Yellow Belt – 13 months in the making

Carl is a brand support executive at insure4sport and a student of the martial art Kenpo.

I have been writing to you about ‘Kenpo – the beautiful but brutal art’ and my progress through the Kenpo belt grading system, In my last blog post I wrote about watching ‘the highest ranked Kenpo black belt in the UK’,.  This time it’s my time to shine!

On Saturday I finally passed my grading and successfully moved on to my yellow belt! It was a long, hard, gruelling day which started at 11am with training. We trained until 4pm, at which point we then started grading which finished at around 6:20pm.

I feel like a pressure has been lifted off my shoulders as I have been working towards this belt for so long but injuries, sickness and work commitments have meant that I have not been able to go to training as frequently as I would of liked to. But now, 13 months on from the date I started Kenpo, I have finally been graded on my yellow belt.

Although I have been graded before for my white belt, this one really feels like the first stepping stone towards becoming established within the Kenpo grading system. I have already set my sights on the next belt available and I am definitely looking forward to learning everything I need to know to be graded with an orange belt. I am aware I will have to up my intensity levels to prepare, and with sparring now being a required element of the grading I can’t wait to get started.

Hard work, commitment and perseverance has driven through this past six months. I will not give up and will keep on going at this. I’m finding Kenpo helps me in many ways from building my confidence to keeping the stress of day to day life at bay when I train Kenpo. I have noticed this more recently as mentioned I have not been attending as much as I used to or as much as I will be moving forwards.


Watching the highest ranked Kenpo black belt in the UK has motivated me for my own progress  

I’m Carl. I am a brand support executive at insure4sport and I have recently taken up ‘Kenpo – the beautiful but brutal art’ and write here about my progress through the Kenpo belt grading system.

Last week I returned to my Kenpo sessions, following several weeks away after a long layoff due to surgery. When I walked in I was stumped and shocked as I was blessed with the presence of my sensei’s teacher and Uncle, Shihan Pete Conoghan, who is 9th Degree Dan Black Belt and the highest ranked Kenpo black belt in the UK. You could tell he was vastly superior straight away as he was wearing a black gown uniform instead of a usual GI (gown).

We trained as usual but broke up sessions to witness elements of the grading. He did the 1st form Kata (grading guidelines) I did and still do when grading and I never understood the reasons for the kata until now. As he did the Kata he was hit fiercely with a large wooden (filled not hollow) piece of bamboo and he succeeded in remaining in posture throughout utilising his breathing. After he had completed this twice he was then mass attacked, (attacked at numerous angles by several people) both with and without weapons whilst the sensei (teacher) blind folded him. After being spun around 10 times he was then released and had to defend himself.

This whole thing gave me an insight into the techniques and the theory behind Kenpo. It was awesome yet frightening to watch. It helped me understand so much about the theory behind Kenpo and applying theory in real time situations. It has made me realise how the theory can make a huge difference in outside dojo (practice venue) scenarios. After this session I was so proud to have the honour of sharing the dojo with my sensei.  To have the pleasure of his time and presence every time I train is much more appreciated now I have sat through that particular grading.

My grading will happen soon, I am very confident of that. I am very much looking forward to telling the tale of how it happened in the not too distant future.


Bounce your way to fitness

Want to get fit? Well step aside spin sessions, running regimes and Insanity classes. There’s a new kid in town, the trampoline.

You may not think it, but bouncing up and down on a bit of stretchy material is a fantastic way to get fit. Not only that, but it’s tremendous fun.

Ok, so it may take some getting used to. After all, the only time where we really see a trampoline is in someone’s back garden and even then it’s full of children – no place for the serious adult and their water bottle.

You can purchase mini trampolines or rebounders, which are more tailored for those who want to get fit and lose weight. But before you part with your money, it’s worth finding out more about trampolines and how they can help you with your fitness.


Check out our five reasons why you should give trampolining a go:


Low impact: For those of you who suffer from joint issues and arthritis, a trampoline is a great way to get fit without causing further damage or injury.  Jumping up and down may look like a lot of impact is put through your body, but the trampoline pad soaks up the majority of the shock unlike hard surfaces such as the road, which really puts your ankles, knees and hips under enormous strain.


Cardiovascular improvements: The repetitive jumping up and down will help increase muscle strength and fitness. It’s an aerobic exercise, which encourages your heart and lungs to work harder to get oxygenated blood to the working muscles.


Bone health: While trampolining won’t put your joints at risk – the pad reduces shock – there is enough repetitive force to help improve your bone health. As we get older, our bones become brittle, and they require force to help create new bone tissue. A trampoline will help.


Brain training: Jumping up and down on a trampoline requires coordination, concentration and mental alertness. You also need to have balance and good reaction skills as your body leaves the pad. Your landing will affect how you spring back up, so anticipation is very important. Just like you would with fitness and skills you can train your mind and a trampoline is very effective at doing that.


Toned, strong muscles: While the pad helps propel you into the air, the majority of the force has to come from you. Your core, gluteal muscles (bottom), thighs and calves generate explosive power each time you prepare to take off. They will also work hard when landing, cushioning impact and maintaining balance. A trampoline is a sure fire way to increase muscle strength, conditioning and tone.


Where can I sign up?

If you want to give a trampolining a go you can buy one. They range in prices and sizing. But you must be careful as accident can happen. Falling off may result in an impact injury and a miss-timed jump could cause muscle sprains and tears. Your body may also not be ready for such a routine, which again, could cause discomfort.

Providing you have a trampoline individual insurance policy, if an accident does happen you have the right to claim compensation.

However, our top advice is to go to a specific trampoline class. They are great fun, and are supervised by trained professionals. You can find a list of trampoline clubs in the UK here:

Matt's 12 Stone Challenge

Matt’s 12 Stone Challenge – The end is nigh!

Start date / weight – 1st October 2014 / 10st

Current date / weight – 3rd March 2015 / 11st 10lbs

Hi, I’m Matt, a social media executive for Insure4Sport. This winter I’ve set myself the challenge of building my strength and general fitness with the aim to be 12kg heavier by April, the start of the 2015 cricket season.

After taking advice from a personal trainer at my gym, I have lessened my cardiovascular activity in the last month and focused predominantly on high intensity weight training. I believe this change has helped me reap rewards in the last month as I am now very close to reaching my 12 stone target in very good time, considering my first cricket match of the season isn’t for another 6 and a half weeks.


I have steadily increased the weight/time of each exercise throughout my training to make sure that progression takes place and I have pushed myself every session to achieve things I didn’t think were possible a few months ago. For example, I remember my first session in the gym back in October, I struggled to do 5 paltry press ups! Whereas now, I can quite easily do 50 press ups (in 5 sets of 10) and my starting effort of 20 sit ups every session has now been upgraded to 100 sit ups, whilst holding a 10kg dumbbell!

I am now comfortably lifting 40kg on the bench press which is actually big progress from the 20kg that I started lifting (not so comfortably) 5 months ago, I have focused mainly on my upper body strength in the past few weeks, and have seen big progress in the strength of my chest and shoulders.


I have significantly increased my protein portion sizes in the last month to help my muscles with recovery from the high intensity weight training I have been doing. So, for example, in a typical midweek meal of chicken, rice and vegetables, I would have one standard 100g fillet of chicken and averagely sized portion of rice and vegetables. Whereas now, I keep my rice and vegetables portion the same but I am now having 1.5/2 standard fillets of chicken to boost my protein levels.

I have also been drinking at least one 1250kcal protein shake a day on non-gym days, and two on days that I do a workout. The protein powder has been my best friend really in my weight gain challenge; it allows me to eat a normal balanced diet, whilst overloading on calories and protein which helps me put weight on even with all the exercise I’m doing with my already rapid metabolism.

I have also made a conscious effort to drink 2-3 litres of water every day, I’ve been told it is essential to keep hydrated whilst training but also keeping hydrated actually can make you feel better about yourself; improve your skin, help you think better and give you energy throughout the day, all of which I have definitely benefitted from in the last month or so.

Next Steps

With another 6 and a half weeks to go before my first cricket match of the season, I am now looking at setting myself a new target, firstly to get to my 12st target, and past it in the coming weeks, but I now want to switch my attention to the cardiovascular side of things and really push myself so that I can perform at my best by the time 18th April comes around.

New Target

I want to be 13 stone and supremely fit, cardiovascular wise, by 1st June.

If you would like to read the previous entries to ‘Matt’s 12 stone challenge’ click the below links:

  1. ‘Getting Started’
  2. ‘Early Improvements’
  3. ‘Halfway There’
client rapport

Building a rapport between you and your client

As a personal trainer, it’s so important you build a great relationship between you and your client. These are the people you will be working with. These are the people who will recommend you to a friend. These are the people who are investing their time and money in you.

Building a rapport with your client doesn’t come easy. It takes time, hard work and a lot of dedication. But the rewards are worth it.

Here are five ways to help create a better relationship with your client:


This is key. The more your client trusts you, the more they are able to open up and talk to you about their goals and even barriers that they face. Don’t try and con your client. Be honest with them. If you think that their targets are too high, tell them. If you think they aren’t working hard enough or can go even further, then push them. Don’t hide anything from client. People are very aware when they aren’t being told the truth. Remember, trust works both ways. The more honest you are with them, the more they are with you and the quicker you can reach the end result.

Strive for success

As a personal trainer, your client’s aspirations are the most important thing. That should be your sole focus. You should be obsessed with getting the best out of your client, and smashing through each target. Enthusiasm is infectious. Your client will want to work harder and go above and beyond not to let you down.

Going that extra mile

The session doesn’t end when your client goes home. Going that extra mile will help convey to your client that you are there to help. A friendly email asking how they are getting on, or a text with a brief reminder of that 5k park run they should be doing this morning helps build a better working relationship with your client.

It’s not about the money

There is nothing worse than a personal trainer pressurising a client into signing up to a number of pre-paid sessions. It stresses them out and creates an air of animosity and reluctance. Clients want to know that their health is your priority, not the coins and notes in their pocket. A sure-fire way to demolish a good relationship with a client is to focus on money and payments rather than health and fitness. Trust us, once they know where your priorities lie, they will want to sign up.

Invest in them

Without your clients, you aren’t a personal trainer. You’re just a guy with a lot of time on your hands. Invest in your client. Go above and beyond. Build a relationship with each individual client. Be personable, friendly and considerate. You need them more than they need you. Once you have that connection, they will keep coming back, and even tell their friends to come and join.

How to motivate your clients to achieve more – be SMART!

Cricket World Cup 2015 Preview

Cricket World Cup 2015 Preview – England’s Chances

England are back at the scene of their most agonising one day cricket encounter; the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). In that 1992 World Cup Final, Graeme Gooch’s experienced England team  lost to Imran Khan’s Pakistan by 22 runs. The 1992 Final represents the closest England have ever come to lifting cricket’s most prestigious trophy. Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that this was 1992, nearly a quarter of a century ago, and the best they have managed in the intervening period has been a place in the quarter finals.

Unfamiliar sub-continent pitches have been their undoing in previous tournaments and expectations are low this time for what is after all a young, inexperienced but highly talented team. They start their 2015 World Cup campaign at the epic MCG this Saturday against who else but the old foes Australia in front of what will be a sold out 100,000 partisan crowd.

Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan replacing Alistair Cook as England’s one day captain was an extremely bold decision, but one that should “bear fruit” for England in the future, if not in this tournament then definitely in the next which we will host in four years’ time.

Eoin Morgan has been the shining light of English one day cricket over the last six years since he made the switch over from Ireland, almost carrying the team on occasions with his free spirited, innovative brand of cricket, which should energise the rest of the squad, not just in the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but over the next four years building up to the 2019 tournament.

Morgan’s form has been very hit and miss though over the last 18 months which is probably why the selectors took so long to put Alistair Cook out of his misery, but Morgan has shown that he thrives under the pressure of leading the team with a real captain’s knock in the first ODI of the tri-series just a few weeks back.

England were on the verge of crumbling at 69-5 when Ravi Bopara departed, but a real gutsy innings of 121 from the out-of-form skipper led England to a respectable score of 234. It gave England something to bowl at but they were soundly beaten by the Aussies with 10 overs spare.

It’s fair to say that if Eoin Morgan has a good World Cup, then so too will England.

England’s Chances – The Dark Horses

England, on paper, have by far the most exciting one day cricket team most of us can remember.

For once we have match winners throughout the whole order, Moenn Ali has shown that he can deliver match winning performances on the big stage with bat and ball over the last 12 months. His opening partner Ian Bell has been in the form of his life since touching down in Australia, so exciting times at the top of the order.

James Taylor at three has been an absolute revelation for English one day cricket and shows the intent for England to move away from their past errors. He has shown he can be the rock to build around in a crisis, or an explosive presence should the situation require.

The middle order is made up of three very different one day players, Joe Root at four has everything needed to be the mainstay of English Cricket for the next decade, so he’s the perfect man to have high up the order. He can adapt brilliantly to the conditions on offer or the match situation and therefore Joe Root should go well.

Eoin Morgan at five is, when on song unplayable. He can hit any bowler in the world to wherever he desires and as mentioned earlier and England’s chances could rest of the performances of their skipper.

Wicket-keeper batsmen, Jos Buttler has got the potential to be the most electrifying one day cricketer England have ever produced. He can hit 360 degrees around the ground with his now quite common ramp shot bringing boundaries a plenty. But it is his calmness on and off the field which has earned him the vice captaincy, at the age of 24 showing he has the respect of the dressing room and coaching staff. If Jos Buttler has a great World Cup it will be a joy to watch for all, but will give England a great chance.

The bowling department is very strong for England and in James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England have two of the world’s best with 437 ODI wickets between them. It will be interesting to see how they both go after coming back from long term injuries.

Taking early wickets will be key in this World Cup as flat pitches and hot weather in Australia and New Zealand will make it a nightmare for teams if batsmen get going. So throw Steven Finn into the mix with Anderson and Broad and England have three genuine wicket taking options throughout the innings which has gone a begging in previous World Cups.


I think the “dark horses” tag suits England best, because there is a lot of talent in that squad, they just haven’t got the experience that most of the tournament favourites have. Many believe one of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa will be lifting the trophy in Melbourne on the 29th March but England can reach the semi-finals, and from there anything can happen. A good toss to win, a match winning individual performance or a great catch could take them all the way. Well at least that’s what the heart says.

Winner: Australia

Surprise Package: England

Player of the tournament: AB DeVilliers (South Africa)

Matt's 12 Stone Challenge

Halfway There – Matt’s 12 stone challenge

When I started this challenge, just over three months ago, I don’t think I realised just how hard it would be to put weight on, but in the right way. Of course I could have piled two stone on very easily by eating three or four ‘junk’ meals each day, and doing little to no exercise, but that wasn’t my challenge.  My challenge was to put on two stone and for people to not necessarily notice.

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American Football

American Football: where do I sign up?

This weekend the New England Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks in a bid to become the 49th winner of the Super bowl and take home the prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super bowl Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year, with an estimated 150 million people watching it worldwide.

In the past, Brits have been a little sceptical of the sport. To many it was a softer version of rugby. But opinions are changing, and this Sunday, thousands of people across the UK will stay up throughout the night to watch the match.

A large part of this is down to the National Football League’s (NFL) International Series, which has seen at least one game played annually at Wembley since 2007.

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Kenpo – The beautiful but brutal art

We caught up with Carl Bell, a colleague at insure4sport as he looks to make a comeback after a 10 week layoff after a serious hernia operation. Before his injury Carl was all set to gain his yellow belt after eight months of hard training but unfortunately the injury has set him back. He hopes to comeback stronger than ever, he has given us an overview of the art of Kenpo, and his plans for progression.

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fitness apps

Fitness apps for 2015

So many people want to get fit and lose weight but aren’t prepared to fork out such hefty sums for gym memberships.

We live in an age where social media and digital interaction has never been greater. According to, seven in 10 people now own a smart phone, so it comes as no surprise that fitness app – many of which are free – are becoming so popular.

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