and eating fast-food almost everyday while sitting at his drafting table for a majority of the day.

He also complained of lower back pain and discomfort. His desk was killing him. His computer was killing him. His poor time-management was killing him. His lack of energy was killing him. He was weak, meek, and pathetically just getting by each day. Until, a decision was made for him. Yep, “made” for him. His “father-in-law” recognized Eric’s demise and entrusted my services to basically go into Eric’s house weekly and beat his ass. Eric had a basement that housed a decent treadmill and some exercise gear  that he never used.
On November 3, Eric weighed in at 244 at a height of 6’1”. His bodyfat level reached 32% and he suffered lower back issues.
Eric cleaned up his diet by adding fruit and nuts as snacks, rather than cookies, chips, and soda. He began drinking water and getting up from his desk twice an hour to relieve his back of the wretched static position. On Wednesday nights, I would visit Eric for an hour and he would perform a progressive exercise program made up of intervals using the treadmill and various circuits including core work and isometrics. I transported nothing to Eric's home--just a notebook and his file. I simply dusted off unused exercise gear and showed him that the neglected stuff can really pack a  punch if utilized right. Here's a look at his home exercise program with me:

Here is a look at his program:

Staple Exercises:
Hip Bridge 4x10 sec. hold
Plank 4x10 sec. hold
Side Plank 4x10 sec. hold
Bird Dogs 4x10 reps
Wall Slides 3x8 reps

Sprint 5 min. 
Recovery 7 min.

Foundation Exercise:
Squats 3x12
Kneel to Lunge 3x8
Push-Ups 3x8
Crunch 3x12

Sprint 5 min. 
Recovery 7 min.

Ball Exercises:
Hip Bridge Hold on Ball 3x10sec.
Push-Up Hold on Ball 3x10 sec.
Bird Dogs on Ball 3x15 reps
DB Presses on Ball 3x8-10 reps
Band Rows on Ball 3x12 reps.

Sprint 5 min. 
Recovery 12 min.

Flexibility/Mobility:
Lunge/Warrior Pose
Cat/Camel
Crossover Glute Stretch
McKenzie Press-up with Neck Rotation

The key to Eric’s 8 week transformation is the accountability placed on him. I opened up a Fitday.com account for him, in which I used his password to go in and check his food and activity log. I ran reports and communicated with him through e-mail. The exercise program was progressive, so it helped him reach small successes and learn about his body throughout the 8 week period. When I first met Eric, he could only perform 4 push-ups and was in tears performing the Wall-Slide exercise. When he mastered the Bird Dog exercise, we progressed to the ball with eyes closed.

Within 4 weeks, his mobility greatly improved. The Cat/Camel became more “fluid” and his hips became better “oiled”.  By week 5, he looked as though he stood taller. We trained in his basement, which had a low ceiling and I can swear, he was about 3 inches away from the top. So, plyometrics were out.

By week 6, Eric had gained confidence in making the right choices in food selection when at home and dining out. His wife had stopped going to the Mexican restaurant and Eric had more energy to dedicate more time to help cook dinner—along with performing all the other tasks that he still had to do. Only this time around, they seemed easier and less time consuming.

On December 20, Eric weighed in at 226 and
his bodyfat level decreased to 26.5% and
he had no lower back issues.
So how did Eric lose 18 pounds in 8 weeks? Well, the first 10 pounds were definitely just Eric incorporating physical activity into his daily life. Here is a guy that got home and never challenged his body to do something beyond its capacity. Eric performed his responsibilities everyday and never asked anything more of his body...his mind was being stressed, but not his body. So, the treadmill in the basement came into good use. We did some steady state cardio initially, just so I can get Eric accustomed to “the ground moving underneath him”; and to physically “brush the rust” off his muscles. This guy is only 38—he is not old, but he felt 68. The steady state stuff enabled me to watch his gait, perform simple talk-test assessment, and get to know the guy. Once he was able to “understand” how to walk on a treadmill, we incorporated jogging. I like the intervals with sprints because it caused Eric to really know what its like to dig deep and perform.

Most of Eric’s training consisted of 60% behavior modification work. I really had to relate to the guy and talk “guy stuff” with him. He was giving himself to everyone and never had free time. I had to convince him that giving himself some time away from everyone and dedicating his efforts to personal goals was not bad thing—rather a healthy thing. He had weaned away from feeling guilty and made others understand that he needed some “me-time”. The result: a leaner, more energetic Eric with still a ways to go...but more time efficiency and energy to pursue his responsibilities and personal goals.
So do you always need a gym or a facility to make a difference in someone's life? Nah.....

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