Monthly Archives: May 2022

Is your body flourishing or in decline? Do you know? Do you care?

From all my client interactions (over too many years to mention) there’s a heap of takeaways. And I’m constantly reviewing them and using them all in a bid to further develop and refine my messaging to new clients. It’s bigger than that though, in a way I’m not only improving my communication but also redefining the entire framework of the product I offer.

We know that there’s a hierarchy to the different components of a healthy lifestyle and that doing more of one thing has a greater benefit to more of another. As an example it’s now very clear from research that building muscle is way more important than your level of aerobic fitness. It is worth noting that to build muscle there’s a requirement for aerobic work so you’re getting your cardio in anyway.

Another hierarchical fact is you can’t out-train a bad diet which is something I’ve referred to previously because training is the least important part of weight-loss. A tennis buddy of mine today told me that training was the most important part of maintaining weight and general fitness which is not correct.

What I have done to summarise and best illustrate how I look at human performance and the hierarchy of importance is create the Performance Pyramid –

In this illustration I am clearly defining what I believe to be the order of importance as to how each of the components relate to one another. There is not unsubstantial research underpinning the hierarchy of the pyramid but it’s not easy to find and I have accumulated it over many years reading books, research papers and speaking with peers in the industry.


  • Promoting healthy hormone release
  • Aiding muscle generation
  • Creating robust joints and bones
  • Sense of general wellbeing


  • Creating a state of autophagy (healthy tissue regeneration)
  • Building healthy, replicable cells
  • Helping your body function optimally

Body Maintenance

  • Sleep, the Circadian rhythm and rejuvenation
  • Massage, joint mobility and muscular elasticity
  • Breathwork and performance

The Mind Game

  • Internal language
  • Adopting a positive mindset
  • Reacting versus responding

Some would think that certain parts of the Performance Pyramid fall outside the realm of fitness but I beg to differ. Fitness is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Without mental clarity and purpose much can go wrong. Without feeding your body properly nutrients that supply your brain and maintain tissue, hormones, blood and the multitude of other bodily fluids we create will be lacking. Not enough sleep and rest will rob the body of calm. So everything is related and dependent on each other for optimal function.

I can hear many of stating emphatically that you don’t have enough time to tick all these boxes.

There are 2 responses to this. One is with a bit of commitment all can be incorporated it’s simply a case of identifying what works individually in a best way forward scenario. And two and most importantly no one can afford to not address the Performance Pyramid because not doing so will result in illness and/or injury that will put you into a downward spiral of ill-health. This I know to be guaranteed.

It is a fact that most humans raise their risk to illnesses and death with weight gain. In researching this post I found THIS article which I am using as evidence for the previous statement.

I was not surprised to see that stable obesity across adulthood and weight gain from young adulthood to middle adulthood increased risk of death but was surprised to see that from middle adulthood to older adulthood a LOSS in weight was also related to increased mortality. How could this be? Perhaps more people die because they lose weight due to illness than get better by losing weight for health reasons? Kind of scary if that’s the case.

You cannot out-train a bad diet and keeping fit means not injured so maintain your body. Think healthy thoughts and be “on the up” mentally and reap many rewards!

Tennis fitness – who needs it?

I have written extensively in a number of different posts on fitness as it relates to sport. I hold a Masters degree in exercise science and I’m a tennis player so its natural I think a lot about my personal fitness for a sport I love to play. My Masters thesis was written on rugby fitness, a sport I also love and played a lot previously. I found that as I researched rugby fitness and drilled down into the fundamentals around specific movement patterns and energy development pathways, it became obvious there was significant crossover in both areas to a variety of sports. In fact it dawned on me that as athletes playing sport we need to tick certain athletic boxes no matter what we play.

Physically and fundamentally as humans we have 2 energy pathways and 7 movement patterns.

In my fitness studio on the island of Phuket, every new client firstly undertakes an assessment designed to determine capabilities in the 7 patterns. We also assess cardiovascular fitness (energy development). There are baselines in both for everyone no matter what goals we’re interested in pursuing sport-wise or fitness and health-wise.

If you wish to be competitive and advance your game, you must have at least a baseline capability in the 9 areas I have highlighted above. Many do not understand this fundamental principle and obviously it applies to all sports (and athletic pursuits) not just tennis.

So forget “specific” tennis fitness until you have achieved baseline athletic capability. You can practice your game until the cows come home but unless you are addressing fitness fundamentals there will be several consequences.

It should also be noted that ingraining specific movement patterns, which all sports require for competency, is a necessary component of training. However these patterns need to balanced with complementary patterns that keep the kinetic chain healthy otherwise chronic injuries can occur. And as as aside to this I do not condone weighted tennis racquets and golf clubs, for instance. These are flawed training aids that over recruit motor units in the joints and muscle tissue completely disrupting your swing pattern whether tennis or golf (or baseball and softball for that matter).

A negative consequence of not building baseline athletic capability is you will get injured and once you’re injured and don’t properly address it, the injury will return and it will compound over time. A further consequence is compensatory movement patterns occurring if you try to return to sport too quickly. “He just blew out the other knee” (or calf, or shoulder) happens frequently because the originally injured muscle or joint is unable to function correctly overloading the opposite one resulting in another, same but different injury.

Other than injury prevention, “fundamental” athletic strength and conditioning (S&C) is the other box that needs ticking prior to engaging in sport specific S&C.

Mel Siff coined a term that applies to this process and it is, “general physical preparedness” or GPP for short. For instance most frequent CrossFitters are in pretty good general shape which is the purpose of this training modality. The basics of GPP are –

  • Muscular strength and dynamism
  • Joint mobility, strength and resilience
  • Dynamic core and rotational strength
  • Balance and agility
  • Anaerobic capability (many people have ok levels of aerobic capability but tire very quickly during anaerobic work)

A comprehensive list for sure but a skilled practitioner can engage you in all of these quickly, purposefully and safely.

Once you are on the path with these, work that is more specifically geared towards tennis performance can gradually be introduced meaning you get injured less if at all, your game levels up and day to day recovery improves.

This science-based training methodology will mean you are not wasting your time in the gym, time being a commodity we cannot afford to waste, any moment in our lives! Plus and as covered previously, injuries will rarely occur and if they do you will bounce back quickly. And most importantly you will hit the ball harder, make less errors, move more quickly and recover between points much more efficiently.