Sofia’s Journey at Personal Best

Sofia first started at Personal Best as a personal training client of Eidolan’s after being referred by her physiotherapist some 11 years ago.  Sofia was experiencing knee pain from the demands of being an elite junior soccer player. Eidolan was pivotal in Sofia’s learnings of the body and the recovery process as she progressed her way through the Institute of Sport until she ceased her contract in 2013, to focus on her studies. Like most Year 10 students, Sofia was required to complete a week of work experience. “I chose to split my time between a Physio practice and here at Personal Best Fitness. During this time, sport, or specifically soccer was part of my identity, so most of my thought processes revolved around supporting this passion in some way. My plan had been to complete my Certificate III and IV in Fitness during Year 11 & 12 and work as a personal trainer while at Uni and study medicine with the intention of bringing the learnings of movement into my practice as a doctor.” After Sofia’s work experience, we approached Sofia as to whether she would like to be a part of our Front Desk team. Sofia had completed her fitness certification at the beginning of that year, before returning to school. Sofia had been qualified as a personal trainer since 2014 but didn’t think of herself as having practiced as a personal trainer until she made the decision that medicine was not for her in 2017. ‘I decided to refocus on my mental health. As my mental health had suffered, so too had my love for a sport, which was once my identity, football.  I had completely stepped away from football and took up cycling around this time. ‘ For anyone who knew Sofia prior to 2018, they would realise that there was a pretty big shift in not only the way she practised as a personal trainer, but also in the way she walked through life after completing her first activation course in 2018. ‘Having gone to a private school all my life, I don’t think I ever considered personal training as my one and only career option. It was always a steppingstone into what was next, which since I was a child, had always been medicine. In short, activation changed everything for me. From my confidence, stopping my forever frequent panic attacks, to even starting my own cycling tour business. I don’t think I ever considered myself to be a ‘personal trainer’ until sometime after I got back from this course in 2018.’ As a business owner it has given me immense pleasure to see Sofia grow not only as a fitness professional, but more importantly as a wonderful, kind and caring person. ‘Now as a Master Personal Trainer and all-rounder,  I pride myself in being able to assist Amanda in the business with anything from front desk duties, teaching new staff, loving my role as a personal trainer or my favourite, teaching a group of people the concepts and practice of activation!’ Amanda Coombe
Personal Trainer Hobart

How much is too much?

How often have you made it to the end of the week and thought ‘thank god it’s the weekend’? Or not wanted to do a workout only to finish it and feel a whole lot better? High intensity exercise has been a prevailing force in the fitness industry for the past 10 years. We get this big endorphin rush, it makes you sweat, feel good and forget your problems. Movement is anti-inflammatory, hydrating and energising. It creates resilient tissues, hydrates, efficient mitochondria and cellular function, and is vital for the brain, mood and self confidence. However, we have seen a massive boom of exercise programs such as P90x, Crossfit and F45. All of which are types of HIIT training and are great programs when implemented at the right intensity, with the right recovery and with the correct frequency. Gym Hobart Unfortunately, a lot of these training methods aren’t true ‘HIIT’ sessions. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is designed to get your heart rate up or above 90% of its max, followed by an equal or longer period of time in your recovery zone, the ‘interval’ aspect of HIIT. It can help with fat loss, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and results in an increased metabolic rate. The often misconception is that going harder means going for longer periods and resting for shorter periods. I’d definitely agree that these types of sessions are tough, but are they productive? A better description of the types of workouts listed above would be High Intensity Steady State Training, or fatigue sessions! I.e. you’re likely getting your heart rate into a moderate zone (not as high as a true HIIT workout), while not allowing yourself sufficient recovery. It can take up to 48hrs for our body to recover after a high intensity training session. We create a high level of acidosis, resulting in the breakdown of muscle cells and the decrease in immune function.  So by completing multiple of these sessions within a week, you are not only creating muscle breakdown, but you are releasing higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline into the body. The thing is, our body doesn’t differentiate between physical and mental stress. So what are the repercussions of this constant cycle of our stressful, sedentary working life, interspersed with many bouts of high intensity training? Just like any form of stress, exercise releases cortisol and adrenaline into the body. In the right doses our body is able to adapt to this release and create positive changes, however if we’re not giving our body adequate time to recover (i.e. completing HIIT sessions often), this becomes detrimental to the system. Being super fit and punishing yourself at the gym doesn’t equate to longevity. In fact it can do the opposite. Over training, under recovering, repetitive movement, too much muscle mass, and chronic cardio, are all examples of how movement can hurt you. There is no denying that people who chose to practice one sport are highly competitive in their chosen sport, however they’re rarely able to adequately replicate this ‘fitness’ across other sports. They’re often missing one key component; variability. When it comes to longevity, the key component in training is variability. This means being strong and resilient for whatever comes your way. It means you can go fast, or slow, lift heavy, or light, move and adapt to awkward and challenge angles, etc. Variability means your tissue has the strength, tension and elasticity to respond to different speeds, loads, positions and vectors. Our heart rate is a great responder to variability. It is important to have the ability to get your heart rate high (above 90% of heart rate max), for SHORT periods of time and it is just, if not more, important to have the ability to get your heart rate back down quickly and keep it there for sustained periods of time. We have looked at one form of heart rate variability training (HIIT), however we will have to save the full discussion for another time. For the time being, I want you to have a think about whether all of your training sessions are ‘smash fests’ in the gym or whether you are incorporating variability into your training and in fact aiming for wellness and longevity. Signs you need to switch up your exercise and focus on wellness and longevity are:
  • Chronic stiffness and pain
  • Lack of mobility and strength in varied positions
  • Lack of heart rate variability – HR stays high, won’t go up, or takes longer to recover!
  • Unable to get down to the ground and up again with ease
  • Coordination and balance challenges
  • Are you struggling with complex movement sequences?
If any of these signs ring true in your ears, think about changing up your exercise routine or book in a personal training session with us to move and exercise more effectively and efficiently. Sofia Tsamassiros Senior Personal Trainer
Gym Hobart

Walk like a ‘Farmer’

Farmer's Carry
Farmer’s Carry
Farmers are some of the strongest, healthiest and most mobile people you’ll find, but it’s not because they spend their days lifting weights in a gym. However, they arelifting heavy things – bags of feed, mechanical equipment, hoses, hay bales, buckets of water, sick animals, you name it – and they’re carrying them from one place to another. Most of the rest of us aren’t occupied carrying heavy things around all day so for us, we need to think outside the square if we want to mimic what the strongest people do. Hence, Farmer’s Walk. Unlike most exercises one does in the gym, there’s almost no technique to be learned in a Farmer’s Walk. You simply pick up a weight or two and start walking with them by your side. While you can use dumbbells for this exercise, kettlebells are almost perfectly designed for the purpose with the handle making them feel very natural to carry. The benefits of picking up and walking with heavy ‘things’ are many, below are a few of the key upsides: They strengthen your grip. And everything else. This has carryover effects to numerous day-to-day tasks like opening jars and carrying shopping, and anything else which requires a tight grasp. Studies have also shown a direct correlation between grip strength and longevity: the stronger your hands, the longer you’re likely to live. It doesn’t stop with the grip though. Your forearms, shoulders, upper back, abdominal muscles, glutes and all of your leg and foot muscles are working overtime to help you move the weight from one end of the room to the other end – and strengthening and stabilising you in the process.   They help correct your posture. When you’re walking with kettlebells in your hands, your body can no longer get away with moving on autopilot; the only way to fight the extra weight pulling you forwards or to the side is to actively engage your postural muscles. Even after you’ve put the weights away, your body remembers what it did to stay upright and starts to do it unconsciously.   They build muscle. In addition to making you stronger, they add some muscle to your frame and tighten everything up. It certainly won’t be ‘bulky’ muscle; it will be a little bit added to your whole body, working with your added strength to make you more resilient. As with all resistance training, this is especially important as you age: the loss of muscle in older age known as sarcopenia is one of the main issues leading to poor health and loss of independence. They improve balance. Every time you take a step when you walk, you’re balancing on one foot, brief as it is. When you add weight to your hands, your balance is being tested more than usual – everything is working harder to stop you falling over. This is especially true when you’re holding a kettlebell with a single hand as you’re not only fighting extra total weight; you’re also working against being pulled over to the side. If you slow the movement down, you’ll find it’s a very intense exercise in controlling your entire balance system.   They boost fat loss and cardiovascular health. Farmer’s Walks have the effect of turning the very natural movement of a short walk into an exercise, which elevates your heart rate and your breathing due to all of the muscles in the body working with every step. A working muscle is also a muscle which is burning energy so you’re really ‘stoking the furnace’ of your metabolism when you add a loaded carry to your program.  They’re easy. And by ‘easy’ I mean they’re simple. They require no learning. You’ve been walking since before you can remember; you’ve probably been picking things up off the ground since even before then; and you’ve been combining the two for your entire life. Combine all of the benefits above and you arrive at a life in which every daily physical task feels easier. Shopping bags, loads of wet washing, gardening equipment and unruly children suddenly become manageable. Well, maybe not the last one. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a couple of kettlebells and get walking!   Written by Tom Flint | Personal Trainer
Gym Hobart yoga

Be Activated


“What’s in the mind is in the body and what’s in the body is in the mind.”

Have you ever caught yourself suddenly gasping for air or getting out of breath quickly? 
Be Activated
Be Activated 
In a society filled with stressors, we believe we all too often get stuck in a “fight or flight” state, resulting in poor health, such as sickness or injury and fatigue, both physical and mental. We use a system based approach termed ‘Be-Activated’ to help the body fire in the correct sequence. This helps to reduce the highly alert state of living into a more relaxed state, thereby allowing us to handle and overcome our stressors more efficiently and effectively. Be-Activated can help you interrupt these stress evoked patterns and find a state of balance. We can help you identify and more easily manage stress, resulting in increased productivity.   What is Be-Activated? Based on the concepts of muscle activation and sequencing in movement, ‘Be Activated’ is a powerful yet simple hands-on system developed by physiotherapist and kinesiologist, Douglas Heel. Be Activated is the science and art of getting your body to work the way it is meant to, and in doing so allowing it to break free from pain and dysfunction. From here your body can move into higher states of performance on all levels allowing you to not only move, function and feel better but also giving rise to massive shifts in strength, speed and flexibility.   Why have an Activation? Whether you are in pain or want to feel, function and move better, activation will help you get there. Our body’s ability to overcome the stresses and pressures of life can result in reduced movement and exercise, putting us at risk. Through systematic manual therapy, activation techniques are simple to teach and offer unique, powerful tools for control over your own health.   Who would benefit from Activation? Everyone. Whether for athlete performance or stress relief, activation can help you find centre. Postural muscles of the body are all slow twitch muscle fibres as they need to hold up the body for sustained periods of time with minimal movement. Slow twitch muscle fibres are oxygen dependent, which means they require oxygen to operate effectively. If we are not breathing correctly and therefore not getting enough oxygen to the muscles, they cannot function correctly to support our body’s continuous fight against gravity. This means that if we can influence our breathing we can influence our ability to maintain good posture.   How is Activation different from massage? Where massage is looking at muscle tightness, activation is a systematic system designed to prioritise the two necessities for survival; to breath and to move. Without both, we will die. Our body finds ways to meet those priorities and is willing to sacrifice anything in order to do this. That is when we see dysfunction and/or pain.   How often should you be Activated? Everyone is different. The idea of activation is to teach your body new (correct) patterns of movement – essentially creating new habits. You may have significant gain and hold this pattern effortlessly, or you will need more intervention and reminding. This is why we also teach you to activate on yourself, to take control of your own health and maintain the new patterns of movement we have taught the body.   Written by Sofia Tsamassiros – Movement Specialist and Personal Trainer 
Gym Hobart

5 Ways to Reduce Back Pain

Lower back pain can have many different causes and can be a nuisance but it may also be a serious medical issue. If in doubt please consult your doctor before adopting any of the following techniques, particularly if you do not know the cause of your back pain. For back and hip, pain/stiffness, particularly after sitting at a desk or in a car, characterised by feeling stuck in a bent forward position when standing up: Prevention of bad alignment is the key, as sitting with bad posture tends to make joints such as the hips or facet joints to “lock up” and this can start the cycle of lower back pain. For cars, buses and planes have the very back of the heels resting on the floor, this prevents the hips rolling into a position where they get stuck and start to affect the lower back. At work: try and avoid having the knees pointing outwards. Avoid crossing the legs in any way. Practise the 3 steps to perfect posture: 1, Slouch. 2, Be tall. 3, Stay tall and relax the back. Back pain made worse by lying on your back or sleeping: When lying on your back, walk your hips from side to side and drag your legs towards your top half to increase the space beneath your lower back, this will greatly relax the legs and reduce strain on your back Back pain and stiffness that follows after activities such as gardening: Use a foam roller to release the tension accumulated in the back: 1, Lie on your back with the roller in reach. 2, Lift up your butt and slide the roller under your lower back, cross-ways. 3, Tilt your pelvis to lift and then lower your hips, resting your weight on the roller so the shape of the roller encourages your back to gradually bend more comfortably, keep moving though, this is mobilisation, not a stretch. Back pain/fatigue experienced during exercise: Exercises that are based upon the squat movement pattern, including weighted squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, wall ball, and so on are sometimes associated with lower back pain and/or fatigue. The muscles of the lower back are actually recruited during these exercises so some fatigue may be a normal part of strengthening the area. As a general guide, 3 sets of a squatting based exercise in which mild pain/fatigue of the lower back muscles is felt during the final set, should be regarded as normal, the discomfort should decrease over a 4-6 week period and should be discussed with a trainer if it seems to be increasing in level or appearing sooner in the workout. If the discomfort is significant during the first set and appears to increase in subsequent sets, I would advise to stop the exercise and discuss an alternative or a solution with a trainer. The causes of pain in the context of the above mentioned exercises can be complex and varied but the lower back is usually; a) a) moving too much to compensate for a restriction elsewhere in the body, such as the hips or ankles or b) becoming stiff in an attempt of the body to restrict movement in order to stabilise excess movement elsewhere in the body. Try alternating your exercise sets with the mobilisation described in the previous section. Sudden sharp or “grabbing” pain experienced randomly when exercising or doing household chores such as vacuuming. These sudden, sharp pains may be due to a number of different issues but are usually the body’s reaction to a perceived instability of some kind. the following 2 techniques both attempt to calm the central nervous system by decompressing the posterior spine and at the same time to create a balance of muscular action between the hip-flexors, the erector spinae, the gluteals, hamstrings and the rectus femoris. Putting your back against a sturdy wall, lower yourself down to the level you’d be if sitting on a dining chair so that your hips are only slightly higher than your knees. Your feet should be under your knees. push with your feet to flatten your lower back against the wall. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then stand up and relax for as long as necessary. The key to the success of this technique is all in the pushing of the back to the wall with the legs. A longer period is good, so long as it does not come at the expense of the pressure against the wall. Repeat as needed. Try this for 2 to 3 minutes to unload your back. Lie flat on your back, lower legs resting and fully supported by a flat, level surface such as a dining chair. Stay in this position for as long as you can. I’ll leave you with something to think about, something which is typically hard to think about when you are actually experiencing back pain but I guess no one ever did say it was supposed to be easy… All of the types of back pain described above are symptoms of other problems. The back pain is not the problem, it is the part of the body complaining about the problem. If I have client doing Kettlebell swings and they complain of back pain, I want to see what their feet are doing, I need to see how their shoulders are moving. If your back hurts when you do a deadlift, I’m interested in what your set-up was, before you did the deadlift. These things are not necessarily complicated to fix but it can be much harder to fix by yourself. Consult a trainer if in doubt. At Personal Best Fitness we have had great success with helping our members reduce and overcome back pain, with simple and effective exercises. Eidolan Erin. Master Personal Trainer 6234 5969