Romans Club Milano, an Innovative Wellness Concept

Had the pleasure of going to Milan for a long weekend in mid-January 2014 to attend a fitness convention held by the training system founded by Scott Sonnon and led in Europe by Alberto Galazzi (featured in Mens Health Italy last year).  However, I decided to make a long weekend of it and seeing as though the weather was likely to be miserable I needed some indoor activity to engage in.

Just so happens that I came across a place called Roman’s Club Milano on Instagram a few month ago.  This place is the most amazing little wellness clinic I have ever come across covering everything to enhance the health of body and mind.  Here you can have a workout, then go for a massage, get your hair done (maybe your nails and eyelashes too) then relax in the spa area for a steam, sauna (with a quick herbal tea break) then leave the place as good as new, feeling like a completely different person.

Antonio I believe runs the club and speaks very good English but I spoke to other personal trainers like Canadian-born Derek and Gianluca (my lookalike) and had some great chats, sharing ideas.

Italy is home to Tehnogym, one of the most established manufacturers of fitness equipment and with that inherent pioneering and innovative Italian mentality their latest inventions are designed to lead the culture and not just follow it.  Look at this example of an old technogym chest-pressing machine where you have little choice but to sit and little choice but to grab hold of the handle in a specific position.

oldkit

Now look at the new style machine where you now have the choice to stand in order to create more ground-engagement and more core-engagement.  You have the choice to slide the handles up and down so this helps create more ‘dynamic movement’.  No need for me to elaborate on that caption which seems to be the buzzword in the fitness culture at the moment.

newkit

Naturally, Romans Club is fully furnished with the latest technogym toys and I managed to play around with them.  Firstly I show you some different back-exercises going conventional, unilateral and even going across the body.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD4g6bid8k4

Next, I demonstrate this new leg machine where I perform my favourite leg exercise the step-up.  Using resistance from a cable on the stepper means that my stability is constantly challenged throughout the movement especially when you only pull one side.  It also makes a difference if you pull the resistance with the hand closest to the front-leg or the opposite leg.  This exercise has great carry over to running I believe because in one single exercise you work on strength, stability, fluidity and posture.  Just see for yourself and you’ll know what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOhAuUGpSmM

Antonio was very welcoming and my time with him shows how fitness is not a chore or burden but a uniting force.  If you are in Milan for a weekend in the Summer or fashion week take a trip there and email them before going and you will get treated like a guest (just to clarify you will still have to pay a fee but that can be negotiated with Antonio).

Will leave you with some more images of this beautiful facility.  Ciao!!!

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Masterclass with Scott and Alberto

meandalbertomeandscott

Wednesday 1st May and the venue is the Field Training Lifestyle Centre, Marylebone, London. I was privileged enough to attend a master class with two awesome trainers who understand movement and practise what they preach. They have a system of training that is unique and innovative, yet still makes sense. A system that is always developing and just gets more and more interesting.

Number one was Scott Sonnon martial arts expert, fitness coach, and wellness speaker. He has worked with movie stars as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighters. Scott Sonnon was voted one of “The 6 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 21st Century” by Black Belt Magazine in 201o and was named one of “Top 25 Fitness Trainers in the World” by “Men’s Fitness Magazine” in 2011. His fitness system, Circular Strength Training, has been adopted by members of the United States military and law enforcement community. He is also a published author, a public speaker, and an advocate in the fight against childhood obesity.

And number 2 is Alberto Galazzi, who recently featured in Men’s Health Italy. Alberto is an ESI approved protection agent, and head of the European wing of Circular Strength Training.

Learning from these guys is always an amazing experience and what gave me immense satisfaction is how much more I understand from Scott and Alberto compared to 18 months ago when I last saw them. Where other fitness related courses teach us how to perform conventional exercises or learn how to use the latest gimmick, sessions with these guys involve learning and refining the art of movement. We learn how movement is the manifestation of life. When movement is good, the quality of life is good. Perfecting movement does more for anti-ageing then any magic cream or pill. During the masterclass we covered three key areas of the body where movement becomes impaired; shoulders, hips and core. Remember, when our movement fails us in these areas we compensate by overusing other parts of the body.

Shoulders

When getting shoulder problems people turn to this nonsense to rectify it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY2tNBOmvGs

These cable or band rotations are unbelievably stupid. Shoulder problems are invariably a result of poor shoulder mobility so strengthening is the last thing we need. The dynamic duo taught us some amazing mobility exercises to encourage more rotation at the shoulder joint making sure that all four joints of the shoulder complex get the right amount of attention. Some basic examples of rehab exercises are in the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tri0MtGdbvs

Hips

When we have knee problems we turn to this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5BDi8Oj5eM

Strengthening your VMO the tear drop muscle again is a bad move as this is the thing usually pulling on the patella in the first place. The knee is slave to the hip and ankle so restriction in hip mobility, in particular internal and external rotation plays a big factor in both knee and back problems. The solutions to encourage more mobility in this area are quite simple and begin with the Russian shinbox.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wYBZ6Sn55c

 

Core

As for when we have back problems that are blamed on weak pelvic wall muscles we are told to do leg raises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix5h6zAUTNs

I love Pilates but this is where it well and truly loses my vote. The pelvic wall is inactive in many of us that have an anterior pelvic tilt (where the ass sticks out) so the solution is to work on this position.

hollow

Scott and Alberto showed us some innovative exercises incorporating this ‘Power Chamber Workout’. The basics of it are detailed in the following article:

http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/?p=827

It was an amazing day and my clients are already enjoying the new instructions they are getting from me. I look forward to learning more from these guys.

Strength, Power and Resilience

lovett

Today I completed a 2-day seminar on Strength, Power and Resilience hosted by three top fitness professionals in the industry.

Number 1 was Jack Lovett a former champion of British Natural Strongest Man now with an amazing strength and conditioning centre called Spartan Performance in the North-West of England.  With him we covered the basic four lifts in weight-training; Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and Overhead Shoulder Press.  Check out my video on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfTJoYsoVwM

It was nice to see that Jack was very impressed with my deadlift, the one exercise that most people get horribly wrong.  You’d think that after two years as a fitness professional why would I do a course like this.  Remember, sport science is still a baby and there is so much to learn from different people’s experiences and their programmes.  Also, these guys spend a huge amount of time on warm-up, prep drills and mobility/foam-rolling before going in with their exercises.  In addition, they stick to these lifts with very few assistance exercises and do a lot of conditioning exercises like tire-flips and prowler pushes.  This is what goes on at Spartan Performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZipC1DE_4qY

Then there was Sabina Skala, Strength and Conditioning coach at CJS combat.  Sabina taught us the Power Clean which is an important exercise in generating insane power from our hips, important for athletes, good for fat-burning and an advert for combining strength and mobility.  Quite surprising how the Clean is a separate exercise in itself and how technical and varied it can be.  I am relishing the challenge to perfect my clean using this method of double knee-bend.

sabina

Persona number three was Jonathan Lewis, Physio extraordinaire, also part of the CJS team.  There are a lot of old-fashioned physios out there whose treatments are nothing but temporary analgesics providing short-term relief.  I look at what physios do for themselves in terms of their own training.  You can only understand other people’s bodies if you explore your own body and Jonathan is well-versed in different types of training, including various body-flow systems be they yoga or martial arts. In addition he taught valuable release techniques using the various TP massage tools.

I will have taken so much from this course and in the next few weeks people will see a trainer taking huge steps into furthering his ability in the fitness industry.

My trip to Tuscany

Now onto why I was really sunning it out in Tuscany.  I am priveleged to be part of something called RMAX International, a ‘Global Peak Performance community of teachers and students’.  Naturally, I am more student than teacher but our founder Scott Sonnon developed a system of training known as Circular Strength Training (CST) which reflects elements of a whole range of other more traditional fitness systems like Yoga, Thai Chi, Russian Sambo, Indian Club Swinging and many others.  As a fitness professional I was getting involved in Clubell training and my search led me to the great man, finding out that a whole set of bodyweight exercises also formed a large part of his training.  I came to realise that there were some UK-based RMAX coaches around so in the summer of 2011 I attended my first CST seminar in Marylebone at Diego Core’s Field and Training Clinic.

In this course I learned what was required of me to become CST certified.  Only 100 repetitions of three exercises known as the ‘TRIAL BY FIRE’

with 15lb clubs.  Check this demo out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKE1LS930P0

After months of practise I attended the first UK certification in Slough UK, attended by people from all over Europe and beyond at Vik Hothi’s centre IMAS UK.  Thankfully I passed this gruelling fitness test and felt a great sense of honour and achievement.

It was also a great honour to meet Scott Sonnon as well as European head coach Alberto Galazzi

One year on and I have benefitted greatly from being a CST instructor.  I understand human movement so well now and have a good idea on understanding proper human biomechanics. This is particularly important when deciding what kinds of exercises to give to people.  The actual exercise programme resulting from CST is TACFIT where the aim is to condition ourselves physically and mentally for the challenges we face in life.  An integretive programme where there is a lot of emphasis on breathing, recovery and mobility and where the exercises do not comprmise any of the aforementioned, unlike with other systems where the actual exercises can involve a higher than normal level of good mobility which does not suit most 21st century desk-jockeys.

So my journey took me to Florence where there was a convention for all European based instructors.  I was thoroughly impresses by the Italian boys and girls who look very committed and enthusiastic about what we are involved in.  My aim is to now prepare for my Tacfit certification and my CST retesting, hopefully ending with attending the TACFIT bootcamp in Capri this time next year.  I am excited about this journey and know that in following it I can find the fittest version of myself so I invite all readers to do the same.

Tacfit classes are held every week at Diego Core’s Centre the link for which is above (like on his name).  So come along and try something different and do things you never thought you could do.

Tuscany Baby!

If you just want to go for a little weeekend chill, experience a different environment, nice weather and nice food for the weekend, and at minimal cost, this is an ideal place I feel.  Speaking as someone living in the UK, flights are relatively cheap. I got mine for around £100 pounds return on Ryanair, booked four months in advance.  If you decided to leave Friday and return Monday it would be cheaper but then you’d be paying more for accommodation.  As for hotels then on sites like booking.com you will be able to find something decent for 45euros a night.  I stayed in the Holiday Inn in a quiet little suburb called Rovezzano.

Pisa

Flying into Pisa is both cheaper and more convenient.  A bus from here to the city and then into the Square of Miracles is so straightforward and there are always people around to help you.  It’s unbelievable how fast you can leave London and then be standing in front of the leaning tower in a matter of hours.  Just make sure you purchase your ticket at the airport then validate the ticket on the machine once you board the bus.  This leads me to stating that you must ensure you pay for your ticket.  I actually incurred a fine thinking that no inspector would come on a Sunday.  Will never make that mistake again.  Your stop for the piazza dei miracoli is clearly stated and about ten stops from the airport.  This is the view once you enter the square

So the three sites are the Baptistry, cathedral and then the leaning tower.  If you had more of a longer trip then you could take time for a more in-depth guide but if you just want the photo then make it one worthwhile like I did.

Whilst there, you may just want a little snack so I recommend El-salvadore.  Along this road you will see a number of side streets so just before you reach the tower turn right into one of the side streets and grab a panini or pasta with some refreshing coffee.

Once you have seen the main sites you can return to the airport and then make your way to Florence.  The terravision service leaves right from in front of the airport and you can even book your ride from home and pay for it online.  Nevertheless there are always people there ready to take payments for your ticket so you can’t go wrong with terravision.  I found it to be a great service and of great service.

Florence

One hour and you’re in Florence at Stazione Santa Maria Novella.  Hotels here are pricey so I would definitely recommend Rovezzano as a place to stay.  The Holiday Inn is what you’d expect and the breakfast is good, better than what you would get in a HI here, the chocolate croissants are amazing.  Here is the view from Rovezzano

Only problem is that the rovezzano station is in the middle of nowhere so either get the number for a cab firm or use your smart phone to navigate because you will need it.  As for getting there then it is usually platform 14 from the centre, trains bound for Azzero.  The ticket queue is a nightmare so just type in Firenze Rovezzano on the machine and pay up there, it will save you time.

Once you have checked in you hit the city.  For a whirlwind weekend you can cover everything within a couple of hours.  Maybe first enjoy some sunshine next to the cathedral, then at sunset hit the Ponte Vecchio and then go for some authentic food.  You just treat yourself to some ice-cream.  You won’t be able to help yourself once you see this

This was all in one day.  Going back to Rovezzano you may need to take a bus and number 14 is what you want.  It will leave from one of the side entrances of S.M. Novella next to Burger King but remember your ticket.

As for Sunday then I was actually in Florence for a fitness convention which I will talk about in my next post.