Recipe: Cashew Protein Balls

    Snacks and treats are often where people deviate from an otherwise healthy diet and succumb to sugar-laden temptations. But not anymore with this recipe from our resident foodie, Connie, passed down by another great lover of good food, Jerry Flannery. The only risk with creating these balls of delight is that you may eat them all in one go, so I would advise coming up with a strategy in advance to avoid this. A lot of recipes for delicious treats are complicated with long and obscure ingredient lists. This, on the other hand, is simple and quick. Enjoy! Ingredients: 1 cup (200g) pitted dates 1 cup (120g) vanilla protein powder 1 cup (200g) raw cashew nuts 10ml almond milk 1 1/2 cups (300g) dark chocolate Preparation: Blend the pitted dates. 2. Add the vanilla protein powder to the blended dates. Blend again.   3. Add the raw cashew nuts and blend it all up again until a firm dough is created.   4. In order to roll the balls add the almond milk. If the dough appears too moist, add a few linseeds and blend the dough again. Roll little balls and place them on a tray with parchment paper.   5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. (A good way to do this is to rest the bowl of chocolate in a pot of boiling water and stir as it melts).   6. Bath the balls in the melted chocolate and place them on the tray with parchment           7. Place the balls in the fridge for at least two hours. Keep...

Strength Focus: Peg Hanrahan

Peg has been training with us at the UL Arena Strength Training class since its inception over two years ago, and thus is our longest serving member. Her progress has been remarkable in that time, and not only is she well known to the Arena staff for her athletic endeavours, but certainly serves as an inspiration to all others in the class. She is a very fit and healthy woman, and always comes to the gym with a positive outlook and happy to be there. Peg, whilst very much involved in sports and physical activity, had never set foot in a gym previously and she hasn’t looked back since. Full push-ups off the floor, deadlifting over 100kg, squatting over 50kg, kettlebell swings, pistol squats. Chin-ups are next on the list and it’s only a matter of time before we can tick that box. As Peg would say herself, once she sets her mind to something she will eventually get there. There is a lesson in that for all of us! From the point of view of the coach, Peg’s success over the past couple of years can be put down to a couple of things. First of all is her consistency. Peg has never missed a block of training. Of course, like anyone, life gets in the way every now and again, but she has never broken the habit of coming to the class. She always turns up. Secondly is her application and effort. A lot of people who come to the gym don’t particularly try and progress what they are doing in terms of load, they go through...

Making Joints Function Nice with Andreo Spina

  This past weekend I had the good fortune to attend the Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) workshop in Toronto. Functional Range Conditioning, as described on the website, is a system of training which simultaneously expands and strengthens range of motion across articulations, while teaching the nervous system how to incorporate said ranges into functional movement patterning. Andreo Spina is the creator and head instructor of FRC, as well as the Functional Range Release and Functional Anatomic Palpation Systems which are geared towards manual therapists. His background is as a Sports Specialist Chiropractor with a post-graduate fellowship in Sport Sciences. I first came across Dr. Spina’s work online as I was looking for answers that would help me improve my mobility and resolve chronic injuries. The first thing that struck me on podcast interviews and YouTube videos was his way of articulating complex topics in a way that made intuative sense, often calling out common misconceptions that are assumed to be true in the movement and rehabilitative industry. It was appealing to hear someone talk about the myths that are perpetuated by coaches and therapists, especially in relation to certain methods that didn’t make intuitive sense to me but that I had accepted on the assumption that those who are at the forefront know what they are talking about! More on some of those later. The second thing that stands out about Dr. Spina is that he can move. Certainly not an armchair preacher when it comes to graceful movement and mobility! It probably wasn’t too much of a leap of faith to imagine that if more people could move better in...

Nutrition Template for Fat Loss

There is more to fat loss than nutrition. We know that. We need to accumulate plenty of low-intensity movement every day, we need to occasionally lift heavy things and move at high-intensities, we need to sleep well and we need effective stress management.  Pretty straightforward. But then we come to nutrition and there is consternation and confusion. Certainly, some aspects of nutrition are subject to debate.  Is consuming too much protein damaging? How much is too much? Can athletes thrive on high-fat diets? Is organic really worth the extra cost? There are lots of interesting opinion, and some more compelling than others. But today, I want to focus on what is not debatable and provide an effective nutrition template that will work for most people, most of the time. To begin with, if you are still buying into the low-fat dogma, that’s the first thing we need to address. Snap out of it! Haven’t you heard about Ancel Keys and his Seven Countries Study in 1953 that got us all into this mess? If not here’s a two minute video from Fat Head that will fill you in. “It’s become part of the zeitgeist. Everybody knows saturated fat is bad for you. But when you start looking at the medical literature, and you root back through and find out where this whole idea came from, it’s bogus.” Michael Eades, M.D   If you want to learn more how everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong and why, read Nina Teicholz’s recently published book The Big Fat Surprise. Or the infamous Good Calories, Bad Calories that kicked off...

Are you making sense in the Gym?

Avoid these mistakes, get stronger quicker, and leave in one piece. There are many wonders to be observed from day to day in a public health and performance centre, yet for every beautiful act of calisthenics and perfectly executed movement pattern performed, there are a hundred more strange and hazardous attempts at weightlifting going on.  Of course, every gym should be equipped with vigilant instructors ready to intervene during these oblivious efforts of self-harm, but when you leave a lot of people into a big room with lots of heavy objects, strange things invariably happen.  They say that the brain is the most complex object in the known universe containing around 100 billion neurons with Internet-like capacity, which makes the capacity of humans today to do stupid things in gyms all around the world all the more compelling. The motto of Hippocrates, ‘First do no harm’, is widely regarded as the number one principle for strength coaches when training athletes and so it should be with anybody training themselves.  The second principle, logically enough, should be to do something useful that is helping to reach your goals. Check out these common mistakes of your average gym-goer, and if you can just set that giant ego aside for a while we can make amends and really start making the most out of your time in the gym.   Mistake Number 1: Doing Random Stuff One of the more bewildering sights in a gym is watching someone arm themselves with a couple of tiny dumbbells and moving them around in some random fashion with no rhyme or reason.  I often play...