Posted By Brittany Bull on March 19, 2019
We’ve all heard the phrase, “There’s no “I” in team.” While this makes perfect sense, I have always been the type to quickly respond to this idea with, “But there is a ME!” This response is not meant to sound derogatory, but it’s been my experience that the BEST team I’ve ever been on, was my own… or “Team ME” as I like to call it.
Sounds kinda bratty, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain.
“Team ME” isn’t about being the best, the most promoted, heck… even the most successful or the “star of the show,” if you will. “Team Me” doesn’t symbolize a one-player thought process and it doesn’t mean that nobody else matters. I have always been a firm believer that it takes more than just a “Bull” to form a herd. (… see what I did there!) The idea of “Team Me” is based on the idea that the most important person on MY team, ultimately is Me! Here’s why…
Guess who knows Me better than anyone? … Me! Guess who’s been around Me since the beginning and will be the only one who sees Me through til the end? … you guessed it, Me! Who will hold Me accountable when nobody else is looking? Who sets the limits of Me? Who BREAKS the limits of Me? … yep! Me, Me and ME!
My point is, if I’m not on my own team, odds are nobody else will be… even if they are rooting for me. From the moment we step foot into the “team player” arena, collaboration is drilled into our heads. We are taught that even through the difficult decisions and challenging times, we must be willing to set our own agendas and egos on the sidelines for the betterment of the “team.” Makes total sense… for a company or brand or group to function smoothly and truly succeed, all components must be firing on all cylinders. BUT, too often than not, we get caught up in the idea of lifting up the team as a whole and the individual recognition and reward fall to the wayside. There is nothing wrong with knowing your worth. There is no shame is understanding what you bring to the table and in turn there is ZERO degradation in sitting at that table ALONE.
In a world currently dominated by social media trends, online groups, ambassadorships, sponsorships and more made up “empowerment” days than humanity can handle, don’t forget to empower YOURSELF! … or in other words “Team Me”! The needs of the many do NOT always trump the needs of one… I urge everyone to never lose sight of who you’re #1 Biggest Fan really is… who it HAS to be! That’s right… “Team Me”! Stand up for you… no matter what “team” you’re on, make sure the one you stay on is your own.
Posted By Brittany Bull on January 16, 2019
I’d like to say I learned early on that the road to the stage was more often than not, a lonely one, but that would be a huge lie. Truth be told, it wasn’t until I began the climb to my status as an IFBB professional when I discovered just how much of “One Player” game competitive bodybuilding could be. And the saddest, most screwed up part about it… (are you ready for this?) it’s 100%, utterly and completely, undeniably BY CHOICE. A really, really, REALLY twisted and masochistic CHOICE.
To those of you who are competitors, like me, professional or no, let’s face it… WE ARE NOT RIGHT… in the head I mean. You know it! I know it! EVERYBODY knows it! There is nothing “sane” about what we put our bodies and more importantly, our minds, through on the daily. We are the like the 2% of the lifting population… it takes a special type of individual to, without a second (or maybe third) thought, crawl underneath 5x their bodyweight with nothing but two blown knees to get you back up. It is far from “normal” to eat the same, monotonous diet for weeks or even months on end. I mean… have you had ice cream? Pizza?? CHOCOLATE??? That’s true sacrifice, my friend!
Taste buds aren’t the only sacrifice you’ll make to the “Iron Gods.” If you planned on being a social butterfly through it all, well… all I can say is I hope your cocoon is comfortable. It’s hard to strut your sexy with cardio hair and a loaded down 6-Pac lunch box. And good luck getting that sixth meal of fish and asparagus down while your “Staying Alive” on the dancefloor doing the Cupid Shuffle.
For me, it didn’t happen right away. It took a few weeks of calling it “quits” early or skipping out on going out at all… but sure as a champagne hangover, it became more and more clear that friends I had, were not as interested in spending time with me outside of the bar/club lifestyle. If I couldn’t drink with them, stay out late partying with them, binge on 3 a.m. Cafe Brazil with them (great coffee by the way) and then share in their two day hangover recovery, then there was no need to invite me. At least that’s how it seemed, and truth be told, no matter how much I had prepared myself, that was a part of contest prep I hadn’t thought about. And it wasn’t just “party” crowd. I watched my circle shrink from all angles, but when it’s different strokes for different folks, you might not always paddle in the same direction.
I know this can sound harsh, and kind of scary, but trust me when I say that the best part of letting go is finding more! Not just finding… Becoming More! Surrounding yourself with those who share in a deeper investment and understanding of your goals and who can respect your decisions regarding those goals can be very refreshing and it VITAL for success in any facet of life. These individuals are rare. These individuals are also in the 2%.
Whether it’s putting in a late night leg session with you, sending a 5 a.m. fasted cardio accountability text, putting up with apocalyptic mood swings and spontaneous emotional vomit or even something as simple as avoiding eating anything resembling a carb in your presence, it takes just as special a person to accept what comes with the competitive bodybuilding lifestyle as it takes to actually choose it. IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!
Remember, you may not have always been a health junkie. Perhaps fitness and bodybuilding is a new additive to your life. Try to find balance between the commonalities you share with those in your circle. If what you had in common isn’t copasetic with your current goals, accept that people change and carry on! I’ve always said, “If they can make it through prep with you, they’re probably hard to get rid of… and they’re probably in it for good!” (again… volcanic mood swings… emotional vomit…)
It is important to understand that this lifestyle, whether you’re currently preparing for a show or just doing some due diligence into what it might take, is not widely accepted as the “norm.” It can be difficult for friends and family to relate or even try to understand WHY you CHOOSE to “eat that,” or “don’t eat that,” or get up two hours earlier every morning for fasted cardio and go to bed an hour later for post-workout cardio. It’s just not their bag, baby! It doesn’t mean they don’t care, they just don’t understand our brand of crazy.
Best advice I can give, remember that this is YOUR road to travel and nobody signed up to go along for the ride.
Posted By Brittany Bull on December 11, 2018
“The worst part about personal training is the clients.”
It didn’t take long for me to understand what MY first trainer meant when he told me this years ago. While not the most encouraging thought to have as an aspiring trainer, it would not be the last time I would hear it, and I’m sure I’ll hear it at least a few more times before my personal training career is done. Now please, do not mistaken me. The opposite of this statement is equally true!… but that’s not what this article is about, AND since I play for both the Trainer AND Client teams, I dedicate this one to all the trainers out there!
Let me begin by stating that NOT ALL CLIENTS are “bad.” A good majority of them are hardworking, dedicated and loyal… but let’s be honest, we ALL have had at least ONE! It might be the 6 a.m. who consistently shows up 15 mins late when you almost broke your neck sprinting out the door to make it on time. It could be your 15-week out, prep client who sends you 65 text messages all before noon complaining that he/she’s not getting leaner yet he/she bailed on cardio last week. Or maybe it’s that one client who has no respect for personal time and Saturday night at 11:40 p.m. is just as good as Monday morning at 7. Truth is, clients pay the bills! We could not do what we do without them. However, ask any trainer and they will agree, having a team of good clients makes a huge difference.
Making it even more challenging is the fact that personal training is a widely misunderstood profession. I think even my own mother still questions what exactly it is that I do. I tell people to pick things up and put them down… right? “LIft this,” “Eat that!” or more accurately, “DON’T eat that!” The notion that it’s a trainer’s job to “get me in shape,” or “make me eat right,” is probably one of the largest set backs to the trainer/trainee relationship. In a profession where success is dependent on both parties understanding completely what is required or expected of one another, being on your A-Game is a MUST!
“So what makes a “good” client,” you ask? Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of working with some pretty amazing clients, and for some not so wonderful ones too. One long-term client is an incredible communicator during workouts. She has learned her body enough to know when it’s “hurting’ as opposed to “working” and I can always count on her to let me stretch her limits. She is very appreciative and she always double checks to make sure I’m paid on time. I would walk through fire for her! On the opposite end of the spectrum, a very demanding and high-maintenance client with unrealistic expectations for the amount of effort exuded. It’s comical, except when they blame you for the lack of progress.
So as 2018 comes to an end, I thought I’d share a few “Best Client” denominators. As a devoted and dedicated personal trainer who invests just as much into my clients as I do my own coaches, here are a few tips on ensuring your place among that list in the upcoming new year.
R-E-S-PECT! (Find Out What It Means to Me…) Probably one of the most important signs of a great client… and one of the easiest to get wrong. Anything from being on time to giving proper notice of cancellation to paying on time, respect is one of those courtesies that will get you EVERYWHERE. I can tell you this for certain, as a trainer, I am 100% more likely to have flexibility with clients who have proven to have 100% respect for my time and the goals we both set forth, as opposed to one who needs to be chased down for payment or repeatedly cancels without adequate notice. If I care more about your success than you do, Mission Control… we have a problem!
Responsive and Communicates Effectively. Trainers are not mind-readers. Being able to communicate with your trainer, both about the good and the bad, is extremely important. Outside stressors and other worldly problems can have massive effects on not just physical, but mental progress. If you are unable to communicate effectively and honestly (for all you fibbers…) with your trainer, it will be next to impossible to achieve the best results. Remember, trainers can’t fix what they don’t know and we can’t help ease a mind we don’t know is in turmoil.
If You Can’t Do It, At Least Try: I can’t tell you how infuriating it can be when clients constantly question or ask why they have to do something, or throw out my personal favorite, “I can’t!” Trainers want clients who will at least TRY and want to do their best. You can usually tell the natural born athletes or the ones who truly want to succeed. They don’t whine or complain; they suck it up and just do whatever it is they are told. Can’t never could, right? I wish every client for every trainer could be so easy. (Trainers: Try assigning 20 push-ups every time a client says “I can’t,” during workout! Works for my people…)
Ask Questions, Learn a Little Bit: This is not to be confused with “questioning” methods or undermining the plan (as touched on above.) Clients who ask a lot of questions and want to know what’s going on are, in my opinion, some of the most enjoyable ones to train. It shows interest in what they’re doing and a willingness to learn and step outside their comfort zone. It goes beyond just doing the exercise because “I said so.” IFBB FIgure Pro, Stacey Cummings agreed. Good clients, “ask questions and do their own research in order to have more knowledge on what it is they are trying to do vs. blindly going through the motions.”
Follow the Plan: Unless you are experienced or possibly a trainer yourself, there’s no way to explain the time and detail it takes just to prime a metabolism and a body for maximum output and results. If a trainer is going to take the time to put together a plan for the in-between and off days, or even more importantly, if you’re willing to PAY a trainer for this plan, then isn’t it only fair to be just as committed to sticking to it? As Cummings says, “as a trainer, i can give them all the tools for success but i have zero control on how they use them.” Most trainers are not interested in working with people who are not committed or constantly switch from hot to cold. Just like respect, commitment is a two lane, one-way street.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint… Enjoy the Run: Good clients are going to be in for the long haul. Understanding that TRUE health and fitness is not an overnight sprint or even a race to the finish is a cornerstone of being a good client. It is important to embrace the physical and psychological adjustments that can accompany a permanent lifestyle change, such as a fitness journey, or it can easily become a yo-yo effect. Obtaining fitness goals can take months and in extreme cases, years. So many people view exercise and diet as just a means to an end, but those who an appreciate it as more of a privilege, as a gift; as a body with the ability to move and move well is something to be cherished. Especially in today’s society where approximately 36-38% of the adult population is considered obese. Being a client who can look beyond the aesthetic perspective and understand the preventative health and performance benefits as well can make it easier to commit to a long-term relationship with Gym and not just a “one night stand.”
A Little “Thank You” Goes a Long Way: As simple as this last on may seem, it’s always effective. A Number One tip to clients of all genres; expressing gratitude and appreciation for a job well done or an above average experience is the prize in the pudding. A “Thank You,” does not mean your trainer’s head is going to swell with ego and raise their fees. It does not signify weakness nor does it initiate a less than professional relationship. As professionals, it’s our number one goal to provide the best service for every client that steps on our treadmill, but trust me when I say it’s a lot easier to do it when you know it’s appreciated.
So there ya have it; be on time, pay on time, show respect, be positive, do what you’re told and get involved with enjoying the process. It’s actually great advice for fitness, in general, even without a trainer. Good clients provide value to an otherwise worthless service and the harsh truth for us trainers is, no matter how good you are at what you do, without someone willing to PAY you for that service, it has no value when it comes to being a professional. Truth for us clients, however, as human beings, it’s the client who exudes great value that will earn the extra mile every time.
Posted By Brittany Bull on October 15, 2018
It’s Monday morning after stage and it’s about to hit you.
This past weekend, you were posing on stage. Weeks… months… even YEARS, of hard work and sacrifice were poured into an average of 2-3 minutes to create one of the most memorable times of your life. It’s a moment you have prepared immensely for… but nothing could have prepared you for what came next.
It’s two weeks post show day… you’re miserable, you feel lost… and you know that in the upcoming weeks it’s only going to get worse.
What you are feeling is most commonly referred to as the “Post Show Blues” or “Post Competition Depression.” The constant torture of “What now?” The depression… Yes! Depression… that comes with watching your “shredded wheat” physique turn into a bad version of mushy, overnight oatmeal. What’s worse, is it’s not just a loss of physical security. The mind games of the mirror more often than not create a feeling of loss on the inside with every gained inch or pound on the outside. It’s something that myself and IFBB Figure Pro, 9x Olympian and Project AD user, Gennifer Strobo, are both trying more to understand and put to rest. And from what we’ve learned, the good news for us all is that it’s completely NORMAL and there are ways to overcome it.
“After success it’s like, now what? Like the astronauts who walked on the moon. What are they going to do now?”
“It’s a question that eludes us all. I want to try and provide some sort of an answer.”
…. And so do I.
TRY TO STAY POSITIVE:
It might not seem like it right away, but the fact that you are feeling so low is actually a high note in this emotional symphony. It’s no secret that we tend to miss what we enjoy the most. If you are finding it hard to find the bright-side, keep in mind that missing something, tells us that it was important or special. It means you truly loved competing and the process was a positive experience.
STAY CALM & OFF-SEASON ON:
There is only ONE way to have a successful Show Season, and that’s to have a QUALITY off-season. This may sound harsh to some, but off-season doesn’t mean “Bring on the donuts! Bring on the cake!! Time to get fat… eat what I want… drink what i want…” Honestly, I hate referring to this time as an “off-season” because there shouldn’t be anything “off” about it. Not if you want to be successful. That being said, with more food comes more size. Whether it be quality or not, a lot of us will panic at this point. Watching the scale climb by 8, 12, 15 or even 20 pounds is almost as crushing as watching my 24-inch waist with washboard abs and striated obliques, warp into something that you should only see in a low budget funhouse. This is a hard reality that we all must GET OVER and as the song says, “Let it gooooooooooo!”
LET IT GO (BUT DON’T LET “IT” GO):
Like I just mentioned, one of the hardest parts of PSB is the idea that the body we present on stage is the body we expect to keep year round. This is simply a ridiculous expectation. Maintaining too low body-fat for too long has been proven to cause a laundry list of adverse effects. Here’s just a few FYI…
- Serious heart problems
- Lack of energy
- Abnormal hormone level fluctuations
- Extended time for muscle recovery
- Low bone density
… just to name a few. On the flip side, massive weight gain post-show is just as harmful! I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard about metabolic damage, thyroid and adrenal shut down, pitted ademia and even a few overnight hospital visits due to binge eating/drinking. Talk with your coach and be sure to have a set plan for reverse dieting out of contest prep. Set short term goals and continue to check-in during the upcoming weeks. Sometimes a little accountability can go a long way.
I urge each and every one of my competitors, and I urge you now, to please, please, PLEASE get your blood work done regularly both before and after competition. (But that’s for a different article ;)! )
GO AHEAD… TAKE A LOAD OFF:
Chances are, you’ve been go-go-go for awhile now. Between early morning, fasted cardio sessions to all day meal prep adventures to those midnight-thirty training sessions, mixed with a solid dose of everyday living, I’d say you’ve earned a little R&R. Use this time to sit back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished! Allow yourself to reset your focus and shift your attentions to those things that fell to the wayside during prep (job, family, friends, etc.) Heck! Maybe even do something nice for yourself! One of my favorite post show pampers is a good ol’ deep tissue massage. It’s just the trick to help work out all the tweaks and cramps from the past few weeks of putting my body through the ringer.
YOU CAN’T RUSH A PREP THANG:
Many of us feel the best way to get over their blues is to get back right back on the horse. I’m not talking about mapping out a schedule of shows for the year; I’m talking about rushing into shows in order to avoid the downhill turn. I cannot encourage you to avoid this enough. You may be under the impression that this will sway these negative feelings but frequently it’s just a sure fire way to get burned out all together. Take some much deserved time off and when the time is right, when LIFE is right, prepare for a competition that you want to do and not one you feel like you need to do.
There are loads of healthy ways to feel not so down in the dumps about finishing a prep and stepping away from the stage. I recommend them all. Keeping a positive outlook and embracing realistic goals is key! Trust me when I say, there will be plenty of shows next year and many more experiences to be had. The best advice I can give, and my final thoughts… The stage, competing… it’s a HOBBY!
Bodybuilding… now that’s a Lifestyle!
Posted By Brittany Bull on August 28, 2018
In this article, Project AD professional bodybuilder Brittany LaNae Bull reveals how she achieves her legendary conditioning at competition time with unparalleled consistency.
1) Best advice for peak week?
STAY OUT OF YOUR HEAD! Don’t let the social media posts or your own self-doubt control the game on the last level.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give athletes nowadays, is to stay off social media during peak week. I know it sounds ludicrous… it’s the social media age, but I also believe that it is a huge catalyst for spreading false realities and fostering the idea that we all must compare ourselves to everyone else.
It’s much easier to focus ONLY on your prep if you can separate yourself from comparing it to someone else’s.
I’ll conclude this section with this… THIS SPORT IS SUBJECTIVE! What you think looks “the best” might not match the criteria the judges are looking to reward. Trust the process, not your eyes. 😉
2) What stage out should you start your prep?
Timing is EVERYTHING!
Contest prep is a very “self-fulfilling” and albeit, selfish hobby. I don’t mean in a negative way, but it requires a lot of time and sacrifice that is not at all times, convenient.
I want to preface this by saying, there is NOTHING that can keep you from competing without your permission. Kids, work, spouses, illness… these are just a few of the responsibilities and yes, excuses, that can and WILL try to divert you and your goals of standing on stage.
With that being said, make sure that you are in a healthy state of mind and emotion before taking on a taxing journey, like prepping for a bodybuilding show. The end result will more than likely not be what you planned and unwanted and unnecessary stress and anxiety can destroy even the best of athletes during prep.
Of course, your physique needs to be on point, but the point at which you decide you are mentally and emotionally stable enough in your everyday life to take on such an amazing feat, is ultimately up to you. Consult your coach, if you have one, and be ready to push yourself beyond any limits you thought you had set for yourself!
3) What key strategies do you use to give you/clients an edge on the competition?
Bodybuilding is legitimately one of the only sports/competitions where you are unable to “scope out” the competition. It is solely a subjective sport and relies 100% on the judging panel that day.
The only “edge” you can give yourself is the confidence that you gave everything you possibly could into putting the best YOU on stage. That is something that no competitor, no judge, can take away from you.
Brittany’s consistently jaw-dropping conditioning is a testament to her knowledge and dedication to the sport. Apply her advice and you’ll never be far away from razor-sharp dryness come competition time!