An Industry Built On The Learning Curve – Or At Least My Version Of It

The Learning Curve Of Fitness

Let’s start with Wikipedia:

A learning curve is a graphical representation of the increase of learning (vertical axis) with experience (horizontal axis).

The Learning Curve Of Fitness

A learning curve averaged over many trials is smooth, and can be expressed as a mathematical function.

The term learning curve is used in two main ways: where the same task is repeated in a series of trials, or where a body of knowledge is learned over time.

… the term has acquired a broader interpretation over time, and expressions such as “experience curve”, “improvement curve”, “progress curve”…

Thanks Wikipedia!

My interpretation of this learning curve is that in the early stages, or when one is a beginner at something, there is a steep increase in learning and progress. However, over time that progress reduces and eventually flattens. This flat portion can also be known as a plateau.

Now, what is the timeline in which someone reaches that plateau are we’re talking about here?

In my experience of coaching fitness, the flattening of the curve usually happens within the first 1-3 months. As in, clients can see rapid results for the first 1-3 months and then those results slow down or stop.

Whether this is in increased strength, increased endurance, increased power output, weight loss or reduced body fat percentage, the results slow down rapidly or even stop all together.

Now that the baseline knowledge is out of the way, I want to apply this to my industry: Fitness.

It is my opinion that 90+% of the services and programs that are out there are targeted and marketed directly at this learning and performance curve. They are built within the range of achieving the most success from their customers.

Where do we see this?

  • 30-day challenges
  • 8-week bootcamps
  • P90x – aka 90 day DVD program

Do a search on Intagram for Fitness Inspiration, Workout Motivation or Booty Challenge and you’ll find thousands of accounts with 6 pack abs and peach booty’s with links to their DVD or downloadable programs.

(and no, “peach booty” isn’t a typo)

You’ll also see dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who have had success on that program. However, often those numbers only represent a fraction of the people who actually followed the program. So if you see 100 success stories, it’s likely that thousands of people tried the program. If you see thousands or success stories it’s likely that hundreds of thousands tried the program.

I have no scientific data to prove this, but from my experience observing clients over the past decade, I would bet that at most 10% of the people that do a program get the results you see advertised. That leaves 90% who didn’t even make it that far!

Heck, if you’re still reading this you probably ARE one of those 90%!

My question is always: what data or percentage of success stories would we get if we expanded that out to 4 months, 6 months and 12 months after the program. How many people STILL have the success once the 4, 8 or 12 week program is done?

As I said, the programs are built to fit WITHIN the highest growth rate of the learning curve.

After the program, let’s look at:

How many people have built a habit?

How many people have created a new lifestyle?

How many people actually learned what’s next?

I don’t have exact numbers on these things either, but I’m not sure anyone does. Honestly though, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that no matter the program, 100% of people will experience a flattening of their learning curve at some point in their progress.

100% of people will hit a plateau at some point in their training.

It’s totally unavoidable.

The thing I encourage you to think about from this article is whether or not your program, plan, system and/or training considers and addresses this fate.

Is what you’re doing ready for the inevitable plateau and are there resources available to take you past it?

Or is it designed to end before your plateau and then leave you hanging when you get there?

Deep right?!?

The good thing is that millions of people get 1-3 months of success usually within every calendar year. ( Can you say “new years resolutions” anyone?) Every year people are stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at their health and fitness goals.

The sad thing is that millions of people only get 1-3 month of success usually within ever calendar year.

They then enter a perpetual cycle of programs, challenges and bootcamps with the promise of the quick results we all desire so badly.

If I can leave you with one thought after reading this article it’s this:

The next time you consider and fitness program that lasts less than 90 days, think about your learning curve. I guarantee you that you’ll hit a flat point and plateau. Ask yourself:

How does this program address that inevitable fate and how will it take me past it?

Once you have the answer, you’ll know if it’s really worth your investment.

Thank you for getting this far and reading my article. I love feedback and interaction!

Did you like this article? Did it trigger any questions? Please comment below and let me know what you think.

Also follow me on Snapchat for more frequent ideas and insights.

Chad

Marathon Training: Generic Plans Vs A Whole Body Approach Pt. 1

Personalized Marathon Training

As the saying goes, “Marathon training is a cruel mistress”, why else does every marathoner feel the need to tell you about their training regardless if you have asked our not?

It’s a lot of time, effort and sweat equity put into one day, months away, where you will test your mettle on the road…

Which is why you need to be cautious with which marathon training plan you choose!

You need to choose a plan that will work best for you; a plan that will fit within your time constraints but also work with your body and how you as an individual respond to training. However, sometimes it’s hard to tell which plan will work best, especially if you are unsure what to look for!

Take the plan below for instance: Continue reading “Marathon Training: Generic Plans Vs A Whole Body Approach Pt. 1”

Introducing Allie Parris

Our team just keeps on growing!

We would like to welcome Allie Parris to our happy growing family:

Coach Allie is a NASM certified Personal Trainer, a Weight Loss Specialist and a Fitness Nutrition Specialist – meaning her approach to coaching centers around not only finding what works best for you, but also teaching you how to understand why it works.

From Allie:

“My approach to training is extremely personal and individualized. I don’t just want to help you lose weight or get in shape. I want to help you understand why the tools I’m giving you work. I think a client should not just receive a program, they should understand why that program is tailor made for them. I want my clients to understand their bodies AND understand how to achieve results rather than just blindly follow a plan!”

Allie Parris - Online Fitness and Nutrition Coach

As a self proclaimed “former crash dieter”, she has experience with just about every restrictive diet there is – giving her the experience to steer you past that frame of mind and into thinking about “how to feed your strength”.

“I came to Allie after working abroad for 6 months and my body type had changed completely. I felt self-conscious and unsure how to even begin this journey of getting my body back in shape. Allie made me feel comfortable discussing my body issues. She was the perfect balance of tough love yet tenderly motivating. Thanks Allie!!”
Rachel L

Allie’s personal journey to better health gives her a unique connection to her clients. Read her story here!

Why Having A Coach Is So Important?

Online Coaching Client 3

Exercise technique is one of the most misunderstood topics I have seen in the fitness industry. Everyone wants to have the “perfect technique”, but they rely on a medley of unreliable resources: friends, a person at the gym, or youtube videos to emulate their technique after.

Why is that not a good idea?

Well, in short, it is unlikely that the person you are emulating is the same gender, age, height and weight, which should come as no surprise. Variables like limb length, joint depth, muscle flexibility, joint mobility, and adaptation to movements are often overlooked by the average gym goer, youtube viewer, and even many inexperienced personal trainers.

Here is an example. Person A is female, 25 years old, 5’5, and weighs 150lbs. Person B is male, 30 years old, 5’10, and weighs 190lbs. The untrained individual would think their squat technique should look the same – shoulder width stance, knees over toes, torso leaning forward at a 45 degree angle, ect. Think back to your high school human anatomy class, you will remember that women generally have wider hips than males to accomodate for birth. Their femurs point down toward the ground at an angle (referred to a the ‘Q angle’). Although Person A is a bit shorter than Person B, many females have long legs/long femurs for their height. Depending on their genetics/heritage, they may have a very shallow or very deep hip socket which will affect how the leg articulates in a free flowing motion.

With all of those differences why would their squats look the same? Should they look the same? Highly unlikely.


This is why having a well educated coach is so important.

When you are in the gym, you are repeating a motion several times for several sets. Just like any other sport movement, like swinging a baseball bat, the more repetitions you perform, the more ingrained the movement becomes into your daily life. If you have fundamental flaws in your movement patterns in the gym, they will likely creep into your daily life increasing risk of injury. You squat down to pick up the groceries in a similar fashion to a squat movement. You get up off the floor after playing with your dog in the same manner as a pushup, ect. A good coach will be able to pick up on movement faults in your exercises and determine if there is a specific weakness, or just broken down technique.

Now, I can’t sit here and write an article on how to squat perfectly or do the best pushup you can without seeing some video or watching you in person. But what I can do is explain a couple of universally valid concepts that apply to all exercises.

Concept 1: A safe exercise creates stability at the joint (shoulder/hip)
The best way to create stability within the hip or shoulder joint is in a position of flexion and external rotation.

The picture below is of my client of mine. His squat isn’t very deep, so he is probably at a low risk of injury. To the untrained eye, this looks like a pretty standard bodyweight squat. It’s easily something others would emulate in the gym. I use an application which allows me to view videos in slow motion, draw lines, and really understand what is happening during the motion.

Ian - Client analysis

From a coaches perspective, here’s what’s actually going on:

He is sitting down rather than sitting back – giving him less than ideal glute muscle activation. His center of gravity has shifted forward about 4-5 inches putting a large sheer force on his knees. The arch in his foot has collapsed because he doesn’t have the ideal ankle mobility. Simple coaching ques like pushing the knees out so ankles aren’t collapsing, and sit back, not down will enable him to create more tension and stability in his hip joint. That will correspond to keeping his center of gravity over his feet, keeping the foot arch intact, enabling the majority of his technique issues to take care themselves.

Concept 2: Neutral spine means neutral!

The spine is designed to be able to move in all directions. However, according to Dr. Stuart McGill – the world’s foremost expert on spine biomechanics, the greatest contributor to back injuries is repetitive flexion or extension of the spine. Squatting with an arched back, doing pushups where your hips sink and spine extends, or doing a sit up like a pill bug rolling into a ball is a fantastic way to herniate a spinal disk.

Having a neutral spine literally means reducing/eliminating any arch or rounded shapes from your spine and maintaining that rigidity through the duration of the movement

Here is a picture of AnthroPhysique coach Chad performing a bodyweight squat. His back is completely straight, even during a very deep squat motion.

Ian - Client Analysis 2

In conclusion

If you are serious in creating positive change in your own health and fitness, it is critical to enlist the help of a good coach. Having a coach will create a gameplan to reach a series of smaller goals that will ultimately contribute to the larger goal. A good coach will determine different flexibility and mobility weaknesses, muscular weaknesses, dietary deficiencies, lifestyle challenges, and determine the best and safest way to create positive changes. A good coach will keep you accountable and honest, ensuring that your are putting a sufficient body of effort forward. A good coach will show you the right technique for YOUR body to maximize results and minimize injury. Most importantly, a coach will give you the tools to become the best version of yourself.

Your options: Personal Trainer vs Online Trainer?

If the trainer/coach is so important, what are your options? You are essentially left with two options: the in person trainer, or someone you speak with over the phone/online. The most obvious difference in the two besides the trainer’s presence, is price. PTs can cost $100+/session or $1200+/month and require travel to a gym to complete your sessions. An online trainer costs between $150-350/month and doesn’t require you to exercise within the confines of the PT’s gym and schedule. Additionally, with the power of technology, you can share videos of your exercises, while coaches have apps that can break down technique in depth, and can be anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in working with an online coach, or even just having a technique assessment, contact me with the form below.

The Best Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is well known as an antioxidant and is important in protecting the body against free radicals. It also is a major factor in creating collagen, and supporting brain health. Public Health recommends daily intake to be between 75-90 mg of Vitamin C per day, but many nutritional therapies and studies point to much higher doses of Vitamin C. If you are going to supplement with Vitamin C, look for Non-Gmo sources with limited additives. I like the brands AOR and Thorne for supplementing.

Oranges are always spoken about for their high levels of Vitamin C, but there are many other fruits and vegetables with impressive levels of this important nutrient!

The following is a list of fruits and vegetables with very high levels of Vitamin C:

Papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, orange, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower.

What is the best way to get a good dose of Vitamin C? Eat a diet rich in a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, including some from the list above.

Nutrition Tip – Steaming vegetables

We all know the importance of eating lots of green vegetables on a day to day basis, but the question is often how to incorporate them into meals? One of the easiest ways to cook vegetables, that actually increases the nutrition you receive from them is by steaming them.

steaming vegetables

By gently steaming vegetables before eating them you soften the fibres, which make them easier to digest, and bring out their natural flavour and vibrance.

Green vegetables: kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, asparagus.

Try steaming any of these green vegetables, over boiling water for 3-5 minutes. You want the greens to be a nice bright colour, and still have a little crunch – this is their optimal nutritional state! 

Ideas for topping your greens:
-Fresh lemon juice
-Cracked pepper and Himalayan salt
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Crushed garlic
-Hot sauce
-Tamari
-Coconut oil

The perfect addition to any meal 🙂 Bon appetite!

Progression – walk before you run

I touched on the idea of progression last week but I think it’s a valuable topic to expand on.

Once you build the belief that you can succeed with small wins, that’s when you want to start increasing the challenge.

Progression is a gradual development over a period of time.

Last weeks reference was to how many times I see people jumping into a routine or diet with both feet and not really knowing where they want to go. They are so excited about the result they are trying to achieve that they try and do everything all at once so they can get the results ASAP!

Yes, I’ve done this myself, but don’t lie, you know you’ve done this too! You’ve been this “person” I speak of 😉

It’s okay though. It’s natural, kinda…

We now live in a world of immediate gratification. If I’m hungry I go to the fridge, store or restaurant and I’m eating within minutes. If I want to watch a movie I find it on Netflix or rent it on iTunes and within minutes I’m watching it. If I’m having a conversation with someone and we can’t remember which actor was in a movie a quick google or imdb search gives us the answer in seconds.

So it’s natural to think that if I want a strong, healthy, toned body, why can’t I have it in minutes as well?

Heck, even the majority of marketing in the fitness industry tells us we can have the six pack abs in just minutes a day.

As I mentioned in my last post, this method of jumping into it usually sets us up for failure. We take on too much too soon and we can’t keep up.

However, with progression, we’d have a more systematic approach to how we build our exercise and nutrition habits.

We always encourage our clients to start small and start with success.

This could literally be focusing only on one simple habit daily, like eating breakfast, to just doing three 20-minute workouts a week.

If you haven’t been working out at all, why try and start with 5+ days a week?

Once you start to have success with those basics, THEN you can start to increase the challenge. Start to focus on lunch and dinner if it’s nutrition related or add time or days to your workout plan. Once you have the habit built, it’s a lot easier to progress to a more advanced level of your program.

In fitness progression, I suggest that people progress through these phases in fitness: joint strength, core strength, general strength, power development, intensity, athletic movements.

This lets you start small and builds a strong foundation to reduce the risk of injury.

At the end of the day, all successful learning comes through a progression over time.

“Walk before you run”. Literally.

Next time your working on your fitness or nutrition routine, consider if you’re in the right stage of progression. Are you bitting off more than you can chew or are you starting small and creating success?

Do you set yourself up for success or failure? Share your experiences in the comments.

Belief – how to succeed!

When I talk about belief, I’m specifically referring to the belief in yourself. Maybe “self belief” or “belief in self” is more accurate?

A belief is a feeling of being sure that something is true.

If I have a belief in myself, it’s a belief that I know something about me is true. Or, I believe that I have the ability to do something.

An example might be that I believe I am a creative person or I believe that I can workout 3 times a week on a regular basis.

The opposite of this might be doubt.

Applied to the context of fitness or nutrition; if I believe that I am the type of person that will follow through with my plans and goals, I’m probably more likely to succeed at them. The belief actually leads to the success!

If I have doubt in what I can do, it’s hard for me to get going and I likely fail.

When I start coaching with my clients, one of the first things we start to do is build their belief. Belief in themselves and what they can achieve. If they want long-term success they need to feel confident that they are the type of person that will be able to follow through.

How does one build this belief?

Great question! 🙂

As I’ve said in many other posts, like here and here, a big key to success is starting small. Set some small achievable goals so you can build a foundation of success. As you succeed, you feel better and better about your ability to re-produce that success.

The next step is knowing when to start adding complexity and how to progress, but I’ll talk more about that next week. For now we’ll stick to building the belief.

I see it time and time again where people have a great excitement towards their goals and want them NOW. They want the results as quickly as possible, so they start full steam ahead.

They go from working out less times than they can count on one hand over the past 3-6 months to going to the gym 5 days a week over night.

Ever done that?

Heck, even I’ve done that!

I had a couple months with a scarce workout routine and then when I got back on track I thought I could do everything I used to do 2 months earlier. Let’s just say it was tough to sit down for a few days…

Anyway, moving along…

The problem with this aggressive approach is that it sets us up for failure. By trying to take on too much and rush our results, we end up failing. Instead of building belief we build doubt. We don’t see that we can succeed so we doubt if it’s even possible.

If you jump into 5 days a week and only get 3 it feels like a failure. But if you start with 3 days a week and happen to get 4, that’s a HUGE victory!

So again, start small, get yourself some wins and enjoy the success. Setting yourself up for success will help you build the belief that you know you can do it. You’ll believe in yourself and your ability.

What is your self belief with fitness or nutrition? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

– Chad

Nutrition Tip – Simplicity

Nutrition Tip

Keep it Simple

“In cooking as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.”
– Curnonsky

Not necessarily always, but usually some of the tastiest dishes are also the simplest to make. We tend to think meals have to be extravagant to impress. So this week’s nutrition tip – use fresh, whole, and quality ingredients to see what flavour combinations you can come up with.

Keep it simple.

Weekly Challenge – Nutrition – Gear up your Greens!

20130906-164334.jpg

I recently visited Amsterdam for the first time. What an incredible city to get lost in. The biking, the canals, the food! I had a few recommended lunch and dinner spots written down from a couple foodie friends. One being a new salad bar. Salad bar? Sounds kind of like something you find in the food court of the shopping mall right? Wrong. It was one of the best lunches I’ve had while in the city. This leads us to the nutrition challenge for the week.

Time to get creative with your greens! Why? Because a salad can be so incredibly satisfying (and beautiful) if you know how to build it.

Greens (aka Leaves)
The base which should make the bulk of your green salad. Spinach, romaine, rainbow chard, kale, or a lovely mix from your local farmers market. Up to you, go wild.

Note: If you’re using a more bitter fibrous green such as chard or kale, I like to cut off the ends, roll up the leaves, and chop horizontally to create thin strips of greens. Give the greens a little massage in some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. A lovely salad base!

Veggies
This is where you get creative with colour and texture. Try shredding the starchier veggies such as carrots, purple or golden beets, summer squash, and sweet potato. Shredded zucchini and fennel are delicious too. As for your juicier veggies, try dicing cucumber or quartering small cherry tomatoes.

Fruit
If you enjoy a little sweetness in your salads, having it come from fresh fruit is a healthy option. Low glycemic fruit such as berries, diced pear, and shredded apple are great options.

Grains
Grains are a nice option for adding bulk to a salad, especially if you are enjoying your salad as a meal. Millet, red quinoa, wild rice are personal favourites, but any gluten-free grain could work. Try cooking a big batch at the beginning or mid week and keep in the fridge.

Protein
If you are choosing an animal source of protein, it is important to go for free-range and organic to ensure you’re getting a good source. The same goes for those that enjoy adding cheese. Try organic goats feta, as this can be easier to digest for some versus cows feta.When it comes to plant-based protein, try sprouted beans such as chickpeas, mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils. They are incredibly satisfying and filling.

Healthy Fats
The cherry on top! I’m a big fan of the healthy fats, but in moderation and try not to skimp on quality so that you know you’re getting the highest amount of essential fatty acids. Some sources are diced up avocado, chopped nuts (lightly dry roasted or sprouted raw), or a homemade dressing made of extra virgin olive oil or unrefined sesame oil.

Note here: Most salads can keep well in the fridge, just wait to toss in the dressing until you are ready to serve.

Make sure to share some of our favourite flavour combinations in the comments below. The possibilities are endless all year round. Light and cooling in the summer, hearty and cozy in the winter.

Weekly Health Challenge – Go Ahead, Try Something New

Happy Monday!
If you didn’t already know, we’ve added two new services lately. Nutrition coaching and Yoga coaching. With that, we’re adapting the Weekly Activity Challenge to become a Weekly Health Challenge. We’ll switch it up each week between, activity, nutrition and even yoga challenges.
This week, Jennifer is giving us a nutrition challenge! Take it away Jennifer:
Continuing with Chad’s theme this week of getting out there and trying a new sport, I thought I’d bring that into today’s post.
Photo 2013-07-19 9 54 13 AM
When life gets hectic we tend to reach for those quick and easy (usually processed) options. Too often I hear “Cooking just isn’t exciting to me anymore” or “I’m lacking inspiration or motivation in the kitchen”.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve definitely been at that point myself. You’re staring at the pantry in the kitchen or the produce section of the grocery store and wondering what the heck to make. What I find really helps, is simply telling myself to try something new each week. This doesn’t need to be drastic, just think about how you can substitute something in to a meal that you’ve never tried before. Or, pick one recipe from your favourite food blog or cookbook and just try it out. With a whiteboard pen, I’ve been writing a “Recipe of the Week” on the mirror in my kitchen!
Some examples – do you have oats in the morning? Why not try millet, quinoa, or simply adding in soaked chia seeds or some hemp seeds? Do you have a salad for most of your lunches? Why not think up a new dressing that you can prepare and keep refrigerated for the rest of the week. How about for dinner? Head to the local market, have a conversation with the fisherman, and try a new type of fish that you’ve never tried before. You may be surprised, and even inspired to keep it going next week.
This week, I tried out a new juice recipe and it’s now becoming one of my all-time favourites.
So go ahead, try something new.  What new grain, juice, dressing, veggie, or healthy dessert will you try this week? Post it in the comments!

5 New Ways to Fall in Love with Smoothies

Smoothie

Happy Wednesday!  Lets talk smoothies!

The second the weather gets nice, my body starts to crave those perfectly blended drinks in the AM. Smoothies may not be for everyone, and that’s ok, but I found that the second I learned how to create that creamy texture, I was hooked. Here are a few of my favourite smoothie tips and tricks.

Smoothie

  • A quarter of an avocado or extra banana can create a really nice creamy consistency. Try 1/2 of a frozen banana and a quarter of an avocado.
  • If you’re currently putting yoghurt in your smoothies, you can try an organic plain kefir which is similar to yoghurt but a thinner consistency and higher in those healthy bacteria.
  • Fruit overpowers the veggies. So add in that spinach or kale and trick those picky eaters into getting their greens.
  • Easing into those green smoothies? Try sweetening with low glycemic fruits such as green apple, pear, green grapes, or kiwi.
  • Don’t forget the fresh herbs! Mint has always been a favourite for berry smoothies, until I recently saw a recipe using fresh basil. It was a life-changer!

I hope that you find these tips helpful. Feel free to share your favourite smoothie in the comments below. I’d love to know!

12 Healthy Snack Ideas for Nutrition On The Go!

Healthy Snack

We’ve all done it – used our busy lifestyles to justify a coffee for breakfast, skipping meals, or grabbing for that processed snack in hopes for some kind of afternoon energy burst. You may be raising children, with little time to devote to yourself. Or your job may be keeping you busy throughout the entire day, with little time for lunch or snacks. Whatever the case, always remember that even the littlest of change can make a big difference, especially when it comes to snacking.

To me, Nutrition on the Go means everything from proper hydration, preparing healthy snacks to get you through the day, or quick and easy breakfast ideas for those mornings you’ve slept through the alarm. But for this post, let’s talk snacks.

Why dedicate a post just to snacking? Well for one, healthy snacking can do more than curb cravings and increase energy, it can even save you a little money and reduce waste. And two, sometimes we just need to be reminded of the basics of nutrition and believe this starts with quick and easy ideas that everyone can try.

Healthy Snack

Healthy snack ideas, to name a few:

  • Pear slices and raw walnuts
  • Green Juice
  • That go-to smoothie
  • Dried Apricots (organic, unsulphured)
  • Applesauce and cinnamon
  • Homemade dips such as hummus, guacamole, or with rice crackers or veggies.
  • Multigrain rice cakes with honey and nut butters
  • Celery with nut butters (almond, pumpkin, walnut)
  • Homemade trail mix or roasted nuts
  • Organic Popcorn with melted coconut oil, sea salt and nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 mashed avocado on toasted dark rye
  • Spelt or gluten-free pancakes with almond butter

I’d love to hear about your healthy go-to’s when it comes to snacking, so be sure to comment below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great week!