So, here I am, about to come to the end of an era, with the best part of a decade serving as a musician in the British Army.
On April 1st this year, I pushed the button and made the decision to sign off.
I am proud of everything I have achieved in my Army career, from best recruit in basic training, Household Division Musician of the year in 2007, every Cenotaph and Queens Birthday Parade, countless other great parades, to the PTI Course, and most of all just everyday I’ve put that bearskin on my head and marched out onto parade with some great friends and fine musicians.
I’m going to walk away with some great memories, from both my time in the Band of the Welsh Guards, and formerly the Band of the Scots Guards, that will stay with me for a lifetime.
All that said, the time is right for me to prepare to move onto pastures new, and throw myself into another passion of mine, fitness, which is the basis for this blog post, revealing where I will be going next.
It has been a whirlwind year so far, with so much to think about and prepare for.
Its been a fun year of education for a start as I prepare for the change and the new challenges ahead, from PICP level 1 and 2 in February, to Gym Jones Level 1 in March, then onto CrossFit Level 1 in July, and coming up the next couple of months I have CrossFit Strongman, CrossFit Weightlifting, and then Gym Jones Level 2.
So many different sources of knowledge to pull from, with some excellent coaches and people met along the way that will help mold me into the coach that I want to be.
I still have a lot to learn, and I am sure I will make many mistakes, but I am confident I have laid the foundations this year upon which to build and become a successful coach.
So, where I am going next?
Well, one man that has been a good influence on me the past couple of years, has been Pieter Vodden, the first fully certified Gym Jones instructor in the UK.
From the first time he stopped and asked me what I was training for a few years back in Gymbox, he has always been happy to stop and chat, offer up helpful advice, and has become a good friend. For a start, he was the man that introduced Gym Jones to me, and a philosophy and way of doing things that really rang true with me. I have learnt a lot, not least about myself following what Mark Twight, Rob, Pieter and the rest of the guys at Gym Jones do on a daily basis. Marks Sunday sermons are always a real treat of the week!
Anyone who knows Piete will have seen his announcement a few weeks ago about his new venture he will be taking up in Kuwait. Well, I can now announce myself that I will also be joining him over there as a Strength & Conditioning Coach at Circuit+ in early 2015.
I am incredibly excited for this opportunity and the challenges that will come with it. It is going to be a fun year working in a great facility, experiencing a different country and culture, and working closely with Piete and a top team of coaches that I am sure I will learn a lot from.
We will be looking to build something truly special over there. I look forward to helping people get better at whatever they need to get better at, helping to guide and push them in the right direction to achieving their goals and targets that they set for themselves.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention what an awesome other half I have, for her support of me going off for a year to have this experience. It will all be worth it going forward, thank you for your support, love you Em x
I will enjoy my last couple of months in the Army, and I am more than ready to tackle the big changes coming my way head on.
Not for the first time, I’ll leave you with a Rocky quote, going where I want to be and doing what I want to do:
“Cause if you’re willing to go through all the battling you got to go through to get where you want to get, who’s got the right to stop you? I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to someone, something…and you’re told no, even after you paid your dues? Who’s got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody! It’s your right to listen to your gut, it ain’t nobody’s right to say no after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do!”
Never stand still. Never stop learning and evolving. Never give up on your dreams.
Virtus – (Latin) Excellence; Character; Worth; Courage; Bravery
If I hear someone say "I don't have time to exercise", I have one simple response, bullshit!
There are 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, if you honestly expect me to buy that you can't exercise during any of that time, you're lying to me and yourself.
You don't have to go to the gym for hours a week, you don't need lots of machines or equipment, if you're truly short of spare time, there is a heck of a lot you can achieve with just your own bodyweight anywhere at anytime.
If you stood up from your desk or moved from in front of the tv just once every hour for 10 hours a day and did 10x push ups and 10x bodyweight squats, it wouldn't tire you nor take up more than a couple of minutes an hour of your time, but by the end of a day, you'd have amassed 100x push ups and 100x squats.
Do that every day, thats 700 of each in a week and 36500 in a year! Do you think that wouldn't make any difference to you? Do you still think you don't have time to exercise at all?
How about also putting the Oyster card away or leave the car in the driveway a couple of times a week and cycle or run or walk to work? Do you still think you don't have any time to exercise?
The point is, there are many ways in a busy life schedule where you can make time to fit some form of exercise into your life. Make a few small changes, a few small sacrifices, a few minutes of effort every day consistently, and you could make big strides into improving your health and the quality of life you lead.
Quit the bullshit excuses and commit to bettering yourself just a little everyday.
Its funny, i've often seen people joke the first rule of CrossFit is to tell everybody you do CrossFit, yet there seems to be far more people at the moment feeling the need to tell people they don't do CrossFit, and then waffle on about exactly why they don't do CrossFit (having never done CrossFit nor in many cases fully understanding what CrossFit is).
I'm not really a "CrossFitter" per se, but I do enjoy the sport that it is and do enjoy challenging myself with some of their WODs. This is the point many also miss, CrossFit is competitive and is a sport, and like any other sport, it comes with a risk of injury. The training leading up to competing should be structured like training for any other sport, with a focus on strength and conditioning, building power endurance and endurance, working on imbalances and structural integrity, only poor coaches and trainees lacking in knowledge would train as if its a "game day" so to speak everyday of the week.
Learn all the moves/lifts properly, practice your skills and drills, work on technique until it becomes second nature to you before jumping up in weight, work on any weaknesses and imbalances you have, build a solid level of strength and conditioning and be sensible about how you structure your training, and there is no reason why you should get hurt training in CrossFit.
Whatever path you decide to follow, commit to it, work hard, have fun, and you can achieve great results.
No training session is worthless.
There will be times you will walk into the gym and things will just not feel right. Weight that you usually warm up with will feel twice as heavy as it should. There can be many reasons for this, you're dehydrated, under fuelled, a poor nights sleep, stressful day at work and so on.
You then have a choice to make. In some cases, you will need to remove your head from your ass, take a little more care and attention to your warm up drills and get yourself focused. I have had some of my best and most fulfilling training sessions when I haven't felt quite right when I walked through the door of the gym, I just needed to adjust my attitude.
However, there are then also the times where things will just not happen, and that is what I want to talk about briefly. If after a focused warm up, things still don't feel right, you need to take a step back. If you can't even get close to the weight and reps planned, then its time to rethink what you need to do for the day, and what you will get the most benefit from. If you intended to do 5x5 back squats at 80% 1RM for example, there is little point in squeezing out a few crappy sets of 1-3 reps at that weight, or dropping in weight just to get your number of reps in. Struggling your way through every set and failing reps is a fine way to demoralise yourself, drain your central nervous system without achieving anything, and is also just asking for injury.
There are still things that can then be achieved to make the session productive. Leave the neurologically taxing strength work for another day when you feel recovered and you have the focus for it. Instead spend some time on structural work, mobility and breathing instead to still walk out of the gym feeling like you achieved something useful.
Any session is salvageable. Be honest with yourself and listen to your body. Don't be afraid to step back and have a recovery day if things just don't feel right, adapt and overcome. At the same time, don't use it as an excuse to bail out on every session, we're talking about one off sessions here. If you're feeling weak for a prolonged period of time, then there are other factors that need to be looked at, i.e. diet.
Sometimes though, it will just require you to have an honest look in the mirror, remove you head from your ass and get shit done.