Tag Archives: Australia

Original Strength (AKA Chris starts crawling again)

I have been reading and following the works of Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert and the Original Strength (OS) Training system over the past few months and have integrated the methods into my daily routines (including the now famous Billy Madison Kettlebell program) as well introducing the methods to some of my clients.

BABY YOGA To accompany Maggie Mallon Feature

This little one is working towards the one arm-one leg push up!

From Amazon.com  “When you were a child, you had an amazingly strong, resilient and healthy body. The body you built through movement during the first several years of your life was meant to be the foundation from which you would continue to add strength, power and resiliency. Your body was meant to be strong, graceful, powerful, fluid, mobile and resilient. You were never meant to be broken, weak, fragile, stiff or injured. You were never meant to just “fall apart” with age. ”


The rocking position is good for helping with the squat pattern among other things.

When I first viewed the Original Strength movement patterns of breathing, rocking, rolling, crawling marching and neck nods a few thoughts entered my head.  (1) It looks like a less difficult mobile Yoga.  (2) It looks like it will be fun.  (3) It’s probably harder than it looks. (4) Could it be that simple?


 There are multiple versions of “segemented rolls” in which you lead the roll with either a leg, an arm or even your head.  Just like the way a baby would roll to their sides or bellies.

I view my training methods along a continuum between post-rehab on one end and performance on the other. Across the continuum fundamental movement patterns exist in order to develop performance skills whether they be simple or sophisticated. I am always looking for things that deepen my skills across the continuum.

After I started reading and playing around with the various patterns some new thoughts started forming pretty quickly: (1) Some patterns are deceptively challenging. (2) This seems to integrate well with other training methods.  (3) This could serve as a stand-alone training method to a degree. One thing that quickly became clear, I needed to learn more about this stuff.  So I reached out to some of my professional contacts….

“OS resets have been beneficial in my training program to heal from a shoulder tweak, allowing me to press again pain-free for 8 months! Rocking has been a favorite reset for clients with back issues.”                                                                                                                                                 Suzanne Ko, SFG,HKC ACE CPT, SKOFIT.com, Chicago,USA

“OS has helped undo the damage accumulated from improper training and helped me regain a lot of my mobility. I’ve had at least 2 blog posts for the OS website already.”                                         Mark Limbaga, SFG II,SFB.  Quezon City, Philippines.


A neutral spine, a elevated head, engagement of the anterior and posterior muscles, the vestibular system and the natural movement of the wrist, shoulder,hip, knee and ankle joints.  Try crawling after a baby for awhile and you’ll note how physically taxing it can be!

“OS has been incredible for us.  People have gained inches on their squats effortlessly, as well as naturally finding their knees tracking.  Alongside that people feel a sense of calm when they start with breathing, and happiness when they finish with skipping.  It’s pretty outstanding stuff.”

 Piers Kwan SFG II,CK-FMS, Qldkettlebells.com, Queensland,Brisbane Australia.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to pass on some of my rudimentary level knowledge of OS to another trainer and athlete and her experience with OS has been positive.

“OS has helped me create a greater awareness for the body and movement. There is beauty in simplicity. I’ve been doing resets during my warm ups and at home and love the concept of connecting with your center. I have seen improvements in my Tennis game, and training. Diaphragmatic breathing has also helped me cope with stress.”                                                 Elizabeth Coronado, NFPT CPT and Tennis competitor,Las Vegas USA                                                                                                                                                                             OS Books

For more information on Original Strength you can visit the website at OriginalStrength.net or on Amazon.com.   All OS testimonials were voluntary and none of us have received compensation in any form other than improving the lives of our clients and ourselves.


The Power of Community


The power of community in the fitness world has shown up throughout the years, from the days of muscle beach to the jogging craze, from Zumba to CrossFit, from Strongman to StrongFirst. In the modern era CrossFit stands as a popular example of community within a given sport/exercise method. The StrongFirst School of Strength (under Pavel) and Training for Warriors (under Martin Rooney) are also headed in this direction and represent international brother and sisterhoods.


I recall what trainer and coach forums were like 15-20 years ago and see where many are now.  I have made some great friends through these forums, but take issue with board members who’s only purpose it seems is to antagonize or patronize others while contributing nothing of note to the group.  I missed how things used to be and decided that now was the time to begin building a new community.  I established and serve as administer of an online forum of personal trainers, strength coaches and other health and wellness professionals that currently stretches across the United States and multiple countries abroad including the Philippines,Canada and Australia.


The power of community has shown itself again.  Professionals are asking questions and getting great responses from other dedicated professionals and not a single online fight has started.  As far as I am concerned I am 70x smarter simply by being around these awesome people.

My Trainer Chris Fan Mail 3

It’s been awhile since I posted some Q and A’s here on My Trainer Chris and I’ve received a number of pretty cool questions from around the world to share today. Chris

From London, England!
“What do you listen to while working out? Do you have any songs that particularly motivate you?”

Typically I listen to my own breathing and self-talk. I literally “zone in” and try to keep myself in the moment. There are a few songs that I like listening to prior to, or while lifting things:

Anything by Two Steps from Hell.

The early years of Metallica.

“Let’s Go” by Trick Daddy, Lil John and Twista. (Possibly the last thing I SHOULD listen to, but does elicit positive results)

(Clean version..not the MTC version)

Classic Motown

From Brisbane,Australia!
“Do you pre-qualify clients? Are there clients you refuse to work with?”
I screen the clients’ health history, physical movement capability and fitness level. It’s often during one of these screens where I find out if we can, or cannot get along with each other. Beyond that the client should be reliable and put in their fair share of the work. I will not take a client in pain that has not been medically cleared, nor will I take a client that attempts to negotiate my fee or time.

From Cebu, Philippines!
“Have you ever considered writing a book?”

One of my athletes dropped a hint on that subject a few times. I believe I’m still a few years away from seriously considering it.

From Las Vegas, Nevada!
“Have you ever been turned down for a job?”

I have. In one case I was flat-out told I was overqualified and another told me that my resume’ and interview manner seemed more managerial level than trainer level.

From New York!
“Can you recommend some good books for a first year personal trainer?”

Never Let Go by Dan John (or anything by Dan John)

Train to Win by Martin Rooney (or anything by Martin Rooney)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

ACSM Exercise Management for Chronic Diseases and Disabilities

The New Rules series by Schuler and Cosgrove

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Keep up your reading. If you read an hour per day on a subject you’ll be pretty smart on it by the end of the year. I read at least an hour per day and usually more than one book at a time.

From parts unknown!
“Do you miss working in a commercial gym now that you’re independent?”

Occasionally I do. As an independent trainer you are left completely to your own devices and marketing and it can get a little lonely if you have no co-workers to talk to or bounce ideas off of. I would gladly return to being a commercial gym trainer provided a few personal requirements were in place and there were opportunities for advancement.

From Manitoba, Canada!
“Have you ever had to be confrontational with a client? How did you handle it?”

Part of being a trainer is having the ability to call out a clients BS. Although the client is the boss, as the trainer you are in the unique position to order the boss around. Sometimes the tactful method fails and being blunt is what will get the job done. By all means try to settle matters in a civil and respectful manner. With all that said listen to what the client is asking for /telling you and consider it carefully. I’ve had a few clients with requests, statements and arguments that came from the far left corner of the galaxy, but most had fairly simple requests that weren’t unreasonable or unrealistic. Having a non-dogmatic approach to your training helps cuts down on a number of possible confrontations.

Weight Loss Clients

I’m presently corresponding with several personal trainers around the world as well as within the United States. The trainers vary in experience between having less than 1 year experience and two with nearly twenty years of experience.

The trainers’ range in age between their early 20’s to the early fifties. Three are coaches in areas which I am not qualified to teach.

All but one has asked me about exercise programming for weight loss.

Before assumptions are made, no it was NOT the CrossFit coach. She too is trying to help a client lose weight and CrossFit and the Paleo diet are her preferred methods. She also happens to be a personal trainer and is used to working with clients outside of the box.

What this international cast of trainers is asking boils down to a few common things;
1. Exercises that work best
2. Getting, and keeping the clients dietary compliance
3. Tips and Tricks I use for body composition clients

Today on MyTrainerChris we have a blog within a blog. (Because I love you guys!)

MyTrainerChris on Body Composition clients – The Broad (B), Medium (M) and Fine (F) strokes.

“The BMF method” explained. BMF is my layered view and approach when working with body composition clients.

(B) Client Screening. Based on personal correspondence and experience I know that there is a wide difference in the screening methods used by personal trainers. Some trainers simply rely on whatever screening form the gym the hands them, some are quite in-depth and others don’t even know how to screen.

There are many different screens out there, but the two most widespread versions are the Medical Screening and the Lifestyle Questionnaire

Although I’ve developed and simplified my screening methods over the years, I’ve always gone into designing the screens with the idea that the client should be able to pass it and to design for what needs to be done for the clients long term benefit.

My current screen includes performance and functional movement components so that I can observe how the client moves, their strengths and weaknesses, to see what type of motivation connects best with them and if we are a good client-trainer fit.

(B) Is the client a current athlete/aging athlete? Yes or No
Former athletes do not count if they are far removed from their competitive years. What they accomplished 10-20 years ago doesn’t count as much as what they’ve been up to since.

I believe that athletes/aging athletes have a slightly different type of mental toughness and response to physical training than non-athletes. I’ve seen this first hand even among longtime former athletes as well, not so much in their performance abilities but in how they view and respond to training.

If the answer is no, they are considered “everyone else.”

Just because the client is considered “everyone else” does not mean that as the trainer you cannot tap their inner-athlete. A lot of people have one, they just don’t know it. In some cases it was your unknown inner-athlete that led you to becoming a trainer in the first place.

The remainder of this blog is focused on the “everyone else” category clients.

(B) Take the clients’ waist measurement at the widest part. I know that some anthropometric standards require measuring x amount above or below the belly button and this is fine so long as you get the “biggest” measurement as well.

(M) Multiply the clients’ waistline x2. If that number is more than they are in height then the client is a body comp client regardless of their stated goal.

For example, I am 68 inches (172 cm) tall and my last recorded waist measurement was 30.5 inches (77 cm.) My doubled waistline equals 61 in / 154 cm so I am well within waist-to-height ratio. If my waist measured 35 inches (89 cm) I would be slightly above. With a waistline over x2 my height, weight loss/body composition is the actual need, even though I want to build my pecs and biceps to look good at the pool parties.

Can you as the trainer help put slabs of beef on my chest and pump my pythons while still cleaning up my diet? Sure! But remember, I wasn’t that far off away from my goal. If my x2 waistline was considerably more than my height then THAT is the priority,

(F) Think multi-cultural. Western/African/Latin male waistlines over 40 inches (101 cm) and females over 35 inches (89 cm), Asian male waistlines over 35 inches (89 cm) and females over 32 inches (81 cm) are cause for concern. These clients may, or may not have other health co-morbidities. The initial goal is to get the waistline measurement down. Remember, we are thinking long-term client success here.

Current Body Weight

(B) Clients that weigh more than 300 lbs (136 kg) have biological statistics and risk factors different from their lighter peers. Clients over 400 lbs (181 kg) may not fit in all exercise machines or could exceed the safe weight limit on cardio equipment.

(M) Non-Athlete Clients over 300lbs/136 kg = Referrals.

(F) My ideal referral list would looks like this:
A Medical Doctor (General Health, blood panel review and clearance)
A Dentist (Highly obese people often seem to have poor teeth, which might explain why they don’t eat too many crunchy vegetables since that would hurt their teeth while soft carbs do not.)
An Eye Doctor (Can check for early signs of Diabetes.)

My minimum-minimum is the approval of a medical doctor for physical training.

Trivia note: India is ahead of the game on T2D as they have Dr.’s that specialize in Diabetes. I personally don’t know how bad T2D is in India, but they’re not playing around. Hopefully the world catches up with them.

Diet and Mental Toughness
(B) Weight loss isn’t a fight, it’s a battle. Battles are won by initially overwhelming the opponent then sustaining actions to maintain the victory.

The first 4-6 weeks must focus on “what” and “how much” food is going into the hole located under the clients’ nose.

(B) People usually know what food is healthy and which food is not. When it comes to food, clients often have the habit of telling the trainer what they think we want to hear.

(M) Food Journals and a provided list of healthy foods are key. Keep the clients cultural/religious or medical dietary needs in mind. Medical diets are the responsibility of Doctors and Registered Dietitians, not Personal Trainers.

Do not screw with a medically prescribed diet. If you have input, ask the clients Doctor/Registered Dietician.

(F) The food journal and the 4-6 week dietary commitment helps build the clients mental toughness needed to overcome possibly the most difficult thing to do…to change ones lifestyle.

(F) Good Food is pretty easy to recognize. Typically it only has one ingredient. Presently the trainers I am corresponding with hail from Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and three different U.S. States. If you were to take a look into the pantries and refrigerators of these trainers, or even among athletes in their countries you would probably see many of same foods.

Exercise and Mental Toughness
(B) Everything will work, but nothing works forever. Initial programming should be 4-6 weeks strict dietary control and 4-6 weeks of creating movement patterns (Squats, Pulls, Pushes, Bending and Pressing.) I recommend 3-5 days per week exercise with 1-2 days dedicated to active recovery.

(M) Inefficient movements typically burn the most calories and lead to greater EPOC. Inefficient movements can also have higher odds of injury. The client must be watched carefully at all times.

Inefficient movements include sprinting, barbell complexes, loaded carries, interval training and circuit training divided into large muscle groups. The results of a proper movement screen can help you design your program

Efficient movements could include flat surface walking, low-no impact cardio, slow paced movements, isolation resistance machines for small muscle groups and long slow cardio.  This is better than nothing at all and may be the start point for your client. They need to eventually progress to bigger things.

(F) It is my opinion that continually training to failure leads to more harm than good. Failing to scale in CrossFit, vomiting mid spin class and barbell wrecks because the load was too heavy/lifted too many times is never fun.

(B) Standardize your measurements and track the clients workouts down to the lb/kg lifted and the workout date/times.  Try to standardize the frequency and time you measure your client.

(M) Psychology trumps Physiology. Each week find SOME program variable the client improved upon. To walk away from a workout with some small victory is awesome no matter who you are.

(F) If you’re not measuring and tracking then you’re not managing…you’re just sort of directing and counting.

Taking a big view my BMF method you’ll note the following…

The Medical/Lifestyle Screen drives Referrals (if needed), Referrals drive Diet+Exercise

The Physical Screen drives Referrals (if needed), Referrals drive Exercise.

In either case, the Screen is the foundation.

Diet+Exercise with early heavy emphasis on the dietary half. Both drive mental toughness.

Mental Toughness drives exercise program progressions and diet adherence.

Management ties everything together.

The weight loss client will sooner or later freak out when they look at the scale and see something they don’t like / didn’t expect. While the fact that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story has been blogged at length on MyTrainerChris and around the web it still comes up. Here’s a chart that can hopefully provide some guidance and launching points.





Childhood Obesity

I’ve been asked recently for advice on dealing with obese children.  This topic is particularly close to me due to having a background working with child athletes.  It is also a subject that requires a team effort.  Parents,Pediatricians, Dietitians / Nutritionists, Psychologists, Educators, Fitness Professionals and of course the child all have parts to contribute. 


Obese children often grow up to be obese adults.

Obesity places a person at risk for a myriad of potential ailments.  

Obese children are now showing symptoms, or even full-blown cases of diseases previously only seen in adult populations.


In a 2013 UCLA research study  ” … found that obese children – those with a Body Mass Index (BMI)in the 95th percentile or above – are nearly two times more likely to have three or more physical or mental conditions than kids with a healthy weight.

Overweight children – those with a BMI in the 85th to 95th percentile – had about 1.3 times higher risk of developing adverse health conditions.   Compared to their normal-weight peers, obese children were more likely to be in poorer health, have more disabilities and more emotional and behavioral problems, such as having to repeat a grade, missing school and other educational difficulties.

Children classified as obese were also more likely to have conduct disordersdepression,learning disabilitiesdevelopmental delays as well as physical ailments such as bone, joint and muscle problems, allergies, headaches, asthma and ear infections.”

Although fast food companies have made some efforts to “slim-down” their kids menu, the fact is I’m still bothered by this image.


References and Resources

Center for Disease Control


American Academy of Pediatrics


Academic Pediatric Association


Childhood Obesity Foundation – Canada


Health Promotion Board – Singapore


Dietitians Association of Australia



HBO Films: The Weight of the Nation (Part 3)


YouTube: Latino Childhood Obesity


YouTube: University of California-Davis on Childhood Obesity



Child BMI Calculator


WebMd – Talking to your child about Obesity


American Council on Exercise – Operation FitKids