So, after having so much fun with my blog over the past few months, the limitations of having it on the free WordPress hosting have become just too unbearable. So today my blog will be moved to the new domain address of www.chrishuntblog.com.
This move should be seamless, and the new domain hosting should be up and running by this evening, but if there are any problems then please let me know because I do not want to lose any of my valued subscribers or readers.
So here’s to a brave new world. Well, it’s not so new. And it isn’t really brave either.
I talk a lot about being Buddhist and about giving. In these times of austerity, maybe we do not have as much money to give away, but no matter what our financial situation, we can always give away our time and our expertise. And I have absolutely no doubt that the more we give, the more we receive.
So, as I am someone who practises what I preach, I will be giving away a free Pilates session with me every week. You can have the session in person if you are in Barcelona, we can arrange to meet if I will be travelling to your country soon, or you can have the session online.
All you have to do is follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/thechrishunt and tweet “I want Chris Hunt Pilates” with the hashtags #chp, #pilates and #Barcelona. Simple. You can enter each week as many times as you want to and I will announce the winner every Friday. So good luck, and I hope to see you soon for a private Pilates session!
Anyone who reads my blogs regularly will know that there is nothing I love more than a good Pilates story about men doing Pilates. One of my aims in life is to get more men doing Pilates, to convince more men of the benefits of Pilates, and to dispel the myth that still perpetuates that Pilates is only for girls.
So what better example than one of the most famous boxers alive today?
Sugar Ray Leonard, the five-world champion, is now 57, but he needs to exercise and eat like a champ. He still describes himself as “vain” and still a “disciplined athlete,” which is a combination that inspires him to exercise and practice moderation in all things. Health and fitness after 50 he says is about attitude, fortitude and being realistic about what your body can do. His advice? “Check your ego at the door” and “use what you can.” This is an excellent attitude for the over 50’s. It’s about balance. Sugar Ray again speaks wisdom when he says “People say ‘Oh God, I can’t do anything, also, they try to maintain what they were doing when they were 20 or 30”.
As a professional boxer, Leonard’s typical workout consisted of a 5-mile run, hundreds of sit-ups and push-ups and hours pounding bags at the gym. Today, he recommends an age-appropriate variation on that intense training: a half-hour on an elliptical machine because it’s easier on the knees, combined with bicep curls and 10 to 20 squats, sit-ups and push-ups. But back trouble, arthritic knees and a torn rotator cuff signal the wear and tear of aging. Two years ago, he experienced pain and tingling in his back, arm and chest. He was told that he had an issue with his back because of all the punching he did.
To address this, he started Pilates. Did he find it hard? “(Bleep) yeah! I said, ‘I can’t do this’ — because I turned 50, and I hadn’t used those kind of muscles. I’d been a fighter like this for 40 years. So, now I look in the mirror and straighten it up … and I incorporate all those (exercises) into my training.”
So like many people, Sugar Ray came to Pilates because of an issue with his body. It’s a shame he didn’t know about Pilates all those years ago because it would’ve no doubt helped to improve his performance and condition. I work with many athletes via my business www.sportcorestrength.com and the improvements that even an Olympic athlete can make are nothing short of astounding.
But the moral of my story is that it is never too late. In his own words “It’s all about dreaming. If you don’t dream, you get old. You have to dream.”
If you want more information about Pilates for sport, rehabilitation or anything else, then please contact me via my website, Facebook or the form below.
So as a fitness professional and a Pilates and functional training presenter, I am very interested by studies that link exercise with mental health and brain function, and I am convinced that this link exists and should influence us as trainers and the public in general.
All Pilates teachers will be very familiar with the mind and body link, but in my opinion every trainer should also consider this. I am happy to report to you about a recent study in the US that suggests that aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age. Activities that maintain cardio fitness such as running, swimming and cycling, led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
Scientists say the research adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health. As fitness professionals will know, cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25. They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol. People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences.
“Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs. “This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,”
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age. Investment in research is vital to better understand how we can protect our brains as we age.”
If we want to get the best results for our clients, and give the best possible service, it is not enough to simply give them a training problem for their gym sessions. Our advice must go much further and much deeper.
The fastest rising personality was Paul Walker, due to his tragic and untimely death. Gone too soon… Margaret Thatcher also was popular as was Nelson Mandela so in death this world-leaders at least keep their legacy and the public’s interest alive. The late great Lou Reed also featured highly, so again it’s nice to think that a new generation of music fans will keep his memory alive.
Social and political trends are also clear. Rightmove, the housing website grew in popularity in line with rising house prices, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London was the most popular political search. Other interesting seasonal searches included “how to make pancakes”, “how to play guitar”, “how to get a flat stomach”, and “how to reset an iPod”. I am very proud to say that I did not feel the need to use any of these search terms. It doesn’t take much to make me proud clearly, but you can be sure that I can cook a mean pancake and keep my flat stomach!
It will come as no surprise that no only are pornographic searches excluded from these figure, but that they would feature at the top of most categories. Some things never change, but whilst the internet in general and Google in particular are much maligned, they are of course here to stay and give us an interesting insight as to how the minds of people work.
Here is the full list of “most searched”:
5.45 am and I’m woken up by the piercing “Beep Beep” of my alarm jarring through my brain. I tried bird-song and babbling brooks but nothing changed the fact that it was 6 am and I had to get up, get ready, then go fight for a seat on the train to the City. I knew exactly (to the nearest centimetre) where to stand on the platform so a door would stop right in front of me, but the train was usually full already. After this wonderful journey into the centre London listening to other people’s music and enjoying their wet umbrella’s slowly dampening my trousers and my spirits at the same time, I would spend the day in the uninspiring drudgery of my role as Claims Manager for a large insurance company, in meeting’s where my colleagues would compare their beards and talk about sandwiches, waiting for the time to fight for a seat on the train home. The only oasis was the hour at lunchtime that I’d spend in the gym. Sound familiar? I am sure this is a daily routine shared by many.
But it wasn’t always this way. I had some very dark days after I left the City. It all happened very suddenly in the end. After years of knowing that my heart was not in insurance (is anyone’s heart truly in those types of jobs?!) it all came to a dramatic head one rainy December afternoon. Enough was enough, I had to be true to myself. So I left behind my excellent salary, tidy annual bonus, expense card and luncheon vouchers and I started my new life.
I’d been studying, practising and teaching Pilates for several years so I knew exactly what I would do next. But the first few months were still hard, really hard. To lose the routine (however boring it was) was more of a challenge than I expected, and of course financially I was in a very difficult position. But I did it, I made the break. The one that I have heard so many people talk about, but then dismiss because of such and such a reason, or to be more correct excuse:
“I would of course love to pursue my dream as a/an ………….. (insert dream job here) but I could not possible do it because (delete as applicable) I’m too old / of the mortgage / of the children / I’m not good at learning new things / I can’t do my own accounts / I have no marketing experience / any other excuse you can think of.” Other people keep the thought in their head that “I could give up this life I do not enjoy but when the time is right”. Of course the time is never right, but they get some comfort believing that they could if only… They are the same people who say they could give up smoking, they could give up over eating, they could start exercising, they could learn Spanish but surprise surprise, it never happens.
So how can we go from a life of “coulds” to actually taking action? It makes sense to have a gradual change, maybe pursing your new career in your spare time first, so you have the financial security of still earning money and also save some money. This does mean working long hours, but what better motivation than to know that one day you will have the career change you have always dreamed about. It’s not a compromise to start part time, it’s just sensible. As long as you have a plan, an end game, and you stick to it. Don’t end up doing two jobs forever!
It’s essential to have a plan. When I say that to people, they say “Aha, but you are Buddhist and you always say about living in the Now and not in the future” as if they have found a vital flaw in my philosophy. But I politely point out that with no plan, we have no direction. Planning per se is not a bad thing to do, but there are rules. One golden rule of planning is that plans change! So be prepared for that. It’s like driving on a long journey at night. We know our final destination (otherwise we would drive around aimlessly) and we have a map so we know where we are going and how we will get there, but at any one time we can only see 100 metres ahead of us. Maybe our route will change because of unforeseen problems, but we will be flexible and we will arrive at our destination. You do not need to be able to see your destination to get there. Enjoy the journey, one step at a time, but always knowing that you will get to where you want to be.
But you must be careful about your new career. Your business should be a means rather than an end, a vehicle to enrich your life rather than one that drains the life you have. The worst thing you can do is start working for yourself and end up working so hard and stressing so much that you hate your job! It’s such a common mistake, people see the romantic notion of being their own boss, but after the initial euphoria, they realise that they are working harder and longer than they were before. At least working for someone else they could leave work, go home and relax. But now their job is with them every waking hour, they live it. And the dream turns into a nightmare because instead of having a boss for your job, your job has become your boss! And it’s no fun. In fact it’s less fun than your old job working for someone else. You can’t take holidays because the work won’t get done. You can’t be ill, you can hardly stop to think. Your social life is nonexistent, yet you carry on thinking that your hard work will pay off one day. Maybe it will, but more often it won’t, and many people end up giving up and getting a “normal” job again. The important point here is that no matter what you thought before, your business should not be your life. Your business should serve your life, and not the other way around.
There’s a saying that great businesses are not built by extraordinary people but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. So how can an ordinary person do extraordinary things? By having a system and a plan. Again it’s the “p” word. Have a plan and stick to it! Things will change, but always know where you are aiming to get and how you will get there. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Friends and parents will help of you ask. They will see the changes you are trying to make and if they are really on your side then they will help. And of course, make sure you have the support of your partner. It sounds so obvious and yet I know many people who think they can make such a big decision on their own. You must expect hard times and up and downs. It’s normal and natural. Remember the old cliché, we grow the most when we are out of our comfort zone. I can confirm from experience that this is so true! So much so that I try to stay out of my comfort zone as often as possible.
I could continue writing for pages and pages about Business Plans, marketing, SMART targets, feasibility studies, SWOT analysis/matrix etc etc, but that is not the point of this article. The point is to show you there is another way. You can change your life. You control and create your own Universe, you really do. You always have a choice. Always. Every journey begins with the first step. But it will never begin unless you take that step. I’m not special. If I can do it then so can you.
6.00 am and I’m woken up by my alarm. I still get up early, but now it’s very different, it’s my choice. Maybe I will start work, but maybe I will go for a long run or bike ride before the rest of the world wakes up. That’s the difference now. Choice and control. And it’s a great difference. I still regularly go into the city and I deal with many of my old contacts, but now it’s for my own company so it’s on my terms. It feels a very different place. Although the beards are the same.
The moral of my story in 11 words? It’s not too late, you have the rest of your life. And if there is any way I can help, then please just ask.