Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prax's Journey: A Client Experience

Source: http://www.yelp.com/biz/all-out-effort-sam-y-personal-training-los-angeles#hrid:20PYXevC9q7OGr4Muun8uQ

I have been in the US for 6 years now and had a sedentary lifestyle for the first 5-1/2 years. Before that, I was never FIT at any point of time but, at the very least, I used to play cricket for several hours every week. Being a south-indian, veggies and fruits were part of my diet. Excessive cheese, oil or salt were NOT, it was all good stuff (lentils, veggies, diverse spices, etc ). On the downside, I used to eat a lot of rice, yoghurt, savories and drank coffee quite a bit (coffee diluted heavily with milk).

When I came to LA, there were a few subtle but important changes. I started eating out more (indian fast food and otherwise). So, more cheese, salt and oil than I was ever used to. Due to anxiety of grad studies or work or what not, I started drinking even more coffee. Plus, absolutely NO exercise. Fast forward 5-1/2 years later, I couldn't do easy hikes without taking breaks to catch my breath when everyone around seemed fine (they are not super-fit, just not as bad as I was). Advice from friends, family, doctor and lot of internet research led to prioritizing health as an important goal in my life.

Sam's experience and his blog was an important factor. It has a lot of information on how to improve the diet, what are the kind of exercises to incorporate in training to achieve fitness goals. Another factor is his emphasis that safety comes first. I know people who had severe injuries trying to work out or lift weights without proper training. So, having read client reviews and being convinced in a FREE session, I decided to give AOE a shot.

1. Safety comes first and Sam is critical about perfecting the posture before moving on to more reps or heavier weights. When I started, I was asked to run on the treadmill. Soon, he noted that I had an incorrect running form. After a while of running, I had shin splints due to the way I was striking my feet and my shoes. He promptly asked me to try running barefoot, corrected my form and suggested particular type of barefoot shoes. Hours of practice later, I can run faster (7-8 mph), longer (9-10 minutes) and no shin splints yet.

2. Strength training: I didn't know most of the exercises, had poor form for the rest and the weights I used were small. So, Sam suggested that I start with small weights and lower reps. But he made sure that I was pushing myself to the next level and over time, improvements were apparent. Earlier, I could probably squat with 15 lbs kettle bell for few reps. Now, I can squat with 35 lbs for more reps or even do a complex with two 25 lbs (50 lbs effectively). Still have a long way to go compared to other clients.

3. IMO, one of the best advices that Sam gave (see: What Are The Best Exercises For Beginners) is the notion of proper form in body-weight exercises. Some exercises (squats, dead lifts, getting up, etc.) are basic movements that we do everyday. It is crucial to maintain proper form while doing them as well. I felt that was insightful and made it a point to apply it everyday. Whenever I reach down to pick up stuff or lift heavy packages in mail, I make sure that I apply the same techniques as if I were in a gym working with free weights. His method is to teach techniques that go beyond the confines of a gym and intended to be incorporated into daily activities.

4. Sam asked to make significant changes to my diet. Basically, cut down on grains, eat raw and cooked veggies and fruits, healthy fats, nuts and egg whites. The changes have had a profound impact. It is difficult to explain here, but I wrote an article about it, posted on his blog, A Letter From A Vegetarian to Vegetarians.

5. The results speak for themselves. After 5 months of training, I can hike for several hours on moderate to steep inclines; last month, I hiked with a 30-40 lbs backpack on a steep incline for 10 hours in one day and I did fine. And for the readers interested solely in numbers, I've lost 16 lbs (10% body weight) since I started and am at less than 10% body fat (I started at 20%).

6. So far, I've talked about improvements on my end. But that's just part of the story. I had recommended his blog to friends and relatives and it seems, that's had a positive impact as well. For instance, two of my younger cousins, aunt and uncle have already made changes to their diet and fitness methods. Also, it has brought about changes in what my room mates eat everyday. One of them has cut down on rice significantly and has started eating more raw veggies. Now, only if I can convince her and the other room mate to start exercising.

There are several positive things that I could go on and on about Sam but this review has reached its limit. So, I'm gonna end by saying that I completely recommend Sam to anyone looking to prioritize their health, learn the fundamentals of fitness and the effective methods to make it work to attain your goals.

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