There’s nothing all that quick or dirty about Brock Armstrong’s “Get-Fit Guy” podcasts on Macmillan’s Quick and Dirty network. If you tune in for an episode on, say, the importance of weight-lifting for runners, or the science and nonsense of compression clothing, or running slower to get faster, you’ll find yourself hunkering down for an enjoyable fifteen-minute session with a fitness coach who has been around the block and is interested in taking a deep dive on the subject at hand to help inform and inspire his listeners to slim down, shape up, and get better at the sport(s) of their choice. This week, Brock took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Hey, Brock. Thanks so much for chatting with us. To get the medicine ball rolling, what’s your advice for helping folks find the motivation to get off the couch and out the door for a run or any kind of workout?
My advice for people who are trying to get started on a workout or running program is not to be intimidated by thinking you need to do something massive or heroic the first time you go out. It’s more important that you get out there for any amount of time and enjoy yourself than it is to go out and crush a huge run or workout. Especially at the beginning, every little bit counts and each time you do 10, 15 or 20 minutes of exercise, that moves you towards your ultimate goal.
When you are choosing a program to start with, make sure that it fits your life instead of changing your life to fit it. By that I mean, piling more stress of working out on top of the stress of a job and a family is not a great way to get fit it’s a great way to get sick and injured. Be realistic with the time that you can (and want to) devote to your exercise practice and go from there. Not the other way around.
Your bio says that you trained as a ballet dancer with a couple of top companies. Can you draw any comparisons between that brutal physical profession and endurance sports like marathoning?
Ballet is absolutely an endurance sport! It is an awful lot like running a 2.5-hour marathon (often while lifting a ballerina over your head)… or perhaps it is closer to playing a professional sport where you get a halftime break to towel off and think about what you have done. The demands of running, leaping, lifting, spinning, and also trying to look good while doing it has led many of us dancers to running and other sports. My friend Tara Birtwhistle, who was the Prima Ballerina at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for years, has just retired from ballet and taken up marathons!
Did ballet help you become a better runner mentally and maybe physically?
I learned a lot about dedication and perseverance from my days as a ballet dancer. That has lent itself very well to being an endurance athlete and a coach. Although I have to say I am still battling old injuries from my ballet days, which isn’t awesome or helpful – that stuff is hard on the body!
As a coach, what basic mistakes do your more elite athletes have in common with your everyday warriors?
I would have to say that the most common mistake that beginners and pros both make is to question their training and nutrition at the last minute. I had one triathlete suddenly decide to try drinking three bottles of Ensure before his race at the world championships in Cozumel, Mexico, a couple years ago. It did not go well for him. As his coach I was more than frustrated with this last-minute decision.
Also piling on extra training miles in the last 10 days before a race is quite common. Fearing that your fitness is not quite there can lead to some “panic training” which is never a good idea. Like the say, it’s much better to arrive at the start line 10% under trained rather than even 1% over trained.
Are you a proponent of cross-training for your runners?
Cross-training is not only a good idea for runners it is a good idea for humans. Think of your exercise regimen like your eating plan. No matter how healthy kale is for you, if that is the only food you give your body, you’re not going to be all that healthy. It’s the same with exercise. If all you do is run, you’re leaving a lot of movement-nutrition on the table. Cross-training is a valuable tool to stay healthy, fit, injury free, and also to be a useful human on this planet.
How did you get started with your get fit guy podcast and the QDT network?
I am not the first Get-Fit Guy for the Quick and Dirty Tips network. The original GFG is a friend and colleague of mine, Ben Greenfield, and when he decided to step down, he recommended me for the position. We have worked together since 2011 so we know each other quite well and share many of the same exercise and fitness values.
Who is your ideal listener that you have in mind as you are recording an episode?
My ideal listener is someone who is interested in expanding their fitness knowledge but is not taken in by all the hype and pseudoscience that we find in health and fitness media these days. I like to think that people who listen to the Quick and Dirty Tips network in general are looking for information that is backed by science and reason. I spend a lot of time researching my topics and making sure that I am not spreading mythology or misinformation. Which means I often fall into the realm of what some might consider ho-hum (or overly reasonable). Ha ha!
Final question: Burpees, yea or nay?
Burpees are awesome! They absolutely get a YEA from me. I generally use them in two ways in my life: 1. As part of a warm up (once you have done 20-30 burpees, you are ready for anything). 2. On a day when I can’t get a formal workout in, I will do 10-20 burpees every hour, on the hour, to get my heart rate up and my body moving. Burpees are a wonderful way to move through your entire range of motion and use the majority of your joints.