The following has evolved from the last three weeks of my life.
“You have four bulging discs” Efrem tells me as he looks at the scans of the MRI scan. “The top two discs are not to bad, but the bottom two don’t look good, especially the last one. This disc has protruded a whole heap” After Efrem speaks those words he goes into a whole series of explanations to describe what he sees, I can hear what he is saying but I’m not listening to him.; what I’m contemplating about is my inability to squat,  deadlift,  bentover row and no Olympic lifts and no 2 reps @ 95%.
Efrem bunguric whom I regard as a great physio has attempted time and time again to help me with my back problem. I have had back issues stemming from a car accident and working in the construction industry where in running my own business for a while led me to do some very constant and relentless heavy lifting throughout the day. Then weight training at night or either boxing , kickboxing training or both. Then like the majority of people when my back started to play up I would take myself to Efrem and ask to be healed.
My head is spinning uncontrollably due to confusion stemming from the past two weeks as I have lived on two to three hours of sleep a night due to pain and a tremendous amount of pain killers. Feelings of depression, self pity and the unbearable thought of not doing what I love to do in the gym really set in and inside my head a storm is brewing.
Two days past, the pain hasn’t improved and still my sleep is limited to no more than two to three hours of sleep per night and the storm in my head starts to sweep across my life and I feel emotionally drawn out.
I confide in a few friends, Ashley Jones, Russell Townsend and Efrem Bunguric.
After having conversations with these three men it leads me to a gym in Sydney called Camperdown Fitness as suggested by Russell. “Keep an open mind” Russell asks me. Just give it a chance, it’s all machines .isolation movements and controlled lifting” the big fella continues to add.
Machines!!!! Machines… I want free movement of weight shifting. I want to jump, push, pull, throw, catch, kick, and hit anything but machines. But oddly enough when I look at Russell, he seems to be in the best shape of his life. So my decision to change gyms and give it a chance is made up.
Its 4.45am on a Monday morning I arrive at Camperdown gym. I am greeted by a gentleman who introduces himself as Michael and lets me into the gym. Shows me around and sets me on my way to train.
During the workout another gentleman approaches me, Introduces himself as Paul he is co owner of the gym. He has been watching me and can see that I’m lost in this world of machine training. “Every machine hits a different angle of the muscle” he begins to explain. Paul puts me through my paces and shows me the best way to utilise the equipment.
Once finished I approach Michael and Paul to thank them for there hospitality and general conversation is made and I explain my dilemma. Michael turns to me and says with a cheeky grin “john, you got to protect yourself”
That night, the statement Michael made runs through my head.
A conversation via email with Ashley takes me to a decision that my best option if I want to continue training for the moment is to follow a program written by Dave Tate called Extended Tension Training.
My thought trail process extends and I ponder to my training future and general better health. What, how and when to train?
Run my training like you would run a business- that’s what I decide on.
What is the business about? To make this simple it’s about me been able to get to the gym, set myself challenges and most of all enjoy training.
Things that I considered and not necessarily in order of importance are as follows;
Who will manage my business? In my case it will be me.
What about the business been manageable- the work you put into your body must come at a manageable and sustainable pace. There must be balance all over or you will tip.
A business needs to be profitable to survive- in my case profitable means able to function , be mobile, play and run with my children and get to work. It has to meet the daily grind of the construction industry and able to meet my challenges I set in life and in training, that’s how it can be profitability. For me to use my body in the way I have indicated is how it will be profitable.
A business must work for you. – Your body must be able to do what it is you require it to do. If it cannot then you are managing it wrong. Your training wrong.
No weak link in the business- this also relates to the managing of your body. You will find that anybody, any team and any business can only be as strong as its weakest link. A generally over used statement you may think but no I can assure you it isn’t, the weakest link in your body will only allow you to attain so much and once that weakest link stops you from training or enjoying the simple things in life as been able to sleep well or play with your children or not be able to squat 20kg this statement will become your life’s motto. NO WEAK LINK,
Is the business self-satisfying- are you getting out what you put in. if not once again I will use the word balance and another word harmony. A business is most satisfying if you get a balance and harmony from it. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you love what you are doing and place a certain amount of energy into that. Then you should be receiving that much energy back out from it.
Set short term and long term targets-this point really is important. Setting these goals short and long will give you a working direction, where you can put together and work out a program. Program based on the direction you want to take. a business/body direction in which your energies can be focused, you just can’t call herself a business and open up the doors in hope your business will grow and be profitable, there are strategies to be put in plan, knowing firstly what it is you want to achieve and knowing how to get there. We all know that to just go to the gym and say that we are training a certain body part, exercise, speed day, cardio day time and time again with no programming will only take you to a very little place in achieving what it is you wan to achieve, but putting together a program for your short term and long term goal is vital for the operation of the business.
Business flexibility – this mainly comes off our short and long term goals in business. We need to recognise what works for our bodies and what doesn’t. You can’t just do it for the simple fact that you are supposed to do it or everyone else does it. I am guilty of this. Ashley sends me programs that he is doing and in some cases I have stopped what I was doing and changed to his program. Where it went wrong for me was compared to what I was doing the loading and reps varied tremendously and injuries came with that change. Let me make this very clear it was not Ashley’s program that caused the injury but my stupidity and eagerness in not evolving into the program. Flexibility is about recognition of one’s self and one’s needs. YOU DO NOT FAIL BY CHANGING THE PROGRAM OR PLAN. YOU FAIL BY NOT RECOGNISING THAT THE PROGRAM OR PLAN IT ISN’T WORKING AND NOT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Time allocation- last but not least we have time allocation, something that once again I am very guilty of. When you are at the gym be focused, give it your all and push yourself to not only physically new barriers but mentally, but , once away from there, enjoy your time away and focus on your life in front of you.
I would like to finish off with one of my favourite sayings

John Rahme

Started training at age of 13 years old, in a bodybuilding style. Competed in a few bodybuilding competitions. Trained in boxing and kickboxing and had a few fights. Started as rehab/gym supervisor in the year 2000 with the Wests Magpies premier league team. In 2003-2007, worked with the St. George Illawarra Dragons from the youngest grades to NRL. 2007- 2011- worked with boxers, tennis players, bodybuilders, sprinters, hockey teams and soccer players. 2012- current, working with the NRL Rabbitohs. I started off in training young at 13 years old. With the transfer in sport from bodybuilding to boxing and kickboxing, I learnt many more methods and styles in the gym. My biggest lessons learnt and greatest guidance came from Ashley Jones and still does. A very big believer in Westside barbell. Through the years of working with athletes, I studied, read books and attended seminars on the way our mind and thoughts work. Building a trust with the athlete I found myself in an almost daily conversation with an athlete about the mental aspect of training and also what was going on in their personal life. This led me to create my own style and plan on how to help them. ITS NOT THE ATHLETE I WAS CONCERNED WITH OR NEVER HAVE BEEN, ITS THE PERSON WHO THAT ATHLETE WAS. Look after the person, and the athlete will be just fine. Contact John here: John Rahme Australia: 0420820559 John is happy to help, please visit his site for more information. Website: or Email:

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