The 39-year-old has been keeping busy with his online training program Get Commando Fit. We caught up with Commando recently to quiz him about fitness fads, myths, and what his ‘no excuses’ philosophy really entails.
We’ve seen a lot of fitness trends this year. Were there any that frustrated you?
“Moreso than any one fitness fad or diet, it’s more the superficial stuff [on social media]. It might work momentarily but it really has no depth or longevity. Even certain types of training – we look to the complexity of things but really, it’s in the fundamentals. It’s in focusing on the basics and doing them to the best of your ability and being consistent.
A lot of this other stuff, like Instagram, it’s almost contrived reality. Sometimes, the picture is being taken but it’s been manufactured. It’s not how it would be for the average Joe trying to get their life back on track to improve their quality of life and achieve purpose for themselves.”
Which fitness myth would you most like to dispel?
“That ‘the fix’ is external to yourself. There is nothing in this world that you can do to help empower yourself or live a life of purpose and meaning that is external to you. There are businesses with massive marketing dollars trying to make you believe their product is what is going to get your life back on track. But happiness, fulfillment, purpose — it’s created, and that comes from within. For anything to work in this world, you’ve got to work and be willing to take responsibility for your actions.”
Watch: A simple leg exercise by Paper Tiger. (Post continues after video.)
You don’t go easy on The Biggest Loser contestants. Is tough love the best approach?
“It’s tough love, but what you’re seeing is snapshots. We’re that constant reminder for the contestants of just maintaining consistency and taking stock of their emotions. Through reinforcing those habits, they take control. The simplest way of doing that is to focus on breathing — a lot of people don’t take notice of that until it’s challenged, it’s like, ‘Wow, how do I get my next breath in?’ When we realise we can get control of that we realise we can get control of other things. It does require a bit of tough love.”
What's your best advice for new parents who feel they don't have time or energy to exercise?
"A child coming into the world adds complexity. In my program I address the four fundamentals of sustaining life. One is breathing - just taking the time to focus on controlling your breath. The second is water — make sure you're staying hydrated. Third is sleep. Anyone who has children understands how sleep can be compromised, so it's managing the sleep as best you can. The fourth is nutrition - eating well helps with clarity, energy levels, and minimising stress and anxiety. Those four things create a flourishing environment for everything else, and then you can start to layer training on top of that. If anything is compromised at a foundational level, everything we try to do on top of that becomes so much harder."
Has a contestant ever taught you something important about health and fitness?
"All the time. That's when you get your best work done, when you're facing your greatest challenges. For example, me with Johnee this past season — coming in at 215.7kg, he was a big guy. Prescribing exercise for someone whose ability to actually move is limited, you've got to be mindful of injuries, and just their head space and where they're at ... there's a lot of emotional turmoil and things that need to be addressed to just get them to the starting line. It's also about recognising in people where they're coming from. Is it a place of fear? Is that fear motivating and driving them, or is it actually crippling them?"
You advocate a 'No Excuses' philosophy - but do you think that 'go hard or go home' fitspo rhetoric can be damaging?
"Yep, it is. I think as trainers within the fitness industry, because we live and breathe what we do we've got a particular foundation we're working from, that's an expectation on our behalf to be that way. But to then expect our clients and everyone else out there in the world to be like that, that's quite ignorant and naive and it's detrimental to people's overall health and wellbeing. Because not everyone wants to be the next Roger Federer, they just want to be better human beings."
What's a better way to look at it?
"As a triangle; first and foremost I want people thinking about nutrition and how that impacts other things they do in their life. Then functionality — a lot of people move poorly or sit around a lot, so just getting them active and reestablishing that. Then the exercise. It's about dialing in a little bit of intensity while being constantly mindful of technique and range of movement.
It's not like a trainer saying, 'Here's 50 reps, of 10 different exercises, go for time and get it done regardless.' That's what some people find themselves doing because that's how they perceive it should be - 'Sweat is fat crying', the whole 'No excuses' thing, but being very superficial about it. When I say no excuses, I mean stop adding complexity to things because in doing that you're creating a buffer and a comfort zone."
What's a good fitness habit we should all embrace in 2016?
"Consistency. A lot of people go really hard at something for a short period of time and then we run out of steam. Try and moderate that, and allow yourself to grow and enjoy the process and what you learn along the way. That comes with consistency."