Choosing a gym according to management, equipment, cost, and your personality

Date: Nov 27, 2016

Clive Greens Gym Newmarket Auckland

One of the best equipped and best run gyms in Auckland was Clive Greens in Newmarket about 15 years ago. Even looking at today’s standards it was better managed than at least 9 out of 10 current gyms and an equal to the 10th. 

The reason for this was because it was owned and run by Clive Green. Clive had been a body builder in his day plus he was very outgoing and had, a very real, consideration for the members needs. He was regularly going around the gym and having a word with all members at some stage. For Clive it was as much about the needs of the members as it was about making a buck. The gym was loaded with more than enough equipment to satisfy the needs of body builders and plenty of equipment for those coming to a gym for the first time. Included was a ‘circuit’ of resistance machines which is sadly lacking in today’s gyms.

Every year he went off to the States to bring back new equipment. At one stage he had some of the older, but still useful machines, re-powder coated thereby constantly keeping the look of the gym up to scratch. 

When I was training for the New Zealand indoor rowing championships I asked Clive if it would be possible to access the gym at an earlier time in order to focus on training with less people around. He didn’t say anything he just took the front door key to the gym off his key ring and handed it to me. Such was his judgment when it came to looking after the members. 

Another time he offered to assist me with training. He came in to the gym and for 3 hours we discussed various methods of training along with the offer to help out anytime at no cost. It would be highly unlikely to find such a character owning and or managing one of today’s gyms. 

The above is the best you could possibly hope for when looking for a gym offering a great range of equipment, plenty of space, always tidy, and an owner who knows how to look after your fitness and health. 

If you’re the type who is mindless to any of that then it probably won’t matter which gym you join. You could just find somewhere with gym equipment and spend some time picking up some weights and putting them down again and then after a couple of months over a couple of beers you can have a think about why nothings changed. However if you do have a mind at all you’ll realise that to achieve a decent level of strength, fitness, and health then a more suitable, across the board, real gym environment, might help. 

The numerous boutique style of gym all look the same and are equipped pretty much the same way so if that’s what you want then it’s just a matter of joining the one that’s the closet. It’ll do the job but without the variation of equipment the larger gyms can offer. They are a go to gym, to do your stuff, and leave feeling “Well I did something…just not sure what good its doing for me overall.”

The next ones up are gyms that you probably want to get a free weeks pass and spend as much time as possible there to get a real feel for the atmosphere, the types that go there, and does the management and staff appear to be actively  involved in ensuring the members are looked after? It’s not uncommon to see a new member floundering around without a clue of what to do and no one in sight to assist. And look to see if the equipment is put back when finished with. Cost shouldn’t really come in to it. The difference in fees might only amount to a cup of coffee per week. If you want to look after your health and you find a gym that’s right then just pay whatever the fee is and get on with it.

But take a bit of time to choose because if you are serious about your health then you want a gym that matches your personality and physical requirements. It’ll help to ensure the exercises work for you and the result is a good one


Equipment to provide a complete workout for gym members

Perfecting the Barbell Bicep Curl & the Cable Tricep Pushdown

Date: Nov 27, 2016


Select a 10kg straight bar or pre-loaded 10kg bar. Either one will do to start. The 20kg Olympic bar would be too heavy for anybody to practise with. Start off without loading the bar with plates so you can warm up and practice the components of the lift. Pick the bar up and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent which sets up a postural platform to stabilize your upper body so mind/muscle focus can be solely on the core and biceps. Your back is straight and your head is up, and in line with your back. Your arms are fully extended. 

Now focus on your next move. 

Simultaneously tighten your core, suck in air, and begin to curl the bar. Feel the core doing the lift as well as the biceps. Curl the bar up using only your biceps and core to full contraction blowing out air evenly as you go and continuing to keep the core tight at the same time. 

Now you are ready for the first full repetition. 

Your posture has already been set. Remember your back is straight and head up and in line with your back. Slowly lower the bar focusing on using the biceps to control the movement. The time taken to fully extend will be a slow 2 second count. Now at almost full extension simultaneously suck in air hard, flex your core hard, and begin to contract your biceps ready for the lift up.

All focus is on the biceps and flexed core. Do not lift with your shoulders or break posture. The lift up is, again, a slow 2 second count. Bring the bar up using your biceps and core to full contraction and again, blowing out air evenly continuing to keep the core tight at the same time. 

And don’t look in the mirror. You don’t need to see what’s going on if you really are focused on the lift. Individuals who look in the mirror to see if the right muscles are working are not focusing on the lift. If you want to make a ponce of yourself in front of the mirror do it after the set. 

If your technique has been correct you will feel the effect on only the target muscles as you lift. Add plates to the bar only as your strength and skill in maintaining technique increases.


With this exercise the resistance is down so keep an upright posture to create the platform for pushing down and don’t bend your knees as with the barbell curl. 

Stand with an upright posture facing the cable machine with a short straight bar and an overhand grip. Your back is straight and your head is in line with your back. Some people let their heads go forward or lower their heads to look down when the load is over their limit. If you think this is going to make it any easier forget it. All this is going to do is lead to bad posture for this exercise. The power comes from the core, and having a natural upright posture with head in line with your back, is essential to core strength.

You are now ready for your first rep.

Your elbows are firm against your side and forearms are at 90 degrees (horizontal). Standing tall suck in air, tighten your core hard, focus on the triceps, and then with a smooth action push down blowing out air as you go. Remember the slow 2 second count. Squeeze at the bottom and hold for 2 seconds. 

Ease the bar back up to the start with a 2 second count and when nearly to the top suck in air and tighten the core hard ready for the second rep. You can take the bar up a bit past 90 degrees however do not jerk it to start the movement otherwise the whole idea of the technique of muscle focus and posture will be lost. If you feel only the tricep working and nothing else then you’ve done good. Triceps are a small muscle group and work better with high reps so use as much resistance as you like so long as technique isn’t compromised but also look at a minimum of 12 to 15 reps.


Perfecting the Barbell Shoulder Press 

Manufacture & Marketing of Supplements

Date: Nov 27, 2016

You might have been asking yourself what could be bigger than Starwars. 

Well the answer you’ve been looking for is The Manufacture and Marketing of Supplements. It has to be the biggest marketing/advertising campaign on the planet and it’s growing at a rate that suggests it might be out of control. That is to say the number of brands is increasing, the variations of strengths increasing, the variations of additional supplements added to the primary supplement are increasing at a very fast pace. 

How are you going to know which brand or supplement strength to choose? The intense level of marketing will no doubt have a hand in that. Because unless you want a specific vitamin or specific mineral on its own, which is now becoming less likely to be available, then you will also have a mixture of other vitamins and minerals in the same capsule or tablet. It may be that you do need some of those vitamins and minerals as well as the primary vitamin or mineral. However, if you take supplements and don’t actually need them, it may be putting unnecessary stress on your kidneys and or liver. 

If you feel you have a deficiency then try to get a tablet that is specifically for that deficiency and of sufficient strength to allow for a good level of absorption, as your absorption rate will vary, depending on whether you are 25 or 50. Take people at or on the wrong side of 50 to 60 years old. Their body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals started to fail 20 to 30 years ago, so how are they going to know how much of any kind of supplement will be needed to rectify a mineral or vitamin deficiency.

They’re not going to know unless they can spend some time researching and even then it’s probably a bit hit and miss. But before you do that you will need to properly evaluate your current state of health. A full set of blood tests from your GP might help or try walking, running, do an hour at the gym, and see how you feel. You could just need some exercise to get your metabolism up which in turn will help lose any extra weight and maybe just make you feel better. Even a change in scenery can be a good tonic. 

It’s a whole lot cheaper than supplements and long term, more healthy. So check it out before you fall unnecessarily under the spell of a very powerful marketing machine that is so intense it has the ability to convince some people it’s really doing them some good. So much so that physiologically they do feel better for a while but, there is the possibility, and the reality, it’s just the marketing triggering hope and any physical change is short lived.

Anyway so who is buying supplements? Everyone is buying them whether they really need them or not. We are completely surrounded by messages that give us a reason to buy them. After all, the entire atmosphere is full of pollutants that surely have an adverse effect on our health. The soil that grows our food is lacking in the nutrients that we need to keep us healthy. 

So given the fact that we breathe pollutants and we don’t get enough vital minerals from vegetables that are grown in pretty much barren soil then, in part, the advertising is true in that there is a real need for supplementation. However, there is another side to the marketing of supplements and that is for the people who have a genuine health problem which their doctor says he cannot assist them without the use of drugs. Drugs which supposedly are designed for one purpose, but unfortunately all those drugs have a list of side effects a mile long which can create the need for other drugs or some form of supplement to remedy the side effects.

And nobody knows how the drug is made and what chemicals make up the drug. At least with a bottle of whatever from the health shop it shows what vitamins, minerals, herbs, the capsule or tablet contains so if you think anything on that list is suspect and may upset you in some way, then don’t buy it. Look for another brand that doesn’t have that vitamin, herb, or mineral. The thing is if you feel you could do with a boost and consider supplements to be a possibility one answer might be to stick to the basic vitamins and minerals. The B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, D, and the minerals, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, iron. One or two of these and some appropriate exercise might be all you need.

 Good health and…. May the force be with you.


Blood Pressure pills.    Who the hell needs them?

Achieving the perfect diet

Date: Jun 20, 2016

If you go to 10 different nutritionists you’ll end up with 10 different nutrition plans. Whoever you talk to will have a different take on what is right for you. So, what does this mean for you?

It means what you have to do is listen carefully to all advice (professional or not) (good or bad) and use you own intuition and intelligence to put together your unique meal plan for your unique body. There is one certain thing about a diet and that is we all know the things we should, at least avoid eating and drinking. Right? So that’s a good place to start. Cut right down on anything that contains sugar or fat. No more ice cream. No more takeaways. Cut the 2 dozen stubbies a week down to ½ a dozen. And so on.

Now that you’ve started it will become easier to figure out as each new change is made. So keep going on the same track. Make your own list because now you’ve fired up the willpower to do it. Next just put it into practice. That is, if you really want to change your diet you hold the power to do it in your hands. It’s all very well to follow a ‘clinically prescribed diet’ and after a few weeks you realise that it’s not happening as it was supposed to. It would seem you’ve just thrown away $100 on another useless diet plan.

If you have or are starting with a new personal trainer then you will be able to work with him/her in conjunction with your resistance training. An experienced trainer will be more knowledgeable in nutrition than most. Anyone else can only throw in a lot of suggestions based on an across the board assessment of diets in general. We all, at some stage, have gained some weight but this is you we are talking about. Not someone else with an entirely different metabolism. The fine tuning of your nutrition intake really just has a lot to do with making some sacrifices.

So what are the other factors involved that aren’t on your food plan. Top of the list would have to be lack of the correct exercise for your physical makeup. Eating all the ‘right’ foods isn’t on its own going to make you slimmer, get bigger muscles, make you fitter or have greater endurance. Psychologically it might make you feel better for a while because you think the ‘right foods’ are all it takes. Consider this; if you fill up your car with gas what happens? Nothing happens. Nothing happens until you start the engine. Right? The same applies to eating. You are filling up your body with fuel to get your motor running and unless you start the engine the fuel just sits there. And unlike your car the fuel in your body turns to fat unless it’s burnt off with the appropriate exercise to suit your needs. Nutrition and exercise, along with the motivation to succeed, go together.

When you eat then you must burn the fuel with the appropriate exercise. And to get the best from your exercise then fuel up with the appropriate food. The ingredients handled the proper way with motivational effort and consistency will give you results. Remember you won’t get far without putting some real effort in to it.

To get the nutrients into your system it helps to have a clean fuel line. Unfortunately there are things we enjoy eating and drinking in life which inhibit the absorption of nutrients from the food or supplements. Probably the three worst inhibiters are, of course, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco. Coffee inhibits the intake of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, Biotin(B7), C, E, Iron, and Potassium. Alcohol does much the same thing . And so does tobacco.

That’s the very basics of it, but you could try one of two options.

1- You can think about it and do nothing which means you will stay exactly the same as you are now physically both inside and out.

2- You can think about it and at least do something which means you are half way there


Vitamin and mineral supplements