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The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Depression and Exercise

I was talking to a new client this morning about her reasons for exercising, and it hasn't been the first time that the subject of depression has come up. From a training perspective, it is a hard subject, because the medication often causes the person to put on weight, which makes them feel worse!

It is well documented that exercise can help manage mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Beyond Blue’s numerous fact sheets recommend exercise as an alternative treatment for depression and anxiety, and a tool for you to “help yourself” when faced with this disease.

Depression in athletes has been documented as far as dealing with pressure and performance, as well as overtraining, but what happens to one’s mental state when you cease regular exercise? There is no research on this topic, so i asked some of our Olympic Athletes and clients of Galileo Personal Training their opinions.

Robin Bell, who won bronze in Beijing 2008 Slalom Canoe and participated in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games, says that he never experienced depression whilst training for any of the Olympic games, despite being “always tired“. Once he retired after Beijing, he found he lacked motivation to exercise because he did not have a goal. He struggled with sleeping and concentrating, and felt generally “like a slob”. He began “fun exercise” like surfing and mountain biking to “feel better”.

Whilst this is not proof that lack of exercise can cause depression, it does show how exceptional, motivated, and talented individuals can fall for the same traps as every-day joe. Exercise can help improve even a well-balanced person’s mental state.

After training at Galileo!

You often see in the 30min spent with each client training, their mood improving as the session progresses. I often think you've done a good job if they walk out feeling better than when they walk in (that's right, you do not have to be nailed every time you do a PT session - if you are, maybe you need to come to Galileo for a session to try it out!!).

Any kind of activity is good activity. Contact my studio if you need help!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Pain and Exercise

In light of all the research regarding how exercise can increase your life quality and expectancy, how painful is it really?

There are multiple reasons to exercise and eat well. Recent studies link a fatty diet with onset of Alzheimer’s, and it’s long been known that exercise slows the progress of the disease. There has been a study linking almost every kind of fruit or vegetable and a reduction risk of cancer, particularly cancer in the digestive tract. Good nutrition has been shown to reduce childhood behavioural problems and allergies, as well as help treat depression in adults. Exercise has also been shown to increase cognitive function and longevity by increasing the complexity of the folds in the brain and maintaining vital muscle and bone mass … can anyone really afford NOT to be fit and healthy??

The latest “pain” in regards to exercise is financial. In the lee of the Global Financial Crisis, we are feeling insecure about our financial futures. However, have any of us sat down and worked out how much we spend on lunch every day? Coffee? Petrol? Clothes?

How does your one 30min session each week compare to that?

All these reasons to exercise, and yet we’re still the fattest nation in the world (52% of us are overweight or obese, and yes, we‘ve overtaken the Americans). The main explanation appears to be that the pain and discomfort of physical exercise - feeling self conscious, spending money, making time, muscle pain, breathlessness - outweighs the discomfort of your current state and the “might happen“ possibilities of the future.

The list of excuses not to exercise is as endless as the reasons to do it!

So how painful is exercise really? Is it more to do with our attitude? Is the problem just our assumptions of what’s expected and what you need to do to “get fit?” What if we simply changed our minds about exercise, and approached it like eating, breathing, and sleeping?

Exercise does not have to be painful. It just needs to be moderate, regular, and consistent.

Start with two small changes, and begin the evolution of your lifestyle: 
- fruit
- vegetables
- whole grains
- fish
- nuts and seeds (especially flaxseeds)
- probiotics (like yoghurt or Inner Health Plus)

Concentrate on consuming more good stuff rather than cutting anything out. Even if you continue to be overweight and inactive, you will improve your internal health and reduce your risk of disease. You will also slow down the aging and weight gain process.

- take the stairs.
- park the car further away.
- start walking regularly (start with just 10min a day everyday)
- make it social (catch up with friends in the park instead of the bar)
- make the organised exercise you do worth it! Eg. Competitive sport, 30min effective PT session instead of 60min fluffing about in a park. Most places will give you a visit for free, so try everything!

You can chose how you do it, where you do it, what state you do it in, but you do it regardless! Start with walking or whatever you enjoy. Even if you do not lose weight you will increase your fitness and decrease the various health risks associated with inactivity.
At the end of the day, many diseases are preventable. It is not fair to burden our health system with preventable diseases when the resources can go towards those who really need it… just to avoid a bit of discomfort! The burden on our health system costs you in the hip pocket as well as reducing your life expectancy and quality of life. In light of the collective consequences of inactivity and eating badly, exercise and health is not that painful or inconvenient.

For assistance in getting started contact Galileo Personal Training:
a. 18 West St, Brookvale
p. 9905 4144

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Pregnancy and Exercise

A pregnant woman is as able to exercise as anyone.

Pregnancy is shrouded in myth and rumour, and during this time a women often feels the first stirrings of a lifetime of guilt for doing the “wrong” things. Rule number 1: You are not fragile! There is very little you can do (short of becoming self-destructive) to harm your baby.

Pregnancy is perfectly natural and a woman can continue to perform habits that are natural!

There are some precautions (see our checklist at the end of this article), and if you are embarking on an exercise program for the first time you should see your doctor first. If you are in reasonable health and fitness when you fall pregnant it makes sense to train for the physical demands of being heavier, going through labour, and the physical toll of having a newborn.

Whilst training while pregnant is perfectly safe, do not do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you are not confident training on your own, consult a pre-natal qualified personal trainer at or for more information. 

 Stability During your pregnancy you need to work on joint stability - especially your hips and back. As your pregnancy progresses your centre of gravity rises and your joints become loose. Stability training will help prevent falls, as well as protect against back pain once the baby is born.

Weights When you are strong, things like picking up the washing basket takes less effort than if you were weak. In this way, a 6-10lb baby will be harder for you to manage if you are weak than if you strength trained during your pregnancy. We do not mean the weightlifting of a muscle builder! You need to do specific movements that will adapt your body to the sudden physical stress of holding and lifting a baby.

Fitness Good fitness means you will recover quicker from the birth, and you will generally need less sleep (even though it may not feel like it!). This means you can cope with the persistent demands of you new baby better. Appropriate fitness training is any rhythmical muscle movement, such as walking, swimming, and cycling. The intensity should be enough to get you warm and breathless.

Mental preparation While fitness and strength will help you physically, you should be mentally prepared for the pain and process of labour. There are a number of organisations that use hypnotherapy, meditation, yoga, and visualisation techniques to assist you in managing the labour - drug free! See

Five precautions for training when pregnant
1) Be comfortable - if you’re uncomfortable find a different exercise that works the same muscles. For example, if push ups hurt your back, lie on an incline bench and do a bench press with dumbbells (a fitness professional can assist you with exercise selection
2) Stay cool - if you’re getting hot, stop! Park yourself in front of a fan or train outside where you can get some air over your skin.
3) Breathe - regular deep breathing will keep your blood pressure and heart rate within safe parametres. Holding your breath while doing weights will increase your internal pressure, and running out of breath while doing your fitness training will starve the fetus of oxygen. It is fine to get your heart rate up, just make sure you get enough air in to share around!
4) Head over heart, hands under heart - this is a simple guideline to make sure your blood pressure stays moderate with any exercise that you chose.
5) Drink! - you will naturally use water and sweat while training, just make sure to replace it.

I have been training Pre- and Post-Natal women for 11yrs. This is my first experience of actually being pregnant, and there are a couple of other points that i hadn't thought of when i was simply training others:

1) Being heavy is tiring! I am making more effort to strength train just so i can continue to function. Having said that, i am asleep for 10hrs every night (i used to get by on 8).
2) Being bigger is embarrassing - well, i am self-conscious about it. As a result my posture is suffering, and i have started a program to try and keep my shoulders back (they were creeping forward and the resulting tight muscles were giving me headaches)
3) Any weak spots will be exacerbated with the release of relaxin. The hormones designed to loosen your joints to make it possible to pass a watermelon through your hoo-ha also increase the flexion in my weak bits - resulting in pretty severe pain. I have enlisted the combined help of a chiro (http://www.bodymindwellnesscentre.comau/) and physio who's efforts mean that i can still work!

Hat's off to all those women who have been before me. I am still as stubborn as before, but i have a new respect for the hundreds of women who have persevered with their training through pregnancy (notable mentions to Tonia, who came 10 days overdue and itching like crazy, Emma who called me while in labor to cancel her session, and Jenny who turned up for a session 10days after giving birth - you are inspiring!!)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Ultimate physical and mental health - in a nutshell

With all the new research coming out, telling us to “do this or that”, it’s easy to get confused about how to be perfectly healthy. One article reads that red wine is good for you, the next is telling us that alcohol will kill you. How do you know what to believe?

Today our aim is to organise and summarise all this information in the one concise list.
Firstly, we need to define what ultimate health is. Ultimate health is not about “being good” with your diet or exercise, or looking like a supermodel. Ultimate health is about moderation. It is about feeling energetic and well.
Moderation means that your brain gets a rest from reading packets and choosing foods. Moderation lets you “off the hook” when you slip up in your regime, which will lower stress levels.
Ultimate health is also about your mental health. Physical and mental health are intertwined, and need to be addressed together. When your mental health is good, good physical health will follow.
For ultimate health, follow these steps:
SLEEP: Sleep is important for a number of reasons. Healing and growth occur during sleep (if you’re injured or unwell). Sleep is also when you store your memories. Lack of sleep will damage your ability to function. It also changes your hormones in such a way that you conserve body fat very easily.
RELAX: acute (short, sharp) stress (like a 30min hard exercise session) followed by active relaxation (meditation, stretching, sleep, etc) will boost your “well being” hormones. Allowing your body to let go of excess fat without fearing famine. Another example is working like a dog towards a deadline, then taking a break from work straight after.
Chronic stress (such as running for several hours, or working like a dog for weeks on end) will alter your hormone balance in such a way that makes it hard to lose or maintain fat levels. Chronic stress also decreases your cognitive health and can lead to severe health issues.
EXERCISE MODERATELY: moderate exercise can boost your “happy” hormones without increasing your risk of injury. Moderate exercise occurs between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. This feels like you’re puffed but can continue. Moderate time exercising is around 30 minutes
EXERCISE REGLARLY: regular moderate exercise has been shown to impact mental health, and is often used to treat depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Consistency is the key for these benefits, exercising 10 times one week and then not at all the next week will not be effective. Regular exercise is exercising 4-6 times a week.
EAT LOTS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES: fresher is better when it comes to optimum nutritional health. This applies to meat, poultry, seafood, cereals, grains, and fats too. If all your food is as close to it’s original source as possible, then it is unlikely that you will be in want of any nutrients. This is particularly true for fruit and vegetables, which carry an abundance of antioxidents and nutrients. These nutrients can be destroyed by cooking or storage, but are imperative in preventing sickness and boosting health. It is a similar story with some oils, which in their raw form are healthy, but once heated can form dangerous triglycerides.

De Mystifying Vibration Plate Training

Vibration training has real health benefits.
Training on a vibration plate has three main applications - Strength, Flexibility, Massage.
Muscle will contract a maximum of 40x per second, so our vibration plates vibrates up to 40 times per second. This stimulus causes your muscle to react, so you’re reflexes are firing at their maximum capacity to stay standing on the plate. In this way the muscle develops strength, the strength changes improve your metabolism and stability. Increases in metabolism mean you burn more body fat and develop tone. This kind of strength training is excellent for arthritis sufferers because the muscle reflex will cause the joint to lubricate itself, without having to move the joint, which is often painful.
The vibrations also simulate upward acceleration (the “ground“ comes up and hits you in the foot), and the muscle and bone adapts to this in the same way as they would respond to being in higher gravity - similar to the responses seen in regular, weight-bearing exercise (such as walking) but much more dramatic. These results can dramatically change the future for people with osteoporosis.
The vibrations sooth a small organ in your tendon that is responsible for preventing over-stretching of the muscle. We can trick that organ by contracting the opposite muscle and then releasing. The vibrations do exactly that in a more subtle and safe way, leading to dramatic increases in flexibility. Being able to move your joint further means you become more mobile. Increased flexibility means your muscles and tendons pull on your bones less, decreasing joint pain (such as back pain that is caused by tight leg muscles).
The massage increases your recovery time by increasing your circulation to your muscles. Similar to the reaction of your blood vessels when you’re slapped - they rush to the area - the vibrations gently encourage blood, with all it’s nutrients, heat, and healing proteins, to the area. This increases healing time, reduces soreness, and feels great!
Galileo Personal Training has been operating in Brookvale and Sydney City for over two years. They aim to use the science of vibration training to increase the effectiveness of your session, meaning you can get maximum results in the shortest possible time.
To try vibration training for free, go to

More information, research papers, and products can be found at