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HIIT vs Cardio…Which Is Best?

Take 2 athletes. 

One of them trains every day for 4 to 5 hours. Training this much means most of the exercise they do is steady state, lower intensity training.

The other trains for much less time but does much higher intensity workouts when they do.

Both compete.

For the first few years the first athlete does REALLY well, wins loads of competitions and moves quickly up the pack. The second doesn’t do quite as well but still puts in solid performances.

But within a few years athlete #1 is starting to pick up a few injuries, they look older than they should, they’ve starting noticing gut problems.

As a result their performance starts to decline and their punishing training schedule starts to have an effect on their relationships…their partner starts getting pissed and they don’t see as much of their kids as they’d like.

Athlete #2 continues to train in the same way and slowly their performance is improving, they’re enjoying their training and their sport and still have plenty of time left over for life. What’s more due to the reduced training load, their body is actually getting stronger, they are getting injured less and less and look and feel great.

By the time they’re 50 athlete #1 has had to give up, their knees gave out and they now can’t really run. Athlete #2 is still going strong and is now competing in the veterans section and loving it as much as ever.

But I thought exercise was good for us?

The problem with huge amounts of exercise is the wear and tear it puts on the body. Repetitive often fairly high impact activities (running I’m looking at you) place an incredible strain on predictable areas of the body. Over time this leads to joints simply breaking down under the stress.

The other issue with this type of exercise is it causes the body to quite literally eat itself. 

Ever wondered why marathon runners are so skinny?

It’s because as they run for extended periods the body actually runs out of resources to fuel itself. When it does this it assumes this is a survival situation (ie they’re being chased by a Tiger) and the fact that you’re telling it to keep running means it’d better find the fuel from somewhere.

So it does. It scavenges energy from anywhere it can find, to start with it mobilizes fat stores, when they don’t prove sufficient it has to look else where.

It starts to break down muscle, connective tissue, it robs the gut lining, it steals energy and resources from your reproductive system. 

In short it steals energy from anywhere it can under the rationale that it can rebuild these stores later, but if it doesn’t escape from this emergency situation it believes you are in (as otherwise why the hell would you still be running?) it may never get the chance to use that muscle, that connective tissue, that gut lining or those most precious of parts ever again.

When repeated over and over again without allowing the body time to rebuild these precious resources this can lead to serious issues down the line. One of the reasons why repeated studies have shown serious compromises in health span in many endurance athletes. 

Now I know I’m picking on running here. But it’s not the act of running itself which is bad (hell running is one of my favourite activities) it’s the amount of time we can spend running which is the problem. We could replace running with any other similarly stressful low intensity activity and the result would be similar.

So what’s the answer?

Well that depends on exactly what you’re trying to achieve but for many of us a great place to start would be regular HIIT sessions to maximise results and minimise time with occasional long, steady state sessions thrown in.

So for example 3 HIIT sessions a week and every fortnight a 3-4 hour hike in the mountains.

Will this get you to Olympian levels of fitness? No, but it will give you the fitness you need to do everything you want whilst building health rather than destroying it.

BUT AREN’T WE DESIGNED TO RUN?

Running is an interesting one as many people argue when I mention this…

“but the human body is designed to run”

…yes and no.

If you look at the really top level runners, the Ethiopians for example. At first glance they would seem to be just genetic freaks. 

When you look a little closer you notice something very interesting. The major difference in the way the Ethiopians train isn’t the amount of the distances they do, they’re pretty similar to the rest of the world ( a little less in many cases) what is different is the intensity at which they train.

Like many athletes they utilise the 80/20 method of training.

  • They spend 20% of their time exercising at a high intensity. 
  • They spend the other 80% of their time exercising at a low level.

The major difference with the Ethiopians is the level this 80% is performed at. Which is a much LOWER level than almost everyone else on the planet, a level which most crossfit enthusiasts wouldn’t even consider exercise. In fact the major challenge people have when trying to replicate their training patterns is not pushing themselves too hard in this 80% phase. 

The human body excels at long distances…it’s our natural advantage. It’s what enabled us to hunt down big game back when we lived on the plains, but when you actually look at how humans naturally hunt, we walk (or at least slow trot) the animal down, remaining, for most of the time, in that magic 80% zone the Ethiopians have so successfully identified.

We go much deeper into this and reveal all the secrets to maintaining a health, fit body into your old age so you can keep on doing the sports you love no matter what your age in our FREE online community “The Pack” you can join for free here >>

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Why It’s Difficult To Build Muscle After 40

building muscle after 40

All of us over 40 have heard the terrifying statistic that we lose 1% of muscle mass a year naturally.

How do we prevent this so we can keep on performing at our highest level as we age?

Most of the solutions I found when researching this focused on which type of exercise to do to counteract this decline. Which makes sense, what better way of stimulating muscle growth?

However pretty standard for the Health & Fitness industry, no one could agree on which form of exercise was best. 

  • Some said you had to lift lighter weights but do more reps (up to 3 sets of 30-40 reps) so you recovered faster.
  • Others that you had to do heavy training to build bone mass.
  • Others that you need to up the intensity and the duration. Basically do more and harder.
  • And others that you need to do less and focus more on recovery.

Given these inconsistencies could it be that the exercise you actually do isn’t really important at all?

What if instead we looked at WHY we are losing muscle mass and addressed those factors.

Let’s look at some examples.

WEIGHT

As we age metabolism slows down. This mean’s that if you were to eat the same diet at 40 you did at 20 it’s the equivalent of eating an extra Big Mac a day compared to your 20 year old self. A sure fire way to pile on the pounds.

Add to this the fact that most of us are less active and more stressed (as we generally have more stuff going on) at 40 than we were at 20 and that both of these are known causes of weight gain. You can see the likelihood of us carrying more weight around at 40 is high.

Carrying extra weight means extra stress on the joints, which leads to more wear and tear and a higher chance of aches, pains and injury. Injury which stops you exercising, leading to muscle loss and decreased performance..

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS

If you’ve had a desk job for 20 years (which is generally impossible at 20) you’re more than likely going to have structural problems, ie a skeleton which is slightly out of shape and so imbalanced. 

This leads to a reduced efficiency of movement and reduced strength through the movement. This also gives you a higher risk of injury and simply means that the same action of doing a bicep curl or practicing your favourite sport is less efficient at 40 than it is at 20 as your levers aren’t working as effectively.

OLDER MUSCLES

Over time as your body ages, your muscles, tendons, fascia and surrounding tissues tend to become more rigid, have more knots in them and lose elasticity, which can contribute to an overall loss of strength and a hugely increased chance of injury.

Combine this with a reduced amount of something called Systemic Enzymes (the body slows production of these down from the age of 25), these are the chaps which go in a eat up scar tissue on the muscles, scar tissue which causes weakness and brittleness. 

This causes the recovery process to slow down, especially when you overload your muscles and joints with heavy weight training, and makes those little aches and pains you feel every morning just that much more noticeable the day after a workout.

HORMONES

We have naturally lower testosterone when we’re 40 than when we’re 20. Testosterone which is essential for not only feeling great in general (in men AND women) but also for putting on muscle. 

If, rather than focus on which workout we were doing we instead focussed on raising testosterone, it wouldn’t matter which workout we did as we’d gain muscle (and feel a lot better!) effortlessly.

BONE DENSITY

By the age of thirty, you have achieved peak bone density, when you’re young your body replaces damaged bone with newer healthier bone, but as you get older your body doesn’t replace it as quickly.

Between 30 and 40 years old your body replaces as much bone as it loses but once you hit 40 a smaller amount of bone is replaced which can lead to them becoming thinner and brittle.

Again this is something which is easily reversible and stronger bones mean a stronger frame on which to build functional muscle.

One thing you HAVE to realise. 

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t gain muscle at 40 like our 20 year old self.

University of Oklahoma researchers compared people of different ages who followed the exact same program for eight weeks. They found that guys between 35 and 50 years old built just as much muscle as those between 18 and 22 years old. DEXA scans showed that the college-aged men gained around two pounds of muscle, while the middle-aged men put on 2.5 pounds of muscle. 

Moreover, strength gains in both the bench press (7 pounds for the college-aged men and 14 pounds for the middle-aged men) and leg press (55 pounds for the college-aged men and 40 pounds for the middle-aged men) were similar in both groups.

 In our free online community “The Pack” I dive deep into how you can build muscle and fitness after 40. Addressing each of the issues I’ve mentioned above (and a load I haven’t) so you can build the body you want whilst having it perform exactly as you want no matter what your age.

You can join by clicking here >>

Sam.

😎🤙

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Improve Physical Performance By Playing Computer Games?

You might think it’s obvious that if you have a tough day at work you’re going to have a worse than usual session on the water or on the slopes afterwards.

What you may not realise is just how closely related those two things are.

In a study by S. Macora, subjects sat and played a simple and fairly mind numbing (I’ve played them) computer game for 90 minutes. The game was ridiculously simple where shapes or letters appeared on a screen and subjects had to press a button depending on what they are shown.

Easy right?

Well yes, but the point is that you have to pay attention for 90 minutes.

What’s incredible is that after these 90 minutes were up, the subjects reached physical exhaustion 15% sooner in an all out cycling test.

The implications of this study are huge and indeed are being investigated by the British military as a way of extending physical endurance by subjecting candidates to repeated “brain endurance training.” Thus building mental and by implication physical endurance. (It’s not currently known if this works in the other direction so to speak)

But the possibilities if it does are pretty amazing. Meaning that by increasing concentration and focus we can also build physical endurance.

The more immediate takeaway for us is to leave a gap between heavy mental work and our sessions.

Or don’t do your accounts just before you do your favourite sport.

I’ve set up a community called “The Pack” where I personally coach you in how to upgrade yourself so you can perform like your 20 when you’re 40, 50 or 60 +, it’s free and you can join here >>

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How To Stretch Properly Before Sports

snowboard injury

In my last post we talked about how static stretching isn’t what you want to be doing before sports…if you missed that post you can check it out here >>

So what can you do instead?

Well the first thing I recommend for my clients is dynamic stretching.

Dynamic (or ballistic) stretches stretch the muscles through movement. Repeated studies have shown they can improve power, strength and performance during a subsequent exercise session. Unlike static stretching which involves just pulling on a specific muscle group, dynamic stretching incorporates posture control, stability, balance and ballistic, explosive movements such as swings and kicks.

Take a simple quadricep stretch, the traditional way of doing this (the way I was taught when I used to play football) was to simply stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other leg and pull that heel towards your bum, a classic static stretch.

Instead of this, imagine you were to take a giant step forward with your right leg and then grab the ankle of your left foot pulling it up to your bum. Now drop it down and take a giant step forward with your left leg, grab your right heel and pull it to your bum. Suddenly you are incorporating stability, balance and mobility whilst actually contracting the muscles.

All of which makes this a far superior way to stretch.

I would recommend warming up before doing dynamic stretching. Due to its ballistic and explosive nature you are more likely to injure yourself if done from cold than static stretching so a good 10 min cardio based warmup is mandatory.

The other method I use and have most of my clients use, is

Deep Tissue Work.

This catch all term refers to anything which gets deep into your muscles and connective tissue. Now there are loads of ways to do this, Rolfing, Muscle Activation Technique, Advanced Muscle Integrative Therapy, Point Therapy, but my favourite (mainly for its ease and accessibility) is foam rolling and simply making love to a spiky Death Star! (Or if you don’t want to buy one of the specialist devices, rolling around on a tennis ball to really get it into all those spots which hurt).

Think of it as a self applied (or inflicted!) deep tissue massage.

Why do this?

When you have areas of chronic tightness or tension, or a history of injury or muscle overuse, adhesions (bands of painful areas) usually form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These adhesions block circulation whilst causing pain, inflammation and limited mobility.

Which is turn means when you exercise (or just sit around for too long) you create tension in these muscles. Tighter muscles tend to weaken, and a weak muscle tends to tighten…so you get a viscous cycle which increases inflammation, reduces blood flow and lessens the ability of the lymphatic system to remove waste material from the muscle, thus increasing the risk of injury.

Deep tissue work gets in and breaks these adhesions down by applying direct pressure or friction across the grain of the muscle.

The best thing about Deep Tissue work? It doesn’t have to be done directly before or after sports, but can simply be something you include in your daily routine. I tend to do 20 mins every morning and evening when I can and the differences after just a few months are HUGE.

Interested to learn more?

I’ve put together a free workout plan which includes all of the techniques mentioned to ensure you never get injured again…

You can get it when you join our free online community here >>

Sam.

😎🤙

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Why You Shouldn’t [Static] Stretch Before Sports

kitesurf fitness

I have a mate and every time we go to the beach he has to spend 20 minutes stretching before he hits the water. Now he also expects me to launch his kite so inevitably I (being the kind and considerate chap I am) end up sitting through his impromptu Yoga session with gritted teeth waiting to get out on the water.

At some point through his contortionist act he’ll no doubt call out,

“You should join me you know, you’ll get injured out there if you’re not careful.”

My answer…

“No thank you good sir.” (I swear I’m that polite!)

And yours should be too if you’ve any sense.

Why? 

I’m sure if you’re like me, since the age of 0 you’ve been told to stretch before you do any form of exercise. To loosen your muscles up and prevent injury…

Now I’ve always had my doubts about this (and to be honest, I’ve always hoped I was right, as I was often too lazy to be bothered to stretch) but recently science has got on my side, at least for the form of stretching that my mate does.

Static Stretching

You see he practices something called static stretching. 

This is just the posh way of referring to the stretches which most people do before a workout or hitting the water. You know, the bend over and touch your toes type of stretches. To define them a bit better they’re stretches where you get into the stretch position and then hold the stretch without moving.

The problem is that static stretching doesn’t really help your mobility, worse, done before a session it can negatively impact your performance on the water. For example a recent study found that runners were on average 13 seconds slower when they performed static stretching right before a one mile up hill run.

In fact several studies have shown that static stretches can inhibit the amount of force a muscle can produce in just about any jumping, running or lifting activity and even worse, it doesn’t reduce your risk of injury.

It all comes down to the fact that making muscles loose and tendons too stretchy before exercise prevents them from producing quick and powerful responses.

Think about it like this, when you’re doing static stretches you’re telling your muscles to do the complete opposite of what you need when kitesurfing, surfing, snowboarding or pretty much any other sport you care to think of…

Explosiveness.

That’s not the only problem with static stretching. If your body is already a bit messed up or injured (and let’s face it who’s isn’t!) stretching can create more problems.

So if you’re prone to hyper mobility too much stretching can make you…

Too stretchy!

Joint hyper mobility, whilst cool at parties, means less ability to produce force and increased risk of cartilage and bone injury.

Another drawback…when you exercise frequently your muscle fibres can easily get cross linked, knotted and stuck to one another in a pattern called an “adhesion.”

Think of your muscles as a rope with a knot in the middle. When you pull on the rope at both ends the knot gets tighter and more difficult to untie. This is exactly how static stretching can make things worse if you have poor mobility, adhesions, knots and other tissue issues.

Mountain Biking

Added to this most people have a set repertoire of stretches they run through again and again. Meaning that whilst some joints are getting stretchier, other aren’t. Which can lead to huge imbalances down the line..think of a bicycle wheel with bumps and dents at random spots all over it so it’s really not a circular shape any more at all…

Bumpy ride huh?

But this is effectively what is happening to your body.

So what’s a guy or gal to do?

I’ll be covering that in my next post but in the meantime I’ve put together a FREE workout and recovery routine designed to be done in just 15 mins a week which will boost your mobility and your sports performance. You can check it out when you join our free community here >>

Sam.
😎🤙

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The Heartbreaking Truth About Your Next Kitesurfing Holiday

kitesurf fitness

Picture the scene…

You rock up on your next kitesurf holiday, the forecast is perfect, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing and the water looks perfect.

You quickly unpack your kit, set up your kite, squeeze into your wetsuit and hit the water for 6 hours straight. You’re trying loads of new tricks and you even land a few!

What a buzz! One of the greatest days of your life and you’ve got an entire week of this.

The next day you wake up a little stiff but the wind’s blowing again, so you wolf down some breakfast, rig up and again spend the entire day kiting. After a few hours you notice you’re not really able to “bring it” like you were yesterday and you start making silly mistakes, tripping over little waves and despite having a great day you’re a little frustrated you didn’t progress as fast as you’d hoped…no problem you’ve still got 5 days left.

You have a few beers to celebrate and hit the sack looking forward to another amazing day tomorrow.

You wake up and immediately know something is wrong. You have no energy, your entire body aches, you feel a bit grumpy. You roll over and try to get some more sleep but you hear the wind banging at the window, calling you. Suddenly the thought of an entire day of kiting doesn’t appeal so much, you’re tired, maybe you’ll just take it easy…but it’s windy and this is what you’re here for.

You drag yourself out of bed moving much slower now. You eat your breakfast actually wondering if you’ve got the energy to really do this today. But you tell yourself you have to, you’ve paid a lot of money to be here.

You do go kiting that day but only manage a few hours and actually spend most of the day stood on the beach chatting and watching everyone else shredding it on the water. Those few hours you do have are great but you don’t really have the energy to try anything new so you just mow the lawn and don’t really progress.

This sets the tone for the rest of the week.

As you pack up to leave on the last day, you know you’ve had a great week but reflect on how much better it could have been if you’d just been a bit more physically prepared, if you’d just been a bit fitter you could have spent the entire week ripping it up like you were on day 1.

Next time, you promise yourself, you’ll make sure you’re ready before you come on holiday.

Don’t let this be you!

Right now I’m offering you the opportunity to grab our 7 Day Kitesurf Specific Workout for FREE. So you can have more stamina for kitesurfing and stay on the water longer and kitesurf day after day when the wind’s blowing, without needing a day off.

This is THE perfect program to ensure you never get caught short on a kitesurfing holiday again. It can all be done from the comfort of your own home, it’s literally been designed from the ground up so you don’t need a gym.

Now I’ve been a Kitesurf Instructor for the last 14 years and a Personal Trainer, Nutritionist and Peak Performance Coach since I left the Royal Marines in 2002 so I know EXACTLY what you need to be doing off the water to improve your performance ON the water and I’ve put it all together in a book which you get for free when you join our online community “The Pack”.

You can join  here >> (it’s free!)

Speak soon!

Sam
😎🤙

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I Don’t Want To Kitesurf…

kitesurf workout

“I don’t want to kite, I just want to stay in bed”

I couldn’t believe my ears! We’d been locked up for 2 months, only able to go to the supermarket and back and now the Government had finally decided we could go kiting, albeit with the restriction that we had to do it between 6 – 10 in the morning. (Which to be fair in Spain is deemed the middle of the night!)

So the first day I’d rung up all my mates, my usual kiting crew, to get a bunch of us together to hit the water in style.

And that was the response I got from 6 of them!

I was shocked, I’d expected them all to be as pumped as I was.

After all we’d been dreaming about this moment for 2 months and now it had finally arrived they were going to sleep right through it.

Crazy right?

I went out and despite being a bit rusty and the conditions being far from perfect, the wind was really light, I had the time of my life, the sense of freedom after so long indoors literally made everything worthwhile.

You can see the look of joy of the faces of me and the other kiting buddy I did manage to summon up that morning in this photo:

So why am I telling you this?

Because I see a load of people repeating this pattern in all walks of life.

As an example I see people who really want to get in shape, to get fit, to be stronger, to be able to have more stamina to do their sport for longer and really bring it when they do…

They REALLY want to get started but just can’t find the motivation to get going. And it’s not that these people are lazy, far from it, they are often some of the most successful people I know.

For some it’s an identity thing, they just don’t see themselves as an active person anymore, they used to think of themselves as an athlete but time and a sedentary life have slowly stripped them of it, for some they just can’t seem to ever find the time despite the fact they know if they made it a priority they really could.

For others its ever simpler they don’t really know what to do or even how to really get started without doing a load of research first.

Whereas at the same time there are people who despite not being nearly as successful in life in general are super fit, have the body of their dreams and can pretty much eat whatever they want and still bring it every day on the water.

Would you like to learn how they do it?

When you join our free community “The Pack” you’ll get free and instant access to my latest ebook which shows you exactly how to get the body you want, give you more stamina to do the stuff you love, to give you back your identity as an athlete.

If you’re ready to take your fitness, your health and your body to the next level then there’s never been a better time than right now…

Sound Good? You can join the community by clicking here >>

Oh and this isn’t some fad program, if you’re looking to get fit in 1 week without doing any work then I’m afraid this isn’t for you, if you’re looking for a“work hard and build an awesome body,” program, then I’m your man.

Ok I’m off for my post kite shower,

Sam.

😎🤙

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🌊 My Hopeless Day Of Surfing With No Waves

No Wave Surfing

What the hell were we doing? 

Here I was, lying on my kite board, on a totally flat ocean, freezing my ass off, attempting to surf.

And it was the best morning I’d spent for months!

There was absolutely no chance of me catching a wave but it was a windless, crystal clear day on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I was chatting to a mate.

I realised life doesn’t get much better than this.

One of the things we were talking about was how we had this all this on our door step, yet we barely if ever did it.

It had taken 2 months of lockdown for us to actually get off our ass and go “surfing,” or as it’s more commonly known sitting on a board, on an endless ocean, chatting shit whilst shivering our balls off, (well I was, he had a bit more “insulation” than I did!).

We got to talking about why this was?

We realised that as we’d got older our priorities had subtly shifted, we both had good jobs which we enjoyed but which also took up a lot of our time.

In my friends case he’d started sleeping less and less and as a result was working out less and less and even when he had the time he simply had less energy to do the things he really wanted to do.

So the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn to go surfing wasn’t something he’d ever really considered.



Unfortunately it’s something I see again and again. As people get older they make less and less time for the things they love. This happens naturally enough at first, job, kids, life just get in the way.

By the time they know it they’re 40, a bit chubbier, a bit more out of shape, and while they LOVE the idea of heading out and indulging their passions…

They just can’t seem to find the motivation, the time or the energy to do so…beside they’d better get in shape first, after all, they don’t want to get injured.

The tragic thing, which we we discovered that waveless day…

These sports, these things you love, once you do start doing them again they provide their own intrinsic motivation.

They become the reason to get fit, to lose those pounds, to feel awesome and perform better.

So if you’d like to kickstart your passion every week in our free online community “The Pack” I run a masterclass where I dive deep into how you can get fit, lose weight, feel amazing and have more energy to do the sports you love (without EVER counting calories, going hungry or packing yourself into a gym) I’d love to see you there.

>>Join The Pack Here >>

Sam.

😎🤙
Owner of Tantrum & Creator of The NTX System

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The Worst Holiday Of My Life

Kitesurf

“Absolutely awful experience, I want my money back.”

My eyes widened in surprise, my jaw dropped almost to the floor.

And this after a week where we had been at the beach for between 6 and 9 hours a day, every day. In my mind it had been as good a week as you could possibly expect and I was certain everyone would have loved it.

I chatted with some of the instructors and all of them told me the same story.

Yes the whole week had been amazing, yes, everyone had progressed a tonne, except for this person (who shall remain nameless, lets. call them X).

Why? I asked.

Because they’d spent most of the time in the bar!

WHAT? I said…

Yeah, for the first 2 days X was loving it, was out every minute, flying up and down and improving rapidly, then day 3 came and they had to wake X up to get them to the beach.

When they got there X had to go and have some breakfast and a few coffees and then came back, set up their kit very slowly, and finally got on the water about 4 hours after arriving at the beach. After about 30 mins X came back off the water, had a sleep and then went and had a few beers.

This set the tone for the entire week.

This very incident forced me to make a change in the way we operated.

You see I was actually quite sympathetic to X’s plight.

I realised that due to the fact that we could be at the beach for up to 8 hours a day, many people just weren’t in good enough physical shape to actually last for an entire week.

They’d love it for the first few days and then it would all catch up them and they’d end up treading water for the rest of the week, not improving and not really enjoying it, which wasn’t what they or I wanted.

So we started preparing people before they came. I would work with them personally to build a program which would get them in great shape, burn through those extra kilos and ultimately give them a LOT more energy and stamina when they actually get on holiday with us so they could perform at 100% for the entire week.

I’ve taken that program, refined it, perfected it and right now you can get it for free when you join our free online community “The Pack,” just click the button below to get instant access…

>> GET INSTANT ACCESS >>

Sam.

😎🤙
Owner of Tantrum & Creator of The NTX System