Let's Get Physical
Three National Pharmacies Members (40 year old +) were chosen to participate in a 12-month fitness challenge for a Vital Health article on Exercise Habits.
Track our Members' progress here.......
For the first part of National Pharmacies’ exercise challenge, our trainer Duncan Maxwell planned a generic schedule for participants Julie, John and Cheryl, which spanned over two weeks and was designed to go through basic movement techniques.
The program consisted of push-ups, lunges, full-range sit-ups, back extensions, squats, dips and hip raises, and the exercises were specifically chosen due to their lack of complexity. Participants were asked to perform 10 repetitions of each exercise for one set over the first four days, two sets over the next five days and then three sets for the last five days.
At the end of the two weeks Duncan mentioned “the participants noted some general soreness, but each participant felt stronger and more capable of all seven exercises”.
Duncan then conducted individual assessments on the participants, which involved a 30-minute movement screen that tested the risk of injury by taking a holistic look at the participants’ fitness, focusing particularly on symmetry and balance. The test was measured on a points-based system, with 21 being the highest possible score.
From the results of this assessment, Duncan tailored the participants’ programs, which they are currently working on. Participants will be reassessed within the next couple of weeks so Duncan can tweak their programs in preparation for the next part of the exercise challenge, which will run over approximately four weeks and focus particularly on gaining improvements in strength, muscular-skeletal balance and range of motion.
Julie says she has thoroughly enjoyed embarking on her new exercise routine, ensuring that she does the prescribed 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day and has already
noticed improvement, explaining the exercises have become “easier and quicker to perform”.
Julie scored a low 8 points in Duncan’s assessment, particularly due to a restriction in movement after cancer had previously forced her to have hip and femur replacement. “A prosthetic femur doesn’t have as much flexibility as an actual bone so there are some exercises such as the squats and lunges I can’t do”. As a result, she has had her routine altered with different exercises, including extra back stretches and leg raises, incorporated into her routine.
Over all, Julie has found the change in routine to be a positive one. “It’s really motivated me to do something, especially knowing that someone will be checking on my progress,” she says.
In the six months prior to the exercise challenge John lost around eight kilos.
He feared he might put the weight back on without the right exercise management, so he hoped the challenge would offer a good fitness solution to help keep him on track.
John scored the best of the group in his assessment with 15 points, and is so far pleased with the results of the challenge, as he has managed to maintain his weight and has noted a general improvement in wellbeing as a result of the extra exercise he has done.
John also mentions: “I’ve found walking around the golf course has become much easier and pain-free [and] I’m finding it easier to play tennis and run around”.
Cheryl scored 11 points in her assessment, which Duncan mentions was influenced by low core strength, tight hamstrings and glutes, and a restriction through her shoulders that sees around 10cm difference in range.
Unfortunately, Cheryl wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to Duncan’s schedule as she would have liked, as she was recently involved in a restructure at work, and has since changed jobs and relocated to Brisbane.
“Certainly prior to the restructure, I found that I was getting less aches through my shoulder [due to the exercise routine], which Duncan attributed to being a sitting position at a computer all day. Given the other stress factors, unfortunately I have not lost weight, however I feel like I am more toned and stronger.”
As a whole, Cheryl says: “I have enjoyed the change, however some of the upper level strength exercises have been challenging”. She will return to Adelaide on a regular basis and hopes to work with Duncan to incorporate a routine she can take back to Brisbane to use at the gym at her new workplace.
The Trainer: Duncan Maxwell
Duncan kicked off his coaching career in his native Canada at the ripe old age of 15, when he became a ski instructor in his hometown of Whistler in British Columbia. His love of sport also extended off the slopes, with a keen interest in athletics, which eventually saw him travel to Australia, where he was recruited to play rugby union in Canberra in 1991.
Duncan later spent two years backpacking around Australia before being picked up by a circus troupe with which he worked for 18 months before studying martial arts in Adelaide, where he then became well-practiced in taekwondo, Thai boxing and even represented Australia in full-contact stick fighting.
Personal training seemed a natural progression for this sports enthusiast and in 1997 Duncan qualified as a personal trainer, specialising in sports performance and rehabilitation. Duncan mentions it was this passion for fitness education and helping people to achieve health and wellbeing goals that lead him to establish The Energy Clinic in 2007.
To date, the clinic caters for personal training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), functional circuits, boot camps, massage, as well as kettle bell and stretch and fascial release classes. Duncan’s list of high-profile clients include Olympic equestrian qualifier Mark Lindh, National Wheelchair Basketball team Adelaide Thunder, singer Natalie Imbruglia and, of course, National Pharmacies’ exercise challenge participants!
July - Exercise Update
All three members have maintained a consistent training routine with their programs and all three have had their programs updated to match their improved fitness levels, particularly in muscular endurance, strength and range of motion.
To give an idea of how I measured the participants’ improvements, muscular endurance was measured by the amount of repetitions each individual could complete over 12 to 15 repetitions while maintaining form and without getting tired. All three participants have increased their repetition amounts by at least 20%, with our eldest participant John having increased his repetition range by more than 30%. The exercises performed here included: push-ups, lunges, squats, dips and sit-ups.
Strength improvements were seen with a lower repetition range of between five and 12. Most commonly, the use of resistance of some kind was required to increase the difficulty of an exercise. In this case, we used basic equipment such as dumbbells to increase resistance, and some of the exercises included step-back lunges, reverse flys and dynamic bicep curls. Once again, John was the most improved in this area.
Range of motion is probably one of the most important improvements one can attain with a well thought-out and applied training program, but it is an aspect of fitness that is often, unfortunately, overlooked. Range of motion can be increased due to improvements in strength, flexibility and technique. All three participants have noted an increase in exercise range.
Moving forward, our participants will find that their programs will start becoming more dynamic. Small isolated movements will become bigger and more complex as we start adding co-ordination and balance into the training mix. This will be done quite simply by having them put two exercises together – for example a step-back lunge with an overhead press or bicep curl.
Always make sure your training program is dynamic and changing often enough to ensure your body is constantly adapting to new challenges. If you find your current program is too easy, you will also find your results less than pleasing.
October - Excercise Challenge Update
Heading into summer, the two remaining participants Julie and John are now around three quarters through the exercise challenge and Duncan has been busily preparing them for life after the program. “The training that I've given the participants has been one that they can easily follow themselves,” Duncan says. This is a philosophy he factors in to all his training programs regardless of whether or not he is finishing up with a client, as “a good training program is very rarely complicated. In fact, most people over complicate their programming to the point that it's less effective while being more time intensive,” he says.
Keeping this in mind, with John and Julie’s continued improvements; Duncan is working to increase the intensity and the overall amount of work performed by the two in their final training sessions over the next number of weeks. The participants’ programs won’t change too much in terms of their exercises, but Duncan explains: “For Julie, it will mean an increase in repetitions, and for John, we will look at decreasing his repetitions but increasing his [weight] load.”
Stay tuned to for the fourth and final instalment of the National Pharmacies exercise challenge to see how the participants have fared overall after their year with Duncan, in the next edition of Vital Health.
Exercise Challenge - Finale
12 months ago we met John and Julie as they were embarking on our fitness challenge – now, all their hard work has paid off. Under the guidance of trainer Duncan Maxwell, John and Julie have made positive changes to their lifestyle that has them both feeling fitter, stronger and healthier. “I certainly enjoy my sporting pursuits more now that I feel fitter and can move freely,” John says. “Best of all, I am pain-free after tennis and golf. I realised through this challenge that eating sensibly and exercising regularly are vital in maintaining, even improving, one’s outlook and wellbeing.” Duncan leaves John and Julie with two main pieces of advice. “Keep on training. Whatever gains you make with training are easily lost through inactivity,” he says. “The other point is to ensure you always have a fitness goal in mind. As per all properly structured goals, it needs to be specific and measurable.”
Duncan has left us with his THREE TOP TIPS to get on you a path to a healthier lifestyle, whether it be on your own or with a trainer.
1. Even if you're going it alone, get some advice first - even if it's just to design a basic program. This will save you time, effort and possibly even an injury.
2. No program works very well without good nutritional practice. Don't waste your efforts by training hard and eating average.
3. If it hurts, stop. Training can be uncomfortable, but it should never painful. If you experience a sharp pain, something is wrong with your workout and you should get some professional advice.
You can visit Duncan at :
The Energy Clinic
54 Sir Donald Bradman Drive,
Mile End, South Australia
Ph: 08 8354 3784
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