Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

Johns Work Placement

My First 2 Weeks

I’m 22 years old and an honours college graduate having studied Health and Leisure with Adapted Physical Activity since 2011. I’ve experienced the ability of physical activity in empowering those with disabilities first hand through my experiences in college. I’ve seen the impact first hand activity can make on all of us; young and old, tall and small, black and white. Regardless of the subtle differences between us, inertly we all human, and as such we are designed to move. 

I’ve decided to conduct my required work placement with the Listowel Community Centre in Listowel. The centre is in my locality and as such it is also a place I visit frequently. Now at the end of my second week here I feel as though the more things I begin to understand the more there is still yet to learn. The role of an exercise professional has changed from that of simple exercise prescription and instruction to that where such professionals are required to have a wide array of multidisciplinary information necessary to fulfil the changing needs of the client base. Like all information and skills, these eventually can be studied, learned, and mastered. Though I am aware that I can eventually learn these skills I am keenly aware that they only come with constant diligence, determination, and experience.

My experience over the past two weeks has constituted a wide array of elements; I’ve had the privilege to work face to face with various clients with varying goals and outlooks, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some of the various classes offered within Listowel Community Centre, such as kettle bells, circuits, and spinning. I’ve also been provided with an opportunity to meet a wide and diverse range of friendly, hardworking people with goals and interests which coincide closely with mine. This has helped me to fit in well and has provided with a sense of belonging.

Working with the staff of Listowel Community Centre has been a thoroughly worthwhile learning experience, even at this early stage. It is interesting to me to learn of the different background of each of the instructors, along with their own personal ideas of what constitutes an exercise professional in today’s modern society. Each of the instructors also has their own personal methods, strategies, and areas of expertise when working with clients. By paying attention to each of these varying styles and approaches to professionalism within the workplace I believe I have been provided with a better opportunity to carefully construct and develop my own strategies, techniques, and style of approach when working with clients.

I have sensed my desire for knowledge growth further as my confidence continues to increase. I feel this can only help me to continue to develop as I continue to become more enshrouded in my new role and as I continue to form and build upon the series of professional relationships which have been established between clients, staff, and myself over the past two weeks. In conclusion I’ve gained valuable experience over the past two weeks and though I feel as though I’ve learned a lot already I realise that there is so much more yet to learn.

Looking at my practical experiences here over the past few weeks it’s clear that they have been plentiful. I’ve had the opportunity to engage in personal training with a variety of different clients, both on an individual and group basis. I’ve spectated and participated in a variety of classes offered by the centre, such as kettlebells, circuits, spinning and more. I’ve developed further my understanding of functional movement screening (FMS) and have had the opportunity to participate in functional movement screening from both an instructors and client’s perspective through administrating tests and also through being tested myself to allow me to experience the system from a client’s perspective.

I’ve worked with upcoming athletes in a variety of sports, including rugby, Gaelic football, and soccer. I’ve worked with adults young and old and have been provided with the opportunity to assist in client rehabilitation.

I’ve been mentored by the staff at Listowel community centre and have been able to improve my own leadership and instructional capabilities. I’ve developed a greater understanding of the exercise industry as a whole and have improved also my own personal exercise technique through a greater overall understanding of each exercise. 

Next Time: John's Experience Continued......

Thursday, 24 September 2015 00:00

Body Weight

One of the most difficult topics that I have to cover with my clients is bodyweight. When someone is on a diet and trying to lose weight the temptation is to weigh yourself everyday and monitor your progress. However, this can be very frustrating as your body weight can vary considerably throughout the day. For this article we will explore some concepts related to body weight and outline the best way to track changes in body weight over time.

Your body weight is not one overall entity but is made up of several compartments.

  • Muscle
  • Bone
  • Fat
  • Other organs (liver, lungs, heart etc).
  • Water

The sum total weight of all these body compartments contribute to your total body weight. Changes to any of these body compartments will affect your overall weight.

For example, building muscle through weight training can increase body weight in a positive fashion. More muscle means a higher metabolism (burn more calories). Even though your weight might increase, the additional weight is as a result of increased muscle mass (which is desirable).

Conversely, eating too much unhealthy and processed food might result in an increase in body mass also, but this increase is as a result of body fat rather than muscle (which is undesirable).

Not partaking in weight training might mean a loss of muscle. This will show as weight reduction on the scales but losing muscle mass is not desirable.

Therefore, care must be taken when interpreting any change in body weight. It is always a good idea to try and get body composition (% of muscle and fat in your body) measured as this will give you a breakdown of where the changes are occurring (body fat or muscle).

One word of advice I give to clients when trying to either lose or gain weight is to only weigh themselves once a week rather than every day. The reason for this is that there are wide fluctuations in body weight on a daily basis. Some of the factors responsible include:

Circadian Rhythms – normal daily fluctuations in energy expenditure, water retention etc

Hydration Levels – if in a dehydrated state then body weight will be lower than if hydrated.

Food intake – as well as resting in our intestines and adding to our overall weight, the type of food we eat can also effect bodyweight through the way that it’s stored. For example, if our bodies carbohydrate stores are low and we eat a high carbohydrate meal then the carbohydrate will be stored in our muscles and liver. Carbohydrate combines with water in our body to allow it to be stored properly. Storing 250g carbohydrate means that an additional 750g water will be combined with the carbohydrate in order to allow it to be stored properly. This could show up as a 1kg increase on the scales – however, this is not fat gain but the way our body stores carbohydrate.

Sleep – we lose weight when we sleep. As well as burning through energy sources, we also lose body fluid through breathing (respiration) and sweating (perspiration) while we sleep. It is not uncommon to lose 1kg weight over 8 hours of sleep.

The point I am trying to make is that weighing yourself several time per day or even everyday can be counterproductive. There is so much variation in weight that it can be very frustrating – why I am weighing more after my workout then before (maybe you drank a lot of fluid), or why am I 2kg heavier after this meal (maybe it’s water retention).

I advise the following as the best solution: Weigh yourself:

  • Once a week (preferably on a Friday as this is when we generally weigh the least)
  • First thing in the morning
  • After visiting the bathroom
  • Before eating breakfast
  • In your underwear

It is best to track changes in body weight over a longer time frame (weekly) as any of the factors that influence daily variability in body weight should be negated and you will see a true reflection of longer term changes in body weight and body composition.

However, an even easier solution is to look at yourself in the mirror and you can see if you are gaining or losing fat and/or muscle. How do your clothes feel – are they looser or tighter; is your belt buckle coming in; are your muscles more defined; is your tummy flatter? If you have a friend or partner it might be a good idea to take before and after photos (every 4-6 weeks) as these will visually show changes in your body over time.

Thanks for reading,