Monthly Archives: December 2015

My Gingivitis and Your Health and Fitness

I have bad gums! There I’ve said it. I know, I know, you think I’m pretty perfect so this may come as something of a shock – but when it comes to my gums apparently I’m pretty susceptible to gingivitis….. Now this isn’t anything to do with my ‘strawberry blond’ hair but is the inflammation of my gums. A major problem? No not really as long as I engage in good oral hygiene. My dentist likes to scare me with scenarios of long term tissue damage and all my teeth falling out – but she tells me all will be fine as long as I floss. Regularly.

The problem there is that I generally don’t. You see I don’t like flossing. And I often don’t remember to floss. And when I do remember it’s usually only really late when I’m just brushing my teeth about to crawl into bed and I simply can’t be bothered so I’ll decide to do it tmrw…..again…..

‘Ben stop’ I hear you cry, ‘enough already about your crappy gums.’ ‘Where are you going with this?’ And fair enough. But the point is this. I went to the dentist last week. I’ll go again in about 6 months. Between each appointment I’ll likely see the dental hygienist. Probably at least three appointments a year for someone to stare in my mouth, prod and scrape around, hurt me a bit and ask me questions about how well I’ve been flossing. And there it is. Accountability.

You see for about a fortnight before each visit I think regularly about flossing and I actually floss. I’ll do it occasionally during the rest of the year too, but this is the only time when I make a real concerted effort. I don’t want to turn up and have my dentist give me her disappointed look…again. And although I don’t floss all the time what I do seems to be just about enough to stay on top of it. Surprisingly enough I don’t want all of my teeth to fall out, and apparently neither does my wife – so I book appointments to keep me on track.

Now you can see this one coming… the comparison I’m going to draw here is with many of my clients. As much as I like to think that I’m hired for my fantastic training sessions, up to date knowledge and charming manner, it’s not. More important than any of that to lots of my clients is that I am measuring/tracking their progress, keeping them accountable to what they have done since I last saw them, and of course knocking on their door and forcing them into the exercise session that they might otherwise have found a reason not to be doing. My disappointed face isn’t as good as my dentists but I’m working on it.

Why does Weightwatchers achieve really impressive short term success? It’s in no small part due to the accountability of the weekly weigh in. Of course there’s the ‘diet’ and points system to follow (although don’t get me started on the ‘eat what you like as long as you stay in the within the points’ mentality that it seems to me to promote…..that’s for another time.) But for lots of members it’s the impending date with the scales, dressed in the lightest clothes possible, that’s a real driving force in keeping them motivated to achieving their goals.

Now don’t get me wrong. Accountability is not everything. It doesn’t provide the support that you need and it doesn’t change your relationship with exercise or food. And in my experience it depends on how as an individual you are motivated – there are a few people I work with who seem to rebel against having to be measured and accountable for their actions and therefore it would work against them not for them. But the majority of people find that a little accountability can go a very long way to keeping you engaged with and focussed on what you are trying to achieve. It might be a small piece of the jigsaw that you are missing.

My favourite bit of exercise kit

With my lovely diverse range of clients there really is no one size fits all approach to my training. As part of that I try not to get too hung up or over reliant on one bit of kit – and a lot of the time ‘bodyweight’ is all we need for a great workout anyway. However, there is one bit of kit in my training toolbox that I am beginning to love a little bit more than the others (shhh don’t tell the kettlebells or Bosu they might not be able to cope) and that’s the ViPR.

If you are unfamiliar with the ViPR (which stands for Vitality. Performance. Reconditioning) it basically looks like a big plastic hollow tube with a few handles. And that’s exactly what it is. Stand a few of them up next to each other and it looks like a crazy oversized set of pan pipes. However, the beauty as with so many things in life is in their simplicity. The nature of the tube and the design of the handles means you can do endless variations of different types of loaded movement training. You can lift them, flip them, tilt them, swing and shift them, carry them and just generally throw them around. And for the mobile trainer like myself the ability to throw them in the back of the car and take them anywhere makes them a brilliant bit of kit. I currently carry around a 6kg and 10kg version.

Here’s a video of one of my lovely clients Vicky working with the ViPR in her sunny back garden, just to give you a little flavour of some of the things you can do with it. Let me just preface this by saying that Vicky is 67. Now I don’t say this to embarrass her (and she did tell me I could let you know her age!) but to give her a bit of a pat on the back as to how well she’s doing and how strong and well she’s looking. Vicky plays lots of golf, a bit of tennis and goes to yoga once a week. We work together on general quality of movement, feeling stronger and fitter, and getting in a condition to keep on bringing that golf handicap down…. Oh and we might have the odd discussion about bread, cakes and weight loss!

How great would it be if every 67yr old could move like this…..

Believe me this is just the start when it comes to the potential of the ViPR. Do a search for more on YouTube if you’re interested and you can find loads of examples of the exercises/training you can do with them. You might just be inspired…..