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Kick-Start Your Fitness: TACFIT

Getting to fitness from non-fitness can be a challenge for the best of us, particularly if we find our body types, metabolism, energy levels, motivation or any of the other factors in the alchemy of fitness stacked against us.  We’ll talk a little about what hinders people from getting fit and talk about one program that is definitely ahead of the pack.

Plenty of people start an exercise program, resolve to visit a gym a certain number of times a week or start a yoga class- and then weeks or months later suddenly realise that they’ve fallen off the wagon.  Developing motivation, belief, momentum and excitement is important for any kind of project, but for fitness particularly, and this is made more difficult by so many fitness programs that demand large investments of time, energy and money and yet take a great deal of time to deliver results that we can feel good about.  For many people trying to get in shape, the first few months of any program seem doomed to consist of frustration, embarrassment and discouragement.

This is absolutely toxic to the entire endeavor, because in the first instance, fitness isn’t about reducing weight or building muscle or endurance.  That comes later.  First, it is about replacing a physiological and psychological downward spiral with an upward spiral, in which the feeling of improvement in our bodies motivates and rejuvenates us mentally and that positive feeling feeds back into our motivation for exercise.

This upward spiral is the key, and achieving it can be extremely difficult.  In a world that has exploded with fitness programs, it’s very easy to find ourselves in the situation of putting in a lot of time for no tangible return.  After awhile, it is easy to get discouraged.  We then blame ourselves for not sticking with the program, and the cycle of discouragement builds, draining our energy until the whole mind-body organism naturally associates the exercise program with the energy drain.  Of course we want to drop the whole thing- at that point, it’s simple self-preservation.  After a few of these cycles, many people come to doubt their ability to achieve their desired level of fitness.

But there is at least one program out there that is both perfectly designed kick the discouraged out of their ruts and ideal for maintaining and supplementing advanced levels of fitness.

TACFIT, developed by Scott Sonon, is a program using advanced scientific fitness principles, and it has had a wide impact in law enforcement and Special Forces training.  In ten to twenty minutes a day, TACFIT can transform what you think and feel about fitness and teach your body to make the best use of any fitness program you choose.  All you need to get started is a mat, a pair of 10-20 lb. weights and access to the Mass Assault video series.  (Note that while Mass Assault uses weights, many other TACFIT programs are bodyweight-oriented.  I recommend the weight routine for purposes of this article since body-weight exercises require an existing level of fitness and can be difficult for overweight people.)  The video above demonstrates exercises with both weights of various types and using body-weight; rest assured, though, that Mass Assault does NOT require access to the array of equipment demonstrated in this particular video.

The routines are deceptively simple, but as long as you pay attention to the advice on body mechanics, you will find them to have amazingly high impact.  According to one person who had tried several weight routines with limited success, TACFIT took less than a third of the time of his previous routine but had over three times the impact.  Most importantly, the feeling in the body after just a week is totally exceptional.  You will find that even if you have done absolutely no significant exercise for months, your muscles will suddenly feel different, as though they have more energy and are begging to be used.

Why can TACFIT achieve this when other routines don’t?  There are several reasons.  Most importantly, it is designed to change the anabolic state of the body, creating the conditions for muscle growth, something that very few fitness programs do up front.  That feeling of muscular energy is the manifestation of a physiological change that translates into much higher benefit from any form of exercise.

Also, where most weight routines target a few areas at a time- e.g. cardio or two or three muscle groups per exercise- TACFIT engages the whole body, not just muscles but all of that essential connective tissue that makes them work.  This routine is strength training, endurance and cardio in one.  The result is a change so clear and immediate that motivation becomes easy to maintain, whether you choose to continue with TACFIT alone or as part of a wider fitness program.  The best part is that it works for any schedule- it doesn’t take much of your time and it leaves you with a higher energy level afterward.

I recommend the first video in the Mass Assault series for beginners, because almost anyone can build to the full routine very quickly, but TACFIT has multiple levels and multiple programs that can support and improve any fitness program at any level.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Fitness: Lighting a Motivational Fire Under Your B…

(Disclaimer: the following post is provided for informational purposes only and represents the opinions of the authors.  Do not begin any program of physical exercise without the prior approval of your doctor.)

Well, we’re now past mid-January, so if your New Years resolution to “get fit” is hitting some motivational snags, it’s time for some help!  So let’s see what we can do today about helping you with that, exploding a couple of prevalent myths and getting your fitness training on track.

First, fitness consists of three main aspects and I’ll emphasize here that you need to train all three.  Strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness… What do you know about them? Or, more to the point, what do you think you know about them?  Do you know how to avoid the common fitness mistakes, and reach the holy grail –  a healthy lifestyle?

Calorie Burning WHAT??

Well, for starters, dodge too-good-to-be-true products like rocker shoes, weight loss earrings and calorie burning underwear. (Believe it or not, I’m not making the last two up.) In the United States, a recent study found that consumers are more likely to fall for weight loss frauds than any other. The list ranges from pills to powders, machines, wraps, and even creams. Over five million Americans have been hoodwinked into shelling out for these products.

The real path to fitness health can not only be physically rewarding, but mentally and emotionally healthy. Exercise:

  • improves memory
  • treats depression and improves your mood
  • releases certain neurotransmitters in the brain that lessen physical pain (the endorphin “rush” – a great feeling!)
  • is very addictive

The habit-forming nature of exercise means that it will actually get easier to stick to your fitness regimen. All this enjoyment and “natural narcotics” too! A win-win situation.  However, despite the addictive nature of the endorphin rush, it won’t necessarily be enough to overcome your “couch potato” propensities unless you force yourself to follow your fitness regime for an absolute minimum of three weeks in a row.  Yes, this does take discipline and anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you a pair of those calorie burning undies 😉

Cardiovascular fitness is touted again and again as one of the best kinds of exercise to lose weight.  Allow me to digress for just a moment and kill that myth right here.  Please burn the following into your mind: exercise is a very inefficient way to lose weight.  Yes, exercise is essential to your health, but if shedding flab is your priority, you almost certainly need to get on a healthy, low carb diet too.

So what are the real benefits of cardio? What really happens during a workout? Oxygen floods into your blood, renewing and strengthening your muscles, giving you relief from aches and pains and renewing your freedom of movement. Cardiovascular exercise:

  • improves circulation
  • lowers blood pressure
  • strengthens the heart and increases lung capacity

Running, cycling, cross-country skiing, or taking an aerobic exercise class are great ways to introduce cardio into your life.  Also remember – and your own experience will confirm this real fast… strength training and flexibility training will provide lots of cardio for you all on their own!

Let’s Bust Another Myth… Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, you do NOT have to become a long distance runner to get your cardio!  And, in fact, some recent research suggests sprints or short burst of intense running or cycling (etc) are much more beneficial for your heart than distance running / jogging.  I repeat, you do NOT have to invest huge amounts of time doing something you may not like just to get your cardio.  And that’s great news for those of us who detest distance running and haven’t got hours a day to spend on cardio.

Flexibility is mentioned less often, but is no less important. Remember that cross-legged position you always sat in as a child? It’s probably not feeling so comfortable now. Why? Muscles naturally lose size and strength and become less supple as you get older. This stiffening causes you to lose range of motion in your joints. Inactivity can exacerbate the problem, and in time, loss of flexibility can lead to permanent bad posture and impaired muscle function. Flexibility:

  • is key to avoiding injury during exercise
  • is key to avoiding soreness after exercise
  • helps improve physical performance
  • improves the flow of blood, oxygen and energy throughout your body
  • boosts your immune system
  • improves mental / emotional performance and diffuses stress

Try stretching and yoga to improve your flexibility. You’ll find that stretching relaxes both the body and the mind. And you have trouble sleeping, some light stretching or yoga can relax you into the sleeping state.
Finally, no exercise routine can be complete without strength training.  Strength training:

  • reduces your risk of osteoporosis
  • improves the appearance of muscles
  • makes you more resistant to injury
  • raises your metabolism.


There are several schools of thought on strength training, often determined by their differing goals of building bulging muscles, developing functional strength for this or that sport, or just overall fitness.  The following approach can help you reach any or all of those goals and is very easy to follow.  You can do it with free weights or with exercise machines – personally, I tend to use that latter.

  •     No matter what the exercise is, focus on performing the technique properly (sloppy technique will compromise your results and can result in injury)
  •     Select a moderate weight.  This is not a contest to see how much you can lift.
  •     Perform the exercise to the point of muscular exhaustion – i.e., to the point where your muscles can’t perform another repetition.
  •     Record your results

The whole point here is to get to that last repetition – that’s where muscle mass and strength are built most effectively.  However, beware of selecting a much heavier weight, thinking that will lower the number of reps you need.  It will, but could also injure you on the first rep or two.  Be content with moderate weight and forget about how many reps it takes you.

Also, avoid high-sugar foods a couple of hours after working out. The time immediately after you lift weights is the most important part of your workout, and sugars can really throw a wrench into it.

So there you have it.  Let’s recap:

  1. Whenever your motivation nosedives, just read over the benefit list for the three main types of exercise, as listed above (or any similar lists you can find!)
  2. Remember, the key to staying motivated in fitness is to FALL IN LOVE WITH THE RESULTS.  This means you have to be VERY clear on what results you want to see from your fitness training and be able to measure them!
  3. Remember that if you want to lose weight, you’ll almost certainly have to address some nutritional issues too.
  4. And don’t let anyone push you into taking up distance running unless that’s something you really want to do

Enjoy your workout!  And remember – don’t be tempted by those calorie-burning undergarments 😉
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Summer: the Key to Building Your Personal Resilience (Part 1)

Well, I don’t know what your weather is like today, but here in Ottawa, Canada (officially the planet’s second coldest national capital), it’s 28 C / 82 F and with the humidity if feels like 39 C or 102 degrees F. 

So summer is definitely here!  And despite the heat and humidity, summer is very important to building your personal resilience.  The key is knowing how and why. 

Flexibility:

On the most elementary level, summer is great for fitness.  You’re likely to spend more time outdoors, even if that’s just walking, gardening or soaking up rays at the beach.  One area where it’s easy to make huge fitness gains in the summer is the flexibility of your connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fasciae) and your joints.  You see, the higher ambient temperatures make your body more pliable, so it’s easier to stretch and there’s less likelihood of injury when you do.  So if you’ve ever thought about improving the range of motion of any part of your body, summer is the time!

One person I know plans to increase his flexibility enough over the summer to be able to sit comfortably in the full lotus posture by September.  I’ve known others, especially martial artists and other athletes, who wanted to work up to the splits (or at least closer to it ;-).  All this brings up the key question – why should you care about improving your flexibility?

For starters, flexibility training will help protect your soft tissues and especially your joints from injury – in other words, minor mishaps that would previously have injured your knee, twisted your ankle or thrown your back out are no longer such a threat.  Flexibility training will also improve your blood circulation, as well as your energy (qi) circulation, giving you better health and more vitality.  And finally, stretching is a natural detox, something we’ll talk about more in a later post. 

Here’s a great resource for you on flexibility:

http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/flexibilitytraining.html

Needless to say, it’s also a great time to start a Hatha Yoga program, since the yogic stretching and postures (asanas) will be easier.  The same applies to certain types of Qi Gong.  Whatever kind of stretching you use, though, just be sure to warm up first and build slowly.  Increased flexibility can make a big difference in how you feel phyically and emotionally, so you’ll be glad you did.

Fitness in General over the Summer:

Summer is also a great time for strength training, simply because there’s less chance of injury to the joints and soft tissues, given the higher temparatures.  Is it a better time for cardio than other seasons, though?  Well, the jury is out on that.  Some point out how much easier and safer it is to go running in the summer than with snow and ice under foot.  Granted, but on the other hand, high heat and humitiy can be a serious hazard for runners in the summer.

One great thing to do in the summer is to change your fitness routine to make it season-specific, to take advantage of what’s more easily available in the summer, such as cycling, swimming and more. 

So I’d encourage you to use the summer to build up your resilience in ways the season itself can help you with.  Next time, we’ll go on to look at some other resilience-building activities best done in the summer. 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Resilience Tip: Now, Cultivate INNER Flexibility

In the previous Resilience Tip we talked about the vital importance of improving your flexibility.  And from what we said there, you may be assuming that “outer” flexibility is physical, while “inner” flexibility is mental.

Nope.  At least, that’s not what I have in mind here.  You see, both are physical and both will greatly improve your ability to adapt to any situation in life.

Outer flexibility consists largely of obvious stretching techniques, such as you see with calisthenics or even much of Yoga – at least the part of Yoga that’s most obvious to the untrained eye.


Inner flexibility uses more sophisticated and less obvious methods to massage your tissue, especially your core body tissue.  It works with qi much more effectively and unifies your mind and body.  And, in the end, it’s even more vital for long term health.


The other great thing about cultivating inner flexibility is that once you’ve learned its methods, you can incorporate them into all your movements all day long, so you don’t need to take time out of your busy schedule to “practice”.  


Now, you might think that outer flexibility is more concerned with limb stretching, while the inner methods target the body’s core.  There’s some truth in that although, strictly speaking, they both target the whole body to some extent.  And both are absolutely necessary for developing superb health, immunity and longevity; it’s just that the inner flexibility methods give you much more bang for the buck.  


The single best method I’ve ever found for building inner flexibility is here:


http://www.harapower.com/

Remember the bottom line: unless you take back control of your body, you have little hope of governing your mind, emotions and spirit, and so total well-being will continue to elude you.


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Resilience Tip: Cultivate Flexibility

Many years ago I was out taking a walk with a friend of mine, a woman, when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with a fence.  Without a second thought, I hopped over the fence and said, “Well, are you coming?”  Her jaw was almost on the ground and she said, with an awe that quite surprised me, “You’re SO at home in your skin!”

For me it was the first time I realized that not everyone is “at home in their own skin.”  And today, some 25 years later, I could hop that fence every bit as easily as I did it that day.  


Flexibility is one of the great keys to becoming a resilient person.  Physical flexibility is the foundation of mental and spiritual flexibility, of your ability to adapt harmoniously to any situation, even the most extreme kind.  Trust me; if you aren’t physically flexible, you’re not mentally flexible either.  


Of course, there are some other really compelling reasons for building your physical flexibility:


– It improves the circulation of your blood, lymph fluid, spinal fluid and qi
– It protects yours soft tissue from injury
– It greatly relieves psychological stress
– It boosts your overall health, immunity and longevity


So how do you go about getting more flexible?  There are lots of ways, of course; everything from calisthenics to certain types of dancing, to Yoga to Qi Gong and many more.

Here’s a great video I came across that can give you some ideas.  It contains some innovative warm-up exercise used in the pioneering Russian martial art known as “Systema” (meaning “the system”, as if you hadn’t guessed ;-), as it’s taught to members of “SpetsNaz”, the Russian special forces.


http://bit.ly/28snit

(Note: as with any program of physical exercise, you should only engage in this with your physician’s approval, particularly if you have any existing health concerns.  Use common sense.)


Learn, apply, feel great!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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