Michael is an expert when it comes to understanding how the human body connects with the mind, and he’s experienced a significant number of different clients and scenarios that have tested people’s definitions of health and performance. In the age of Coronavirus, COVID-19, we wanted to discuss how people view health and performance normally and how people can best set themselves up for success in both their health and performance during after this pandemic.
How do you define health?
“Health to me is being able to live well, living to your highest values, despite the inescapable illnesses and diseases you’ll face throughout your life.” - Michael Bann
Michael kicked this off by saying that we’ll all get sick at some point. We can’t escape it, and getting sick - heating up - is actually how our bodies remove potentially deadly toxins/bugs from them. Being healthy is recognizing that sickness will happen, but creating a life that affords you to be able to get sick without costing you either your life or your ability to live a larger life.
I then asked Michael “How much is purpose for a person a part of this health equation?”
Michael said “Purpose is life” and “having something to look forward to brings life.” He went on to tell a wonderful story about how his father appeared to be in his final stage before passing away. Michael and his family flew in all of their family members, and when everybody was in Michael’s father’s hospital room, Michael’s dad found more life. After that, Michael told his father that if he got better, he’d fly his brothers out for an amazing steak dinner. Sure enough, within 4 weeks, Michael’s father recovered and they went out for that dinner. There is no doubt that the body, genetics, and acute life events may dictate life and death, but the mind and spirit/soul can play a large role as well.
“Hope and purpose can drive life in a significant way.” - Michael Bann
Michael went on to say that many people view their workout as their best hour of their day. He’s not against the idea that it’s a wonderful part of somebody’s day, but he works hard with his clients to make sure that they find purpose outside of the gym as well. When purpose exists in life, work, and something such as physical pursuits, health almost inevitably goes up.
Where do health and performance mix?
Michael first noted that performance is really the balance and integration of intellectual, emotional, spiritual, occupational, physical and social environments. All of those pieces, when put together, enhance performance greatly. Michael gave the example that we get stronger when we lift with stronger people. The more pieces we put together, the higher our performance can go.
If your purpose - going back to health - is about going after performance, you may actually be in a beautifully healthy place even if your physical performance is somewhat destructive to your body. If you didn’t have purpose and then you found it with fitness performance, perhaps it doesn’t last a lifetime, but it may be “exactly what doctor ordered” in the short term (I know I can attest to that). Now, if you’re trying to be an elite fitness competitor but you don’t find alignment/purpose in the work that you’re doing, you may find that you’re tanking your body.
How can you improve your health during COVID-19?
Michael is highly encouraging mindfulness with his clients. A big reason is because, if you’re like most people who don’t have a full home gym, you’re not going to be able to go after equipment-specific goals. That said, you can absolutely still get fitness in a high-low way - high meaning high effort sessions and low meaning low effort sessions - using bodyweight work. Using high low, smartly, allows you to train and put some challenging sessions in there to maintain fitness.
Michael gave a great example of how he stops back squatting during the snowboarding season (Thanksgiving till mid March). Michael just came back and back squatted 5 reps at 315# - he thinks he could have done 7 there. He figures he’s approximately 30-40# below his best squat ever of 405#, but it’s not his legs, it’s because his core/back wasn’t used to having a heavy bar on his back. His bench press, however, is still quite strong because he’s been doing push ups and other upper body pressing activities. Fitness can be maintained at certain levels, but if you’re a high level fitness competitor without access to a gym, it’s important you know that you will lose some capacity during this time, and you need to be ok with it
Michael said that it’s very important for people who want to maintain gains to:
- Maintain their same habits on food/nutrition, which for many people is “easier” now because they are cooking food more vs eating out or going to happy hours.
- Notice what you’re feeling - are you anxious right now? Are you stressed? Are you happy? Are you inspired? Notice what you feel like
- Pay attention to your emotional responses to having nothing to do - there will likely be some form of a feeling of “pent up ness” that you may need to learn to get used to. When you feel this, though, you just “sit with it.” It’s ok not to do something all of the time
- Be ok with the world going a bit slower right now and sleep/relax more if/when you can
Michael wants to set expectations for his clients for them to recognize where their fitness is likely going given the constraints they have/don’t, and he’s also then taking into account - in a big way - how the client needs to be motivated. Some clients need specific goals to be set/hit whereas others can play it much more loose. Michael makes sure to set up their programs - in and out of the gym - to reflect the way they’re best motivated. Michael makes sure that he’s always helping his clients find alignment and purpose no matter what their/our environment is.
What is Michael looking out for from clients to show they may be breaking down?
Michael always wants to track his client’s BLGs - Basic Lifestyle Guidelines - so how is their sleep, water intake, food, sun exposure, etc. because there are often forecastable signs of challenges to come if their BLGs are off.
For clients who are working toward fitness goals, Michael will set appropriate key performance indicators for each individual client, and he’ll check in to see if the client is achieving those KPIs. If they aren’t hitting those KPI’s, it triggers a conversation.
Michael also talks, A LOT, to his clients during these difficult times. He wants to make sure he’s keeping track of all of the potential changes going in for his people.
Keep working toward and enjoying purpose and alignment and wonderful things will happen.
Thanks for reading!
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