Friday, February 19, 2016

How to effectively use social media for fitness (or to promote you or your brand!)

The first thing you should know about social media is that likes, follows, and tap-taps are not king.
Just because someone likes your ass doesn't mean they are going to buy your products or services. Brand ambassadors are able to give their sponsor more visibility (in theory) with a larger community or "following". If you own a business, are a personal trainer, or are trying to sell your product or service, however, quantity in your network, pales in comparision to the quality of your network. 
The key to converting fans to clients is threefold: relatability, reliability, accessibility
Chances are your followers follow you because of a shared interest. While Breakfast at TIffany's is a good starting point, it is going to take more than the fact you have both seen the movie for them to truly identify with you. If you are a personal trainer trying to get clients, you need to identify with your followers on a personal level, ie. make an instagram video of your struggles to get out of bed for a morning workout, tweet a picture of your failed attempt to say no to cheesecake (without calling it a "cheat day"), and create a Snapchat of ensuing DOM's that makes it painful to lower your buttcheeks to the toilet-boil. The point is, we all experience these things, but if you present yourself as an unattainable demigod, your fans will always keep you at an arm's length.
Post with regularity (notice I didn't see frequency). Users who post every 30 minutes aren't necessarily more successful than those who post once a day. Rather, the stats show that posting at a regular interval (ie. at the same time each day), creates a stronger, more engaged following, than at random intervals.
Responsiveness is also paramount to building credibility and reliability with your followers. Respond to their questions and respond to comments, likes and shares, even if they aren't asking anything of you. Thanking someone for sharing your content not only rewards them for the proliferation of your brand, but it makes you more visible and relevant to both their followers and your own! Try to respond to everyone's comments and questions within a standard 24 hour period so that you are still top-of-mind.  
Give your fans, who want to be clients, a next step. I'm talking about a call-to-action! If you have done the unthinkable and peaked their interest enough to make them want to buy your product, service, or brand, you should have somewhere for them to go to complete the sale! Make it easy for them to get to a landing page by putting a link in your profile or blog. At the same time, don't try to sell your audience with every post. In fact, you should really only try to make a pitch 1 out of every 10 posts MAXIMUM.
Generosity cannot be overrated. Yes, people may follow you because you have established yourself as an expert on body building, vegan recipes, yoga, or twerking, but sharing, liking, and commenting on other people's content illustrates your engagement and your willingness to grow as part of a community. Be a go-giver, not a go-getter.
WIthout a doubt, social media has had a major influence on the fitness industry and how we market ourselves. Effective community growth, and converting fans to clients, should be the focus of your social media activities to maximize your return on investment. For more helpful tips and fun pics, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @BrendanRolfe and subcribe to my blog!

Monday, February 15, 2016

How much weight should I be lifting?

I can't tell you how many times I have seen young, strong, healthy women, and stiff, serious, middle-aged men lifting weights that are not right for them. In both instances I can say the same phrase, "You're wasting your time" (and likely mine if you are doing it on a squat-rack). Bicep-curling a 5 pound dumbbell or bench-pressing 225 pounds at a quarter of the range of motion you should be employing are equally as useless.
So that begs the question, how much weight is the right weight?
The answer is actually fairly simple, but begs another question first: What do you want to achieve?
For sake of argument, let's say that there are two types of muscle fibres (controversially, there are 3), type 1 muscles fibres and type 2 muscle fibres.
Type 1 muscle fibres are what is known as “slow-twitch” muscle fibres. Generally, these muscles excel in low-force, endurance activities, and are developed by doing a high amount of repetitions (eg. 15 repetitions).
Type 2 muscle fibres are known as “fast-twitch” muscle fibres and are most efficient, you guessed it: at high force, low endurance  movements. These are developed by heavier weight and lower repetitions.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have found that increasing the size of type 2 muscle fibers will lead to a significant decrease in fat mass or the amount of fat in the body.
Here’s the rub, you are born with a certain amount of type 1 and type 2 muscle fibres, and while you cannot convert one to the other, or increase the number of those fibres, you can increase the size of them.
Unless you are a long distance cyclist or an ultra-marathon runner, why would you focus on developing type 1 muscle fibres when development of type 2 fibres offer the benefits you are looking for?
So really, it is simple. If your goal is increased muscle mass, greater athletic performance, fat loss, or strength enhancement, the answer is to lift as much weight as you can, while maintaining proper form. You should lift a weight heavy enough that you can do no more than 12 repetitions (ideally ‘failing’ at 10 or 11 because you are too exhausted to do more). 3 or 4 sets of each exercise is enough to sufficiently exhaust the muscle, promoting controlled tears, growth and recovery.
So if the repetition, set, and weight range is the same for everyone to achieve differing goals, why doesn’t everyone who adheres to this look the same?
Simple, it all boils down to nutrition. If you want to gain muscle, you have to consume more calories than you burn, if you want to lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. But you can’t do both at the same time! If you are looking to add muscle and cut fat, you must build first, and deplete second. If you try to do both, you are bound to remain the same, no matter what your program.
One last nutritional note: Not all calories are created equal. It takes more energy to metabolize proteins than carbohydrates or fat. When in doubt, choose foods that are higher in protein content. For more helpful tips on workouts and nutrition, subscribe to our newsletter!

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Friday, January 29, 2016

You're probably a Baby Boomer if...

- you wipe your hands on a paper towel instead of using the blow dryer

- you take the escalator instead of the stairs

- you jingle the change in the pockets of your jeans when waiting

- you jingle the change in your pockets when not waiting

- you actually have change in your pockets (who carries cash anymore...honestly?)

- you use the word "The" and add an "s" when referencing gay people

- you think global warming is a theory
- you put salt on EVERYTHING

- you walked up hill to school both ways, & always in a snow storm (what else are you lying about?)

- you own your home, mortgage-free

- you own your own car, lease-free

- you like your Coca-Cola, sugar-free (because you believe in the word 'diet')
- you believe "Negro" is a politically correct term for referencing an African American (it's not)

- you think that walking is exercise
- you think I'm lazy and entitled

- you think everyone without grey hair is lazy and entitled

- Get a job you bum! (wait...what?)

- you ski in jeans (yeahhhhh you do)

- you believe lead paint "puts hair on your chest"

- you believe asbestos "puts hair on your chest"

- you use the term, "puts hair on your chest"
- you update your facebook status with your daily routine (you fed your cat HOW much?!?)
- twitter is scary
- Instagram is scarier
- retiring from your job is scariest (clearly)
- "dancing", to you, means pointing your fingers and twisting your hips
- you're annoyed that you had to enhance the font when reading this one (un-pinch your fingers)


Friday, January 22, 2016

The art of looking great naked

Unless you are the treasurer for some hippy nudist colony, a serial-streaker, or a skinny-dipping aficionado, there are only two people in the world that are going to see you naked: you, and the person you trust in the moment to see you naked.

Chances are, if someone is willing to birthday suit-up with you, one of two things has already occurred: 1) They have already sized you up and like what they see 2) They care about you and really aren't focused on your Instagram-appeal.

So then we are left with YOU. Psychologically speaking, happy people don't necessarily like everything about their bodies. In fact, I would argue that almost every single person has at least 2 things they would like to change about themselves. BUT, truly happy people are at peace with what they see when they go full-length and free-bird. So "looking great naked" really comes down to how you see yourself and how happy you are. If you find you are not happy with your reflection, you can't look yourself in the belly-button, and that your 'uglies' are actually ...ugly. Then make a change.

The beauty of being human is that we are not slaves to our instincts and urges and that we have free will. And while some people's will is a few carbon molecules short of iron (#chemjoke), I truly believe that everyone has the ability to change themselves for the better, and for the healthier. To follow are 5 SIMPLE things you can do so that the next time you sachet on by a mirror, au naturale, you check out your own ass (and maybe even give it a slap).

DRINK MORE WATER - I know, I know, EVERYONE and their mother says this, but that's because it really is a game-changer. Dehydration has been identified as a major culprit in maladies such as headaches, muscle-cramping, cholesterol, and strokes.

Here's your strategy: Drink a glass of water as soon as you wakeup, drink a glass of water with every meal and every snack, drink a glass of water right before you go to bed. If you can make it warm water, so much the better for your digestion.

PUT PEPPER ON ALL OF YOUR FOOD - Do you suffer from stress and hypertension (high blood pressure)? Scientific studies show that simply adding black pepper to each meal can lower your blood pressure.

Couple the addition of pepper with consciously and purposefully lowering (or eliminating) the addition of salt to your food, and you will experience a significant decrease in your systolic and diastolic numbers. Add a little exercise to the mix and you just added 10 years to your life! Your call though...

EAT HIGH COCOA DARK CHOCOLATE - Is your "sweet tooth" actually a mouthful of sweet teeth? If you had to choose between cutting out the sweets and cutting off your pinky finger, would you consider life as Franky Four-Fingers? Dark chocolate (lights out dark) could be the answer: 1) The amount of antioxidants a square of 90% cocoa contains can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 77% 2) You are extremely unlikely to binge on dark chocolate and it has been shown to help buck the habit.

If there is a certain time of the day that you usually binge, substitute your milk chocolate with a 90%'er. You still get the chocolicious after-taste, but the bitterness will have you putting the bar down for other options.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR LIFE - If reading this heading made you upset or had you instantly rolling your eyes, then you do NOT take responsibility for the current state of affairs in your life. Playing a victim, in life, is dangerous. Not only do you feel that bad things 'happen to you', but you are far less likely to take credit for good things that 'happen to you' as well. Studies show that those who do not feel in control of their life are more likely to suffer from issues like stress, anxiety, depressive tendencies, and general pessimism. No matter who you are or what your position, you have the ability to make your own life better.

Life Coaches frequently employ the use of the "Wheel of Life". The wheel of life divides your life in to 8 areas. In each area, you will rate your level of satisfaction. After rating each area, go through each one individually and write down the reasons why you are dissatisfied and satisfied with that area. Once you have identified the positives and negatives in each category, write down one way in which you can improve each (there is always room for improvement). Complete this wheel each month for the first 6 months, and then every other month for the next 6. Finally, you can graduate to doing it in each quarter of the year, and then twice per year. It is common for happy, successful people to continue this practice at the beginning of every year.

PRACTICE POSITIVITY - So much of our lives are filled with can'ts, won'ts, and didn'ts. And most of that comes from ourselves. Practicing positivity is actually much harder than it sounds, and you may need to fake it and lie to yourself at first, but eventually, like the sucker you are, you will begin to believe your own lies and propaganda. Positive self-talk is a proven method that you don't even have to believe in for it to work (kind of like Valentines Day).

Try this simple first step: Record your own voice on your phone saying, "Today is going to be a great day" (make sure you are smiling - even faking a smile - as you record this. Believe it or not, you can tell by someone's voice if they are smiling or not smiling when they speak). Set this as your alarm (on loop) so that you wake up to it every day. The last thing you do before you go to bed should be to look in the mirror (fake a) smile, and say "I am strong, I am smart, and I am happy." I know that it sounds hokey, but there is a scientific basis showing that this crap works.

Before you know it, the 2 year old you that used to peel down and run around naked will show up. You'll be sleeping naked, eating naked, and yes, looking at your self in the mirror naked...and you won't even need to fake your smile.


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Five things 13 year old me needed to hear

We all wish we had do-overs in least one. I don't care if your life-motto is 'no regrets', there is always that one circumstance in which you wish you had a mulligan. Well, tough luck. You don't get one. But if I could go back and deliver a message to myself, that 13 year old me might actually listen to, it would surround these five wisdoms that I have learned in my time on this earth.

1. "Clothes make the man." - I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up on a multi-acred property, played in the mud, and my weekends were filled with all of the sports I could squeeze in. However, we didn't have a lot of money, and often when it came time to buying clothes, Value Village was our go-to. When I was younger, it didn't bother me, but as I entered highschool, brand names became a must-have, and instead of just getting clothes that fit right and looked good, I would opt for on-sale brand names that were a size or two too big.

Wear clothes that fit. The label and price doen't matter, but wearing clothes that fit you right make you feel like a million bucks. The better you feel, the more confident you are; confidence is magnetic.

2. "Respect is earned not given." - Don't get me wrong. I was not a bully. I would never instigate in making fun of someone else and was conscious of how my actions made others feel. HOWEVER, there are instances I can recall where I wish I had the courage to step in to defend someone else when I knew something wrong was happening.

The reality is, respect should be assumed until it's lost. Be kind to everyone, always. And when others are not kind, be brave and confident enough to do what you know is right.

3. "Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century." - Growing up can be an awkward, difficult, and sometimes painful experience; learn to laugh at yourself and it will be a lot easier. This is a message my father taught me early on, and while I practiced this outwardly, inwardly it proved more of a challenge. Understanding the insecurity of all those around you, accepting that you are not alone and not different, and appreciating that it's not personal, is, in my humble opinion, the key to life.

The ability to laugh at yourself, and even poke fun at yourself (without self-deprecation) is a higher-level social skill that many never develop. It is a sign of self-confidence and is a tremendous ice-breaker in new social situations. Be quick to laugh and slow to anger.

4. "The only thing to fear is fear itself." - I was not a fearful child (although I distinctly remember freaking out any time my dad would pick me up and turn me upside down). I was constantly part of groups, was always involved in sports, I had plenty of friends and was very social. The same was true in highshool. BUT, for some reason I started to become extremely anxious in social situations, and was unreasonably uncomfortable being in the spotlight. Looking back, I never had any reason to be so. From what I remember, I was friendly with everybody, wasn't bullied, and I didn't have a tail growing out of my forehead. Perhaps it was an immaturity that didn't have me prepared to take that step from childhood to pre-adulthood (I finally figured it out in college).

First of all relax. Do things. Put yourself out there. You only get one chance to live each part of your life. I'm not saying try LSD when you're 13 years old. But I am saying, don't let the fear of the unknown or potential for embarrassment stop you from doing things.

5. "Music is the soundtrack of our lives." - I showed an early propensity for musical aptitude. I could sit down at a piano and pick out my favourite songs by ear and memory (The Entertainer by Scott Joplin was my jam when I was 10). Hearing this, my mom put me in piano lessons (I hated them). I only did them for as long as I had to, and then I quit. I would later pick up the saxophone in highschool band (again, because it was part of curriculum) and then quit that too, when I was no longer being graded. Thanks to the interests of my college roommates, I picked up the guitar. I don't suck too bad at it now (7 years later), but music definitely doesn't come as naturally as it once did.

Sing, guitar, piano, whatever. Not only is it a party favourite, it is an international language and a wonderful stress-release. There is something primal about music that touches everyone. Being able to create such universal understanding and happiness is a gift that you will value later on... hell, that's how you are going to win-over your future wife.

Oh yeah, and one more thing: life may not play out exactly as you envisioned it, but in a lot of ways it's going to be so much better. Hang in there.


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

3 easy exercises you aren't doing for a great bum & enhanced athletic performance

That's right, I said BUM...Gluteal the professional population.

The problem with your bum is that while it has potential to be a powerhouse muscle, it is lazy. Like, Homer Simpson lazy, NO, like lounging in a beach hammock while sipping a Mai Tai in Mexico, lazy. Anyways, you get the picture.

If you are thrusting, squatting, squeezing, pulsing and pumping (?), and your rear isn't growing more round and more robust, it's probably because you aren't activating it properly. Poor activation, or "muscle recruitment" is usually the result of a combination of 3 things: 1) a tightness 2) a weakness 3) a lack of neuromuscular connectivity.

 Completing 10 repetitions of these 3 exercises before your daily workout will guarantee firmer junk in your trunk and more badonk in your dunk:

Glute Activation
Range of Motion


Hip Stability
     Curtsy lunge


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Thursday, December 31, 2015

I only have one thing to say to "New Years Resolutioners" at the gym


Over the next few weeks you are going to see a lot of crap on Facebook, Twitter, etc, disparaging and lamenting the presence of those who are new to the gym or new to health and fitness. Ignore it. Ignore it all. Instead, accept my congratulations and enthusiasm for your decision to make a real and meaningful change in your life, and realize that this may be the most important and impactful choice you have ever made. It isn't easy, but it is worthwhile.

The reason that more seasoned gym-goers tend to scoff and role their eyes this time of the year, is that the enthusiasm of a fresh start is followed by increased gym traffic (and wait times for equipment) plus the inevitability of beginners using machines improperly, practicing poor form, and most of all, not observing proper gym etiquette (both written and unwritten).

To make your transition a little smoother I have put together a BEGINNER'S TOOLBOX on what to know and where to start:

EQUIPMENT - If the gym is busy (and it will be), limit your time on cardio equipment to 30 minutes and your time on equipment such as the squat rack, bench press, etc to 15 minutes. If someone asks to "work in" with you, it is proper protocol to accept this. This means they will do a set while you rest, and vice-versa. If you are using resistance machines, do not rest on the machine in between sets, get up and allow others to use it while you are not. They are all easy to adjust, and so it is no big deal if you need to make a change while sharing it. Finally, when you are done with all and any equipment, wipe it down and put it away. There is nothing more frustrating than having to cleanup after someone else. I'm not your mother or maid, and neither is the staff or exercisers at the gym.

SIGHTS/SOUNDS/SMELLS - Proper gym attire is really up to the individual, however, a good rule of thumb is: no jeans and denim, wear runners or athletic footwear, and if you know you sweat a lot, either wear clothing that soaks it up or bring a towel. "Sounds" may seem like an odd choice, but this is actually pretty paramount in the gym. Listening to music through headphones is good (though most gyms play music over their speakers). Talking on the phone, talking loudly with your gym-buddy, or using an audible timer on your phone is extremely irritating, and listening to music over the speaker  of your phone is a non-starter. Additionally, think about the noises YOU are making. Audible exhaling is ok; grunting, groaning, yelling, shouting, and dropping weights is amateurish, ridiculous, and unnecessary. Finally, your scent is important. There are few things more distracting and nauseating at the gym than someone with strong body-odour. DO wear deodorant, DON'T lather on a ton of perfume or cologne (this is also distracting and nauseating). A fresh, light scent, or no scent at all is best.

SPATIAL AWARENESS - This might be the most important item of protocol. The gym will be busy, but it is critical that you realize the need for giving others space during their set. I like to keep a "1 metre rule", that is, each exerciser is entitled to a 1 metre bubble in all directions that I do not penetrate. Lifting weight takes focus, and having somebody bump in to you or come close to you mid-set, breaks that concentration and can hurt them and you quite seriously. Also, if at all possible, try not to walk in front of people when they are watching themselves in the mirror during the set. Often they are looking at their form and this will surely break their concentration as well. Wait until they are done their set to return your weights. Along these lines, it is also extremely bad form to do your exercise right in front of the weight-rack, so that other people cannot access weights or put theirs away. Keep a distance of at least 2 metres from the rack when exercising. This will allow others access and will aid in not breaking your own concentration when someone walks in front of you (and they will). Lastly, if you are going to do some floor work (stretching, skipping, abs, etc), don't put your mat down directly next to someone else. They don't want your breathing, sweat, and body heat invading their space. Give them at least 4 or 5 feet. You will find that the more hot and bothered you are, the more you will want your personal space respected. Give others this same consideration.

*BONUS - Don't be afraid to ask for help. Perhaps the greatest reason that "New Years Resolutioners" are looked upon with ire is that they often do not know what they are doing. They are seen to be wasting both their own time and the others around them who need the equipment they are (ab)using. I absolutely recommend purchasing a session or two with a personal trainer and asking them to show you proper form and foundational exercises like squats and deadlifts, or to find a friend who is knowledgeable and consult their wisdom. Believe me, you are better off asking a question you think is "stupid" than doing something incorrectly that looks stupid and can hurt you.

The final reason why new exercisers in January are given the title, "Resolutioners", is because regular gym-goers expect you to come for a month or two, and then stop when the going gets tough or the rest of your life takes over again. My best advice here is to prove those smug-bastards wrong. Get a workout buddy, book personal training sessions, schedule it in your calendar; do whatever you have to do to get to the gym, but just get there. Because in 365 days, you will be glad you did. Your better future starts today.


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