Happy Vs Flourishing episode 19 with Wesley Tan, who essentially helps people to be much kinder to their bodies so that their bodies works for them and not against.
He owns a gym named Forma which is based around Gymnastics Fitness, running fitness classes, online training, teacher training courses and physical therapies.
Some of the topics discussed in this episode:
- Gymnastic training
- Injuries and recovery
- Strength, flexibility and mobility
- Martial arts training
- Sedentary behaviour
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:—
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.”
Happy Vs Flourishing links:
Tony Winyard 0:00
Happy versus flourishing Episode 19. Welcome to the podcast where we give you ideas and ways you can improve your life in some way or another. This week's episode is with a guy called Wesley Tan who runs a couple of gymnasiums in the Gloucestershire area. And it's for adults helping them with gymnastics. And for many people listening, the only time you ever maybe come across gymnastics is every four years at the Olympics, or maybe it's something your daughter does. But there's a... I don't know if it's a growing trend, but we're going to hear why gymnastics is so beneficial for adults in so many different ways. And so that's to come very soon with Wesley Tan. If you do like this episode, why not share it with someone who you feel could get some real benefit from it? why not subscribe and leave a review, let us know what you think about the podcast. And that really helps for other people to decide if it's something for them or not. Hope you enjoy this week's episode with Wesley. Welcome to happy versus flourishing today. My guest is Wesley Tan, how are you?
Wesley Tan 1:14
I'm great. Thank you, Tony.
Tony Winyard 1:16
And you're living in a lovely little place called Stroud.
Wesley Tan 1:19
I am yes in the south Cotswolds.
Tony Winyard 1:23
Originally the same as me, because I'm now living in Stroud, but you're from London as well.
Wesley Tan 1:31
Yeah. London boy from West London, Westbourne. Park, Portabella. area. Wow.
Tony Winyard 1:37
I used to work around there when I was about 10 years old.
Wesley Tan 1:40
On the markets?
Tony Winyard 1:41
On a milk round delivering milk.
Wesley Tan 1:42
Ah, how funny.
Tony Winyard 1:44
Yeah. And then when did you move to Stroud?
Wesley Tan 1:47
When I came to Stroud with my partner, Claire in 2008. I think it was the February. There. We just graduated from the British School of osteopathy in London, where we met. And we, when we graduated, we went travelling to China and Nepal for three months. When we came back, we were expecting a baby. And so we had about I think it was maybe eight months in London. And then yeah, then we found a job in Strad and basically up to moved, didn't know anyone and started a new life.
Tony Winyard 2:24
And what was it that made you choose Stroud?
Wesley Tan 2:27
We didn't really choose Stroud. I think Stroud found us and we found Stroud, we were very clear how we wanted to how we wanted our life to be. And when I say clear, I mean clear on the feelings. We wanted to no longer live in a big build up City, where, you know, always been from and we wanted a slightly slower pace to life somewhere more rural. And because we knew we were going to have a family, we knew that what I knew I didn't want to always be an absent father, or someone who was always at work. So we wanted to work close to home, etc. So we had were very clear on how we wanted to live our life. We just didn't have the details. The where, and the when exactly. But everything just came in to place. It kind of came in at the right time opportunities arose. And we just said yes, yes, yes. And here we are.
Tony Winyard 3:29
And so what initially you just set up a practice as Osteopaths?
Wesley Tan 3:33
So it was my 30th birthday in November, in London, and one of the girls who we studied with her name was Megan. She was originally what she's an Australian, and she was working in Stroud. So when we graduated during the summer of 2007, we went travelling and Megan ended up working for an osteopath, who was already established in Stroud. And at that birthday party, she told me she was actually returning home to Australia. And why didn't I think about taking her place? And it just came up in conversation. And so we're like, okay, so we we contacted the lady that she was working for, at the time. an osteopath, Sara Sara Spencer Chapman. And yeah, we came to visit one day on the train. We didn't know anything of the place. And we just said, yeah, it felt right. It was very green. And that was it. And we left London.
Tony Winyard 4:31
How was it setting all that up and starting working here?
Wesley Tan 4:35
So we we came, we hired a man and a van and we packed not many belongings into that drove to Stroud, the first three months and we actually lived with Sarah. Whilst we were running her practice, she was actually abroad in Africa. And yeah, that was fine. And then within those three months, we were looking for our own accommodation. And we eventually found a small house to rent in a village called Bisley, which is about five miles up the road from Stroud, very English old and quaint, cobblestone. And that was great and carried on working for Sarah for about six to eight months. When she returned from Africa that unfortunately, there wasn't enough clients really for both of us. And it was a bit of an awkward situation at that point. So we decided to start treating clients from our house, Claire, and I, and that was literally to build a practice from scratch. And what we did is we just offered everybody in the village, free treatment. And it worked. So we got a lot of people through the door, which was a room in our house at the time. And, yeah, wood village quickly took us in and we got to know everyone quite well. And then that's how it started.
Tony Winyard 5:51
And so what was the transition from that to what you do now running a gym and teaching people gymnastics?
Wesley Tan 5:58
so when I was in London, I I always was into my training. And I 17 I got into Kung Fu, that was my first I would say proper training. I mean, I'd always been sporting and play football, etc. But kung fu taught me a lot and the type of training it was, it was long sessions. For us when I first started. proper training is a new train, I'd say close to like a higher level. And it wasn't just a hobby. And yeah, and then I used to teach that as well. I taught whilst I was at uni, I used to run classes for other students at the British School of osteopathy. And then when you kind of moved here, you had a family. And so that all kind of ceased. And for a few years, like for the first three years, I was very restless. And then we had another son Three years later, and I remember at that time, I was at quite a low point, I felt a bit not physical, not so strong as I once was, I felt a bit d masculinized. As well, if that sounds funny. But I did have a little setup in my garriage at the time. And I just remember missing the social aspect of training, sharing, and sorry, started teaching classes again. And it's funny because at that time, Claire had already started her class, she was doing what she calls her stretching core class for good 18 months before I did anything, and she inspired me actually to, to get back to doing something. And at first I was running classes, that was kind of an amalgamation of yoga. Some of the stuff I learned from kung fu and some of the more recent stuff that I was doing involving gymnastics, it was a bit of an amalgamation. And that's how it first started, I think it was 2013. And back then, it was called flexible strength, hadn't come up with a more original name.
Tony Winyard 8:07
How did that grow into Forma? And for people listening, the name of your gym is Forma,
Wesley Tan 8:16
that's correct forma, and like a subline, Gymnastics Fitness. So at first, it was one class for that first year, I think the maximum amount of students I had was about eight. And most of them were people from the local area that that were patients of mine over the years from osteopathy. And a few of them had long term issues. One of them had a neck issue used to get a lot of migraines and stiff neck episodes, and there's quite a few people with bad lower backs that would come and go. And I was just saying to them, Look, you can keep coming for treatment every so often when it goes bad or you can train and you know, sort yourself out, I can show you what to do. And so they bless them there. And they stuck at it because it's it's one of those things, you can't change yourself. In a matter of weeks. It takes months, if not years. And so that first year was slow. And but it wasn't really anything to do with financial, it was just the joy of teaching and sharing and moving. And then over the next few years, it just grew. And then one class became I think it was two and then two became, I think, six or something like that. And then eventually we were running I think it was like 16 classes a week and then that was taken up more of my time then then osteopathy and yeah, and then we had quite a few students or members who were pretty keen. They've been training with us for about three years. And we actually put together our own teacher training course. We did a six month over a six month period we trained I think it was nine people And then we following it opened up clusterfuck and had our own space because up until then we were renting space in another gym. Yeah.
Tony Winyard 10:12
Once you had your own place how different was that? How much more freedom flexibility did it give?
Wesley Tan 10:21
on quite a few points. So when you rent somebody else's space, for one, it's somebody else's, you have to respect their rules, you can't do what you want to the space, for instance, installing equipment, and also when you have access to the space, because it was in another gym. And obviously, they run their own classes as well. So we always felt very grateful for the space, but at the same time, a little bit limited to what we could do, how we could do it. And it all goes even to the design, you know, how you would want to design your own space, how you'd want it to feel. So Claire and I, we've always been, we've always put the feeling first, how do you want something to feel? How do you want people to feel when they come to train with you? And then the details come from the feeling as opposed to the other way around? I feel sometimes people focused. You need detail, of course. But when you're trying to create something from an idea, I think sometimes if you start on the details it can get in the way of the creative process. So yeah, it was good for us to really feel what we wanted and how he wanted. And then and then we did it. And again, this thing of trying to be open to go with the flow. We were looking for a space to rent in Stroud, and commercial spaces were when not that easy to come by, especially for use as a gym. And the lady that was helping us church, who's now one of our members as well, she found the place in gluster. Because we originally weren't thinking about it, and it just worked. Yeah.
Tony Winyard 11:58
Once you opened that place, then I guess you've had to enter the whole world of marketing as well to get regular clients?
Wesley Tan 12:06
Yeah, so everything's kind of been organic. We haven't been crazily commercially driven. And when I say that, I mean, what once you really get into business, I mean, I've learned so much over the last five years from from running former. You do need a certain type of head to deal with the day to day business aspects of it, you know, if there's a balance sheet, you have to make money, you can't, you can't spend more than you earn, and etc. So there's a lot to learn from that. As well as not losing sight of what former is. We do it to share something that we love ourselves, and we're passionate about, and the balance between the business aspect that joy must stay, if that makes sense
Tony Winyard 13:01
And why the name Forma?
Wesley Tan 13:03
So after I think it was we started in 2013. I think it was about 2015. We it was it was growing was evolving. After the first year, I was quite clear that I taught martial arts and Kung Fu for over 10 years in London. I never had a formal teacher training in yoga, but I'd done yoga for over 15 years, and I'm with the martial arts training. So I thought I knew what I was doing. But I felt no one was really teaching the the gymnastic aspect to adults. You know, my sons both went to gymnastics clubs as youngsters, but there wasn't anywhere for adults to learn them. And most gymnastic clubs are for children, and some do offer adult sessions. But they're not structured for typical adult. I feel they don't really know how to approach teaching us in a structured way. So there was a niche, and it was fun, and it was new. And so that's how we focused and and so at that time we had left, the other stuff was focusing on the gymnastics, and it was getting busier. And we just felt we kind of needed something a bit. I think more professional and more creative, more fun. And again, a lot of things are organic. One of our members was a is a graphic design, and he specialises in branding. And we sat down and because he had been training with us from the beginning, he was one of our first members. He was very involved. He came up with a few ideas and former was one of them. And so that's how forma was born. And things are saying yeah, we formed the company and yeah,
Tony Winyard 14:39
Does it stand for anything?
Wesley Tan 14:42
No, it's more. Everything we do in the classes, you know, in the classes, as you know yourself now is about shapes. So in gymnastics, there's fundamental shapes that you have to learn so the dish or the arch, and we say things like protraction of the shoulders. So there's very specific quick ways to, to move and hold the body that build the body in a very good way, but are also fundamental to progressing to more advanced stuff, more advanced movements and strength. So form obviously is always a important thing, I think in Italian form a means shape, etc. And Paul was quite creative, he played with the geometry of different shapes to make them you know, the logo with squares, triangles, etc. So, yeah, it was to try and just follow on from that theme of what we were doing physically and put it into the name.
Tony Winyard 15:36
For people who are listening, and aren't familiar with what it is that you do, would you say it is like a blend of yoga and gymnastics?
Wesley Tan 15:48
No. So I think Yoga is yoga, I think what we do, on one level is similar, because at the end of the day, a body is a body. And if you're moving a body, it's never going to be well, there are lots of ways to move a body, but there's going to be crossover. But the feeling of it, and the way it's structured is very different. I think yoga without meaning to be negative, there is a lot of dogma in it. And I think over the last few decades, there's been like a new wave, it's become more modernised and free. But it's stuck on the mat. It doesn't use any equipment, there are a lot of I think the strength element is not as big as it could be. I know some yoga does get very strong. But it is fundamentally different, I think, I think gymnastics is is more classically attached to strength and conditioning, in the form of really pushing the limits and thinking of things maybe in sets or reps, whereas Yoga is is not really thought of that way. Some people may think Yoga is a bit more spiritual. I think ultimately, not really, it is a physical practice. But you know, when you get deep into anything, it becomes a lot more than purely the physical anyway. But yeah, it's different.
Tony Winyard 17:28
For people who are listening, especially if they're coming from a yoga point of view, they've done many yoga classes, and they may be thinking, oh, what's so important about strength? Is that just for macho guys? What would you say to that?
Wesley Tan 17:42
possibly there can be a stereotype of of the strong guy and people lifting weights in gyms, I think it's a birthright for every human being to be physically strong. And I think it's part of the human condition, but it has become an absent part of the modern human condition, where, you know, we've kind of, it's not normal to see a strong physique. And I think that's because our way of life has just become more and more sedentary. Yeah, I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Something that's been on my mind a lot lately is this term elite. So you hear you know, elite athletes, and I've actually get into work with some elite athletes and professional athletes. And what really defines it for me is it's not just the ability, but it's how much they use their body. So if we think of someone working a typical nine to five versus an elite athlete, an elite athlete is training during the time and then one person is doing the nine to five. So for me, it's more how much to train. And there are a lot of people out there that do the normal nine to five that probably have the potential to really be a high level elite athlete and have and don't know it, because they've just never, never tapped into it.
Tony Winyard 19:13
With that osteopathy background, I'm guessing you would realise more than most people, even more than most people that are running gyms and training people; what having a lack of strength, what kind of problems that might bring people?
Wesley Tan 19:28
Yeah, I mean, one of the clear things over the last decade that I've noticed is when you're stronger, you have more energy levels day to day your muscles are a store of energy and I mean they literally store sugars you have you have carbohydrates stored in your liver, but your musculoskeletal system your muscles store some as well as well as myoglobin which helps for blood flow around the body and oxygenation of You're off your tissues. So I think when you train and you get stronger, and you have a little bit more muscle, you actually have more energy, day to day. And I was talking to a few of our members who are in the 50s, brackets. Some ladies, actually who you train a lot with us, you know, they do not over five, six hours a week. And they were saying very thing themselves, they've got a lot of colleagues who always tired or bored or talking about how tired they feel. And these ladies who happen to be our members are not the same as that, you know, they feel like they have more energy. So strength definitely gives you more, it gives you the capacity to do more in your daily life, which is a good thing. And the other thing I found from when we were studying osteopathy, we often were taught how to loosen up a stiff body. And one of the things that can be quite perplexing is when you're, when you come across someone who's very flexible, or the so called hyper mobile nation, because they don't need to be loosened up anymore. In fact, they need to be strengthened, but what I found working with the older population, you know, the elderly. And you know, I have my 92 year old man living with me now, an older body where the muscles have atrophied, they become very stiff, and they have no muscle. And so in my head, your skeleton, all the bones in your skeleton are not rigidly stuck to each other, you know, none of the bones are actually touching, they have a fluid filled sac, a joint space, you know, so there's like a barrier, there's that there's a space where the bones don't actually touch. So they're kind of floating separately from each other. And it's a bit like a puppet. If you imagine the puppeteer holding all the strings, and once you take the support away, or the muscles, these their ability to hold the skeleton, the skeleton has no choice other than to stiffen the joints between the bones to create stability. So for an older person who's lost the muscle, they become very stiff. And if you try to loosen them up, you actually take away their stability, which is a bad thing. So I think you need to maintain your muscular strength in order to allow your bones to move freely in relation to one another. So it's kind of sounds like a contradiction. But you need a degree of muscular strength to stay flexible.
Tony Winyard 22:42
What kind of age does that start to deteriorate for for many people?
Wesley Tan 22:47
I don't think it's a biologically determined thing. There is no like, genetic clock. And then it starts I think it's more of a way you live things. So I think it happens slowly. And it happens from school. Really, I think school, the modern Western school is a is a big problem. Because, you know, the young child is full of energy and wants to run around and climb and swing. And then once school starts, they get we get told to sit still stay still. And we know it's a problem for for children who are naturally even more energetic than the so called ADHD. That's just an energetic child. In my eyes, yes, I think it starts slowly from them. So it starts really young. And by the time you come out of the education system, you know, 16 to 18, you've been sitting a lot, and your participation in sports gets less you leave school, most people get a job. And that's it, it gets worse and worse. So you just the body is very good at being efficient. So if you don't use certain things, it doesn't need to maintain them. It's a waste of resources. So it withers. So if you don't need that much muscle it won't maintain. Yeah, so it's like a slow process.
Tony Winyard 24:11
I don't know if you're familiar with Katie Bowman? She's a biomechanic and she's got a lot of books that she's written and podcasts and stuff. I can't remember word for word, but she says something along the lines of a lot of people go to the gym for maybe an hour in the morning and then the rest of the day they're just sitting down and they think just that one hour of working out in the morning is going to compensate for the 10 hours of sitting. And that could be even worse where there's two days would only go to the gym every other day, 1/48th of a two day period they've actually spent moving,
Wesley Tan 24:51
totally. I think we learned this some cool technique as Osteopaths we would win when you first meet someone for the first time and you you know they come to you for a specific problem, but one of the things we were trained to do is take a timeline. So you know, we think of from the moment they're born to that to the time they're in front of you try and get as much information as you can of all the major life events. Some emotional as well for so you can understand periods of stress if you've been through, but all the physical stuff from operations, broken bones, all sorts, accidents, etc. And when you see it on the line, and because people forget, you know, they forget they broke a bone or they forget, they had a car injury or car crash, etc. But when you see it clearly, it makes sense. So again, if he was to get someone to draw a line from eight o'clock, to the time they go to bed, and clearly put points like a bar graph, when they do stuff, you'd see that most of the time the line would be flat. And there's not much going on, you know? Yeah.
Tony Winyard 25:58
A lot of people listening to this are entrepreneurs, business owners, often who are probably working way too many hours and not devoting as much time to looking after themselves as they probably would like,
Wesley Tan 26:11
Tony Winyard 26:12
what kind of advice would you give to people?
Wesley Tan 26:15
make the time is a choice, everybody I know, people say, Oh, well, I don't have the time, we all have the same amount of time. A Day is a day, we're all on the same physical reality is just what you choose to do. I mean, I know some people have more choice, if they're more financially stable, or they have more spare cash. A time is more valuable than money as well. So it's a lifestyle choice. And you can come up with a million excuses as to why you can't make the time. But you can always make the time. That might be a bit of a blunt answer. But you have to make the time. What I would say start small, try and do a little bit every day until it gets easier. And then you make it you make it more
Tony Winyard 27:04
what kind of things could people be doing?
Wesley Tan 27:07
Anything really from? I mean, walking is a good thing. It's very, it's not enough in my eyes. In my head walking isn't exercise. Yeah, walking is it's like the most steady way to get from one place to the other is what we do. And we cruise in, you know, you could eat and walk. You know, they say you shouldn't exercise but I wouldn't say exercise is really walking. I mean, it can be if you're, if you're hiking, you're really going for it. But you know, but even that is better than nothing. And then eventually, you know, build up to a bit more try and jog. But I know this five, character five k thing was was quite popular. But then I know a lot of people who buggered up their backs because they've taken a body which has just been used to sitting for years, and then they try to run. And they don't understand the compressive forces, you know, 1000 steps 2000 steps easily in like a one kilometre jog. And it's lots of accumulated stress and their body's not ready for it. They get bad, you know, bad back bad discs, but joints. So you've got to you've got a condition. Yeah, but strength training is a good thing. There are lots of bad ways to train as well. And I know this, the internet is flooded with things now says it's kind of hard to suss out the good from the bad. But
Tony Winyard 28:39
What was the most frequent injury that you saw in your practice?
Wesley Tan 28:45
low back, low back pain. That's very common. I think it's part of the human condition. I've had it myself. If you've never had low back pain, and that's a very good thing, you should be proud of that. But I think most people are going to experience that at some point. The spinal column, so low back is very common, followed by the neck. And then on the peripheral joints, hips and knees, seen a lot of new problems, lots of foot problems, upper limb, not as common, but that's still quite common elbow problems, you know, tendinitis, excuse me, all sorts, but the lower back is so common, and that's just from too much sitting. there not really designed to sit on our ass.
Tony Winyard 29:30
How would someone counter that? what kind of things could they be doing to try to compensate for that?
Wesley Tan 29:36
So spinal compression is the problem. So when you you know, if we were walking that the force of the upper body weight would be dissipated into two legs. But when you sit on your bum, it ends immediately at the lower spine. Does that make sense? So the force of your body is no longer dissipated into your legs. It just goes straight onto the chair. Wherever you have one force, you have an action reaction. So however much your bodyweight is pushing on the seat, the seat is pushing up and into your spine with that same force. So you are compressing your your lower back, even when you're relaxing and sitting. And it's even worse if you slump. So what you need to do is decompress. So as soon as you stand to decompress to a degree, because the normal standing posture, the pressure within the discs actually decreases. And someone did experiments at some point, I can't remember exactly when where they actually stuck needles. Pressure, they detect pressure in into people's discs, I don't know who volunteered for that. And then they they did it in different positions sitting sitting with a rounded back sitting with an arch back, lying down, you know, so standing in a would call a neutral position is actually a lot better than sitting, sitting with an arch lower back is better than sitting slumped. But yes, it is, it's just to try to decrease the time that you compress it. So the advent of standing desks and standing workstations is a really good thing, you can take that even more extreme you can hang. So if you hang from your arms, now your body weight is, is working as a tractioning force. You know, the fixed point is your hands above your head, most of the stretch would go for your upper limb and your shoulders, but it will move into the back. Someone who's very tight with feel it mainly in the shoulders. But once the body starts to soften, you feel the pull dissipating. So you can feel the stretch going all the way down into your pelvis and your lower back. But it takes a bit of time.
Tony Winyard 31:48
One of the things I've noticed at some of the classes that I've done in your gym is that most especially older guys, their legs are so tight.
Wesley Tan 31:58
Yes, just hamstrings and hips and so on. Yes. So again, I'm sorry, well, we know go and go. I was gonna say that, that's just another clear example of when you don't need to use something, you lose it. So range of motion, even though it's not a thing in terms of it's not a body part. It's it's how body parts relate to each other. So if you think of hip range of motion is how your your femur relates to the pelvis. And, you know, how can it move? How free do they allow each other to move, but yeah, support each other. So if you don't use your range of motion, you lose it and the joint will stiffen. And a good example is anybody who's had a fracture, so a broken bone, her man has had to have a period of when a cost that one joint is immobilised even for a short period as much as four weeks, and the the amount of movement you lose is incredible. So my son axle, broke his, his arm during lockdown. And he had a cost from wrist to above the elbow. And he only had it on for four weeks. And when he took it off, the amount of elbow movement was so dramatically reduced, even though there was only a tiny injury at the elbow, you know, just from not going through that range, and he had to work hard to get it back. So yeah, and we see that a lot.
Tony Winyard 33:22
For someone who says, I'm really busy, but I do realise the importance and I do need to do something. So what would be, say, for example, should they be training every other day or four times a week and in the morning and evening...?
Wesley Tan 33:37
I think volume is the key. But it has to be within one's capacity. So a little often is better. So that would be like eating a bit of veggie every day. It's better than better than binge eating once a week. Yeah. Although if you know, if all you can get is a binge, it's better than nothing. Yeah. But yeah, you know, 10 I have a friend in over in Sweden, who I met through all the gymnastic stuff, his name is maths, and he's in his 50s isn't good. 10 years old with me. And he I think he's naturally quite a sporty person used to do a lot of skateboarding when he was younger, but he got into this in his 40s. And what he can do now is pretty incredible. And he started out, I think he said here like 10 minutes a day, just doing some basic stretches and coming back to things like sit ups and push ups. And, yeah, you know, now he's at the point where he might train for an hour and a half, but not necessarily every day. But I'm sure he does something a little bit every day.
Tony Winyard 34:45
And would that be split up into some different parts of the day or just in one in one session?
Wesley Tan 34:51
That's going to depend on you know, I have a good friend in London who is quite busy and he's he wakes up quite early about six and he says if he doesn't take the Time to do it. In the morning, it's not happening. So he does it at 630. And he's got into the habit of doing that over four or five years now. So it works for him. It really depends, you know, some people are single, they don't have the time constraints of a relationship, or they don't have kids. Everybody's different, but you've got to squeeze it in. You got to, you know, make the times if work doesn't allow for it. Do it after work do before work. You could do at lunch, you know, people think I can't think of anything worse getting sweaty your, but why not?
Tony Winyard 35:40
I guess in your work as an osteopath, you've seen the results for the people who don't devote any time to doing anything like this. And again, the consequences that they've had to face?
Wesley Tan 35:50
Yeah, I think it's just a lower quality of life. You know, in some, you know, you're gonna become less able physically, it's gonna things are gonna start wearing out faster. And then your physical quality of life. Yeah, I think deteriorates quicker than it then is necessary.
Tony Winyard 36:11
Have you ever seen anyone who's relatively quite young, had real serious physical problems just purely because they've been so sedentary?
Wesley Tan 36:20
I don't know if I would say really serious. But yeah, I see some I've seen some young people who, who I would say very tight. They've lost a lot of flexibility. I wouldn't, I don't know if I'd say I've treated a few teenagers who had back pain. My remember thinking this, this is a bit funny. No, it shouldn't really be like that. But some of them were quite physical. I think it was what they were doing, you know, hard sports, rugby, which is, you know, quite strength building, but then they would do more gym work, but get stronger, but never ever any emphasis on flexibility or, or stretching so you get tighter, the body gets tighter and tighter, which is marketing.
Tony Winyard 37:18
Statistics say that children at a younger age there is more obesity around now. And I guess that's not going to help flexibility?
Wesley Tan 37:30
No, I think. So I think there is a natural variation in the degree of flexibility that people have an I think there's a few factors that that will be determined, or that will go into determining that. And I think some of that is there are things in the ligaments to the ligaments are made of something called collagen, but they are they have other constituent parts and some ligaments in the spine. For ligamentum flavum, for instance, has lasted, there's an actual protein we call the last thing which gives it its elastic properties. And I think some people would generally have a higher amounts of that than others. Some bodies do tend to be more rigid. However, if we talk about an individual, that's not a fixed parameter, that that can be changed, it can become stiffer, and it can become more flexible, then you have a neurological control of movements. So for anyone who, for any doctors out there, or surgeons or anyone who's had surgery, if you've muscle relaxants, or if you've been put to sleep, when we're in deep sleep, or when we pull unconscious, the body goes almost the muscles lose or their tone, and the body becomes really malleable. And then we're in the waking state. Even when you're not consciously tensing the muscle, the muscle has a degree of tone in it or contract or contract ability. And it's so I think that's another factor that determines how flexible you are. It's the neurological parts of the central nervous system and local peripheral system that kind of determines how the body is held. So is flexible, it's manageable. Sorry, I'd bit night digressed a bit there.
Tony Winyard 39:37
I remember hearing something a couple of years ago that it's important to have a good balance of strength, mobility and flexibility. And too many people focus on two of those three, rather than all three of them.
Wesley Tan 39:52
Yeah, I think when you strength train, like if you really push and you're trying to actually you know, you're looking For what we'd call hypertrophy, where, you know, get the muscles bigger. If you train in that way where you have to really exert, push, you are going to feel tight. You know, even during this journey strength session, you feel like pumped and you feel strong and the body feels ready. But it does create tension, you are creating a high degrees of tension. So it's important to counter that. And something I took from the the Kung Fu, and the traditional Chinese philosophy, you know, everyone's aware of the yin and the yang, and the hard and soft. Some people make fun of it. But to put it into practical sense, it's a bit, it's a bit like dance you have, you could dance in a style, it's soft and flowing, in the dancing style is very rigid and tight. And I think the qualities are in the nervous system. So when you're doing something that is strength based, it's going to be tight. And you need to train yourself to move in a soft fashion as well. So that's the hard and soft and you need to balance the two. Especially for athletic development. So being strong is one thing. But if you want to learn a technique to be able to throw, or move an object, or hit or whatever, then softness, it's often I think, a better tip, you can learn to whip the body, which is degree of softness, but with the strength as well. So yeah, you need both.
Tony Winyard 41:37
And I guess on the other side of things, I mean, we've been focusing a lot on people who are maybe more sedentary and not focusing on strength, flexibility or whatever. On the other end of the scale. There's people who work out so hard and don't realise the importance of recovery?
Wesley Tan 41:54
Yes, definitely. So recovery is massive. It's just, it's more important than the actual. I would say one point, it's just as important as the actual activity. Yes. But yeah, so when people are getting to elite levels, where it's mentioned earlier about how much they train, it is possible to overtrain. And that's, that's a real term used in the sports science world where the body can be put into kind of a detrimental state where the immune system is lowered. And it's easier to get ill and to get injured resources are scarce, because they're, you know, being you're not allowing enough time for the body to recuperate in between sessions. So that's a really important thing. And also, I've been working with some professional mixed martial artists over the last few years, and it's been great learning a lot from them as well. But yes, they were, they were not as flexible as they could have been at the start, you know, a couple years later, they're much better now. Because of changes we've made to the proportions of what they were doing. Yeah, it makes a big difference to overall athletic performance. I
Tony Winyard 43:14
For someone who maybe doesn't really understand what the word recovery means, some people think, does that just mean taking the day off? What what does recovery actually mean?
Wesley Tan 43:26
recovery is so if you think of hurting yourself, if you was to break a leg, for instance, you wouldn't be able to carry on walking it in like normal. Some people might for a short amount of time, they've got very high pain threshold or they're very stubborn, but the body will make them stop. And if you don't stop before it's too late, you will get ill, you know, so if you get the flu if you get ill, if you catch Coronavirus, and I'm just joking, but you're in a state that you've allowed yourself to become successful to, you know, is true Coronavirus, like they're saying certain conditions diabetes, most people are gonna have type two diabetes, which is a lifestyle disease or obesity, which is a lifestyle disease. Again, you've use you've set the scene, you've allowed the soil to become fertile for that problem to set in. So recovery is is yes, it's when you're sleeping. It's when the body is in its recuperation mode. So you have two systems in the body. You have the sympathetic and the parasympathetic that the parts of what we call the autonomic nervous system. So it's the nervous system control doing everything in the background, you know, making your heartbeat regulating the the half path fast the heart beats, the heart rate, blood pressure, your digestive juices, etc. sympathetic Sick is associated with doing or fight and flight response. So when you're active when you're stressed, when you're exercising, you're in that mode. And then when you're chilling out, when you're relaxing when you're laying on the sofa after dinner, that's your parasympathetic mode. And yeah, when you're sleeping, there's different stages. But deep sleep, is when you your body really relaxes and the muscles actually repair. So someone could be getting sleep, but they might not be actually getting deep sleep. And now we have the advent of quite a few new technologies and wearable technologies, which can help us monitor that as well.
Tony Winyard 45:42
And the importance of sleep is huge isn't it?
Wesley Tan 45:44
massive. Yeah, it's massive. And it's something you can feel, you know, you feel it in the morning, you wake up, you don't really feel that rested. That's just, you know, but it's I think a lot of people don't know how to listen to the body, they've lost that ability to follow their instincts, you know, that you don't feel great. shouldn't really have a crazy day. Don't try and it's hard.
Tony Winyard 46:09
I think sometimes people think well, I've had eight hours in bed so that means I had a good sleep. But if you wake up, and you're not feeling great, then that's telling you, you haven't had a good sleep.
Wesley Tan 46:18
Yeah, that's correct. I mean, I mean, it's the context of a longer timeframe as well. So you can't each day doesn't isn't a standalone day. So this is really common, like people will hurt their back often from innocuous event, like I just bent down to pick up a sock fell off, you know, fell it fell on the floor out of the dryer or something. And then my back when Yeah, yes, it that was the onset of the injury. But the stage was set, you know, days and weeks and the months of what happened prior. So sometimes if you've had weeks and weeks of overactivity, higher level stress, not great sleep, and then suddenly you have one big sleep. You know, you're not gonna even though it might have done good, it's not suddenly gonna repair everything from the last two, three weeks. So yeah, sometimes they are asleep. I mean, generally speaking, the more you get, the better. But then there's the stages, which is becoming more and more common knowledge now. Yeah.
Tony Winyard 47:26
For people who are lucky enough to live around or near Gloucestershire, they can attend your gyms in in Stroud and in Gloucester itself. But, for those who are living a bit further afield, by the time this episode goes out, you've got some online offerings now?
Wesley Tan 47:45
Yeah. it's something that we've been wanting to do for a while, but we never really had, well, we never took the time to dedicate making it happen, I should say. So lockdown kind of forced us into addressing that. So we look interact. During lockdown, we created some online material for our members. So they could carry on at home. But then we've recently I think, in the last few months, released it to everyone on the internet, we haven't really pushed it or you know, advertised it too hard. Few teething problems with the delivery, but we're now here next few days will we have on demand library, which we're hosting through through vimeos on demand service, got over 100 classes now that you can, you can do at home. So yeah, you can do that anywhere. And we've designed those classes in the kind of feeling of, of lockdown, so not needing much equipment. I mean, the gymnastic training itself doesn't require a lot. Although in the gym, we do have, you know, things like monkey bars, etc, more bars, but, but to do you can do a lot at home with minimal equipment, your chair,
Tony Winyard 49:03
so could come someone who's got very little knowledge about any of these things, come and do your online classes and know what to do?
Wesley Tan 49:12
Yeah, we've made it so that you literally just follow along. So you follow but there are some classes which are harder than others. And it will be explained as to which ones you should try first. And most of you are not and also you don't have to do everything that we do during the video, some things are going to be too challenging the pace might be a little bit quick, but people that don't have the luxury of a pause button. know they can they can do that. But I think the main thing is not to be too scared. Just to try if some of the exercises feel too difficult, then then skip them. You know if we do five reps do one rep. But the thing is to do what you can and, you know always do what you can and that will grow. So what you can do today It will be easy for you in, say two weeks. And after two weeks, you add a little bit more after months. So, um, I don't think there's a perfect way to start. I think the main thing is you just start. See how your body feels teething period. At first you adjust once a day feels too much to once every other day. Yeah, there's no right way.
Tony Winyard 50:27
Where would people find this?
Wesley Tan 50:29
Oh, so you can find the online material on our website, which is https://formagym.co.uk/
Tony Winyard 50:44
I guess just go to the Forma gym website, will give people information and all sorts of things of the stuff that you're doing as well.
Wesley Tan 50:50
Yeah, you'll get I mean, you can, you know, read the about page, you can see the instructors is lots of images. There's a few free classes on there. And then for Instagram as well, Instagram is great, because what we do is very visual. So Instagram page has got lots of stuff we do. I know. We've had a lot of comments over the ads that it looks to, to advanced. But yeah, we also know that Instagram is a funny thing. And if you show the basic stuff, people are not interested. Exactly. So you got to show some cool stuff. But it is what it is. beginners can do it. I mean, you know, you've seen we've got people of all ages in our classes. It's not easy. We don't want it to be easy, because it won't change you. But we don't force anyone to do more than they're capable.
Tony Winyard 51:45
I remember there was a lady, I won't mention any names, but she was in her 70s. And some of the stuff she was doing was amazing.
Wesley Tan 51:52
Yeah. So so inspirational. You know exactly. I mean, I want to be like her when I grew up. Yeah. And yeah, incredible. Yeah. And it's funny because that that lady in particular, had never done gymnastics and has not really being a sporty person, but she is extremely active business. avid gardener keeps animals I mean, she is non stop. And that goes to show that, you know, you've got to keep busy gotta keep doing and your capacity. And your ability to do stays high.
Tony Winyard 52:31
Wes,, is there a book that you've recommended to people, a book that you just found fascinating or inspirational or whatever?
Wesley Tan 52:44
There's a few but I think there's a book by an English author called James Allen. It's called "As a man thinketh". And that book is, is in the public domain, because it was written, I think, early 19th century, late 19th century or something. Anyway, brilliant book, a bit bit heavy to read in terms of the Old English way of speaking. That's mainly a life philosophy. But that book did wonders to me some hard times. And I always tried to remember the teachings of that.
Tony Winyard 53:22
And when was it you first came across that?
Wesley Tan 53:27
10 years ago now maybe? I've got copies my Kindle. I got some hard copies lying around as well. But yes, it's very, I love that book. And it has, it's about the mind. Hey, think your thoughts. But it also has specific sections like the effect on thought on the health effect on thought body? Yeah, it's interesting.
Tony Winyard 53:54
And finally, is there a quotation that you particularly like,
Wesley Tan 53:58
Yeah, there's a quote I like from that. It says "He thinks in secret and it comes to pass environment is but his Looking Glass". It's quite a it's not so straightforward to understand that first but but what it's saying is, your internal thoughts are not separate from your outer world, the world and circumstances that you live in. So even though you think in secret, what happens to you and the environment and scenarios and situations you find yourself? That's the looking glass. So you can you can see the effects of how you think, if only but you will. Look when you're looking glass.
Tony Winyard 54:47
Well, Wes, It's been a pleasure chatting with you for the last 55 minutes, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Wesley Tan 54:56
Thanks for having me.
Tony Winyard 55:02
Next week is Episode 20. with Melanie Bloch, and we're going to explore the world of Laughter Yoga. And if you're not familiar with Laughter Yoga, you're going to find out a lot more about it, in these times that we're in at the moment, and we've been enduring for the last, what 9, 10 months or however long it is. This is so needed right now. It's nothing really much to do with yoga, but there is a lot of laughter involved. And there are so many feel good chemicals just oozing around the body, that you feel amazing at the end of it, or even during as well. Every time I've done a laughter yoga session, I've ended up with a stomach ache from laughing but just felt amazing. So we're going to find out a lot more about it. It's used in therapy now for certain conditions. So that's next week with Melanie Bloch. Hope you enjoyed this week's show. Please do share it with anyone who you feel could get some real benefit from it and why not subscribe, leave a review and hope you have a great week.
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