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Jeff's Thoughts

  • The Great 9 Week Challenge starting the 4th of May

    13 April, 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 14.57.42

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  • Are You Getting Your Moneys Worth?

    31 March, 2015


    After running a program design course in the weekend I realised a few truths about personal training. We had personal trainers from all over NZ come along to learn the methodologies we run here at Studio41. I realised how bad the industry was, not with the trainers who turned up, but the stories I was told on the behaviours of the other trainers. But lets get to that later.  Firstly – if you are paying for personal training, shouldn’t you be working out in an environment where that trainer can choose the equipment that you need? However gyms are so busy these days that a trainers often is lucky to get the piece of equipment he or she needs, and when they get it they have to guard it with their lives (literally). Most other services will give you a discount for not being able to give you good or full service – not personal training. When the club is busy you will still be paying top dollar, but you will be doing a program that is not optimal but doable in a busy crowded environment. Shouldn’t personal training be about choosing exercises that will help you – not choosing exercises based on how busy the gym is and what you and the personal trainer have access too? At Studio41 we work on a 2 to 1 basis. i.e 2 personal trainers per squat rack. That allows us to always be able to give our clients the most efficient workouts.

    The average life expectancy of a personal trainer in the NZ fitness market is currently 5 months. Yes that is right – not a mis print – 5 months. We have young kids being educated on quick turn around courses with no experience being thrown in to the deep end – and they drown. They don’t know nor practice the basics. Does your trainer use a stop watch for example? This is one of the most basic tools for a trainer. To understand what rest periods to use and when is the most basis knowledge your trainer should have, however I learnt in the weekend that most personal trainers don’t even time sets or rest periods. This basically means that your trainers is not using this most basic tool because they don’t know how.

    And god forbid turning up to a personal training session and the personal trainer asking you as a client “what shall we do today”. Nothing like a professional knowing how to take control and helping that client (who I presume one reason for getting a trainers was because they didn’t know what to do) achieve their health and fitness success.

    Stop paying for young kids to train you. Make sure your personal trainer records your sessions, has a plan and uses a stop watch. If none of that is occurring then run away as fast as you can (not on a treadmill though as you won’t go anywhere). If you are paying for a service – expect (or demand) top service for your money. At Studio41 we will strive to helps our clients to achieve their health and fitness goals with all the tools we have (one of which is a stop watch). Because that is what we do – and we are bloody good at it!!












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  • What Is The Point

    2 February, 2015

    iStock_000002311855SmallAt Studio41 Personal Training Studio and Gym we have the view that if your health was a bank account – The only times you would be adding to this bank account would be when you are sleeping, eating (depending on what you are eating) and drinking water. Everything else is a withdraw – Exercise, work, socialising.

    People don’t understand this simple principle – they seem to think that when they are exercising, they are adding to their health bank account. But you work hard, break your body down so it can recover and become better from the exercise, this recovery happens in sleep. I recently treated someone who was in constant pain, when I asked why does she run for 2 hours at a time? Her answer was simple – Why would you do any less?

    There are numerous times when I as a personal trainer have met people who think that simply more is better. However lets be very clear on the role of exercise – This is to break you down so you can recover and get stronger. But please note that the exercise is only half of it. The recovery is the other half. I prefer the phrase

    Train Hard: Recover Harder. 

    People are simply missing the point. We exercise to become healthy, not for it to wear us down. If our health bank account is added to the most when you sleep, and you reap all the rewards of all the hard work of exercise when you sleep – the question has to be asked “how well are you sleeping“? If your personal trainer does not know your sleep habits – you should be spending your money more wisely.

    Exercise: A specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former.

    McGuff, D. Little, J. Body By Science 2009

    If you are in constant pain from your exercising you have a problem, infact you have an addiction. But if you are not losing body fat, constantly tired, you are not healthy. But many of these people are exercising, not recovering and therefore the exercise is contributing to their ill health. When they don’t get results, they often look at doing more!!!

    The scientific literature is filled with data that strongly makes the case that long-distance runners are much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation,” cancer/’ liver and gallbladder disorders, muscle damage/ kidney dysfunction (renal abnormalities),” acute microthrombosis in the vascular system,” lira in damage,” spinal degeneration,1: and germ-cell cancers” than are their less active counterparts.

     McGuff, D. Little, J. Body By Science 2009.

    I am all for exercising, but understanding when to train hard and when we need to address factors that are restricting an individual of reaping the benefits of that exercise is the skill of what personal trainers should do. Often going harder for longer is not our answer. Dressing the underlying issues that maybe stopping that person from recovering is the answer, these range from sleep, digestive health, liver detoxification, stress. How can we call ourselves health and fitness professionals if we didn’t take this holistic view? At Studio41 we look at all of these aspects and as a result, the training becomes only one aspect of the journey that we take our clients on.




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  • Both cars doing the same speed does not mean you drive them the same

    10 December, 2014

    100 Km:h

    At the Studio41 gym and personal training facilities we often use this analogy to explain our role in the fitness industry.

    If car A was doing 100 km/h we would think that was good for a motorway speed. This can can accelerate if necessary (lets say to 120 km/h) and get back to 100km with no problem at all. This is how the body works. When presented in a stressful situation the body needs to accelerate itself and then come back to normal. In acute stress the body does some pretty amazing things.

    1. The pupil of the eyes dilate. This actually makes it easier for you to take in more information in a stressful situation. Your lens of the eye also flattens. This is pretty cool as this gives you better long range vision.

    2. Your airways dilate – this allows your lungs to open up allowing you to take in more oxygen.

    3. Your heart rate increases. Higher heart rate – higher blood pressure. Higher blood pressure – more blood flow to the muscles that need it.

    4. Digestion is inhibited. Who wants to have the focus of the body on breaking down food when you need to run. The body is pretty cool at prioritising.

    5. Your kidneys reabsorb more water. More water means more blood volume. More blood volume means higher blood pressure.

    6. Increase blood flow to your muscles.

    All this is happening when someone is under stress. Unfortunately this short term stress can turn into long term stress and play a crucial role on someones ill health (how many people do you know who has constant high blood pressure – this is because they are constantly driving at 120km!!).

    Now lets say we have car B. This car is doing 100km/h, but the driver has his foot flat on the accelerator and all he is able to do is 100km/h. In-fact he is slowing down. As personal trainers we have to understand that we should not drive all our clients the same way. I see it all to often, one training style because it is about the trainer who has the mentality of – my job is to “beast you”.  NO IT IS NOT!!!. Often new trainers new to the industry rely on this because they have no other skill set. So they hide behind their ability to thrash someone. Our job is to help that individuals achieve their health and fitness goal. And unless you can determine whether you have car A or car B sitting in front of you, you will hurt a lot of people. At Studio41 Gym and Personal Training facilites we get you first to fill in our assessment tracker. This covers topics such as sleep, digestive health, adrenal stress and a mental/emotional component. We need to understand you – in order to work out how to help you. Makes sense really.







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  • The Demise of the Fitness Industry and What We are Doing About It

    1 December, 2014

    When I look at where clubs are going these days and the trends happening in the fitness industry (yes I have been around long enough to see trends which is a little worrying). Currently to be a successful gym owner, you need to know the magic formula,

    1. Have a lot of money.

    2. Buy a lot of Equipment (mostly cardio)

    3. Open your gym 24 hours and give people a swipe card.

    4. Fire all staff, including sales managers and fitness managers (you make more if you keep your costs down)

    5. Never engage or actually talk to your members (unless the members are willing to pay for it). 

    Most of the gyms in Wellington are owned by people who do not live in Wellington. I can only think of 2 others where the owners help to run it and are on the floor with members and staff on a daily basis.

    Actually to have a gym where the owners work in it and on it, know the results members are getting and help those who need to be helped seems to be an unfortunate dying breed. A gym has become just a place – a place about being as cheap as possible but yet giving you nothing in return expect for a treadmill to run on and weights to be lifted badly. A major chain (influence heavily by american trends) have just fired all staff including sales consultants. How do you buy your membership you ask? –  by going to the computer in the wall of course.

    Surely we can do better than this. To have a location that still wants to help people through what is an incredibly difficult time – to walk into a foreign environment and push yourself to get the results you have wanted for so long. These results do not simply come by sitting on a cross trainer.

    I am proud to be going against that trend.  I want to provide an environment that helps people to pursue their health and fitness goals, where you talk to fitness professionals who up skill and learn and who ultimately have the time to care. We write programs for people to use without going to a personal trainer and we have an experienced fitness professional there to help you through those programmes. We of course have high staffing costs and we want a smaller membership base (we are capping on 200) so we can still know people and care without over crowding. So yes we are more expensive – but proudly so.



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  • If You Are Going To Look After Anything……

    17 November, 2014

    If you are going to look after one thing – What would it be……

    I wonder if we asked people this question out on the street, what the answers would be. Your Heart?, Your Bones?, Your Diet? But really there is one aspect of you that controls so many other things in the body. It is labelled as your second brain – that is your gut.

    Odd I know, but truly my answer to the above question would be the gut. So many things happen as a consequence to an unhealthy gut. Appreciating how powerful this aspect of your body is will probably mean you don’t want to eat another transfat/flour ladened muffin or cake again.

    They say “You are what you eat”. This is simply not true. To be truthful – you are what you absorb. You can eat all the vitamins and minerals you like, but if you cant absorb them – you will still be malnourished and sick.

    Your gut has a lining called the Mucosal barrier. This is the one thing you should look after. If you look after this – other things fall into place. Here is what a healthy Mucosal Barrier looks like projections that increase the surface area of the small intestine.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 12.02.27

    This is where the magic happens. If this mucosal barrier is damaged, your ability to absorb nutrients is decreased. In this case, normal supplements don’t really have much effect – which is why you must always look at changing food first – before taking a one off miracle supplement (which doesn’t exist by the way).

    Why is this so important?

    1. The gut wall is responsible for absorption of nutrients. In my opinion one of the biggest factors that leads to tiredness is a damaged mucosal barrier. With a damaged mucosal barrier you simply cannot absorb the B vitamins that are coming in from your diet. At Studio41, an increase in energy is nearly always reported in the first 2 weeks of someones weight loss journey. I believe this is due to the repairing of the gut wall that is occurring.
    2. 90% of your immune system is made in the gut, so those people who are always sick may have an impaired gut lining. So health doesn’t start with aspirin, or any pharmaceutical drug, it comes down to your strength of your immune system – which comes down to the strength of your gut.
    3. 3.  70% of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut. Such things like Gaba and Serotonin are neurotransmitters. So your inability to relax (Gaba), or your ability to have happy thoughts (Serotonin) may all be influenced by the this mucosal barrier and your current gut health.
    4. Most importantly for our clients here are Studio41, you get rid of toxins through the gut. So if your gut is unhealthy – you can’t detoxify. Simply put – if your gut isnt healthy – you are not healthy. This is one reason we use an infrared sauna during the 6 or 12 week package, to enhance our clients ability to detoxify.

    What Damages The Gut Wall?

    Stress – Via the release of histamine – stress is the number one thing that plays havoc to your gut. Quite simply, you were not designed to digest your food and run at the same time. So if you are always stressed – your gut health will be compromised .And hence your health will be compromised and your ability to lose weight will be compromised. One of the best ways to stress your self out is a lack of sleep. How many of our clients are lacking sleep? Most of them!!! So if most of our clients are sleep deprived – their bodies will be stressed – and their guts can be comprimised. Can you see how our results of being able to help people as health and fitness professionals can change dramatically once you understand how the body works. Most trainers do not take this into account – then again most trainers to not get the results we do.

    Gluten -“Intestinal cells of both celiac and non-celiac patients exhibited increase permeability when exposed to gliadin”

    Drago S, et al. Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal  mucosa and intestinal cell lines. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr;41(4):408-19.

    If you want results, at Studio41 we look at all of this, because it can all influence your results. If we didn’t it would be looking at your health through a very small straw and thinking that training was all we needed to do. If you really want results, from better sleep, mood and less body fat – learn  how to look after your gut.


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  • What Makes Us Truly Happy

    9 September, 2014

    What Makes Us Truly Happy

    Part of my work includes nutritional consultations and I am often surprised by the amount of people that are either on, or being put on antidepressants. Most of these people would say they are not “depressed”, but they are just having a few current stressful issues. So why does it seem that more and more people are taking antidepressants? Are people not as happy as they used to be? Are those qualified to give such a prescription using it as the first option, rather than looking into other alternatives?

    Firstly lets look at what it truly means for us to be happy. For this we have to understand serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter.

    “Neurotransmitters are the messenger molecules produced by nerve cells to communicate and control almost every function of your body. This is the way your brain “Talks”…..these are literally the chemical messengers of mood, learning, attention, memory and overall brain function”.

    Mark Hyman – The Ultramind Solution

    The main neurotransimitters are

    Gaba – This neurotransmitter enable us to relax.
    Dopamine – The neurotransmitter responsible for our to focus.
    Acetylcholine – This neurotransmitter which allows us to learn and remember
    Serotonin – The neurotransmitter which is linked to feelings of happiness.

    Low levels of different neurotransmitters can be linked to a variety of conditions such as low levels of serotonin and depression, low levels of dopamine and attention/behaviour disorders, low gaba and anxiety disorders and low acetylcholine has been linked to alzheimers.

    Although there are lots of neurotransmitters, lets focus on serotonin and its relationship with our feelings of happiness. At the basic level serotonin controls your mood. So therefore feelings of depression can be caused by low serotonin, so a better understanding of what causes this and how we can rectify it may give an alternative to reaching immediately for the antidepressants. If we increase serotonin, we increase our mood with no prescription drugs at all. Prescription drugs look to increase your neurotransmitter activity. It just so happens that the number one drug for increasing serotonin is called prozac (I am sure you have heard of it). But surely we should be looking at the natural ways to do this first?

    How do we get more serotonin?

    Serotonin is made primarily from the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a constituent of most protein-based foods (vegetarians be aware). It is particularly plentiful in salmon, cod, cheddar and parmesan cheese, sunflower and sesame seeds, pork, turkey, chicken and beef. So a high protein diet is key.

    What causes our serotonin to be low?

    High levels of stress (the hormone cortisol) increase the enzymes that break down serotonin. Also a high sugar diet causes inflammation in the body. When the body is inflamed it releases messenger molecules called cytokines. These breakdown tryptophan – less tryptophan – less serotonin – more depression.
    If your deficient in vitamin B6 you don’t make as much tryptophan. A B6 deficiency is often caused by stress, alcohol and medications like the birth control pill. A magnesium deficiency which is caused by stress, caffeine, sugar and alcohol also prevents the body from making serotonin.

    What can you do about it?

    Eat a diet high in protein to increase amino acid intake. Make sure you have protein at every meal (including breakfast). Avoid sugar and refined foods as this causes inflammation which leads to stress. Don’t drink too much coffee or alcohol. Supplements should include a good quality fish oil, a multivitamin that is high in folate and B vitamins and also a good magnesium supplement.

    Maybe one day when someone goes to the doctor for depression, they doctor will refer them to a nutritionist to change their diet and give them a correct supplementation protocol before giving them antidepressants?

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  • I failed as a trainer

    15 August, 2014

    Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 07.03.48When 16 yr old Gabe came to the studio, I thought he was such a special case that I would take him on as a client. At 151kg and 16yrs of age, I knew that we had to act now or Gabe could possibly be facing a life of obesity and all the complications that come with that. At the time I would have said I did a good job – I followed my teachings, that is to set a goal (we set a goal of Sub 110kg) and constantly monitor and track our progress. You see – here is where I went wrong. Gabe didn’t like being 151kg and constantly reminding him about his weight, and the fact that he failed to meet his weight loss goal, he felt like he failed each week. This was obviously not very motivating. He was easily influenced by peers who could eat things that he couldn’t, and so he kept on eating and kept on missing his weight loss goal. I lost Gabe as a client. I don’t blame him, would you want to turn up to a place each week that highlights the very things you don’t like to think about? We were lucky that Gabe enjoyed the training and soon wanted to train with us again – Enter Marcel, our German trainer who seems to have a knack of relating well to young kids. Marcel did something that I never did – he and Gabe realised something – Gabe was strong, very strong. Finally Gabe was coming in and feeling as though he could achieve, he could be the best. Although still tracking the weight, it was the enjoyment of his training sessions with Marcel that made Gabe keep on going. However interestingly enough, when I asked him what had made the difference the second time – he said “the food”. I found this interesting as we/he always knew it was the food all along. But only when someone is ready to change are they are ready to take on our recommendations.  At Gabes top weight he was 151kg and we peaked him at 99kg just before he has gone off to an American university to begin the next chapter in his life. He has a bright future ahead of him, especially now that he knows he can achieve anything – you just have to set your mind on it.

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  • Why This Picture Makes You Skinny

    28 May, 2014


    View of Queesntown lake

    I was recently flown to Queenstown to treat someone for Muscle Activation Techniques and was put up in a great hotel with a great view, plenty of time off and the ability to take some time out. Understanding that I work pretty hard and with 2 boys aged 4 and 2 life can be a bit non stop. However as a fitness professional I like most people like to stay in shape and be a physical representation of the industry that I chose to work in. There seems to be a movement among not only the hardened fitness professional but also the 9 – 5 business man or women that more is better. We live in a crazy world where nothing stops, and unfortunately that has now moved on to us. From dropping kids off, to constantly checking Facebook/emails/phonecalls to work pressure in a tough economic environment, we are without a doubt stressed.

    What makes us different at Studio41 is our understanding of hormone cortisol, it is the hormone released by the adrenal cortex in the presence of stress. But please note that you can still be mentally relaxed and be stressed. Most of the stress that we put on ourselves is from internal drivers. A lack of sleep is probably the biggest stressor we can put on our selves. Also poor food choices that cause inflammation is another bog driver. In fact attending the Australasian College of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine earlier this year, they put foods that contained gluten and wheat (breads, pasta, cereals) on a high stress list.

    Here is the problem. Pregnenolone is used to make your sex hormones (testosterone for a male and oestrogen for a female). However pregnenolone is also used to make cortisol.  We call it the “Pregnenolone Steal” when this is being shunted along the red line in the diagram below. Being stressed will drive down your sex hormones.

    Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 09.41.49

    You can see by the picture that when you are stressed, the red line is activated. AS LONG AS YOU ARE STRESSED YOU WILL HAVE LOW SEX HORMONES. Common symptoms of males having low testosterone and females having low oestrogen are, Low Libido, Fatigue, Foggy thinking, Memory Lapses, Depressed, Sleep disturbances. As you can see, these are unfortunately pretty common. For these people adding exercise onto a system that is already stressed may actually get a worse result. Exercise is only beneficial if you are able to benefit from it.

    It has also been shown that an increased cortisol output over time leads to umbilical body fat. That is body fat on the stomach. For some reason it has more cortisol receptors on the stomach than other places. So we understand that do get someone lean it is possibly about stopping a long term stress issue. Not simply “Do More”. The irony is – sometimes we get people do less to get a result. Not more. So at Studio41 we make sure that we absolutely take an holistic approach. Because if we didn’t approach sleep, nutrition, rest and recovery how could we maximise our results? We couldn’t. 

    So at Studio41 our personal trainers see our role as helping someone to achieve their health and fitness goals. Not just to train you which I think is a very limited thought process. The outcome is important and understanding when to work hard is just important to understand as the how. 





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  • The Steps To A Successful 2016

    31 December, 2013

    People set out to achieve goals for one of two reasons, they see it as moving themselves towards something they desire (I want to earn more money), or they see it moving away from something they no longer want (I want to get fit as I hate feeling tired and sluggish). You set New Years resolutions either because you want to achieve something or are sick of living in a state of fitness and health that you are not happy with – either way your motivation can be traced to either pleasure or pain.

    The first level of goal setting is understanding the bigger picture. I call it the VISION. This is your long term goal, the thing that will drive all other behaviours. This is the thing that you have to decide first. What is it that you ultimately. Do not concentrate on what you don’t want (I want to lose that 5 pounds, I don’t want to be out of breath, I don’t want to have this fat etc.). Focus on what you do want – I want to be 60 kg, I want to be able to run and feel breathless, I want to be 18% body-fat). Then make it quantifiable. Making a goal of “I want to feel fitter” is not specific enough. People dislike making goals specific due to the fact that they increase their potential risk of failure. However if you live your life trying to avoid failure you might also find yourself avoiding success as a by product. So…..get that vision specific and within a time frame and write it down – writing anything down makes it more serious.

    “By Aug the 13th I will be 53kg and able to run 10km in under 50 mins”

    …..concentrate on it, see it, in-vision it. How do you look, feel, act when you have achieved it. Once you have got this, ask yourself why you want it. And whatever your answer is, ask yourself why you want that? Do this at least 3 – 4 times. You are discovering your “values”, what really drives you to do the things you do. Often people do not just want to lose weight. But want the things that losing the weight will give them (self esteem, increased confidence etc.). Identifying these core drivers or “values” is what will keep you going when things get difficult. Understand your vision, and why you are truly trying to achieve that vision, are your strongest allies in moving forward and achieving great success.

    Once you have this Vision in your mind – concentrate on your first OUTCOME.

    Outcomes are things you have to achieve on the way to achieving your vision. You can think of it as breaking the vision down into smaller chunks. Often thinking of something 1 year away is too far, thinking about what you need to achieve in 3 or 4 weeks is easier to concentrate on. If you want to lose 18 kg in the year (something that would be easy for us at Studio41), then it would make sense that after 4 week you have lost 1.5 kg. This would be your first “outcome”. If you do not achieve this first outcome you have a choice

    Change the goal to what you now know is more realistic or
    Change your weekly commitments to achieving the goal

    Once you break your vision down into outcomes, you only need to concentrate on your first outcome. You have to ask yourself what you have to do this week to achieve your first outcome. These are called your WEEKLY ACTIONS. Concentrate on just achieving your weekly actions should lead to achieving your first outcome. Then this will put you on track to achieving your vision. By doing the small things you will achieve the large things. One final point to remember – even though you are concentrating on achieving your weekly actions, keep in mind both your Outcomes and most importantly your Vision. Your Vision is the ‘why’ behind what you are doing and is what ultimately drives you, and gives you the reason for working so hard on your weekly actions.

    So the essence of goal setting is to put in your mind exactly what you want to have, break it down into workable chunks and then go out and start achieving. One important principle to understand is the concept of NO FAILURE ONLY FEEDBACK. To understand this is to understand that you cannot fail at anything. Workout a goal, put your outcomes in-place and work on your weekly actions. If you do not achieve your weekly actions and therefore do not reach your first outcome, a lot of people give up at this point believing that they have failed. Just take this as feedback, remember when this happens you have 2 choices,

    Change the goal to what you now know is more realistic
    Change your weekly commitment to achieving the goal

    So….change something and go again, and again, and again until you finally experience success. People put a lot of pressure on themselves to get it right the first time. This is unrealistic if you are doing something without ever having done it before. True failure is giving up in pursuit of your goal.

    So good-luck, set your goal and don’t look back until you have achieved it.

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Prudential Building
332 Lambton Quay
P 04 499 8516