Author Archives: Caz

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Excuse vs Reason…What is the difference?

Category : Fitness , Health , Lifestyle , Motivation

Do these sound familiar?

  • I have a sore finger!
  • I have a cold!
  • I need to get my shizzle together before I can start exercising again!

I have no doubt, that 50% of you (or more – myself included) have all used these types of excuses/reasons in the past or at the moment not to exercise or work out. Sometimes exercising seems utterly impossible when we consider the stuff going on in our lives, our bodies and our mind. We make ourselves rationalise every action or inaction we take in life. But what we tell ourselves is a legit reason for not exercising is not always so legit however. There is a fine line between reason and excuse.

A ‘Reason’ is considered a fair and logical justification for not participating in something. An ‘Excuse’ is a pretence or subterfuge that can logically be overcome.

For example a Reason may be – that it is physically impossible to participate in exercise such as holidays, ongoing obligations elsewhere or broken leg. An excuse may be – that you feel tired, had a big night or have a bit of a sniffle.

This is not a lecture to convince people they need to get off their arses and exercise or call them out on their excuses. Consider this more as an impetus for people to reassess the excuses in our life to see if they are in fact a legit reason or an excuse.

I know that in the past I have often used the excuse ‘I just need to get a routine going in my life’ to not workout. I like order in my life and feel like I can focus on things better when I am organised. So how can I get around this ‘excuse’? Answer: By squeezing it in when I can here and there. And then when I am organised, I can establish a regular routine workout. I realised I had to stop making excuses or I would never start, because in all honesty, my life is never completely organised (Whose is?).

It is incredibly hard to be honest with ourselves if we are used to making excuses. So how can we assess the legitimacy of our excuses to see if they are in fact that or ‘a reason’?

Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you have a physical constraint that is preventing you from exercise? (THIS IS A BIGGIE)

There are some injuries or on going conditions that limit your ability to exercise. But ask yourself the following probing questions so see if it is really as limiting as you think:

-If it is a leg injury – can you use your arms, back and core?

-If it is an arm or shoulder injury – can you use your legs, back and core?

If it is lower or upper back – speak to your doctor about what movements you can do and you may be surprised. Things like yoga and pilates do wonders for these sort of problems under correct guidance.

If you work with a good trainer, they should be able to tweak any work out to cater for minor injuries. If it is a major injury, seek the advice of your doctor and specialist – but also listen to your own body because it will let you know its own limitations. I could honestly dedicate a whole article to this topic, but that’s for another day.

2) Is there a lack of time or not enough hours in the day (ANOTHER MASSIVE ONE – AM I RIGHT PARENTS?)

So many of us spend our time running around after kids, making sure that they get to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities. Hello? What about the parents? Don’t they get to do stuff for themselves and look after their own health? And then there are those that are fully committed to their career. Is your life happy and balanced?

I’m all for having priorities in life, whatever they may be. But don’t let your health (physical and mental) suffer at the expense of these priorities. Quite often if we look after our physical and mental well-bring, we are more efficient and satisfied in fulfilling our other obligations.

So ask yourself this follow up question:

-Are you managing your time efficiently? Could you streamline things such as meal prep or cooking?

-Can activities be shuffled about?

-If you don’t have time to exercise in the afternoon or evening, then what about at the crack of dawn or even lunch time?

Is there someone you can ask to help out with pick ups or drop off, shuttling etc? Even job share style where every 2nd day or fortnight you take it in turns with someone so you can squeeze in a workout?

Did you know that a workout doesn’t have to be a 1-2 hour excursion to the gym? You can do a 15-30 mins exercise routine in your own home (after the kids are in bed!). There are so many awesome Personal Trainer apps these days that set it all out for you: exercises, timer, voice coach, even music. And many of them have plenty of bodyweight only exercises so you can do it anywhere with no need for equipment.

So do you really have zero minutes in the week to improve your physical and mental health…or can you actually spare 15-30 minutes 2-3 times a week?

3) Is tiredness just a symptom of lack of exercise or just an excuse not to do it?

After running around all day: get up, breakfast, make lunches, work, school drop off and pick ups, after school runarounds, emails, pay bills, clean house, cook dinner, wash dishes, do laundry (then repeat then next day); it is not surprising that so many people are exhausted with life.

Now we just explored fitting in time for exercise in the above point. Great if you can make the time, but not so great if you are too tired to actually do it. I’ll let you in on a secret about the hardest part of exercise. It’s GETTING STARTED. If you can drag your arse off that couch or desk chair, then you are 50% of the way there. You are much more likely to exercise (regardless of tiredness) if you have it scheduled in at a certain time and day during the week.

The other big secret is quite often you feel sluggish, tired and unmotivated when you aren’t getting enough exercise. A workout can increase your energy levels. It is a great cure for Monday-itis. Better Health Victoria recognise that physical activity can boost energy levels and help you sleep ( it could help cure tiredness, if that is in fact the issue.

Ask yourself this final question:

Are you genuinely unable to exercise or could you honestly find a way to make it work?

So is yours a REASON or an EXCUSE?



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What Martial Art should I do?

Martial arts are systems or application of different, styles and traditions of combat, defence or methods, that are practiced for a variety of reasons.

There is well in excess of over 200 types of Martial Arts that exist across the world. Some of them are very similar, others are very different.

Many instructors or teachers of martial arts or combat sports will try and tell you that theirs is the best. Errrrr, here is where you smile knowlingly and back away slowly. Because the truth is, that there are very few that can claim their art is the best. You see, all martial arts and combat sports have their benefits and can add so much to your life. But different martial arts suit different people and it is up to the individual to decide what is the best for them. But oh my! How does one work out what is the right one for them without committing to spend the rest of their life to trying each and every one of them? Simple – do your homework.

The a 4 main types of martial arts or combat sports10859387_1000495316632325_528245749_n-300x180

– hand and/or foot combat (e.g. taekwondo, karate, muay thai, aikido or boxing)

– weapons based (e.g. kendo, fencing)

– grappling or wrestling based (e.g. judo, brazilian jiu jitsu, greco-roman wrestling)

– movement, meditative and energy based (e.g. tai chi chih, qi gong)


Many are combinations of the different types, incorporating the different techniques or influences into their art. And often with different purposes.  for example taekwondo, karate and kung fu (and their derivations) are hand/foot combat but also incorporate movement and patterns. Hapkido uses hand/foot combat as well as weapons and so forth.

Most originated in countries or regions subject to oppression where weapons or tools were prohibited and so people were forced to develop their own techniques based on their mind and their body to protect themselves. Others have developed in to sports over time and are competitive at very high levels such as Boxing, Taekwondo, Judo and Wrestling with scoring systems and technology assistance.

Quite often the type of martial arts practiced are dependent on origin, region, founder and instructor and have tenets or philosophies that guide the practice of the art. In much of these, there is a belief or practice that the art should never be used on another in anger or attack, only as a form of defence. If you come across an instructor that tells you otherwise, maybe ask a few more question about their own philosophies, how many fights they have been in and maybe how many times they have been arrested. That should help you decide one way or the other whether or not that particular instructor is for you. Martial arts are NOT about beating people up!

Other questions that you may like to ask yourself in your quest to find the perfect martial art for you are:

1. Are you seeking a guiding philosophy or lifestyle to live by?

2. Do you wish to practice a combat martial art or a movement based martial art?

3. Are you specifically seeking a self defence class?

4. Do you wish to compete as a sport? And if so, to what level?

5. Do you wish to focus of mental and spiritual development?

6. Do you like to use your hands, feet, both hands and feet or weapons?

7. Do you like close distance combat or do you prefer to keep you distance from your opponent?

8. Do you prefer to train with protective equipment or without?

Once you have answered these questions you are likely to have a better idea of the type of martial art you are looking for. Make sure when you are seeking a place to train or practice your art, that you find a qualified and/or experienced instructor that takes an interest in their student’s development. A good instructor also has the ability to adapt and move with the times. Notwithstanding things like technology and scoring systems, the changing needs of self defence and the increasing sedentary work and stressful lifestyles people lead, need to be considered. It’s also extremely important these days that Instructors provide reality based training for this very reason. Increasing violence (due to influences such as drugs) mean that people need to be aware of their surroundings and how to manage potentially dangerous situation. As such, it is wise for Instructor’s to be open to other martial arts and the value that they can offer their students.

So get on to it. Work out what you are after and shop around for the right place for you.

Resources to help you in your research include:

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Empowering Women – Chicks that Hit

This is not about male versus female. Or about who is stronger, faster or smarter. Too often in life, work or sport it becomes about battle of the sexes. Pay gaps, gender equality and domestic violence are just some of the symptoms of the unbalanced society we live in. Addressing it, is not about male bashing or about giving females dibs over men. Establishing a gender equal society is a much more complex issue that involves change driven from all levels, gender, demographics and ages. One important way to support the momentum of change is by empowering women. To help them realize that they are their own kind of strong, their own kind of awesome and their own kind of unique woman.

The Macquarie Dictionary defines ’empower’ as: to cause (a person or group of people) to feel confident and in control of their own life: to empower women.

Here, I have to diverge from the Macquaries definition . I believe personal empowerment is not handed to you or caused. It is not a gift that is wrapped up with a bow or delegated to you. Empowerment is something that you have to take for yourself. It cannot be denied to you, because it comes from within you.

Do you think anybody told UFC fighter Ronda Rousey that she was now empowered? Did anybody say to female Aussie rules footballer Daisy Pearce that she was allowed to be in control of her career and be the best? Nope. They just did it. Just the same as every female should do. They need to decide, who or what they want to be and do it, because no one will do it for them.

One way that females can feel empowered and confident in themselves is to feel good about their physical self. By eating a balanced diet (that included a well deserved treat or drink) and squeezing in a few workouts a week, you will start to feel strong, healthy and happy. One one of the best ways to feel empowered through fitness is boxing.


Boxing is one of the ultimate ways for women to feel strong and confident. Boxing can be a tough and brutal sport at a competitive level. But for most women, hitting a bag, working the pads or even just light sparring has to be one of the most empowering activities they can do.

Not only does boxing help you get super fit and tone the body. It is completely brilliant at burning fat and improving cardiovascular health. Boxing improves your strength which is not only fab for the body, but one of the things that can contribute to the feeling of confidence and power. So it’s fair to say that physical benefits are amazing and contribute to an overall sense of health and fitness that improves sense of self.

The other way that boxing can contribute to the empowerment of women is through mental and emotional health. Boxing is an awesome stress-reliever. With every punch, cortisol levels (stress hormones) decrease and endophins (feel-happy hormones) increase. You always come away from a boxing session feeling better than when you went in. Boxing is better than therapy!

It’s incredible how the feeling of a well placed glove on a bag, or well-timed glove on a pad can contribute to a feeling of empowerment, but it does. Boxing makes you feel powerful.


At the same time as throwing out those punches though, you have to concentrate. Thinking about the combinations, thinking about defence, thinking about your next offence. Yes, boxing makes you think – a lot. Boxing makes you feel in control.

Boxing improves coordination. Concentration, repetition and building muscle memory helps to improve the way your body moves and it’s coordination. Sure when you first start, it might feel a bit weird, but with time it all starts to flow and the confidence that comes with the improvement in coordination cannot be measured. Boxing makes you feel confident in yourself.

In boxing (like any sport) you are constantly learning and improving. The gaining of knowledge and striving to improve and better yourself is a sign of confidence.

Some gyms even offer sparring for their female client’s if they feel comfortable. These are typically undertaken in a proper environment with an experienced trainer and with safety equipment. And only when the individual is ready. But there is nothing like seeing the smile on one of my client’s faces after she has been in the ring for the first time. The incredible feeling of power, strength and control that comes with facing ones fears (of being hit) is almost second to none. Just knowing that you are safe, but can engage in an activity sees you taking control of yourself, your fears and seeing how strong you can be is invaluable.

So I would encourage women who want to feel empowered, who want to feel in control of their life and themselves, to go out and find themselves a pair of gloves. Don’t use them on those that frustrate you though. Get a boxing bag, get a trainer or find a gym. And use those gloves to learn. Use those gloves to get fit. Use those gloves to take control of yourself. Use those gloves to EMPOWER yourself.


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Boxing: Getting the edge in Aussie Rules Football

Category : AFL , Boxing , Fitness

TOUGH. Aussie rules footballers are touted as one of the toughest type of sportsmen and sportswomen. The hardknocks, the endurance, speed and agility that is required, means that conditioning the body and the mind is no easy task.

Clubs at a local, region and national levels are continually trying to find that edge that will prepare their players better than those of their opponents. Pre-season and  strength and conditioning training has changed significantly over the years. Gone are the days where players could rock up to training with no additional work, down a couple of four n twenties and have a beer at half time. Aussie rules is an elite sport. But there can be no disrespect to the efforts, hard work or talent those players of previous era’s. They were bred as tough as nails and had little of the supporting fitness coaches and equipment that players do these days. Controversy surrounding getting ‘the edge’ back then was not about ‘supplements programs’, but of new training methods.

One of those methods that initially drew curiosity and skepticism was that of Essendon’s 1972-74 fitness coach, Jim Bradley. In an article published in the Age on June 27, 2013, by Peter Hanlon, referred to Bradley as the original ‘Weapon’.

The name Jim Bradley is synonymous with boxing in Australia. Bradley introduced speedball work into the Essendon training regime and the rest is history. He is often quoted as saying “You’re punching a ball and now you’re going to kick a ball, you do the same thing.”

Although the use of speedballs was the first introduction of boxing to the AFL (or VFL), other areas of boxing training have been further integrated in football training and are used extensively today. But why? Players aren’t allowed to hit each other on the field.

If we got into the sports science of it, there would be a myriad of reasons. But the four core reasons are: Aerobic Capacity, Strength, Hand-Eye Coordination and the big one – FEAR.


There are lots of different ways to increase your aerobic capacity. Boxing relies on the use of what is similar to intensive interval training. By working intensely in 3 minutes rounds for 6 or more rounds with short rests in between and include sprint interval work such as fartlek. This type of workout mimics the type of work that footy players do on the field. For example sprinting for 50m and then jogging, following by more sprinting, or tackling and working in the pack, for short intervals. The beauty of this type of work is that it will increase your lactate threshold This is not to say that aerobic endurance isn’t important and doesn’t have its place, in fact this type of H.I.I.T. work requires a solid aerobic foundation.










There is no shortage of strength training programs for football players. A lot of it tends to focus on weight equipment such as machines, barbells and dumbells. All of which are beneficial and effective, but not all-encompassing.The  Website highlights the common mistakes that can influence the effectiveness of the training programs. By adding boxing into a fitness program, many of the drawbacks of weight based training is overcome. Boxing challenges the body by requiring the application of strength and resistance in multiple planes of the body. The movements and techniques used in boxing require whole of body work. Boxing isn’t all about the arms like many people perceive it to be. It requires excellent core, hip and leg strength to deliver a combination of punches. Many of those stabiliser muscles that don’t get a workout using weight machines get a fantastic application in a round of boxing.


In terms of hand-eye coordination, boxers are almost second to none. The concentration and coordination required to block, duck, slip or parry a punch and then select and deliver a successful blow to your opponent is extraordinary. And many a time we have heard about the quick hands of a footballer. The ability of a players to mark and deliver a handball to a team mate in a short space of time is critical. It therefore follows that the pad work involved in boxing training can assist in the improvement of hand-eye coordination – provided you have a trainer that is quick on the pads and can really work on the reflexes.










The last if not most important element that boxing can bring to a football players is ‘nerve’. According to ESPN (‘Boxing’s Knockout Punch’,, April 21 2004) boxing was ranked Number 1 as the toughest of all sports. Putting endurance, aerobic capacity and strength aside, it was ability of the boxer to overcome fear that was most pronounced and rendered it the ‘toughest’.

Footballers are required to put their bodies on the line, time after time. The tackling, the hardball gets, the screamers. Putting one’s body in ‘danger’ continuously requires footballers to overcome their fear. You have to be willing to hit (with your body) or get hit. Just the physicality is exhausting, but when you add in the exhaustion that comes with the fear, we find that they are having to work twice as hard. Fear increases the heart rate and the breathing comes faster. Oxygen is in greater demand as a result, which is challenging when you need as much oxygen as you can for your body to perform.

So this is where boxing can help. When a boxer stands in the ring, he must be willing to overcome his own fears internally and then face his opponent – literally. Knowing that getting hit is inevitable, a boxer must just get on with it. However, when it comes down to it, the fear of getting hit is generally greater than actually getting hit.



When a footballer incorporates boxing (in the ring) into their training regime, they start to condition themselves against the fear. They start to increase the level of nerve and mental resistance to put the body on line. They just do it. Footballers boxing against opponents (typically team mates) should always be performed however in a safe and supervised environment and be shown correct technique. Otherwise they aren’t developing the other skills (strength and hand-eye coordination) as previously discussed. And the risk of injury also increases. So make sure you have a trainer that knows what they are doing.

So if you play aussie rules, maybe have think about throwing on the gloves. There is so much to gain. 


DC preseason

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What would Confucius say about your New Years Resolutions?

Category : Fitness

Most of us get caught up in the hype and excitement of the New Years celebration. Or maybe every year, that one night is a crappy reminder of a year wasted in a job you hate, of non-fulfilled commitments, laziness or over-indulgence of donuts, because they are so damn delicious.

So on that last night of the year you reflect on achievements or regret for what has passed and you and look forward with the spirit of anticipation for what’s ahead and then you do it. You make a resolution. But what to do now? How can you make sure you stick to it?

In an interesting happenstance, the advice of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius offers you some simple guidance that should be considered when reflecting on one’s ambitious and sometimes impulsive resolutions.

1) The ‘I’m gonna get off my behind and get fit’ resolution

Confucius say: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” AND….. “The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”

The Meaning

It is always that first step that is the hardest. Just take that one small step, and then each subsequent step after that gets easier. And with each of those small steps you will gradually make that change. No one each achieved substantial change overnight (despite the claims of those selling miracle pills). Change only occurs when we step outside of our comfort zone.

It may help to set goals. A common acronym that helps people in setting the right kind of goals is S.M.A.R.T. (Smart. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timeframe).

You need to set up a routine and targets. Perhaps get your diary out and mark exactly what days you will be exercising and the type of exercise. Essentially a ‘what, when and where’. If you’re not sure how to go about this, seek some advice from your trainer, instructor or coach.

2) The ‘I’m gonna get out of this funk’ resolution

Confucius Say: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”   AND…..  “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as it doesn’t stop”

The Meaning

This one is can be really difficult talk about. Now I won’t delve into the complex depths of mental health, because I am under no circumstances an expert on such matters. So instead, I will clarify that I am talking about the general and often regular ‘downs’ or ‘funks’ that we all experience. Because in reality, we all have peaks and troughs in life. And sadly some people are dealt more challenges and obstacles in life that others.

But we measure an individuals true strength by those obstacles that they overcome. When in a trough of life, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. So this is the time that one needs to reflect on all of those challenges and obstacles already overcome and recognise the strength (and glory) that already exists. Use that strength rise above your funk. Take it one day at a time, go slow, but claw yourself out of the hole and never stop fighting for yourself. Because your worth it.

3) The ‘I’m gonna find my dream job’ resolution

Confucius Say: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”

The Meaning

One again, this one is pretty self explanatory. We all want a dream job. But let’s be clear that every single person has a different idea about what a ‘dream job’ is. For some it may be having flexible working hours or being able to work from home. For other it may mean being able to travel. Or for others it may mean making lots of money. (And I’m pretty sure there are also many people out there that say not working at all is the best kind of work). Whatever motivation may be for your dream job, that is OKAY; because it’s your dream and NOBODY else’s. But what is important that if you choose to do something that you love, it will never seem like work at all (See – that last group had it kind of right).

It all sounds pretty easy in theory, I know. But just ask yourself the question – Why not? What is there to lose by following the path that you feel like you are destined to be on, even if it seems impossible. I have known a number of people, myself included, that have changed the path of their life because they knew that the journey would bring so much more. It is certainly never without sacrifice such as financial. But you have to ask yourself – is my happiness and that of my loved ones worth the sacrifice?

4) The ‘I’m gonna eat healthy’ resolution

Confucius Say:  “Study the past if you would define the future”

The Meaning

This one comes around almost every year for some people. And is then followed by a few weeks of intensive googling and investigation into Fad Diets, followed by 6-8 weeks of starvation. Upon which your bodies metabolism slows down and any perceived results you had in this 6-8 weeks start to reverse itself, you start craving, become depressed and continue the cycle for the rest of the year.

Have you ever noticed the amount of diet and weight loss advertisements that are around at the start of the year. They are specifically targeting those with new years resolutions because that is where they make money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Good health, nutrition and fitness is a year ’round lifelong thing – coupled with everything in moderation. It’s important not to deprive yourself of life’s pleasures.

Confucius suggests very aptly that if you wish change your future and the way you do things, that you look at how you have done them in the past. If your ‘diets’ have failed in the past, look at why. Were you body goals unrealistic for your body type, did you starve yourself of important nutrients because a particular diet suggested it was bad? Or were you just lazy. Let’s put the excuses aside and have a look at the real reason you didn’t eat healthy. Then and only then can you look forward.


It’s up to the individual whether or not they wish to make a resolution. But if you do make a resolution, try to make it S.M.A.R.T. And take small steps to reach it. Not leaps and bounds. And if that isn’t working, let Confucius final piece of advice help guide you

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached don’t adjust the goals adjust the action steps”