Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Conversation with Fitness Expert Jonathan Ross

This week I had the privilege of having a phone conversation with  fitness trainer Jonathan Ross. Jonathon is a multiple award winning fitness trainer who most recently won the 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year. He has a blog for Discovery Health called The Everyday Fitness Blog and is the author of the just released book Abs Revealed.

If you are curious how I got to talk to Jonathan, it came about in a very serendipitous way. I happened to be on Facebook a couple of Sundays ago, when a post came up from the people at TRX Suspension Training Systems. It mentioned that the first three people who correctly answered three questions would win some TRX swag. It was a trivia contest celebrating the book release of Jonathan Ross's "Abs Revealed". It also mentioned that one of the first three respondents would win a phone conversation with Jonathan Ross. I ended up being the second person to answer the questions (you had to be quick) and later was notified that I won the phone conversation too.

I immediately ordered the book so I would have it before the phone call and checked out some of Jonathan's videos online. I have and love my TRX suspension trainer, but I am very much a beginner at using it despite having 4 of the TRX DVDs. The TRX Pendulum was the first I found and it is a really good one.

This is one of the videos from the "Abs Revealed" book, which is the first book to include exercises for the TRX Suspension Trainer. Jonathan got in email contact with me and we set up a time for the call. He also wanted to know if I had a couple of questions in mind to send his way. Being a long time distance runner with all sorts of functional and biomechanical issues, I quickly gave him an overview and sent him a link to my blog. I looked forward to the phone call, but wasn't sure how it would go. Would he be a trainer who was anti-running (particularly for someone like me with so many issues) or would he just go through the motions during the call to fulfill his obligations? I would have been pleased just to have him answer a couple of questions from his book.

I was pleasantly surprised when he got on the phone and was very complimentary on my willingness to pursue my own fitness goals despite my issues and on how much I had done on my own. He had actually read my blog to find out about my issues and how to best answer my questions and give me the best advice possible. Without seeing me in person, he thought it would be hard to see all that was going on in my body, but he did put together a few exercises beforehand that he thought would help me out to get back to running which is the activity I love to do. Jonathan began describing and explaining three exercises in particular. I found his explanations clear and I was able to visualize exactly what he was saying, even though two of the exercises were unlike anything I have encountered before, and I have done a lot of research and reading on all sorts of exercises. I was writing notes like crazy as he talked as I realized that I was hearing some real creative and applicable advice. The exercises were designed to address some of my asymmetries and imbalance issues and I immediately saw the rationale and thinking behind each exercise. The time went by quickly, but it seemed like I was on the phone for hours, because Jonathan gave me so much detailed information. My brain was popping by the end and I was very tired from just all the great things I was hearing and trying to capture. Let me just say, Jonathan Ross it a true professional. He gave me more that 100% of his time and his advice was creative (not some rehash of the same old movements) and sensible. He was also extremely motivational and complimentary and made me believe again that I was on the right track and doing the right things in trying to get my body to behave again. If you go to Jonathan Ross's AionFitness website, you will see that Aion comes from the Greek word meaning age and eternity. He explains:

I believe that fitness is a life long pursuit of living to your maximum physical potential. I will teach you to enjoy movement and physical activity, and to use your body like it was meant to be used.

Fitness is about being able to do the activities you enjoy without feeling your body complaining to you or limiting you in any way.

Aion Fitness = Fitness for a Lifetime!

That is exactly what I want out of my fitness and running and I thank Jonathan for a super phone conversation full of great advice that fulfills my goals and helps me on my way to moving and running correctly again. Thanks also to the TRX folks for putting on the contest and giving me this opportuning to learn a little bit more of how to enjoy adn maximize my own fitness.

So what did Jonathan teach me? The first move was something simple called "toe raises". This is pertinent because I have hip problems and hip problems are often tied together with feet problems and I have those too. I am also adjusting to new orthotics due to a toe problem called Functional Hallux Limitis. My current hip problems that have put a stop to my running are probably due a lot to jumping into to using new insoles to correct the problem this summer. Within a couple weeks of using them, I had bumped my mileage up to an 85 mile week (including 52 miles in 3 straight days). I was correcting one problem, but starting a new one! The toe raises also help with balance and help to keep my arch from collapsing. The point is to sit or stand flat-footed (and barefoot)and lift up either the big toe or the four other toes. It sounds easy, but I found I couldn't even figure out how to lift up the big toes on their own. Try it, is it easy for you? I am slowly getting some control over the big toe, but it is hard to lift up and even get some toe awareness going. This is a great little exercise I can do anywhere.

The second is an exercise I am familiar with, but I am familiar with so many exercises it is hard to know which are the good ones to do for my own conditions and which are not that important. Because I run and move with the left side shifted ahead of my right side, Jonathan thought this would be good for me. Basically, you sit tall with a ball between your knees, hold your arms across your chest and rotate left to right for a set before rotating to the opposite side. This exercise works the obliques and I think is another easy and essential exercise to do, particularly when I even find it hard to turn around to look behind me when I run.

The third exercise is really great. Why didn't I think of this one? I think it will help my sore adductors as well as my wayward left leg with its instability. It is a standing internal and external rotation for each leg. You do it by standing facing forward on one leg and rotate the other leg across the body in front and moving around it  like the hand of a clockback toe-tapping the ground for balance as you go. If you stand on an "+" marked on the ground you can see your improvement as you go.

These are all great exercises that Jonathan picked out for my specific needs. I think they are really great and I am thrilled that he took the time to tailor the phone call to my needs. He also gave me some tips for using my orthotics, for using my TRX (do one legged exercises for the lower body) and a progression of very slow lunges where I am to work on the weight shifting from one leg to the other and back. This is all good stuff and I can see why Jonathan Ross is such an award winning trainer. He treats you with respect, is positive and affirming in his comments, and is creative in his approach to problem solving. I was not given cookie-cutter exercises, but the exercises were individualized to meet my needs.

His new book is called Abs Revealed and we didn't even talk about that. I am still reading through the book but it has solid advice on food and nutrition as well as a progression of exercises utilizing a variety of exercise tools like the TRX as well as Bosu and stability balls. Each exercise has positioning and technique explanations as well as performance tips. It is very readable and has color photographs on its big glossy pages. My advice is to get yourself a TRX Suspension Trainer. It is such a great tool for runners that is full of possibilities and if you want a good book on using the TRX to strengthen your core, this is definitely it. I have to get my running under control and then I can really work on getting some killer six-pack abs!!

In this video Jonathan Ross answers some questions about abs training and his book.

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