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Be AgilityFIT

New year resolutions one month on...

It's that time of the year. In January everyone sits back. We take stock of our expanding waistline and regret that extra helping of double cream. We make resolutions are made, hastily apply for gym memberships and trawl trawled the Internet for advice on dieting and exercise. But a month later... it's all gone out the window. That's why Personal Trainer Mike Wood and Eleanor Balchin of Pachesham Agility in Surrey have developed AgilityFIT, an exercise regime based on martial arts specifically for those who compete in dog agility. Mike tells you how to use AgilityFit for a fitter February.

Truth be told the majority of people who make this perennial New Year's resolution to get in shape (again) will most likely fail to do so - and that includes agility handlers. They may have come charging out of the blocks, all good intent and promises, but very few keep up the regime. This applies to both the myriad new gym users as much as it does the faddy dieters jumping on the latest bandwagon of mass-marketed, misleading weight loss schemes aimed at stripping away the fat by emptying your pockets quicker than Fagin and a whole school of Artful Dodgers.

Once the honeymoon with the gym is over, it can be difficult to get up from the comfort of the sofa to spend an hour or more drilling the same monotonous exercises you’re body has become conditioned to repeat. At this point, many seek simpler, less challenging alternatives to achieve the original coveted results. However the truth is, like most things, without putting in the effort, the outcome will most likely not be what was originally intended.

Be wary of adverts claiming 'get a gym body without going to the gym' by applying a cream to your forehead daily or 'lose inches from your waistline' with an untested, holistic-style pill made from bat droppings and moon dust. Very recently, a number of US companies making similar claims have been charged with fraud, having to refund customers to the tune of more than $34,000,000.

Sit back and ask yourself what it is you want to achieve
Ignore the yapping of friends and machinations of others, however well meaning. Do you just want to be able to run round an agility course without puffing like a burst balloon, or do you seriously want to qualify for Olympia?  Set a realistic target and then look at how to accomplish this without resorting to spending more time and money than necessary.

The key to maintaining motivation is to keep changing your routine. Never let your body get used to a particular set of exercises or techniques. Keep yourself guessing. People often claim to be fit where their regime has remained consistent and rigid. This may appease your mental well-being but you will never improve. You will probably plateau no matter how much you train.

Rather than setting the bar higher, adding more weight or running further and faster, throw everything into a blender and mix up things. Train different muscles, use a different machine, find something else to use you may never have considered using before that will challenge you both physically and mentally. Change your methods. For instance, instead of running five miles, do interval training for ten minutes or run at the end of your workout instead of at the beginning. There's a huge number of possibilities, but it involves trying new ideas, not being afraid to fail and not being lazy with your time which is, by far and away, the most precious commodity of your fitness activities.

There is no panacea
Remember everybody is different and has different requirements to accomplish their goals. These goals must be realistic, too. If you've smoked for years or haven't run more than 100 metres since you were at school - assuming you went to school a while ago and not last month - then even after a few weeks of expercising, don't expect to be able challenge Usain Bolt or beat your dog to the finish.

If you're training for agility, do just that. The buzzword in contemporary PT circles is 'functional' which simply put means adapting your training to purpose. Agility requires short bursts of speed with both humans and canines being able to twist and turn at pace whilst maintaining orientation.

About AgilityFIT
A system of training I've developed specifically for the sport of dog agility, AgilityFIT is based on the skills you need in order to have a successful run with your dog. 

The basic principles are:-

  • Train functional

  • Train practical

  • Listen to your own body

  • Start gentle

  • Don't overtrain

Diana Lowe went to an AgilityFIT session and came home a fan!

She said, 'You might wonder what martial arts have in common with running an agility dog?  Whether we compete in a ring, on a court, on a field or a track we all have one goal – to win.  And whatever the discipline we need to be 'fit for function' as the Kennel Club would say! 

She continued enthusiastically, 'An AgilityFIT session is first of all good fun. It also caters for all ages, shapes, sizes and levels of fitness. You work at your own pace and if an exercise gets a bit too challenging, you can just drop out and catch your breath.  You will come away more motivated and focussed and, most importantly, with a range of exercises that can be done any place and any time.

Do a bit while waiting for the kettle to boil – and the dog can practice his waits as the same time.  The daily dog walk gives plenty of scope to run through a few of the activities. In theory you could fit in a small session whilst stuck in the queue at the supermarket but, on the other hand, maybe not or the manager might come along and ask you to leave!  Seriously though, the benefits are huge.'

If you want to know more, get in touch to find out when and where the next AgilityFIT session is taking place, or book Mike to run an AgilityFIT session at your own club.

Email him at agilityfit@gmail.com

About the author
Mike Wood was introduced to Agility when he met Eleanor Balchin who owns and runs Pachesham Agility. Still a rookie in the sport, Mike has yet to compete but is enjoying learning. He says it's not as easy as it looks, training oneself as well as a dog to jump through hoops, wait on command and generally listen to commands at all. With the help of Pachesham Agility and Eleanor, he hopes to at least get around a full course once in his lifetime - even if it's just for fun.

Mike has been involved in fitness and training since the age of eight. He is a qualified and insured instructor, an ex-pro Cage fighter and expert martial artist and fitness specialist. He walks around at a comfortable 75kgs and cuts weight to 66kgs to compete...  that's 19.2 lbs.

First published 13 February 2014