Gym Jones FDI seminar

I was lucky enough to attend the Gym Jones FDI seminar in London back in October. I have reams of notes about it, both received and written, and I have come across my thoughts and day to day ideas and processes as I went through the course.

I have been fascinated with Mark Twight and his training methodologies since I first read Extreme Alpinism many years ago, and it still sits in pride of place on my bookshelf. (except now it bears a signature on the inside- from an older, and dare I say it, wiser Dr. death. – It says if you Bite off more than you can chew, you’ll get what you deserve). There are some great ideas about training in that book, and some very outdated chapters as well.
I saw Gym Jones as a progression of the training idea, and saw the development of it online.
At that time, I am happy to admit that I did not care enough about training to worry about what they were doing did not need to put what they were saying into practice.

Gym Jones was put at the forefront of the public’s imagination when the film 300 came out- as the gym which carved the actors out of stone. Mark, it would seem is in two minds as to how good a thing it was. Partially good for the knowledge it gave them, partially annoying because of the amount of people that have gone around saying that they “do the same thing” “get the same results through the Spartan workout” and other such twaddle.

It would appear that Gym Jones is an ever evolving place which gets results for people who are committed to doing it. It’s a physical place, but at the same time, if you took the people out of the location, it would be the people that carried the spirit, not the place. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s more an ever evolving philosophy- at least, thats how I see it.

I was really intrigued to go along to this seminar, not because I’m a kettlebell throwing muscleman, or a PT who wants another thing on his resume to get more clients to get more money. I wanted to go along because of the fascination I have with intelligent training, building a workout programme for me, and learning from people who have been through the grist mill, been spit out the otherside and still have their credentials (and their knees) and are continually pushing boundaries.

To say I was nervous at the beginning is an understatement. I was expecting to walk in and get hammered down in no time. Not a bit of it. Each day was split into lectures and physical parts – the physical was given to hammer home the lessons learnt in the lecture. However, the idea was not to destroy us – it was to educate us.

I’m just going to write down a few bullet points that hit home and sank in during the 4 days, there was so much covered, I’m not even going to try to write about it all – to do so would be to cheapen what GJ is doing.
The Key – the absolute key is that The Mind is Primary.

Power to Weight Ratio. It doesn’t matter how big the engine is, if you can’t carry the engine, what use is it?

Be functional.
Be mindful.
There is only a beginning and a middle. You never reach the end.
If you are obsessing over diet, and not doing the exercise, you’re on the wrong path entirely.
If a supplement hasn’t been banned by the IOC it doesn’t work.
Rest is more than 50% of getting better.
Find the problem. Fix the Problem.
There is a big difference between hypertrophy and strong.
Sport should NEVER be overshadowed by training.

The exercise sessions were focussed on getting the movements right, on doing things properly and not taking any shortcuts. If you are training, why take a short cut? Why kip on a pullup- to try to get bigger numbers? To put bigger numbers on your blog post?
The only person you are cheating is yourself.
When you train, leave your ego at the door.

A concept which really hit a chord with me was the rest diary. It is something which I have begun to incorporate with some of my clients- particularly the ones who chronically overtrain. They are beasts for training diaries, writing down the minutae of what they have done, how long they did it for etc. However, when it comes to asking them what they did to recover, they have nothing. I get them to write me a diary of what they do for active recovery and when they do it.

Chances are, they come back with a blank piece of paper. No wonder they are over training. If you put training stress on the body every day, or nearly everyday, and do not allow it to recover, eventually something is going to give.

Do some kind of recovery everyday, and incorporate it into your training diary. Then I won’t have to see injured people so often.

Another of the great concepts – and oh so simple concepts that GJ is very into is eliminating weakness. By that I do not mean “you MUST BE STRONG”, I mean that they are into correcting imbalances. They do not do this by getting people to pull on therabands all day, they do it with iron and sweat. Full body, functional movements, which use multiple joints at the same time to encourage the body to work as one single unit. Big muscles work, smaller muscles stabilise, fascia reacts to it all and assists.

Lifts to make the lifter look good, increase bulk without need and make pretty muscles are not a part of the process.

Each person has their own specific workout. Generic workouts only exist to get people up to a very low standard benchmark. From that moment on, if you are looking for power, strength, endurance, or something else, be prepared to look into more specificity. But be aware, that costs. Once you gain more strength, the endurance fades, and vice versa.
Specificity costs.

Diets… complicated diets do NOT mean they are better.
Fats are not a bad thing. Fat does not make you fat.
Unless you are eating good quality food, every meal of the day, really, you shouldn’t even be worrying about anything else diet-wise.
Get the basics right, before you start trying to tweak things. It takes a long time for the benefits of nutrition to show. If you are poisoning yourself, it takes months for that to appear, and likewise, if you eat well, its not like you feel great immediately, but over 3 months, you feel different.

As I mentioned, there were so many things, so many concepts, and ideas that were shown to us. However, if you have the knowledge, that knowledge is only useful if you use it. I certainly don’t claim to be a part of GJ, or be a specific follower of what they do, I have taken bits of what they do and ingrained it into my life and my routine, its about development, and focus, and making it better.

The main thing that I shall take away is the attitude and the belief in working hard and working honestly. As a trainer- or, indeed, as a massage therapist, its not a case of standing around counting reps, or pushing skin. Its about living better than the people around you, being the person that others look up to, having a better diet, working harder, training harder and more intelligently- resting better.

The seminar was an eyeopener, and an honour to be a part of, and I continue to have people to aspire to. They say never meet your heros. I’m damn glad I met Mark Twight.

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