8 things I took from the 2012 Asia Fitness Convention

The Lab Team with the king of kettlebells, Steve Cotter

Last week the Asia Fitness Convention came to the Dusit Thani Hotel in Pattaya. I attended a few sessions at last year’s convention in Bangkok but this was my first full conference.

The event was a great opportunity to refresh knowledge, get some new ideas and pick up some inspiration to push forward.

What I enjoyed most about the conference was meeting people all over the region (and the world!) involved in the fitness industry. I met fitness professionals based in Hong Kong, Korea, Phnom Penh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India and the States, to name a few, and I’ve already planned a few trips for the next few months.

Below are the top 8 things that I learnt or was reminded of at the AFC 2012.

In no particular order…

Kettlebells! I’ve been kettlebell training for 2 years but it was great to get a refresher on kettlebell technique from the man at the top of the sport, Steve Cotter. The guidance and instruction was invaluable and it truly was a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

Calories I attended some great sessions with Fabio Comana, head of NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). His nutrition seminar taught us that tables showing how many calories we use each day (based on our perceived activity levels) are decades old and are therefore very outdated. As a western population we move around far less that we used to and this needs to be taken into account. In short, these quantitative tables, and related apps and online calculators, are often rendered confusing and misleading, and we should focus more on the process towards healthy living. If we do this, the results will come.

Weight training is fine for 7 years+ I have always subscribed to the idea that weight training for young people is healthy and productive. After all, since the dawn of time children would have been required to move and lift heavy items. It was good to hear my views reaffirmed by Fabio and to hear the NASM recommendation that resistance exercise is good for children 7 years and above. I’m not suggesting we have kids doing 1 rep max power cleans, I mean lifting and shifting weight safely with good and proper technique. A lot of parents believe it will stunt their growth, including some parents of children I instruct at some of my international school strength and conditioning programs. This is totally misguided.

Body fat % testing machines are largely useless I’ve always thought this and seldom use these handheld machines. People seem to like gadgets that provide numbers on progress though so they’ll be around for a while.

NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and is based around the idea that someone who is generally more active throughout the day but works out 1-2 times a week can get better health, fitness and  weight loss results than the person hunched over the computer who trains hard 3-4 times a week. This seminar on calorie expenditure and weight loss provided a lot of information to help my weight loss clients.

IKFF are serious about their qualifications With many fitness courses you simply turn up for the day and pick up your certificate. That’s not to say they don’t hold value, but most are simply attendance based rather than pass/fail. It was refreshing to see that the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation have a very stringent test and evaluation, which only 3 people out of 20 passed, including two of my colleagues at The Lab (well done Rich and Sasha, only the best at The Lab!) This means that to hold this certification really means something significant and special.

There’s a difference between training hard and training well Training someone ‘hard’  is easy, you simply increase the work time, weight or reps and decrease rest time until they’re exhausted. However, training athlete’s effectively and efficiently is somewhat different. Progressions should be earned, not given. The metabolic conditioning seminar provided a good reminder on programming, recover time and training with your goal in mind.

And the last thing I took from the AFC 2012?

A pink BOSU! Confirming the long-held theory that alcohol and charity auctions don’t mix, me and my colleague and friend Sasha put in a last-second winning bid for a bright pink BOSU stability ball… Haha!

Our new pink BOSU

5 Diet and Nutrition Tips and Fixes

People often demand quick fixes and solutions in life, and this is very much the case with health and fitness. People want to instantly fix things with a pill or operation, or want a diet plan that’s going to allow them to eat whatever they want whilst losing weight. Or perhaps a ‘revolutionary’ machine that’s going to make them strong and healthy with minimal effort.

Hopefully you understand that there are no quick, easy solutions to being healthy. However, I’ve put together my top 5 ‘quick’ tips and points with regards to fixing up your diet and nutrition which will help set you on the right path to improved health. For those interested in exploring this topic further, please check out my diet overview.

This is a brief overview with a few ideas and points to think about. If you would like a full fitness and nutrition consultation please contact me.


Almost all people who train have some kind of body composition aim or goal (build muscle, lose fat, lose/gain weight etc), so it’s important to develop a deep understanding of your body. The best way to start this is to write an honest food diary of everything consumed, along with a record of your weight. I’d recommend doing this for a minimum of 2 weeks. You will undoubtedly learn a lot about your eating habits and how your diet affects your body.

Ultimately you want to develop an intuitive sense of what and how much to eat, and this is the first step towards that.

Please note, that there’s a difference between recording what your consume and being obsessive about what you eat. Just see this as a learning process.

Practice balance; eat less

The reason overweight people are carrying excess weight around is because they are over-consuming. The solution? Eat less. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out foods you love, but it does mean that you need to practice balance by countering periods of overindulgence with periods of discipline and good eating.

Eat Natural

Eating less is hard when you’re consuming processed and unnatural foods (think most things that come in a packet). Processed foods, especially foods high in refined carbohydrates (see our next tip) cause a blood sugar spike and surge in insulin production to counter this rise. Hunger strikes when your blood sugar crashes an hour or two later, and causes overeating when your body doesn’t actually need any more energy to function.

Some examples of unprocessed foods

Sticking to natural and unprocessed foods (think fruit, vegetables, organic meats) will ensure that your body functions more as it is designed to, and your hunger cues should be a more accurate indication of when you need food, not just crave it.

Limit processed carbohydrates

Most people consume a level of processed, refined carbohydrates that our bodies are not well equipped to deal with. Added sugar and white grains (white bread, white rice etc) should be avoided as much as possible, and processed carbohydrate level should be kept low. If you’re looking to get in insane shape, you should pretty much cut them out altogether.

Don’t Drink Calories

The best ‘quick fix’ I’d offer to someone looking to lose weight is to stop drinking your calories. This means no coke, no fruit juice and no alcohol. I realise the no alcohol bit is probably unrealistic for a lot of people, which is where the ‘practice balance’ point comes in.

Since when did water become insufficient for our hydration needs?

I won’t fully go into my reasons for this – but the reason for not drinking coke should be obvious, and if you love fruit juice I’d recommend that instead of drinking a glass of orange juice, you drink some water and eat an orange or two.

And for those of you who think water is ‘boring’, please remember that it has been the foundation for all organic life on this planet for billions of years, so add a slice of lime and get over it.



Diet and nutrition is an incredibly vast and controversial subject, but putting some of these things into practice and experimenting with what works with your body will help you progress towards hitting your fitness goals and improving your health.

Keep an open mind and try and have fun with it!

Good luck!