My question for Coach Mike:

“You mentioned in your “12-Point Checklist for Fighters” that “punches are short, crisp, and tight”.  What did you mean by “short punches” exactly?  Does that mean that you’re not extending so far that you’re off balance?  Is there ever a time to “reach” with a punch, or should that all be done by footwork?  It seems that I see a lot of “reaching” in the UFC, with leaping hooks, overhand rights, etc.”
Coach Mike holding the pads



“Good question, my little 12 point check list is not limited to those points that I mentioned because there are more if I want to take time to list them but the ones I listed are just a few important basic ones. Re:Short punches, what I meant by that was keeping your punches short and mainly straight as apposed to throwing loose, wide and sloppy punches. Punches that leave you very open and susceptible to being countered. But really any time you throw a punch you run the risk of getting countered by something. Also long loopy punches that take you off balance when you throw them. I call these punches “NO,NO Punches because these types of punches get you hurt. “Remember this ” YOU ALWAYS PUNCH THROUGH THE TARGET AND NOT JUST TO THE TARGET” By punching through the target you get extension and follow through which also helps you get maximum power and maximum leverage. Like on the jab this is where you get the snap from and the snap doesn’t come from the elbow, never, ever throw your jab from the elbow because you can damage your elbow. The jab “comes from the shoulder”

I teach people not to to reach for punches because when you reach you are off balance, I teach people to never let your head go past your knee when you punch and never let your head go past your foot when you punch because you are not on balance and in MMA you can be pulled into a knee or taken down because your weight is now over your feet and you are basically just hanging out. Big trouble. Close the distance with your foot work to get there do not reach for punches. I teach people that you always have to be adjusting your footwork for distance even when you are throwing combinations because sometimes your opponent moves after you hit him and you have to adjust your feet to get him with the next punch because he’s no longer in the same spot. You have to do this a lot even when you are throwing the basic 123 combination./jab,cross hook. and if you don’t you may not hit him with the cross and certainly won’t hit him with the hook because he will be out of range if you don’t adjust your footwork for distance. not everyone stays in the same place when you land the jab for you to hit him with the 2 and finally the 3 for that particular combination. You might catch him if you have great hand speed and accuracy but don’t count on it.
UFC Fighters: Lets just face it, most fighters in the UFC do not have good boxing skills and a great deal of them come from a wrestling or grappling type background. Most of them have poor boxing technique and very bad fundamentals and probably not a lot of very good boxing coaches in some of the gyms that they come from. Some of these MMA gyms and schools have coaches that try and teach everything, meaning wrestling, boxing, submission, grappling some of these coaches try and teach everything. Some and probably most have some sort of striking coach teaching Muay Thai and incorporating punching and boxing combined. This doesn’t work because the punching and boxing they are doing is quite different from straight Western style boxing and a lot of this has to do with the Muay Thai stance which is a more open stance for kicking, blocking and checking kicks. Plus MMA fighters are worried about their left foot and leg being out front because of getting low kicked and being at risk for the single leg take down. A lot of UFC guys have bad footwork I watch them all the time cross their feet and run across the cage punching in a Karate type style and not having their feet set when throwing power punches. A great deal of these guys don’t turn on their punches and are arm punchers and what they call swingers.
They swing their punches which often pulls them off balance and leaves them at risk for being countered because they are off balance and out of position. Jumping off the canvas throwing punches, leaping off the canvas to throw wild ass hooks in my opinion are bad ideas and I would never teach my fighter or boxer to leave his feet because I want my guy to keep his feet as close to the canvas as possible. By leaving your feet and becoming momentarily air borne is a bad idea and bad things \can happen to you if you get caught in the air. Your feet are off the ground and you have no base what so ever and can’t do a damn thing until you come down and your feet are back on the ground. bad idea. Some guys do the flying knees and the Superman punches and a lot of guys get away with that depending on who they are fighting but I would never teach and want my guy to leave his feet. I want and teach my guy to always be in a position to punch, block a punch or make a punch miss him and by being off his feet for any length of time doesn’t allow him to do that.
If you are an elite UFC fighter you need to have a a coaching team because one coach cannot teach everything because one coach doesn’t know everything. You need to have position coaches just like a football team. In football you have a quarterback coach, you have a offensive line coach, you have a defensive line coach, you have a running back coach, you have defensive back coaches, you have a special teams coach. And if you are in the UFC? You need a boxing coach, not just a Muay Thai/striking coach but a real deal boxing coach who handles the boxing for the fighter and that’s all he does. He is a position coach and his job is to work with the fighter solely on his boxing skills and particularly that part of his stand up game. This way you don’t have wrestling, grappling, submission and Muay Thai coaches trying to teach and coach boxing. Leave that to boxing coaches and your fighter will improve his boxing skills.”

Dear Readers, here is our first question for Coach Mike to kick-start this new series on the website!

“The “Shoeshine Combination” is a flashy technique, great exercise, and is fun to do on the heavy bag. Its simply killer for the abs as you have to contract them so hard during the combo. I don’t see it used very often in MMA.  What are your thoughts on the Shoeshine combination, and if and how it can be applied to MMA and self-defense on the street?  Sometimes I wonder about its efficacy because my guard is down so long, but then again I’d only be using it where appropriate (the guy covering up upstairs completely and time to “go to the body”). In MMA of course, the opponent could send an elbow to your face in a flash, whereas in boxing you would probably only fear the hook as a counter from the opponent’s high guard.”

The response from Coach Mike:

With UFC Heavyweight Tim Sylvia

“The “shoeshine” is really what you call just throwing punches in bunches and can be effective if you got a guy hurt in the corner or against the ropes and he is just covering up especially if you have  great hand speed like “Sugar Ray Leonard” who had some of the fastest hands in boxing. Shoe shining a guy even if you have him hurt doesn’t always mean you are going to knock him out.  But you can also punch yourself out doing this and waste punches and burn a lot of energy and sometimes don’t have enough gas in the tank to finish off your opponent. I have seen guys get shoe shined and be on the brink of going down and all of a sudden come back and turn the tide against the guy who is doing all the punching because the guy has punched himself out. One of the reasons you don’t see a lot of shoeshine punching in MMA is because usually when a guy is taking that many punches he knows to clinch, grab, hold, and take the fight to the ground to get away from the the punching onslaught. In Boxing a lot of the time you get warned from the Referee for holding; you can also get a point deducted for continuous holding and finally get disqualified for holding after the referee has had enough.
The smart veteran  boxers know how to hold when they get hurt and  tie up a guy who is throwing a lot of punches which stops the other guy from punching and buys himself some time to clear his head and get a extra breath or two. Don’t try to be Muhammad Ali and “Rope a Dope” and get shoe shined. Grab, Hold, Tie the guy up and wait for the referee to come and separate the two of you but even before that happens. Don’t get yourself trapped in the corner or on the ropes in the first place. And make sure you know how to go to the ropes and to the corner and know what to do to get off the ropes and out of the corner before you step into the ring. “

Should you create your OWN combinations?  The answer here is a resounding “YES!”  If there is a certain technique or type of kick or strike that you really like, or even just want to practice, add it in.  You will see that the “Master List of Combinations” that comes with the program is open-ended.  It is editable so that you can add to it (or heaven forbid- subtract from it) if it is to your choosing.

In fact, since the program was created, approximately 20 NEW combinations have been invented (or stolen… I mean “borrowed”) and added to the Master List.  How and why does this happen?   Well, I may be watching a UFC fight, or a YouTube video, or similar and someone is demonstrating a certain set of techniques or combinations.  If it looks good, or effective, or interesting, I will write it down and apply it to the heavy bag.  If it works well with heavy bag training, I will “archive” it (add it to my list).

The same thing might happen in your “kickboxing journey”.  You come across something you like, maybe from a group class you’re taking, or a fight scene in a movie, or a martial artist demonstrating a self-defense technique, and you decide you want to add it to your repertoire.   Well, put it at the end of your Master List!   Then, after you’ve added many new techniques/combinations, you put them in a sensible order and make a NEW WORKOUT for your notebook.  Now instead of having just the 12 that come with the program, you now will have 14, or 15, or 20!

Not that the number of workouts needs to be increased, but if you’re so inclined, go for it!

If you are just now purchasing the program, you will notice that not all of the combinations on the “Master List” made it to the “Workouts”.  Why?  Because, after the Program/System was entirely completed, I came across, or invented, NEW combinations that I liked.  For example, just today I created a new combination.  What spurred on this new creation?  It was the simple fact that I didn’t have a technique I find very effective in my System anywhere:  the backfist.  Yes, we have a spinning backfist or two in the “Workouts”, but we haven’t yet had a backfist from a guard position, similar to the function of a jab.  And the Backfist is great!  Its fast, can strike right to the temple, is a great opening move, and I can’t believe I hadn’t thought to put it in until now!   So what I did next is exactly what you’ll need to do as you create your own.  I went to the heavy bag, threw the backfist, and then asked myself, “What’s a good followup strike to throw after this backfist?”   I decided a Right Cross went nicely.  Then I had to decide, “What next?”  Stepping in with a rear/right horizontal elbow seemed good.  After that I decided to throw another horizontal elbow with the left, then a right and left Downward Elbow, and finally finishing it off with a Rear Knee.  Viola!   A new combination is born!

So, as it stands, I have about 25 or 30 “new” combinations that haven’t been put together to form new workouts yet.  They are included in the System under the “Master List” already because I didn’t want to deprive anyone of them if they could make use of them.  I got some of these from watching trainers- on Youtube and elsewhere, or fighters- on Youtube and elsewhere, do or teach these combinations, so I wrote them down and decided I wanted to do them at some point.  In the future I’ll create new workouts with these and then the System will REALLY be big!   In the meantime, create your own if you’re so inclined.  If not, just wait for mine!

I received this question the other day, so I figured I’d post a reply to it here so that others may benefit. The person was going to set about memorizing all the combinations, thinking he needed to do so in order to be more effective.
THERE IS NO NEED TO MEMORIZE the combinations, so don’t weary yourself with such a task.
There is nothing inherently special about each of the combos. There is no need to think, “After I throw a jab and a cross, then I should also throw (fill in the blank)…”
The combinations are created simply to give you TONS of ways to put strikes together. In an actual fight, techniques will simply “flow” based on where you see openings or weaknesses in your opponent. Sure, some techniques naturally follow others, and for various reasons.  For example,  a right cross naturally follows a jab because the jab serves as a distraction and/or creates an opening for the right cross to land.

A rear leg kick might naturally follow a jab too, because you’ve put your opponent’s attention “upstairs” so that the “downstairs” technique (a kick to his leg) will be more likely to land.

A left hook follows well a right cross.  Why?  Because the cross tilts the opponent’s head back and lifts the chin so that your left hook may now knock his chin off of his body.  Well, that doesn’t literally happen, but it sure makes a nice “lever” to shake his brain around inside his cranium!

There are many combinations that do simply “go together”, like peanut butter and jelly.  In fact, almost ALL of the combinations, with the exception of just a handful of “drills”, are put together simply because they DO make sense for one technique to follow another technique.  But that still is not incentive enough to memorize them.

In fact, memorizing them, while being a bit beneficial, has a few drawbacks and is simply not necessary.  For one, the combinations are always written down on your Workout sheet, so you HAVE to refer to them anyway.  To memorize them will simply add fatigue to your brain, and diminish some of the “stress-relieving” properties of the workout.  Why hold all this extra data in your mind?

Also, many of the combinations are very very similar.  Sometimes the techniques contained therein differ only by the order in which they’re performed.  This makes them more difficult to memorize because they lack enough distinction.

Well, the question was asked, “Should I memorize the combinations?”, and the answer is a simple, “No”, so why belabor the point any longer?  Now go have fun with the workouts!

The following is a reprint of an article I originally published on “Ezine”, August of 2012

Well, its your first day at the new gym you’ve just joined, and you’ve decided that you’re going to do things right!  Not only have you signed up for a year-long membership (to make sure you’re committed), but you’ve even arranged sessions with a personal trainer!  You meet your new trainer, and after a few pleasantries, he whips out the tape measure and wraps it around your upper arms, and then around your waist. Although you’re a bit embarrassed (because you have no idea what the measurements are going to turn out to be, or even what they should be), you’re assured that this is a great idea because getting down all these “markers” now are going to establish “where you’re at”, and then months down the line you can look back at them and swell with pride at the amazing progress you’ve made.  After all, numbers don’t lie, and its easy to fool ourselves that we’re getting better, so we better have some hard evidence to back up our assertions.

The trainer tells you that you’re 5’7″, 185 lbs, and have a 35% bodyfat composition.  Other markers are of course taken, and now perhaps you know your blood pressure, your BMI, waistline circumference, and a slew of other statistics.

You rush home excitedly after your first workout session to see if the scale has already started moving in the right direction!

Can anything be wrong with this? I mean, this is just the status quo, right? This is the way its ALWAYS done in EVERY gym across America, and watching those numbers change sure is motivational, right?

If you are overweight, and not an athlete, I’m going to give you several reasons why this should NOT be done, even though it flies in the face of conventional practice…

Number one: its embarrassing.  If you’re overweight, have fat upper arms, or a bulging midsection, you already know it!  You don’t need some young hot shot at the gym measuring to see “just how big” you are!  But this is just the first petty “warm up” reason; the important ones start now…

Number two: it can be very de-motivational!   “Wait a second, I thought the major purpose of this whole process was to fuel my motivation; why would it do the opposite?”  Well, the truth is, oftentimes numbers change very little.  And oftentimes, very slowly!  So slowly in fact, that you just may decide “exercise isn’t working for me so I might as well just hang it up and quit.”

Number three: and this is by far the biggest reason:  it is much more important that you START and MAINTAIN an exercise program, than how rapidly you’re seeing measurable results!

Let me state that a different way: activity is much more important than results.

Lets say that you finally started walking for exercise, and now you’re doing it 5 times per week.  Then you graduated to doing a little weight training, or bike riding, or kickboxing, or Zumba classes, or yoga, or whatever… Are you going to tell me that it is not having a positive effect on your body and health even though your bodyfat percentage doesn’t seem to be budging?

Aren’t your muscles and tendons getting stronger?  Isn’t your cardiovascular system being benefitted? Hasn’t your stamina increased and aren’t you feeling better about yourself? Aren’t your clothes fitting at least a tiny bit better? Of course! And now because your chart hasn’t changed much you’re thinking that you’re on the wrong track???  Nonsense!

The most important thing you can do for yourself is develop a “lifestyle of exercise”.   A lifestyle where you make darn sure, every single week, that your exercise program is not being neglected. You’re finding fun active things to do; you’re jumping on a bike and riding around the neighborhood for 20 minutes. You’re taking evening walks. You did a hike, or canoe trip, or skiing weekend, or jumped on your Total Gym, or went to the gym, or did your Kickboxing workout on the heavy bag hanging in your garage. Your lifestyle is no longer sedentary, its active!   That is a HUGE plus, and no one should be able to discourage you from that.  This is the “new you”, and you are slowly becoming active, more fit, healthier, stronger, and more athletic.

As long as you are DOING the right things, then you are on the RIGHT track, period!

Forget about “progress”, that is not always something you can control. But you CAN control whether or not you eat that second donut; and whether you do your exercise session for the day. Concentrate on those things you have the ability to control and forget about change.  Change takes care of itself, eventually, even if its not as evident on the “outside” as you would like. Does that mean you can’t weigh yourself? Of course not, but don’t become obsessed with it.  Because of your new activity,  you are getting healthier and stronger and you should be happy and proud of that, end of discussion!

Here is ALL you need to do; its a two-step process that ANYBODY can follow:

Limit your intake of sugar and fats. Before eating something, ask yourself, “If this is bad for me, how much of it should I really eat?”  (The correct answer, btw, is “very little”.)  Use common sense.  Get adequate nutrition, and don’t indulge in high-fat and high-sugar foods. If you like them, eat them sparingly. Don’t drink only sodas all day long; limit it to two, or even better:  one.   Trim a lot of fat off your meat that you would previously have eaten. Skip dessert frequently. Use your noodle, this ain’t rocket science!

Exercise. The amount and frequency will depend on a number of factors, but a basic breakdown might be:

If its really easy (like walking), do it 5 times per week.

If its moderate, do it 4 times per week. Or maybe 2 or 3 times with 2 or 3 “easy” days thrown in.

If its vigorous, do it 3 times per week. You could also add in some easy days in between, depending on your goals, time available, etc.

Change your mind, change your habits, and change your lifestyle. Exercise and activity simply MUST be a part of “the new you”.  Don’t settle for anything less. Find something you like to do and DO it. If you can’t find anything you like to do, do it anyway until you DO find something you like, but NOT exercising is no longer an option. Forget the metrics, the baselines, the percentages, and all that numerical data that you thought was a must. Nothing is a must except that your lifestyle changes and that exercise is now a part of it.

Thank your personal trainer for his or her offer of getting all your “stats” down, but tell him or her that you’re most interested in learning how to do the exercises safely, that you need to know exactly what each exercise or machine does for you, and perhaps a program that you can follow that will steer you most safely toward your goals.

As for me, I’ve chosen kickboxing as my “exercise of choice”, and if you want to join me on my program, I’ve developed an amazing home workout system that uses only a heavy bag and a pair of gloves. With it, you get your fat loss, your aerobic workout, your muscle strengthening and bone density increase… ALL the things you’re looking for and need, in a complete, interesting, and easy to follow program. Just go to my site for details. All the best to you as you embark on your new journey into a lifestyle of fitness!

If you’re interested in training on the heavy bag using Kickboxing as your workout, then please visit my site: I’ve developed what is probably the single best home exercise program you could possibly do, as long as you know basic kickboxing moves. Come check us out!

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Fitness is a lifetime endeavor.  Whatever you choose to do to stay in shape, it should be something that you can realistically foresee keeping up for your entire “exercise life”, or at least the “exercise era” that you’re currently in.

UNLESS there are valid reasons for you training beyond that level.  Here are examples of some valid reasons:

  • You’re training for a specific GOAL; ex. marathon, sport, event you have to participate in, etc.
  • You are an athlete and need to compete
  • You absolutely love exercise
  • You are relatively young and can quickly recover from super-intense workout regimens

Here are some reasons to MODERATE your exercise routine:

  • It’s easier to stick with long-term when each session isn’t grueling;
  • You will avoid burning out, losing motivation and enthusiasm for exercise;
  • You will avoid over-use injuries (repetitive stress) on your joints
  • You will be keeping the gains you make from your exercise sessions

When you train too hard, you must continue at that same intense pace or else your body will start to reverse back towards whatever pace you’re maintaining long term.  Translation:  if you were “extra intense” for a few months, but then find that you’re unable to keep up that level of intensity, all of that extra effort will only profit you DURING that intense phase; you will slowly lose that progress when it’s not maintained.

Why train harder than you’re able to gain from?  That’s like having a bank account that can only hold $100,000, yet you’re working overtime at your job month after month earning extra money, but only able to permanently keep that which can fit into your account.

Here’s what you should do:  train for the season of life that you’re in.

  • If you’re an athlete- train like an athlete
  • If you’re in your 30’s- train as someone in their 30’s
  • When you’re in your 60’s- train as someone in their 60’s
  • Consider your schedule, the time you have available to train, your resources (access to equipment, gyms, exercise areas, etc.), your preferences, your level of self-discipline and motivation, and your needs (whether or not you are at risk of disease due to obesity, etc.)

So how does all of this relate to “Good- Better- Best”?

There are a lot of programs out there that are absolutely great.  They are super intense, will get you in great shape, will challenge you to your ultimate capacity.  This would be considered by the casual observer to be “best” (= most difficult).  What are some of these, specifically?  Cross Fit is a great program.  P90X, Insanity, TRX, certain bootcamps, etc.  You can get on these programs and be pushed to your very limits, or perhaps beyond.

But the question you must ask yourself is:  how long can I keep this up?  If I begin to dread my workouts because they are burning me out, what will I do?  You will probably do what most people do:  quit exercise.  Maybe permanently, but at least for a while.  The result:  you will feel bad about yourself, you will question your “commitment” and discipline, and you will wait month after month until you can finally muster the inner strength to start back on an ultra-rigorous exercise scheme.  After all, you’ve been lead to believe that that is “the best”, so why would you want to waste time with anything else?   “No pain, no gain”.

Person A rides their bike twice a week, plays tennis with their friends, goes on evening walks, engages in a weight training session twice a week at home… and loves it!  This person stays in great shape, is happy, looks forward to their exercise, keeps a positive mental state, and is a consistent exerciser for their entire life.

Person B signed up for “The Ultimate Workout”, whatever that is, was pumped about it for the first several weeks, was getting in much better shape, and was super happy about actually getting started on this long-put-off exercise goal.  After a couple months, burnout began to set in and it became much harder to force him/herself to go; however, he mustered every ounce of willpower and was able to be consistent for another few months.  But you can only fight YOURSELF for so long, and eventually he was able to come up with excuses to go much less frequently, and finally- not at all.

Person B gave up on exercise even though he was on the “best” program.  Person A was only on a “good” program, but 10 years later is in very good shape.  And Person A will continue to be in very good shape (notice I did not say “phenomenal” shape) for his entire life.  Person A enjoys exercise and will therefore DO it!   Person B has been taught that exercise must be painful and grueling and has therefore come to dread it.

Which person is on the best program?

Perhaps its time to take a realistic look at what’s “best” for you.  What is best is what you WILL do.  You can achieve this with will “power”, or by simply being “willing”.  Using “power” implies overcoming a force in the opposite direction.  Overcoming force is conflict.  Conflict causes stress.

When you are simply “willing” to do something, this usually means that you like it.  There is no inherent force to fight.  There is no dread of exercise or fear of burnout.

So you can see that there is no “one size fits all” exercise solution.  It depends on the makeup of the individual, and his/her circumstances.  Person B may be perfectly “willing” to do the ultra-intense phenomenal extra-strength workout program.  Person B might actually like it and it causes no inner conflict at all, and if he can do it continually and still recover and grow from it- great!  That is his best workout.

But if you are 35, 55, or 65, and have never been an exerciser and need to lose weight in fear of diabetes or other weight-related ills, perhaps doing Person B’s workout is not “best” at all as far as you’re concerned.  There is nothing about a “workout program” that makes it best.  Best only comes from the MATCH between you and your workout, the compatibility of your makeup and circumstances to the workout’s demands.

There are of course workouts that are better than others.  For example, lengthy endurance workouts that wear out your joints and promote muscle loss are not going to be good for much except your heart/lungs.  There are also certain ways of working out that are just not as efficient or effective as others.  Some of them aren’t using the best of science and research when they’re created.  Some are much too convoluted and complicated as the trainer/designer gets too “cute” with the exercises in an effort to be “unique”.  Some want to get out stability balls, resistance bands, one-footed/one-handed, off-balance, funky movements when a simple lift or movement could easily serve the same purpose.

So, you have to be smart in your selection and choice of an exercise routine.  Use what you know of science, common sense, and your “gut instinct”, and choose what you feel will work best for you.  Don’t fall for hype, propaganda, commercialism/consumerism, and fads.  What you don’t know- learn.  And while you’re learning, DO something- walk, do pushups and situps, stretch, whatever.  Just GET STARTED and create the habit of exercise (and start enjoying its benefits), and you have the rest of your life to “fine tune” your program, to add or remove what does or doesn’t work for you.

Your BEST program is one you like, believe in, will actually do, and can keep up for a long, long time.  If it doesn’t fit that criteria, go ahead and do it if you can, but keep searching for one that does.   Remember, there is no “best”, just “best for you”.  And don’t let anyone tell you differently!

All the BEST to you!

Peter Bowes joins the workout at the Results Fitness gym

Bombarded with adverts promising a longer, healthier life, BBC News Los Angeles correspondent Peter Bowes goes in search of eternal youth.

Are you a jogger or a weight lifter? Do you run marathons or take part in triathlons. When it comes to breaking a sweat, each to their own. But what kind of exercise is best if you want to live longer? In particular, is shorter and sharper better than longer and duller?

According to Dr Stuart Gray from the University of Aberdeen’s musculoskeletal research programme, a key factor in reducing the likelihood of early death from cardiovascular disease could be high intensity exercise.

“The benefits do seem to be quite dramatic,” he says.

He admits, though, that many in the medical establishment are still promoting moderate intensity exercise.

Gray’s study has shown that short bursts of activity, such as sprinting or pedalling all-out on an exercise bike for as little as 30 seconds, result in the body getting rid of fat in the blood faster than exercising at moderate intensity, such as taking a brisk walk.

And getting rid of fat in the blood is important as it reduces the chances of suffering a heart attack.

A fitness class at Results Fitness
High intensity exercise is designed to burn fat. The early morning workout at Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, puts the claims for high intensity exercise to the test. The gym, owned by husband and wife Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, bases its classes on the latest research from medical journals.

The Cosgroves treat their gymnasium as a fitness laboratory.

Instead of people learning to exercise either from a trainer at their gym, or a friend, or from a magazine, Alwyn Cosgrove wants to bring the latest research to bear on how we should be exercising.

“The medical database is full of stuff that works. All we are doing is putting it together and trying to make something better,” he says.

The metabolic zone class, a 45-minute interval training session, is designed to burn fat. Everyone wears a heart-rate monitor and works at their own pace, according to their body’s response to the workout.

“We want to get them up to 85% and above of their maximum heart rate,” says Rachel Cosgrove.

Continue reading the main story

My body is my machine and if I do not take care of it no-one else will”

Cyndi MadiaGym-goer

The class includes explosive exercises, such as slamming a medicine ball on the ground at high speed. After a rest period, when the heart rate should drop to 75% or below one’s maximum, the next round starts.

“Research has shown that the interval effect – when you are working at an intensity that you could not hold longer than a couple of minutes followed by full recovery – is when you are going to get the best results when it comes to fat loss and increasing your metabolism,” says Rachel Cosgrove.

“We have been open for 12 years and we have tracked every single workout that our clients have done. In line with the research, the shorter, intense workouts are what give our clients the biggest bang for their buck.”

Cyndi Madia, 42, a busy mother with a full-time job in a school, enjoys the early morning workouts. “My body is my machine and if I do not take care of it no-one else will,” says Madia.

“I have seen my parents falling apart at 60 and saying they are old. I do not want to be be like that.”

Continue reading the main story

High intensity training (HIT)

Dr Jamie Timmons, professor of ageing biology at Birmingham University, says that with just three minutes of HIT a week for four weeks significant health benefits can be achieved.

HIT can help aerobic fitness, that’s your lungs and heart’s ability to get oxygen into your body.

It also helps improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin removes sugar from the blood and it controls fat.

Despite HIT’s benefits some people, for genetic reasons, will respond much less to HIT than will others.

Worries about growing infirm are shared by another gym-goer Alecia Menzano.

“My mother will be 83 in March. She has never enjoyed any physical activity, she has had a hip replaced, she’s got severe arthritis. I don’t want to be like her, confined to a wheelchair and unable to get on to the floor to play with my grandchildren,” says Menzano.

James Madia, a 51-year old police officer, has been working out in gyms for more than 30 years. To his surprise in the past two years he has seen his body fat drop from 26% to 10% by using the Cosgroves’ high intensity approach.

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 what if season

What if we could stay young forever? What if everyone had a car? What If? is a season across BBC News looking at visions of the future.

What If (special report)

“Coming from the guys’ gym environment, where you are pumping iron, it did not seem all that serious,” he says.

“Then I took a class and almost crawled out of here on my hands and knees and realised, ‘Okay, this is harder than it looks.’ It definitely is challenging.”

In the absence of long-term controlled research on human beings, the impact of exercise on lifespan is difficult to quantify. However, a study published in The Physician and Sports Medicine suggests that older athletes on intense training programmes are capable of achieving remarkable levels of fitness. MRI scans have shown that a 70-year-old triathlete can have as much muscle mass as a 40-year-old.

“The idea is to create this organism, this human being, that can continue to function late in life,” says Alwyn Cosgrove.

“My gut instinct is that if I improve the quality of every single day from a nutrition level, from an exercise level, and by just building the strength in the body, that perhaps, I can extend lifespan.”

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We are a “results-oriented” society, that’s for sure.  In business, you hear that nothing matters but the numbers.   The “bottom line” is all most people are interested in looking at.  So how much emphasis should we, as people who want to lose weight, burn fat, lose inches, gain muscle, increase our cardiovascular fitness, put on RESULTS?

Before I reveal the answer, if you do a quick Google search on just about any weight loss or fitness program, all you will see are front pages with RESULTS splattered all over them:  “Lost 15 pounds”, “Dropped 2 dress sizes”, “Went from 275 to 215lbs in just 6 weeks!!!”

So not only do the results seem to matter, but also the speed in which one gets there… obviously the faster the better, right?

Allow me to put the brakes on such thinking.  I am going to expressly state that you should NOT be focused on results!

“What???, did I just hear that correctly?  NOT be focused on results?.. that’s insane!”

What could POSSIBLY be more important than results, you ask?

Well, I’m glad you asked.  Here is the answer:  activity.

Activity is the ONLY thing you should be focused on.   It really is quite logical if you remove yourself from the hype for just a few minutes and think rationally about exercise, your health, and your life.

#1.  You do not have complete control over your results.  You DO have complete control over your activity.

Why should your peace of mind and sense of accomplishment hinge upon something outside of your control?  If you don’t lose 40 pounds in 3 months, but you DO keep up an exercise program consistently during that time, are you going to tell me you’ve failed?

#2.  Activity is the only thing that matters because if you keep it up you will not fail to achieve a worthwhile result:  increased health.

If you decide to walk 2 days per week, and do a more vigorous exercise 3 times per week, is this not a significant achievement?

But if you don’t eat much, don’t do any exercise, and you’ve lost 15 pounds, is this a good achievement or a bad one?  Well, you seem to have gotten results, so that’s good, right?

However, what you’ve failed to realize is that those 15 pounds of “weight loss” came from a loss of muscle mass, bone density, and maybe some water weight (from the diuretics you took).  And how much healthier is your cardiovascular system now (since you’ve done virtually zero exercise)?   How much stronger are your bones, muscles, and joints now that you’ve lost muscle mass and bone density?   How much less prone to injury are you?

Results said “15 pounds lost = Good”   However, you are weaker, less fit, and less healthy.

#3.  Activity is always good, even if no “results” show up.

Consistent exercise will strengthen every part of your body.  As you get older, your bones and joints will be stronger.  What may have been able to cause you an injury before, has now not affected you.  Now you don’t have that broken bone that you might have otherwise sustained.   When you suffer an injury that keeps you confined, it puts a serious strain on your health and well-being.

Plus, did you know that you can be “fit” and yet still have “extra pounds”?    So being concerned with your “weight” but not your activity actually makes NO sense!

So, since we like the “bottom line” so much, here it is:

Don’t be overly concerned with the bathroom scale or the tape measure.  DO be concerned with what you’re doing on a regular basis.  You either have activity or you don’t.   If you have it, and its consistent, then GOOD for you!   If you don’t have it, then it doesn’t matter how much you weigh;  you need to get active, and right away!  Keep track of your activity; use a calendar and put an “X” in every day that you do at least 15-30 minutes of some sort of exercise    If you have  more “X”‘s than not, then you should feel good about yourself because your month is going great!

Now of course, you might want to think about increasing the effectiveness of what you’re doing, but that’s more of a “tweak”, its not the sum and substance of your exercise program.   So as you’re setting goals for yourself, or New Years Resolutions, or what have you, make it your aim to get on a consistent pattern- a LIFESTYLE – of exercise and fitness, NOT a date to have 20 lbs disappear.

The former leads to a better, healthier, happier body and mind; the latter leads to frustration and discouragement.   Fight the trend of the age:  don’t be obsessed with results; BE obsessed with activity and consistency.

If you’ve signed up to take personal training lessons from me, you probably have a few questions in your mind, and there are a few things you should know…. so let me address both of those:

What Should I Bring?

You will probably want to bring water, but also, make sure you are able to drink it with boxing gloves on!  Therefore a sports bottle, or something with a straw is needed.

Also, wear shoes.  Tennis shoes, socks, something supportive and that can protect your feet is needed.  The floor is cold, you won’t like that.  Also you can stub your toe, which isn’t fun; so protect them feets!

You might also be glad to have a sweat towel.

I will provide you with handwraps; and there are gloves here for you to use if you don’t have your own (most people do not, so don’t worry!)

What Should I Expect?

Here’s what I expect from you:  be prepared that the number one thing I am going to instill in you is that you always maintain a good guard.   What does this mean?   It means you’re going to want your hands up.  I want to train you that no matter what happens, you are ALWAYS going to be able to, at a minimum, look at your opponent and have your hands up where you’re not a sitting duck for an attacker’s onslaught.  This isn’t military training, so I don’t shout it at you, or start trying to beat you… but I’ll always be reminding you about your guard.  Its vital.

Although the personal training is for exercise sake, we train as though we are preparing you for fighting.  Again, not in a mean or aggressive way, but in a logical and scientific approach to what we’re doing. What is REALLY devastating is getting hit from something you don’t see or expect.  So we are CONSTANTLY preparing for this by developing the habit of never taking your eyes off your opponent.  You may be too tired to throw another combination, that’s fine, but you’re NEVER too tired to maintain your guard, so:  hands up, eyes on the opponent (in this case the heavy bag), and just be prepared to defend yourself (ie. block or move out of the way).  <again, nobody is going to be attacking you during training, don’t worry!>

The Punching Range:

The other principal that we always keep in mind while training is the distance we stand away from the bag.  If you can reach out and hit the bag, that means the opponent can also reach out and hit you.  So, for all practical purposes, that is not an ideal distance to place yourself.

So while we’re training, we are always going to be standing just outside of this “punching range”, so whenever you throw your first strike at the bag, you are going to need to step forward to “close the distance”.  And as soon as your combination is over with, you are going to move right outside that range again.  (Of course, you have to be INSIDE that range while throwing your techniques, otherwise none of them would land.)   But as soon as you’re done with your attack, you move very quickly back outside the punching range, get right back into a fighting stance with your guard up, and you remain hyper-vigilant, meaning:  expecting an attack to come at any time.

This increases your cardio and fat-burning during the workout as well.  Sure its tiring throwing punches and kicks, but believe it or not, just the footwork of moving “in and out” or around the bag can be a lot of exercise!

So we are ALWAYS going to be concerned with what the opponent is doing.   Most people who train on a bag think about one thing:  what THEY are doing.   We are going to be equally concerned with what the OPPONENT is doing.   If you train this way, you won’t have to make that important adjustment if an actual violent attack ever takes place!   So we will start preparing you, right from the first lesson, to NOT stand where the opponent can easily hit you, and to move away from the attack and be hyper aware of defending an attack.

To reiterate:  this is not a self defense class; this is a workout program.  But because its Kickboxing, there are just certain things you HAVE to learn about fighting and self defense in order to execute the moves properly; if you’re not learning how to fight then what you’re doing probably isn’t kickboxing…. just sayin’…

Here’s what we are going to be looking for after we throw our combo:

-the opponent throwing punches at us (we will also keep this in mind while WE are throwing punches);

-the opponent rushing towards you (to tackle you, take you down, grab you, whatever)

So as we move away from the bag, we are going to be ready to defend by blocking, by redirecting the attacker’s motion, by obstructing him with our hands or arms, and by keeping our hands up.

Now that I’ve told you this up front, I just saved you a little bit of time by helping you absorb this teaching up front.  But don’t worry, I will be reminding you of this ALL the time!  LOL

For your first lesson, we will be showing you how to punch correctly, but we’re not going to be overly concerned about it.  It takes a long time to do anything well, so we’re going to start off being bad, and that’s how it should be!

Do not cause yourself stress by worrying about technique or form!   We are going thru a 10-Round workout, and 6 of those rounds are on the Heavy Bag throwing combinations that “are not dumbed down for beginners”.  I don’t teach “cardio box”; not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Its just not my style.  I’m into “authenticity”, keeping it real, and maintaining purity to sound principles.  So I’m not going to have you throw any “move” or technique that aren’t the same as you’d find in a true fight gym.

They are the same combinations that people who have been doing this for years are doing.  You are not expected to be good at them!   Its exercise.  Its a great workout.  I will help you be as good as you can be and that’s enough.   We don’t allow “expectations” to enter the workout area, or discouragement or frustration.  It must be a stress-free zone.   You are only responsible to show up; the responsibility of TEACHING and your learning  is on my shoulders; you don’t need to be concerned about it, and you don’t need to be concerned that you are not meeting my expectations of you.   Our #1 goal is to get you enjoying exercising and doing it productively, efficiently, and scientifically.   You are going to be learning how to develop a lifelong System of exercise that you can one day maintain on your own and enjoy and benefit from.

All lessons are professional, fun, and stress-free.   You can come WITH your stress… please do… because the workout is going to get rid of ALL of that for you!   So lets have some fun and get some awesome training done, shall we?

According to a number of news and health articles I’ve read over the past year, there is a silent killer that seems to be sneaking up on people without even raising the least suspicion.  To get right to the point, apparently there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you spend SITTING DOWN and the length of your lifespan.

Sitting down too much is related to high rates of mortality and morbidity.  You wouldn’t really think much about it unless you were made aware of it.  I mean, everyone already knows that you need to lead somewhat of an active lifestyle, and that exercise needs to be a part of your weekly routine.  But even when you’re not exercising, you really need to be aware of just how much sitting  you do.  Those who sit most are most likely to die soonest.  Those whose lifestyles consist of too much sitting also tend to develop disease.

Most of us can’t help how much sitting down we do.  You may be a truck driver on long hauls.  You may have a desk job that ties you to a computer for most of the day.  Then when you get home, there’s a lot of sitting that needs to be done:  eating meals, watching tv, using the computer, etc.

If we HAVE to be tied down with these sitting tasks, what can we do to mitigate our risk of early disease and death?

My number one tip:  take frequent breaks from your sitting spells.

Take time out at work to get up, even if its just to walk down the hallway for a minute or two.  Avoid sitting for prolonged periods that are uninterrupted by breaks.   Even a small break, if it breaks your sitting spell, is worthwhile.

At home, lets say you know you need to spend 3 or 4 hours on the computer; what can you do?

For one, don’t try to accomplish ALL your “standing activities” at the same time, and all your “sitting activities” during the same sitting spell.  If you know you have to clean up the kitchen, wait until you’ve been at your “sitting task” for 45 minutes to an hour, and THEN get up and go clean up the kitchen.   You might then see that you need to do another chore; if so, wait until you’ve done another 30 minutes of your sitting, and then use that chore to break your prolonged sitting.

Try to have a very good mix of sitting and standing.  Don’t say, “I’m going to get all of this (insert task here) stuff done, then I can go to my computer and stay there until I have all my work accomplished.”   Instead, conserve some of your standing or walking tasks, and intersperse them with whatever it is that has you sitting:  tv, meals, computer, etc.

Don’t try to “make up” for your prolonged sitting by saying, “I’ll balance out 5 hours of continued sitting with 1 hour of activity.”   Its the periods of “prolonged” sitting that are doing the damage, so try not to have them; and if you absolutely must, try to have them as infrequently as possible.

I don’t know WHY this prolonged sitting is so terrible for our health.  I don’t know if its due to circulation, if it sends a signal to our body that we’re not doing so well, if it has something to do with our internal organs not being jostled around enough, or just what may be the problem.   Perhaps its a mixture of those, or something that is yet unknown.

What IS known however, is that prolonged sitting is BAD.   It is now a known fact.   Lets all do what we can to avoid the negative consequences of all this sitting, and adjust our lives, our work, our tasks, and our recreations so that we are standing not only more, but more frequently.   Is there something that you do while sitting, that could actually be done standing?   Just yesterday, after being on the computer for awhile, I went to play my guitar.  Even though I’d rather sit and do it, I made myself stand because I JUST got off the computer, which was ALL sitting.   Just  a while ago, I saw that I needed to unload the dishwasher.  However, I had just gotten home from doing errands, so I decided to “save” that task to use as a “standing break” from the work I knew I had to do on the computer.

I am going to make a SERIOUS effort to avoid prolonged sitting, and I suggest you do the same!

PS.  Spread the word!


Here are some article links that will testify to the truthfulness of the above: