Clientspiration 2

52 years old.  Mother of 3.  Jill Mukherjee is the unsung heroine of EQ. 

Originally a lass from Newcastle Jill only found exercise 7 years ago but looking at her physique and attitude to fitness you would swear she’s a lifer…

I first met Jill after she reluctantly joined a circuit I used to run in Hyde Park.  It was a simple shuttle run workout with bodyweight exercises.  Around 8 ladies would turn up rain or shine and take all the abuse I’d give them.  I had a ball.  Jill fooled me.  I thought she’d been exercising for years but it turned out I was basically her first foray into fitness after discovering group dance classes maybe a year earlier.

Anyway.  Why is this woman so inspiring? Firstly, she’s one of those angels that mothers everyone around her.  She looks after her family, friends and even Jay and I like we are all her children.  She cares.  That’s her personality.  For me, it’s her ability as a fitness enthusiast that shines through.

Look at her body!

Jill has the body of a 25yr old and the stamina to match.  When she mixes and matches her sessions with different friends she is always the fastest to recover, can stick with any rep range of the partner and will gladly try a new exercise no matter how complex.  She’s been with me 7 years now and I’m always amazed at this woman. 

Through wear and tear, Jill has picked up few injuries along the way.  Did it stop her?  Did it hell.  She’s trained 2 to 3 times a week consistently since I’ve known her.   She also dances 3 times a week.  I honestly think if I removed all of her limbs she’d still turn up to EQ and demand to do some core.

I trained her Tuesday this week.  I put her through intense weighted legs TRX, upper body, aesthetics abdominal work and sprints on the SkillMill.  She is nothing short of immense.  If you haven’t stepped onto the SkillMill yet then you’re still on intermediate treadmills. That thing is running on a different level and Jill destroys it fearlessly. If you’re lucky to be in the studio with Jill training watch in awe.  And also check out those glutes!

Niko

TRX.

 

The thing is… If you don’t know what TRX is, then unfortunately, you and I are going to operate on different planes from the start of this blog.  Let’s try and catch you up. If you’re into fitness and you’re looking for inspiration, then look at TRX and research its origin, how its developed into a fitness movement and turned in to what should be considered THE best training tool on the planet.  I will argue that with anyone until I’m blue in the face.  There is only one thing on earth more dynamic and adaptable within exercise than the TRX and that’s your body.  So combine them.

So firstly you guys need to meet Randy Hetrick.  Former Navy Seal Commander.  I’ve met and spoke to Randy on numerous occasions.  He’s one of those guys that you know has a fire inside him.  He’s inspiring, an innovator, a warrior, a businessman, and most of all he treats everyone like they’re a friend or member of his family. So without further ado, meet Randy.  This is a clip he put together for me with a days’ notice so I could share his story at the recent fitness EXPO in Glasgow:

Now.  Our TRX story.  Hopefully, it will inspire you.

I was ‘good’ personal trainer 9 years ago. I understood bodybuilding or hypertrophy training.  I had zero clients and started my job at Bootcamp Pilates.  I learned about guiding the body through thirty different moves in one 50 minute class.  How to finesse a client into achieving movements they never thought possible BUT I needed an outlet for this new skillset.  Weights were not going to take me there. 

Enter my father, Renzo Algieri to the story.  He was selling protein supplements at the time and one of the companies gave him a T-REX as he called it.  He handed it to me.  I said no thanks.  I can’t believe I said that. The piece of equipment that would change my life and career.  Anyway, after some convincing, I took it. I NEVER looked back.  I hooked that thing around a tree, applied my training knowledge and my new found pilates skillset and shifted my personal training into functional movement away from aesthetics.

Fast forward 7 years and Jay and I now have 11 TRX hanging from the ceiling of our studio teaching classes, creating original movements, our method has caught on growing a small but dedicated fanbase on Instagram

Suspension training is a total body, complete core engaging workout that allows for beginners to develop strength right through to super athletes being challenged to the Nth degree.

And you know what its FUN.  You could train TRX every day for 365 days and each workout can be different.  Different in intensity, movement patterns, strength, power, speed, flexibility.  Fitness can be repetitive and boring.  TRX takes that boredom away and challenges you.

Listen to Randy again.  Be inspired.  And if not…find something that does inspire you.

Style Over Substance

About the title of this blog…

I’m going to have a rant about the rise of the boutique fitness market and the inverse effect it’s having on client technique and health.

Style over substance - to think looks are more important than content. I’ll come back to this.

Why the rant? 

Yesterday I was teaching a TRX class at the flagship Sweaty Betty store in Carnaby Street. A quarter of the way through the class I’m doing my usual lecture about core positioning and how important it is and the class starts their first plank.  GOOD GOD.  50% of the class, even after being cued to the point of boredom, lift up into the most horrific planks I’ve seen as a collective in a long time. 

“STOP STOP STOOOOOOOOOOP!” I shouted. 

I turned the music off and asked them where they usually go to learn such crap technique? Some of them said, their owns gyms and a few ClassPass classes, and then one girl, in particular, broke my heart.  She had massive lordosis, curvature of the lower spine, giving her a Kylie Minogue bum.  Sounds good huh?  It isn’t.  It can lead to a lot of back and hip problems.

Anyway, she told me that she was a big fan of one the top circuit boutique classes in London who shall remain nameless. They’re killing it.  Almost printing money. Fantastic for them but also hugely part of the problem for the customer these days.  I asked how many times she’d had her technique corrected in this ‘favourite’ class of hers.  She replied with NEVER almost instantly. She’d been to over 10 classes there. Heart-breaking. Not once had they zoned in on her posture, her squat, her control over her pelvic stability.  These are fucking basics people!  She seemed almost dejected once I’d focused on her.  Suddenly she was failing. Then the usual magic happened. I helped, she learned, she corrected and the strength came. I’ve always loved that moment.

The boutique fitness market is absolutely booming.  Look at the number of multiple studio openings happening all over London with classes filled, ludicrously, to the brim.  You never need to go to a nightclub anymore in this city.  You can get your fitness and clubbing done in one darkened seizure inducing studio anywhere (eye roll).  I will concede the lack of alcohol is good though.

Ok, clever clogs.  If these classes are so busy they must be doing something right…right?  Yes, they are.  The studios are beautiful, all-encompassing lifestyle machines, that draw you in like a fly to a blue lamp and you just never leave.  The trainers are sexy as hell, abs exploding everywhere, mic packs turned up to the max surrounded by mirrors so they can watch and seduce each customer into thinking that THEY are special.  They forget that the customer IS special.  Each customer has an underlying need to be more confident, feel strong, get help with moving correctly and become part of something that is improving their lives. 

Question: How the hell are they going achieve health, fitness, and wellness whilst being drowned in horrific technique and some egomaniac screaming at them?

Answer:  They won’t.

Some maths:

Class numbers up = Money up (YAY for us studio owners) = Decrease in technique/customer care

In 2018 Equilibrium will open studio 2 and take on the behemoths of the London fitness boutique scene and by God, if you come in with bad technique we will be on you in seconds like a 24-hour carwash team cleaning up and perfecting your chassis immediately.  We won’t scream, we’ll guide. You won’t be part of the crowd; you’ll be part of a family that looks out for each individual person, not a herd of cattle being put through the grinder each hour.

A caveat.  My opinion doesn’t extend to every class in London.  There are some phenomenal setups and outstanding trainers in London.  You just have to find them.  A couple of tips for finding them:

1.     Do they know your name when you leave?

2.     Did they correct any piece of technique throughout or just describe what the next exercise was?

3.     Did you realise your technique was failing?

4.     Could you hear yourself think?

5.     When you looked across the class could you see the person at the other end or was the strobe light burning your retinas?

6.     Did you get a smoothie at the end? (Huge eye roll).

Niko

 

 

 

 

 

Motivational Speeches - A Round Up

We've all done it.  We've had a shit, or a great day, or felt a lack of energy and needed that kick to get the day going or start a tough workout. We've all headed to the mighty YouTube and searched the terms "motivational speeches".  Am I right?

I do it a lot.  It drives me to finish a blog, design a new crazy Equilibrium video for Instagram, or put together a TRX workout that's going to make our clients' eyes pop out.  

They can be cheesy.  They can be cliché.  But they're cliché for a reason because they've been around for years and have been applied to human life through every situation imaginable.

So I went through some of the regulars that I watch, I'll post the links to these below, and I chose some of my favourite lines that you can use to look at getting what you want or finding what drives you. Here they are with the links to my favourite videos at the bottom:

Raise your standard – We don’t get what we want, we get what we HAVE to have.

When you’re no longer willing to tolerate something, that’s when your life changes

People who don’t have goals work for people who do

If it was easy everybody would do it

The pro goes to work, sick, kids, problems.  This is what you do.

If you don’t do the work, act on the ideas, they will never work

Everyone in the world has a list of things they SHOULD do.  The only thing that makes these things happen is when that SHOULD changes to a MUST.

Have a very clear vision, have a very clear goal.  If you have the best aeroplane in the world but the pilot doesn’t know where he’s going, then all is lost.

Shoot for the top, big goals, think big, then you’ll get big.

Nothing can beat hard work

It’s necessary that you work on yourself, get rid of the energy draining people in your life

Those who say they can, and those who say they cannot, are both usually right

If you want to be great, obsession had to be a necessity

If you can see it in your mind, then you can hold it in your hand

...and my favourite

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve

LINKS:

OBSESSED WITH SUCCESS

BE REMEMBERED

POTENTIAL

UNBROKEN

DREAM

CONTENDERS

Create An Illusion Of Fitness

If you’ve been a little lacklustre in your attempts to keep in shape for a few months, with key events and meetings approaching, you’ll need to dress to impress. Fear not. Niko Algieri has 5 exercises that will create the illusion of a great body whilst you continue to build real one in the background.  These really are quick fix exercises, they jumpstart your muscles in to being more active again and looking toned.  You will look better initially but to make a lasting and impactful change it takes months of consistent work.  For now, let’s take the shortcut.

1.     Lateral Raise: First part of the illusion is shoulders that look like they can actual hold a suit up.  Grab a couple of dumbbells depending on your strength.  Hold them by your side with a slight bend in elbows and simply raise them out to side and then lower slowly. Perform 15 Reps x 4 Sets.  If you’re at home, then use water bottles.

2.     Squat:  Simple air squat will tone your legs up to a decent standard within a couple of weeks and give them the form they’ve been missing lately.  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a slight outturn of the feet.  Whilst raising your arms out in front of you and keeping the weight in your heels, spread your knees and bend them at the same time lowering your hips to below knee level then stand back up.  Perform 4 sets of 20 reps.

3.     Glute bridge:  Possibly the most underrated exercise at the moment but perfect for creating shape in the hamstrings and glutes.  Keep it simple.  Lie on your back on the floor and bend your knees at 90 degrees keeping your feet flat to the floor.  Keeping your arms by your side and lift your bum up until your hips become level with your knees and hips then lower back to the floor.  Make sure you’re squeezing your glutes all the through the movement. Perform 4 sets of 20 reps.

4.     Plank to side plank combo:  Now. This is tough. Get into a plank position with your knees off the floor and legs straight (elbows for beginner and straight arms for advanced).   Hold this for as close to 20s as possible then without lowering your knees transfer to a side plank.  Hold this for 20s and then transfer to the other side.  You can choose to rest at this point but if you really want to tighten the waist then go through the full 3mins without touching the floor ONCE.

5.     The final piece of this very short puzzle is the arms.  You’re going to work agonist and antagonist muscles.  Biceps versus triceps.  It’s simple.  You’re going to use the dumbbells you used earlier or a resistance band or heavy water bottles.  You’re going to perform a standing bicep curl (both arms at the same time) for 15-20 reps.  From there you don’t rest.  You tip forward from the hips with a slight knee bend.  Lift your arms behind you, higher than your bum, then flex at the at the elbow lowering the weight but leaving the upper arm where it is and then you straighten your arm hitting the triceps. Make this a quick workout so perform 15-20 reps back to back for 4 sets.  Your arms will be toned enough to pull off that suit in a 2 weeks.

As mentioned before this is quick fix to get you toned and ready for the events that are looming.  You will need to commit to regular training and nutrition to make a lasting and healthy change to your body. 

Position Of Power

When you walked in to the room today, whether it be to a business meeting, a lunch or an evening event, were you aware of how you were holding your body?

Posture can be defined in two ways. The first being the position in which someone holds their body upright when standing or sitting and the second being a particular approach or attitude.  They are one and the same though yes?  If you’re upright, shoulders back, core engaged you look strong, confident and in control.  How does a person who has rounded shoulders and hunched over appear to you?  A little negative and unapproachable? 

Let’s look at 5 things that negatively affect your posture and how to correct this:

1.     Sitting down – I’m not asking you to constantly stand but what I am asking is for you to sit correctly.  We all sit in a chair hips in front of the spine with our tailbone tucked, our back and shoulders rounded and slumped.  STOP!  Get your hips underneath your spine, chest up, shoulders back and you’re already in a better position.

2.     Vitamin D deficiency –If you’re not getting enough natural sunlight UV exposure which stimulates Vitamin D production in the body, then in turn you’re not absorbing enough calcium from your diet to strengthen your bones.  Weak bones will lead to back and neck pain directly affecting your posture. An article in the July 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" states that vitamin D deficiency is associated with throbbing, aching pain and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. Too hot outside? We can also get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs.  Also consider supplements to kick-start those D levels.

3.     Core strength – It’s fine me asking you to hold your body upright but if your core (this is not just your abs but also the deeper muscles including the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor) is not strong or engaged you’ll slip back into bad posture.  You can strengthen your core doing Pilates, TRX or Yoga classes but in truth it needs to be used in any movement so please seek out a fitness professional first to help with first steps.

4.     Flexibility – We’re all sit in a chair, check Instagram on our mobiles, read emails hunched over laptops.  It looks bad but what it also does is shorten our hip flexors and hamstrings, and shortens the pecs (chest muscles).  Tight hips will tip the body forward whilst walking and the short chest muscles will pull the shoulders forward giving that beautiful hunched look.  Flexibility IS an element of fitness so needs to be worked on as much as cardio and strength training.  Try 10 mins extra stretching on your hips, glutes and hamstrings after every session this week, your posture will improve immediately.

5.     Mind-Body Connection – Exactly what it says on the label.  You have to also be aware of your posture.  If you remain oblivious to your body position it will relax and slump back in to old habits.  Try standing, setting your shoulders back and down, switching on your core EVERY time you need to move.  Make it habitual and the body will soon learn that this is the way to move.  Your body will look fitter, your confidence will improve and you’ll own the room as soon as you glide into it.

How Do I Start This?

We’ve written a few blogs/articles lately where we’ve discussed being a beginner in fitness and how to get started. We’ll list some of the tips we’ve given but we also want to revisit and make it a little clearer for you:

·      Start with machines to build a base strength and control of your muscles. Free weights when you’re a beginner are actually dangerous.

·      Find something you like, no matter silly or crazy you think it is, because you’re more likely to persevere and stick with it

·      Con or cheat a free session out an unwitting personal trainer

·      Patience – you’re new to this.  Give it time and like everything you’ll become more confident and adept

Now.  That’s all a bit bloggy and fluffy for our liking. They’re good tips (even if we do say so ourselves) but it is very here’s our top 10 blah blah stuff.  They’re quick hits.  Let’s delve into it a bit more.

We’ll try putting ourselves into a beginners’ shoes.  Niko is 35 now he's never exercised in his life..

"I did P.E. in school, I hated it.  I never played sport in university and I’ve spent the rest of my adult life working in an office and drinking every Thursday to Saturday religiously. Why the fuck would I want to start now?  Hang on my hips are aching when I sit down and stand up, my back takes around 3 hours to warm up once I get out of bed in the morning.  Also I ran up the stairs in work the other day and felt like I was going to die when I got to the top!  Ok it is time to start."

"Where do I start? I see people in work posting themselves doing workouts and doing all the classes in London. It pisses me off. Who are you impressing? But I’ll take a look at Instagram.  Fuck there’s so much choice. I haven’t got a clue where to start. Who’s good?  What’s good?  What’s the best for my zero fitness level?  Someone help…"

Truth time. Listen lazy ass. Calm down. We need to set this up right.  First thing’s first. Do you know how to squat?  You don’t?  That’s fine.  That’s where you start.  At Equilibrium your movement patterns start with the squat.  You learn to open your hips, control your core, keep your shoulders low and eyes forward.  Once you build an understanding around those fundamentals we can get you anywhere you want to go from there.  Seems simple huh?  It is that simple.  Start small, learn, and then develop OR go on Instagram and copy anyone of those loony toons out there doing bloody mountain climbers or jumping spinning burpees and put yourself in hospital.

Not everyone out there in social media land is loony mind you.  There are some real quality accounts out there that can help you if you know where to look:

@carlpaoli @shona_vertue

@bretcontreras1 @moveu_official

@lukewtraining @peteholman1

These are a select few but please do your own research if you can’t afford a personal trainer. Also if we’re talking just starting with your squat before progressing.  Take a look at this beautiful CrossFit Squat video because it is spot on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_fb6Kz7FQg

Remember this is just a starting point.  Squatting and working on the mobility for a squat will fix ALL of the above problems that the imaginary lazy Niko would have had.  Once you’re on your way we would suggest working on your core, remembering that abs are a very small part of your core.  Our next post will be on core development and how best to approach it.

Jay and Niko

Mind On Your Matter

Right, what is the Welsh man going on about now? In sessions I always find myself saying;

“Put your brain in your bum!”

Now this isn’t me asking my client to think as a bum would and sit down.  I’m talking activation.  There’s a concept in bodybuilding call mind muscle connection.  Arnold Schwarzenegger believed in it and so do we at Equilibrium.

Having spent years shouting cues like “switch your core on” and “find the hamstrings” and from my own training actually I realise you can, to some degree, perform movements with minimal muscle engagement and get through it.

Let’s look at the burpee.  Everyone hates burpees.  The problem with burpees is that they are fucking brilliant.  Think about it.  In one movement you are doing a squat into a press up back in to a squat and then if you’re jumping out if you get a power movement.  It’s certainly my desert island exercise.

Ok so you’ve done a burpee yourself.  You know it’s easy to cheat. You can actually get away with just collapsing to the floor without engaging the legs and glutes that much.  As you drop to the floor your core can completely switch off making you look like you’re doing a disco worm.  Then to get up you reverse the worm not engaging the chest and triceps that much, then acting like a drunken teenager as you crumble your knees inwards and standing up like a new-born.  Burpee done let’s all go home and eat a Dominoes.

NO PEOPLE NO!

In this town we burpee properly! Which brings me back to the mind muscle connection.  Put your mind in the process.  Think about the muscles and joints you’re using whilst performing an action.  As you drop in the squat don’t just drop.  Let the hips open, allow the glutes and hamstrings to drag you down whilst our core holds the upper body in static position.  Place your hands to floor, jump your legs backwards and engage the press up.  You lower through the chest not the hips.  Once you’ve hit the surfboard as I call the floor explode again through the chest and triceps and when at max height of the press up jump your feet in firing up out of a strong squat position and jumping in to the air using the hip, knee and ankle joints and booming through your quads and ass as you move. Sounds bit more poetic and beautiful no?  That’s how you burpee.

Mind muscle connection.  We encourage this in any movement.  You have to feel it and know it and it will develop. You will look better and become a stronger version of yourself.

So when you’re deadlifting, squatting, lunging or bridging PUT YOUR BRAIN IN YOUR BUM!

Forged In The Fires Of Fitness

Here are two words that always make me swell with pride.  My Mum.

Let me tell you about my mother and how that woman became the greatest fitness instructor I’ve ever seen. 

I need to swear now otherwise it loses its impact.  I shit you not, my mum has taught aerobics, Tae Bo, Step and Insanity classes FIVE days a week with only 2 weeks holiday a year the for the last 28 years. That is a staggering 7000 hours of teaching in a lifetime.

Speaking of lifetime…

Born 1960 (she’s 57) Gillian Ellis was always interested in sport.  From the age of 10 she joined the local swimming team whilst also competing in school and county athletics.  At 17 she fell in love with my father, Renzo, but that also started a love affair with Karate. My father was a black belt. She achieved her brown belt level. At 21, as with most couples back then, they thought it a good idea to have a child.  Out came little Niko in 1981. 

Within weeks of that birth she was back in Karate and then also discovered bodybuilding.  My father was a phenomenal bodybuilder inspired by the great Arnold Schwarznegger.  He’d watched Pumping Iron and that was it. Obsessed. Still is.

Anyway at 23 she started teaching aerobics classes to make a little extra money. She also became pregnant again, this time with my sister the little ginger fireball Angelina, and taught those classes right up until she was 9 months.  She was unstoppable.

When I was 5 my parents separated.  Don’t worry about Angelina and I, we had a mother so strong she could fill the role of 12 parents with her arms tied behind her back.  The point is that Gill did not give up.  She took on 3 jobs with 2 kids just so we could survive.  She worked as much as she could so her babies could have what they needed. 

A memory.  When I was 6 we started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in school. I fell in love with it.  But we’d started reading it at the end of the day so were only a few chapters in. I needed more! It was Christmas time at this point and Ange and I went to Tesco with Mum. I asked Mum if she could buy me Charlie the book.  We couldn’t afford it.  So I stole it. I hid in it in a Christmas card box.  She caught me reading under my bed and made me walk it straight back in to Tesco and put it back on the shelf.  What a woman.

So Mum spent nearly 4 years alone.  Her fitness dwindled slightly.  Then came the love of her life. Graham Brockway.  Jays father.  4-time World Kickboxing Champion. When I was 10 Jay was born and our family was complete.  Mum and Graham started a very successful building company and a boxing gym and never looked back. In that gym I achieved my black belt by 14 years of age in Kickboxing. Still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Time warp to now.  We drive home Thursday night to have a well-deserved break from Equilibrium and we make it back in time to join Mum’s Tae Bo class.  Jay and I are fit and strong. This 57-year-old woman took us to the cleaners.  I remember putting my hands on my knees three times and looking up at this unstoppable machine. To watch her teach a class is to watch Torville and Dean skate, to see Floyd Mayweather dodge 50 punches, to see Usain Bolt glide over the finish line. To her it’s a symphony of movement, commands and music.  She talks to the class with love and power and they love her every second of it.  I’ve felt myself teach a few decent classes but I’m not in this league. This is 28 years of working on her craft and it is a wonder to behold.

Drive to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire sometime and do her class.  You won’t know what’s hit you.

Jay and I have set up Equilibrium, because of her.  We’re talented and successful because of her.  We never stop working. We learnt that from her and Graham. 

We are inches away from achieving our dream, she inspires us to do it.

Niko

 

Fitness And Love

Touchy subject this one.  First of all, let’s get one thing straight. I am not about to suggest that being fit and superficially attractive is the way to find love. After all different strokes for different folks right? I am however suggesting it will benefit both YOUR heart and YOUR mind on this quest for ‘the one’.

This opinion does not come from, what now feels like a lifetime, staring at Instagram looking at arched back temptresses and 12 pack ab’d males and thinking is this how we get the best partner? It comes from nearly 9 years of day in and out observing, listening, and consoling clients in the mysterious ways of love.

Deep deep deep deep down we ALL want to find love. Some of us have already found it and some of us are still awaiting that lightning strike moment.  Let’s focus for the minute on those of us still skipping solo through the streets waiting to find prince/princess charming. 

Almost all of my single clients throughout the years have all looked to fitness as the answer to finding love;

“I just want to lose some weight to look better in a dress”

“Can we do abs? I have a date tonight”

What I’ve come to realise is that it’s all about your mind. I can only speak about what I’ve seen over the years but generally people who don’t exercise are more stressed, unhappy, have more injuries, their health status is nowhere near someone who runs, lifts, stretches, watches their food etc. Think about it. In fact, let’s look at me.

I can remember a time when my health was terrible. I still looked ok aesthetically from years of ‘nightclub weights’ (doing chest and arms almost every day for 5 years!).  But we’re talking curries, pizza, drinking heavily on the weekend, lack of sleep and hardly any flexibility or mobility. I remember how it felt. I was constantly tired. No one will become attracted to a tired face with black rings around the eyes.  I was carrying a little extra body fat.  Now on this subject, it’s what makes YOU feel good.  I don’t like carrying extra fat so it makes ME feel bad about myself. I find it lazy and unhealthy so that effects my confidence levels. It made me a little more closed in my personality. Not an attractive trait in someone openly looking for love.

I’ve watched clients turn from hunched over, stiff, heavy breathing, unfit versions of themselves into upright, confident, clear skin, glowing, strong individuals and I am telling you right now It’s worked for them in love. If you’re happy in yourself, in how you look, then you exude confidence. Exercising regularly means you have a regular endorphin release which are effectively happy hormones.  They make you feel energised, confident and ready to take on the world.  Relate that back to sex, we feel the same way after orgasm.  So, you’re single and you see 2 versions of a possible partner.  Do you go for the unhealthy tired looking one or the glossy, confident, energised version?  EXACTLY.

But what about the married or in love lot?  The bunch that make the single sick when they can’t stop the PDA’s.  We all want that so shuuuuuuut up!

So again I’ve trained these people.  They are 70% of my client base.  They aren’t always happy happy.  They may have been with their partner for years and a little familiarity has kicked in.  They come to us citing reasons for improvement in their health and fitness.  We always know in that in the background there’s a beauty or attractiveness to the opposite sex element. They want to reignite that spark and be the healthier version of themselves.  And what’s wrong with that? I think it’s fantastic. If we exercise we live longer that’s a fact.  So a partner will see a benefit in this. We all know how important sex is in a relationship.  Imagine holding up your own bodyweight in sex and wheezing or shaking from a lack of fitness…not good is it?

Training for love is an amazing motivator so use it as your fire.  You either want to find it or you have it and you want to keep that fire blazing.  It works. It really does. Clean up your diet, get to the gym or the park and move people!  Tell me your life doesn’t improve and if me ranting at you like this inspires you and you do find love…I want a fucking invite to the wedding!

Interview with Sheerluxe.com - A Beginner's Guide To Fitness

In a world where Instagram is filled with fitness stars and a Pilates class can seem like an essential part of most morning routines, starting out on your fitness journey can be a daunting process. So, we teamed up with fitness authority Niko Algieri to create the ultimate beginner’s guide to fitness. The frontman of Equilibrium – London’s hottest new boutique studio – Niko has trained everyone from Ellie Goulding to Nicole Scherzinger. From setting achievable goals to the kit you should actually invest in, read on for his golden rules.

First things first – should you set a goal when starting your fitness journey?

Yes and no. On the one hand, a goal can encourage commitment and create a determined mind-set; you have a reason to stay focussed, to maintain your plan and be loyal to your sessions. However, goals can also set you up for failure, frustration and give you a reason to quit. Take weight loss for instance – you can watch the scales each week after eating well and training but find no difference, leaving you frustrated and unimpressed, failing to take into account that you’re starting to grow muscle and change your body shape.

My advice is to have a long-term goal – this will mean that fitness naturally becomes a habit and a sustainable part of your life.

What’s the best way to transition into working out if it’s been a while since you hit the gym?

Don’t make it a baptism of fire – do a short workout, ideally guided by an instructor or personal trainer. Make sure it’s full of mobility exercises at the start to reactivate the muscles and the joints for strenuous exercise and finish with lots of stretching. Don’t overdo it in the first week – take your time and adjust to the new increase in movement then start to develop strength and endurance.

Any advice for figuring out what kind of workout is right for you?

They won’t say it out loud, but every personal trainer or boutique class thinks their method is the best – it’s part of the job. The truth of the matter is you should try everything – do what suits your abilities, your personality and ultimately what you’re able to sustain. If you pick something you hate or get a bad vibe about you’ll quit in week one.

Are there any classes that are good for beginners?

An ideal starting point for any fitness journey is a TRX class. With the right trainer, TRX is very simple; it can be instantly made easier or harder with a quick shift of your feet. It’s a total body workout that you can take at your own pace and teaches you to move correctly, safely and develop core strength in each movement. To me, it’s the best training tool in the world.

What about diet – how should you alter this to complement a training regime?

Forget supplements and fad diets. Instead, take out all the white carbs, sweets, chocolates and crisps, reduce your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water; you will transform in four weeks, I promise.

Is it worth splurging on a personal trainer?

Definitely, but take time to find the right one for you. They need to be able to spot your weaknesses, know how to develop them, give you confidence and make you feel empowered every session. In my opinion, for total beginners who want to train safely and learn how to move properly, a PT is worth every penny. They will help you build a decent level of strength, endurance and flexibility, then when you feel confident enough you can start classes that take your fancy.

What about kit?

Many PTs will tell you to invest in minimalist trainers (or flat shoes) that make you rely on the natural shape of your foot. My advice? Ignore them, as, for many of us, wearing these types of shoes will take months and months of getting used to. Your feet are vital in exercise so prioritise comfort and support. I rate Asics – they’ve got a high arch, strong heel and can take a battering in the long-run if budget is tight.

How quickly will you see results when it comes to training?

Immediately after a training session, you will get an endorphin release of happy hormones that will reduce stress, increase self-esteem, ward off anxiety and improve sleep. By around the two-week mark, your cardiovascular capacity will improve and that, in turn, will improve your skin and the way you feel. If you’re looking after your diet then you’ll lose fat and improve your physical appearance in around four to six weeks. Remember that nutrition is key – you can’t out-train a bad diet.

Any final motivational tips?

Be patient – change takes time. If you’ve taken the step to get to the gym, that’s something in itself. It took you this long to commit to training so be patient, keep at it every day and strive for small improvements and you’ll get there.

Rise… Fall… Rise… Fall… RISE – The Fight For Mental Health

Rise… Fall… Rise… Fall… RISE – The fight for mental health

This morning I’m inspired. A fire inside me lit because I’ve just learned that Leon McKenzie is fighting again. That man.  An unstoppable force or an immovable object.  I think it’s the latter but, I am going to swear here, fuck. The guy does not give up.  If you believe in fate and destiny Leon doesn’t bend to it. He makes his own path.

Imagine…

From 17 years of age you are signed as a professional footballer, playing in the top flight.  You are what you would consider as rich, famous, with girls chasing you everywhere (Leon happens to be one of those good looking gits too).  You go on to score 115 goals, including the winner at Old Trafford, in 400 appearances.  In 2005 you win player of the season and team league top scorer. Honestly, if this was me, I would go nuts at this point and think I was a God.  But for Leon it became darker.

Towards the end of his career Leon got injured.  He was then imprisoned for a driving offence and when he got out his career was over.  Depression hit hard and fast.  In 2009 Leon sadly tried to end his life.  Story over yes? No.

After this Leon started to recover, started to learn about mental health and how it manifests itself in life.  He started to fight back and became an ambassador for fellow sufferers.  But that wasn’t enough of a fight for Leon so he turned to his family roots of boxing.  If you’ve ever done a speck of boxing training, even in a posh London boutique with pretty lighting you know its f#*king tough.  It takes you to what we call the dark place and makes you fight your way out of exhaustion.  This was Leon’s way back. 

He flourished immediately winning eight fights, drawing one.  He then came to train with Jay and listen to my guidance. He won his ninth fight with us, destroyed the guy with power.  But then as always with Leon’s life he had to fight again just to get the next opponent.  It took 10 months to get it sorted which, as any fighter will tell you, builds up rust on the spokes.  Physically he was ready but mentally I think he built it up too much in for himself and thought he was fighting for all of us, for redemption.  He didn’t need to.  He fought for the English title and lost, admirably.  Now for a depression sufferer this is devastating.  It’s another brick wall stopping you from functioning correctly in life.

We didn’t see Leon much after the fight.  We kept in touch but he’s been rebuilding his mind. He’s been back working with mental health organisations, doing open and inspirational talks in front of thousands of suffers, something I imagine he needed to do for himself.

But now he’s back in the gym, rising again.  We’ve only just found out about the fight this morning and we couldn’t be prouder.  What a man.  He’s secured himself a fight on July 9th against Alan Higgins for the Southern Area Title.  If he wins, and he will win, he’ll be a champion once again. 

As the heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jordan always preached;

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to not try.”

Niko

Clientspiration

I turn up to Equilibrium half way through one of Jay Brockway’s sessions with a client last Thursday and they’re locked in a conversation about an inspiring fitness Instagram personality. It caught my attention because our client was saying she was inspired by a girl who’d lost a lot of weight and became an Instagram superstar…

HUFF

Now far be it for me to tell people who or what inspires them.  That’s your choice.  However, as I was listening to her describe her so-called inspiration I couldn’t help thinking she had this backwards. Our clients inspire us.

This woman, who was inspired, is a nuclear bomb of inspiration.  She’s 37, she has three kids, one very young, a busy job, she exercises around 5 times a week and has COMPLETELY transformed her fitness ethos not to mention her physique.  The things she can now do in the gym are several thousand miles from where she started. She is simply, amazing. Our other clients that meet her are equally inspired and can’t believe the journey she has made in such a short time.

Back to her inspiration.  This girl has no job, takes a very nice picture of her arched back and spray tan, has an army of studios to flounce into for free each week along with sponsorship from leading food delivery companies and is in her early 20s.  She can wake up when she likes and train twice a day if she likes without any kids to drop off/pick-up/feed and worry about.  Her body wouldn’t have even heard of cortisol yet!  We'd all look amazing with this time on our hands. Yes she's dedicated I acknowledge that however...

...she probably went to university and got drunk for 3 years like we all did, piling on the pounds with a lack of nutritional knowledge and the kebab shop being 10 yards from her halls of residence.   In her early 20s her metabolism is like a racehorse burning calories all day and night like a steam train consuming its coal.  At that age range all she’d have had to do is tweak her diet, lay off the booze SEVEN times a week and hit the gym, she’d look amazing.  I did, it was easy at that age. 

 I suggest to you our lovely client that to gain the real inspiration you seek in life you need only look into a mirror.  YOU are the strength and the power you need.  You don’t need to gaze into the fake world of Instagram and find a physique you want.  You’re amazing.  In years to come, when the bubble bursts and the Insta stars fade away you’ll be left standing with your two 20kg Kettlebells hiked up to your chest lunging them like they were nothing, box jumping a 30inch obstacle that would have always stood in your way, throwing 20 TRX pikes in to a workout that, a few years ago when Niko wrote this blog, you struggled to do.

Remember Client A;

“The harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.” Swami Sivananda

Your struggle inspires me.  Not the Instagram fluff.  They can’t even comprehend what you do each day to be as strong as you now are and REAL people can relate to that.

Niko

The Perfect Fitness Class

Teaching the perfect class

Way back when, at the old Beautcamp Pilates as it was then known, I used to teach an 11-person reformer Pilates class. God damn I was good. You had to book 3 weeks in advance to get into my class and even then there was a 15 person waiting list by the time the class came.

Why was it so good?  There is a group of elements that you can include in your classes to achieve the perfect class.  In my opinion here they are:

  • Greet with a smile and KNOW your client

It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen them once or a thousand times you treat them like they are important to you, because they are! Know their name, know their injuries, know what happened to them in the last class and if they’ve changed their trainer lately. It’s a skill and I’ve always worked that way.

  • Create ‘The Team’ element

Two ways of doing this.  You’re either in this together, teacher and class OR you go for teacher VS. class which is usually my route.  You still encourage but you and they know you’re trying to break them.

  • The Music

Always have a storming playlist.  Don’t follow suit though, play what gets you pumped not necessarily the client because it’s your energy that needs to remain high to maintain quality of teaching.  You don’t have to copy the big boys and play constant bloody house music.  Throw a curve ball in to disrupt the norm, something slow or cheesy that makes the class groan in disgust.

  • Don’t destroy them

These clients are coming to train, get a benefit from you and ultimately feel good.  You don’t have to make them puke or collapse to their knees every time.  Be smart and build it up.

  • Educate

If you’re screaming about speed and jumping spinning burpees constantly for 45mins then you’re a moron at best.  At some level the client has to improve and learn. Whether it be technique or timing make sure they walk away having become fitter but also wiser with a new skill set.

  • Flow

The reason I’m writing this blog is because today I decided to teach a TRX class with the straps at ONE length for the whole class.  So there were barely any breaks just flow from one exercise seamlessly to another.  It takes practice and a catalogue of movements in your head that can be tied in a structured sequence on the fly.  You get this part down and your class will rise to the top of whichever nightclub you’re currently teaching at.

  • Create a Finale

The end of the class is near.  This is where you bring the hammer down.  BUT, again, don’t make it unachievable.  Make it hard enough that each and every client uses the last % of their battery to the last second.  They will hate and love you for it in equal amounts

So go forth class teachers of differing experience.  Take your classes to another level.  Disrupt the norm because if you don’t… WE WILL.

Niko

Dramatically changed


So. Here I am again. Twice in a short while. That itself tells the story.
A couple of weekends ago I was at my friends 60th birthday. I have known him for 10 years. We have drunk a lot of alcohol together and (here's a real secret) eaten a lot of sugar together. He had bought himself a treadmill for his 55th birthday. He had no idea how to turn it on. Over Hummingbird velvet cake and a glass of something lovely he asked me why my approach to fitness had changed so dramatically.
That made me think. There has not been a dramatic change. Rather, I am dramatically changed. That is evidenced by the fact that I am telling two stories about fitness in a short period of time. I had no stories to tell on this subject for the first 40 years of my life.
The change however was not dramatic. It has creeped in over 8 years.
I started to think about why, being a binge human - shopping/drinking/eating/working/and the thing I cant write here - I am not a binge exerciser. I am consistent. I have been consistent for 8 years.
The answer of course is Niko and Jay. More recently Luke. It works. They care. The end.

 

Anya  

High Definition

3 weeks ago we took this picture...

As you can see compared to the average Joe, fairly muscular and athletic with some definition. Happy.

Now we were watching our food carefully for a few weeks before and that made huge difference. You can see the oblique and deltoid cuts with at least a hint of a six pack.  Fast forward 3 weeks I have to say in my case that definition has slipped somewhat.  Why? DIET! 

The Equilibrium nutrition plan works.  It's not a diet but a habitual mindset.  I slipped.  I got myself busy with work and other developments and started slipping ever so slightly back to the dark side...gluten and sugar.  

A couple of trips to the Granger and Raouls, two beautiful restaurants, and my trusty obliques and shoulder cuts were on their way down the street waving back at me smiling.

If you're looking a vanity physique that's maintainable then there is NO secret.  Keep the gluten and the sugars low or non existent, have plenty of protein and good fats and 2 litres of water a day.  

"But my diet is sooooo clean and I still put on weight"

THEN NO IT ISN'T IDIOT!  Somewhere in your immaculate diet is a snack or habit that's removing your definition in favour of a more blancmange look.

I've lied to myself plenty of times as I'm sure you're doing right now reading this.  Strip your daily intake down into carbs, proteins and fats and honestly ask yourself is it as clean as it can be?

What is the Equilibrium nutrition plan Niko? Oh right so it's...

That'll cost you....

MAKING TOAST BUT BURNING YOUR HOUSE DOWN

Making my toast but burning my house down? You just said that out loud right? Well let me explain why this has always stayed with me from day one of my career.

When I was learning to become a PT I sat at in a gym every day listening and learning. There was a trainer working there, grumpy, hard to approach and hard to understand (Irish). His name was Lee Irvine. I mention his name because he made me understand training in one simple sentence. It has stuck with me ever since. You're making your toast but burning your house down, 

4 years on I now stand in the my own studio working with lots different individuals with different goals. 

"I just want to look good"

"I want to be as strong as this girl on Instagram"

"I want to run faster at Barry's bootcamp"

I listen and then we get to work. Here is a little idea of how we do it at Equilibrium:

We treat the first session as an M.O.T. How is your quality of movement? Can they stabilise their core under pressure from weight or speed?

If you have a personal trainer thats how they should be assessing you each session, What we do hear about past trainers is;

"My trainer was lovely, he motivated me"

That's great but that will only take you so far. But did they make you understand movement? Do your boutique fitness class trainers make you understand the prescribed movement?

You don’t expect your hairdresser to mess your up your hair or your doctor to mistakenly swap your stomach for your liver?

But time and time again we see people who don’t know how to move and move with quality and purpose.

The fitness world is now functional. Functional every day moves squats, deadlifts, cleans, running , jumping etc. When getting my clients to perform these complex movements I play a game with them to make it understandable and engaging.

3 RULES OF MOVEMENT

1. How is their set up? (e.g. is their chest up? Is their back in a nice braced position?)

2. Can they keep consistency throughout the movement? (can they make all reps look identical?)

3. Can they make it look sexy? (can they keep it flowing with great control?)

If you can't keep your heels down on a squat, your back rounding,  can’t hold your core tight in a braced position for a deadlift or your scapulas (top of your back ) keep sinking when you plank then unfortunately, your functional pattern is breaking down and your body will suffer for it.

By doing all of these movements (making your toast) without actually thinking about what you should be engaging you are creating sloppy positions which have a domino effect on the body (burning your house down).  Certain muscle groups will overcompensate and do the work that other muscles should be doing leading to injury in the long run.

I like to use analogies so here's one for you. Think of yourself as a Formula 1 car. You can’t just go super fast into a corner without warming your wheels up!

Your FOUR wheels are::

1. Hamstrings, calves and quads

2. Glutes (legs)

3. Core

4. Shoulders

1. If the hamstrings are weak your lower back will have to work harder which will cause pain

2. If the glutes and quads are weak you won’t achieve power in your running stride or comfortably sit at the bottom of a squat

3. Core is the main power source to movement. Now that doesn’t mean crunches on the floor I’m talking about trunk strength your back and core tight solid positions (not falling into a rounded back)

4. Healthy, strong shoulders can hold a bar above your head with locked out arms without compromising your lower back

So to achieve strong and efficient patterns try and think about how you are training your FOUR wheels.  How are they working together to make a perfect functional movement, give you more power output and less injury?

My final question you...ARE YOU JUST GOING TO CONTINUE TO MOVE UGLY AND NEVER UNDERSTAND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE AN ATHLETE?

Jay

 

Realisation In Rome

Name drop time!  I’m just returning from Rome training the fabulous Rita Ora.  But whilst out there I got a bit lazy and lowered the levels on one of my E9, 9 elements of fitness. 

We’ll start from the beginning.

I fly out 9:35am Tuesday morning so obviously before that all I’d done is sleep, eat and go to the airport.  Then I sat on a cramped flight writing emails I couldn’t possibly send and working out what crazy Instagram montage we could make next.  After this was a frightening taxi ride in which the driver checked her phone 80% of the time which makes me ask is she the best or worst driver ever?  Once I’d arrived at the hotel I unpacked, freshened up, walked a little bit around Rome and ate pasta.  Not good so far. 

By the time my client had arrived for her session at 7:30pm I had wasted a day not doing much physically.  The session was great (even if I do say so myself) which brought me to 9pm.  I was wiped out. No training. Sleep.

The next session on Wednesday was at 9pm so again I had no access to a gym (no excuse mind you) to train.  The point I’m making here is that in close to 48 hours I hadn’t really ‘moved’ as my body is supposed to. When did I realise this? Well 45mins before my client arrived at 9pm I hooked my trusty TRX on the door and dropped into a squat, JESUS! My hips! They were so tight it felt like someone had poured rust into them.  

In the 48 hours previous I’d not done a squat, a lunge, a split, not worked any of my natural and fundamental mobility and boy did it show. My heels lifted off the floor, my knees collapsed inwards, back rounded, embarrassing.

So I dropped onto a mat.  I dynamically stretched my hips, hamstrings, quads and glutes. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I squatted again and boom, technically beautiful, well in my eyes anyway. I felt so much better. The session went great and it made me remember why Jay, Luke, and now Tom instil the E9 ethos at Equilibrium. It works. It makes you the natural athlete you were born to be. No aches or pains or stiffness and back problems. Just pure movement and strength. Think of each your 9 elements of fitness (see above graphic) as a petrol tank. You need to top up each element constantly to be at peak fitness or they’re going to be empty and useless.

Not sure how to get mobile and flexible?  Email us.

Niko

Where are my results?

Patience is a virtue.  A virtue I’ve never quite had a grip on.  I’m the same as most people.  If I start cleaning up my nutrition or training a little harder, I want to wake up after day one and see muscles bulging and the beginnings of a six pack.  It’s not reality but with TV on demand, social media at our fingertips and Deliveroo knocking at the door 20mins after an order why wouldn’t we feel this way? These days we can ave anything from an amazon order to a date on Tinder in hours! 

With your fitness and especially your physique ladies and gentleman, it takes time and effort.  It’s an accumulative effect over time that turns you into the walking sex machine that you’d like to be.  Session after session maintaining the intensity and the variation to hit every muscle along with all of the 9 elements of fitness that we work to here at Equilibrium.

I’m going to use myself as a quick example because I’ve got first hand reasons and memories for you.  We started Equilibrium 17 months ago and it’s been a rollercoaster of hard work, blood sweat and tears.  After 12 months of working 7 days a week and almost 14 hours a day my body was a mess. 

I’d become everything I’d advised my clients not to be.  I was stressed, lack of exercise, sleep and busy days had got to me.  I was unfit.  I’d neglected my training and just ran the studio but also using my busy life as an excuse not to train.  THERE IS NO EXCUSE.  My diet was terrible. It consisted of Nandos orders to the studio and curry or Bolognese in the evening because I was exhausted and it’s easy isn’t it? 

At the end of the summer I was lucky enough to go away for 6 days to Portugal.  It saved me.  I forgot about work for a second and focussed in on what I was eating, drinking and simplified my training to get back in the swing.  

Now that whole training thing… I stripped it back to the tool I love the most, the piece of equipment I use when new clients come in because it’s so diverse and adaptable, the TRX.  I did a TRX total body workout 5 days a week for 8 weeks.  That and the good food I was eating completely restored my fitness.  I returned to being muscular (obviously muscle memory was a factor), lean, and strong.   My stress levels plummeted and our studio and business began to flourish now that I could focus my efforts.

It’s about working on it every day.  You’ve have to trust the process.  Chip away at the workouts each day, not being afraid of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness).  The clean food is the icing on the cake because it allows you to heal faster, speed up your metabolism and keep the energy firing for the next workout. I guarantee that if you put at least 4 solid weeks of workouts the results will shock you.  After 8 weeks you’ll be carved of out stone and everything after that will just be a bonus. 

At our studio we don’t train our clients for 6-week beach blasts.  We make it habitual, a life choice, a learning curve hitting each of the 9 elements of fitness and adding one more element throughout, confidence.

But you’ll need patience…

Niko

I'll just have a couple...

So on the weekend I got together with two of my mates, the type where you know that consuming your bodyweight in alcohol is the only objective.  And maaaaan did we achieve. Numerous beers and vodkas made for a very enjoyable evening.  Now some calories were burned away by my usual deluded opinion that when I'm near a dance-floor I AM Justin Timberlake. Nobody else seemed to think so it was an uneventful evening.  So I danced for 2 hours combatting some of the alcohol intake.   But what else happened to my body?
Apart from the JT delusion alcohol basically has no health benefits whatsoever.  Here's a little image to help understand the basic process of destruction:
When you drink, the body prioritises the metabolism of what it believes is a poison to the body hence the almost immediate tipsy feeling.  That stops all the other elements being metabolised, so while the alcohol is in your system you are gaining weight  and unable to burn the fat cells already stored within your body.  That's the science but psychologically it takes it's toll.  As one of our great clients says "idol!", it makes us lazy, depressed and craving sugary, stodgy foods.  I know that after a bender I'm somehow always in the mood for a Dominoes large enough to kill a baby elephant or a curry with some serious levels of poppadoms.  CRAP basically.
How many calories are we drinking though?
Look at the above and think about your last night on the sauce,  how many slices of pizza or cake did you consume?  Adds up doesn't it?
But we're all going to drink aren't we?  Of course so let's do it in moderation and with intelligence.  The least calorific drink will be Vodka, Soda  and fresh lime.  Tasty and less fattening. Add that into your drinking programme guys...oh and get to the gym.
Niko