Guest: Serge Tsitalovskiy
Guest Bio: Serge is the creator of IdealBody4Life personal training and he’s been involved in the fitness industry from quite a young age.
Segment Overview: Serge Tsitalovskiy discusses his approach to getting fit with the help of doing workouts. He is the creator of idealbody4life which is a service provider focusing on help individuals achieve fitness and maintain healthy living.
Health Professional Radio
Katherine: Thank you for tuning in to Health Professionals Radio today. Today, we’ve got a Sydney-based personal trainer, Serge. Serge is the creator of IdealBody4Life personal training and he’s been involved in the fitness industry from quite a young age. Welcome, Serge.
Serge: Hi. How are you doing?
Katherine: Good. Now, can you tell me a bit about what led you to get so into [00:25 indecipherable] personal training at quite a young age since your teenage years?
Serge: Well, I first started training when I was 13 years old, and basically it came about. I was quite a small guy, so I was getting picked on at school quite a lot. I decided to just build a bit of muscle and just tried to get a little bit of my own back really. From that point on, I pretty much got addicted to fitness and trying to find the best way to stay healthy without getting injured and trying to get ahead of the game.
I’m genetically quite a skinny and small guy to begin with. So anything that I can create and take away from different disciplines of training to help me get ahead. I’m always looking for that little bit of advantage. That basically was a starting point. From that point on I probably spent the next seven to eight years working through different areas of fitness, starting with more of a weight-liftingapproach and finding that it’s quite limited and getting myself involved into more Pilates, yoga-based techniques as well as more cardiovascular fitness approach.
So essentially, after a few years I arrived to a conclusion that it is quite important to try to ascertain what’ll work best for each individual person as well as fitness means different things to different people. So essentially, what we need to try to do is take a holistic approach to fitness. We’re not just looking at just building muscle or just losing weight. We’re effectively looking how we can improve our lifestyle and how we can apply training to the everyday stuff that we’re going about throughout our day.
Katherine: Yeah. I think it’s really important because you do specialised workout plans for each of your clients because as you said, every client has different needs and goals.
Serge: I guess, at the moment, there is a bit of a craze about Zumba or cross fitness. I guess what we need to look at with that particular method of training would apply to general public. Would it apply to someone who had previous injuries or medical conditions that might prevent them from doing some exercises? What we need to do is to modify each workout to suit that particular individual as well as trying to ascertain the short and long-term goals of what they’re actually trying to achieve.
I feel that there’s priority when it comes to looking up the individual needs of anyone, really, and trying to get to the bottom of what their lifestyle and what they are trying to achieve in short-term as well as the long-term.
Katherine: You do hear of stories where people do. For example, some of those workout videos at home and they do end up injuring themselves because they misinterpret something or they’re doing something wrong, or they have a pre-existing ailment that …
Serge: Well that’s correct. That’s quite right. You’re looking at quite a number of exercises that are quite complex and they’re fantastic because they’re getting results, but in terms of you carrying quite a large risk as well. Example would be something like adeadlift, which is a great exercise, but it’s quite a complex exercise to execute. So you really need to build up your core strength. Things like Pilates is fantastic for that. Work on the more basic exercises before you can even attempt something like that.
Unfortunately, at the moment what we see in the fitness world is that a lot of these complex exercises get thrown at people straight away without ascertaining first the medical background or their ability to actually be able to perform this exercise correctly. Again, that’s a big issue at the moment that I see in the industry. Then on top of that you have people that’s been sitting on the couch in the office for the past 10 years. They decide to just join a gym or they join one of the group classes out there.
What they often find is that there’s a general approach where everyone gets to do exactly the same exercises at the same time. For some people that exercise is not a correct prescription to be used. So it becomes quite a tricky proposition for them to actually get ahead. What ends up happening is that they get themselves injured. They get a very negative feeling about training going forward.
Then it’s very hard to actually get them to get motivated about training, actually changing their lifestyle to something a little bit more healthy and applicable to their everyday activities.
Katherine: Yeah. It sounds like if they aren’t too sure what they’re doing, they go and actually reach some of their health goals anyway, you see. Don’t have a plan to work towards.
Serge: Well, that’s right. Generally the good way to actually get started is to outline what would be your short-term goals, even breaking it down on a week-by-week basis. Perhaps your goal is to walk 5,000 steps for the next five days and that’s the first starting point for you, or it might be just losing half a kilo. But whatever the goal that you’re setting yourself, it should be quite a small goal and easily achievable to begin with. That would give you that motivation to keep going forward, because it is quite hard.
I guess we have to look at if someone is looking at losing, let’s say, 10 kilos of weight and they’re thinking, “Alright, well this is way too hard of a task.” It’s straight away they have this negative attitude about it and chances are they won’t be able to get to their goal without steady, small milestones along the way.
Katherine: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I was reading that you are a certified suspension trainer. What is that exactly?
Serge: With that we’re basically looking at the correct exercise prescription for older populations. So we’re looking at someone who perhaps is over 60 years old that has previous medical conditions, there’s certain injuries that they carry. What we’re trying to achieve is the best workout plan for them to still have a training that would be quite challenging, but doing exercises that are low-risk and at the same time will achieve the results that they’re after.
We’re basically looking at people that, you’re spending a lot of time sitting [07:35 inaudible] in front of the computer and a very bad posture. They haven’t done anything for a long period of time. What you’re trying to do is slowly adjust all the little aspects that they have been neglecting. Slowly changing their posture, improving their flexibility, improving their balance, improving their core control.
Then as they are slowly getting more confident and comfortable with the exercises, you can progress to some that are going to be slightly more complex but at the same time keeping in mind that once you enter that age bracket there is a high risk of injury and the recovery process is particularly longer than for someone who is a little bit younger than that. So you always want to keep that in mind when you structure your workout plans with someone who is in that older age bracket and that’s a quite important aspect when you’re putting together the exercise prescriptions.
Katherine: Yeah, because I want to ask you, what are the common changes in mature clients? Do you find that there is some limitations? Like you said, there’s a longer recovery time. I just want to know if age is a factor, or is this a myth and age doesn’t really affect performance?
Serge: Well, I think it’s a very hard question to answer with yes or no. Age can be a factor, but effectively age is a factor if you’ve been living hard and you haven’t really done a lot of healthy activities for the last 20 years. Then you suddenly reach 50, let’s say, and then you’re thinking, “Alright, well can I go out there and do a marathon or do heavy squats,” or whatever. The question at that point, well you haven’t really had the base in your lifestyle previously to be able to do that.
So that would obviously be a factor because you don’t have the experience or the skill, or I guess, the background to actually perform that. However, I’ve trained a number of clients in their late 60s that don’t [indecipherable 09:39] themselves, and they train three to four times a week and have fantastic muscle development. They’re quite flexible. They’re strong. They all have fantastic balance.
It’s quite a bit surprising that a lot of people in their 60s that actually look after themselves are quite often stronger, more flexible than clients that I get in their 20s who basically just spend a lot of time going out, drinking, and not much of a healthy training lifestyle that you would expect with someone around that age group. So I guess that’s the question. It depends on their lifestyle as well as depends on their medical history.
If you bring those two things [10:22 indecipherable] together, that’s when you can actually make a call in terms of is that person is limited by their age, or they’re actually limited by other conditions.
Katherine: Right. I wanted to ask you, because I know as people become more mature they may have a lot more time because they might be semi-retired or retired, so they’re looking to take up things that they didn’t have time for in the past, such as they might want to take up tennis. Like you mentioned, some want to do marathons, for example, and some might even have been diagnosed with something such as diabetes and all of a sudden it’s been years and they haven’t really thought about their health.
But now that they have the time and their doctor has basically said to them, “You have to look after yourself,” they will be looking for someone like you to help them achieve some of their goals in terms of maybe running a marathon. So for someone like that, what’s the best way for them to start training, say if they wanted to run a half-marathon?
Serge: Well I guess, again, now we have to go back to basics. The best way for them to start training is to actually start working on things like flexibility, their balance, their posture. Things like Pilates is fantastic for that. Yoga is great. Then you start implementing things like cardiovascular training, but what you need to do is look at it as you’re setting up yourself a base so you look at, “Alright, what are my limitations? Have I had a previous, let’s say, knee injury?”
Now, if I had an injury, “What exercises that I possibly should not be doing and what exercises I should be concentrating on to help with my knee injury condition?” From that point on you slowly build on that base that you’re creating and you’ll notice that within four to six weeks there are going to be significant changes straight away. But as your body slowly adapts to the physical challenges, it is important to try to challenge yourself further.
A good personal trainer or fitness instructor will constantly challenge their clients in many different ways within every single training session. That’s the important aspect of hiring someone like myself where you’re not just constantly repeating the same old workout over and over again and perhaps you’re neglecting other aspects that are just as important but you just hadn’t thought of that, or you’re not really challenging yourself in the right direction.
Katherine: What are the little changes…?
Serge: So just to sort of, let’s say, go back to something like tennis. You’re looking at there is a lot of forward, side movement. There is always a lot of upper body work. So for someone who is trying to take up tennis, you’re looking at a lot of cardiovascular fitness, upper body strength, flexibility, balance, core control. So all those different aspects need to be implemented within a workout plan. That’s why it’s quite important not to neglect one of those particular aspects of training. You just concentrate within cardiovascular fitness but not improve your core strength or your flexibility.
Katherine: Yeah. I wanted to ask you, what are some small changes that we could make, for example, something as simple as our posture? Can that create something positive just having better posture?
Serge: A good example would be when you’re sitting down. Most people tend to slump the shoulders forward. As soon as you do that, that tends to deactivate your stomach muscles and straight away there’s more pressures through the neck, middle to lower back. So things like making sure your shoulders are not slumping forward when you’re sitting down. Taking more frequent breaks from sitting down and being a little bit more active throughout the office, or even when you’re sitting in front of the computer [14:22 indecipherable] getting up more frequently.
Important to keep your legs, your pelvis very flexible because those are the type of muscles that can really affect your posture and create back issues. It’s quite easy to actually get into a habit where you get very stiff around your legs and then your back starts to hurt and it sort of travels up. It’s just very, very simple just to make sure that you pull your shoulders back, you’re keeping your legs fairly flexible. Just things like your hamstrings, your [15:01 indecipherable] is another good muscle to look into, and making sure that you’re physically active.
So it could be incidental exercise. If you are travelling somewhere, maybe not using the public transport to get all the way to the destination, but leaving a little bit earlier and walking some distance before you actually get on the bus. So simple things like that all can get all of us just a little bit more physically active. Unfortunately, with the technological changes generally we all become a little bit more lazy and there’s things that we don’t do anymore like we used to. Even simple things like power windows, power mirrors.
[15:45 indecipherable] you know, simple things like remote control. On average people used to walk an extra 30K every single year just by walking up to their TV to change the channel. So unfortunately, as technology improves it’s up to us to make sure that we are trying to be a little bit more physically active and actually staying ahead of the game a little bit in order to make sure that our body’s actually staying healthy and we’re actually living longer as opposed to being in the sort of lifestyles where, yeah, we might have a longer life expectancy but we’re really not enjoying our life when we hit 70s, 80s, or 90s because we are just incapable of doing everyday stuff.
Katherine: Yeah. That’s a very good point. And just before we finish off, I just wanted to ask you about your holistic approach to training and workout plans. What do you mean by this? Is this also incorporating correct nutrition and meal frequency? Is that what you mean?
Serge: Basically the holistic approach [indecipherable 0:16:55] we’re not just constrained on one aspect of fitness, as well as I work together with a number of nutritionists and dieticians around Sydney. Obviously I can’t specialise in every single aspect of health-related questions that might come up. So what I try to do is to look at the overall approach of what we’re trying to achieve.
So we ascertain what you’re actually trying to achieve in terms of your lifestyle goals and then we can put together a workout plan as well as nutrition plan that will actually target your particular goals. It’s quite important that we’re not just looking at one particular aspect of training or of nutrition, but we’re actually covering all the different bases and working together with a number of different specialists in different areas can actually help to achieve that.
I have a network of physiotherapists that I use, nutritionists, massage therapists. We are basically all working together to [17:59 indecipherable] about the best possible service to each individual client. I guess, to me, that’s what I mean by holistic approach. I think it’s quite important to actually do that just so you are not pushing someone in one particular direction and you’re doing this at detriment to something else.
Katherine: Yeah, that’s so important. Well, for you listeners, if you would like more information or to get in touch with Serge, please visit the website link that we have provided for you. Serge, thank you so much for your time today.
Serge: Thanks, Katherine. Thank you.