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Alfred Ball's Entrepreneurial Blog

Health Care Entrepreneur | Kinesiologist | Author | Presenter

Thank you for reading my blog. This blog moved to WordPress in October 2013. Click to read the latest posts .
 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Red Dragon Entrepreneur Moved to WordPress

This blog has moved to WordPress. Please visit: http://alfredceball.wordpress.com

Thank you very much. I am looking forward to interacting with you over there.

Alfred Ball

Monday, May 20, 2013

Learning How to Run Again with Neurokinetic Therapy

Part of my professional development  is attending several continuing education sessions each year. Both the National Strength and Conditioning Association's  (NSCA) Provincial Clinic and Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) Level 1 were recently held in Metro Vancouver.  My mind tends to run into overdrive after these workshops trying to figure out how to improve my client's performance as well as my own.

In the last the 30 years I have participated in several sports including biathlon and cross country skiing, which I excelled at.  I have also completed a couple of half-marathons, one full-marathon and three distance mountain running courses. During that time I had a few injuries and previous to that two fairly serious surgeries; most recently an odd ankle left sprain. At the NKT Level 1 course I discovered how these injuries affect how I move as well as how my body has probably compensated all these years. Having other practitioners do a full-body muscle testing and resetting using Neurokinetic Therapy lead to several revelations.

Injury and Surgery History

  • 1976 and  ~1980 right abdominal surgery
  • ~1982  head injury - not sure about concussion
  • 1990 - 1999 right patella femoral syndrome
  • 1992  - right tibial fracture from cross country skiing
  • 1998 - right hamstring strain
  • 2002 - possible concussion
  • 2005 - right hip pain prevented me from running for several months
  • 2012 - left inversion ankle sprain, minor mva as driver, left dorsi flexion sprain

Neurokinetic Therapy Discoveries

  • 10 different muscles compensating for left psoas (important  for creating stability during walking and running; attached to the diaphragm which is used for stability and breathing)
  • weak distal fibers of left and right hamstrings
  • left and right quadratus lumborum inhibited - right was due to scars (important for side to side stability during single leg stance)
  • right psoas inhibited by right quadratus lumborum which tilted my right pelvis forward
  • right tibia lateral rotation - foot turned out due to facilitated lateral gastrocs (calf) and inhibited medial hamstrings
  • obturators facilitated (creating a hip jam) and inhibiting rectus femoris (quadriceps that crosses the hip and knee)
  • occipitals facilitated and inhibiting deep neck flexors
  • pectoralis minor both sides - doing a lot of work, including preventing same side rotation (spring energy storage and release during running)
The nice thing is that the human brain and nervous system are very plastic, which means they can change and mold easily to new inputs. These systems change faster than ligament, muscle and tendon, however propioceptive nerves run through all of the above including scars.

Our bodies adapt to get the job done. The motor control center governs how we move. Trauma to the body such as surgeries and injuries change our movement patterns on subtle levels that to most people are imperceptible unless we are highly in tune.

During the last two weeks my only training has been specific self-myofascial releases and immediate strengthening exercises related to retraining my body to use specific muscles as they should be along with relatively easy 30 min runs at zero percent grade on a treadmill.

Missing the opening of the Grouse Grind a week ago because I was out of town made me very eager to try the Grouse Grind on Friday.

Learning to Run By Feeling

Although the motor control center is adaptable it needs a lot of  repeated input to create ingrain a pattern so that it feels normal and become subconscious. Have you watched a child learn to walk? How many trials does it take? Do you still think before you start to walk? The pattern is now subconscious.

Focus was placed mainly on my right side because it seemed to have the most challenges. By opening up the joint capsule  I feel  there is significantly more mobility in my hips than before.   At the NSCA clinic Dr. Mike Young, CSCS, PhD, Fitness Coach of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps delineated that speed and power is a function of intramuscular co-ordination while Dr. Keith Loshe of UBC pointed out that for learning to happen performance will initially decrease.

Each spring I look forward to trail running on the North Shore and challenging myself with the Grouse Grind - nature's stair climber of 2.9 km with 2800 feet elevation gain. Average time to complete is  an hour and half and recommendation is two hours for a very novice hiker; my best last year was 35:32 minutes.

 Learning how to move my body differently meant I anticipated an initial decrease in performance even though the Grouse Grind and I have met 150 times due to reduced intramuscular co-ordination. The first few steps were a bit hesitant because I wasn't sure how to  move my new body uphill fast.

The terrain starts out on a gradual incline during which it is possible to jog or run, however it quickly becomes steeper with larger steps and rocky terrain to overcome. Movement should feel light, effortless and joyful; this how my hips now feel. I could easily bound up a two to three stairs at a time, however my cardiovascular system just wasn't able to keep-up.

As the climb continued I was concerned about more extreme ranges of dorsiflexion and how my left ankle would hold up.  It wasn't until after the 3/4 mark that I dropped my heel and felt a bit of twinge. The only thing to do is continue on and make sure to always keep on the balls of my feet. There were two other times when I went into full dorsiflexion; one of those times  took my breath away - ouch!

Near the top my left ankle felt like it could go into spasm if I went any faster. Calf spasms are very painful and debilitating, something I really didn't want. The opening Grind of the season is always completed by feel and meant to set a baseline for the rest of the season, so time was not a factor, only feeling.

Cresting the top my lungs were burning and left calf and ankle were aching. For those unfamiliar the Grind participants can purchase a Grind Timer card to swipe at the top of the bottom to record their times. The clock stopped at 45:24 with an average heart rate of 179 bpm.

Lessons From the First Grind

This was a good season opening time for me which I am happy with.  There were several key learning opportunities for me:
  1. Left calf and ankle to need more mobility and conditioning
  2. Need greater lateral stability
  3. Need to improve power-endurance at anaerobic threshold
For learning to occur a skill has to be repeated fairly soon after. The second Grind two days later was a little different. I incorporated more lateral line stability by releasing upper upper trapezius, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid (side of the neck to shoulder responsible for left to right rotation) and doing some side-bends to strength quadratus lumborum for side to side stability. Just before starting the Grind I released my left lower leg to reduce the chances of a cramp and provide me with more dorsiflexion capability.

There were no problems with dorsiflexion on the way up, though I was still cautious and aware of making sure to step properly. During the last quarter there was slight feeling of possible left calfcramping. During the way up I even tried to keep my heart rate down, but it did creep up to 184 bmp to pass the long-weekend.

With a time of 43:53 I am definitely on track to my goal of a sub 35 min this year. However, I am still trying to figure out why my left calf is taking most of the load. Perhaps it is weakness in the hamstrings?

Now it is time to add more specific strength training two days a week to support my efforts on the Grind. I am even considering  entering Seek Peak trail run again - 16 km from Ambleside Beach up to the top of Grouse Mountain.

Read more about the Grouse Grind

Read more about Neurokinetic Therapy

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

4 Keys to Increasing Business Value

A couple of weeks ago the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce hosted a series of seminars as part of a tradeshow.  One that caught my interest was on how to value a business as well as how to create more value in a business.  The presenter was Paul Savage of Pacific Business Brokers. This seminar made me think of two of my favourite TV shows.

Dragon's Den and Shark's Tank participants always fascinate me  with how much value they add to their businesses just because of their passion for their own business - sometimes disregarding the fair market value. Some of these evaluations can be so astronomical that it puts the investors off while others have completed their numbers accurately and come prepared with a value that is quite reasonable and attractive

Many of the seminar's participants have been in business for 20 - 30 years and only now examining their succession plan. While, Life Moves Health and Fitness Inc approaches it's seventh year I am trying to think of what value my business brings to me, not just financially but also other more personal rewards. Part of this valuation is figuring out what my own retirement plan is for 20 - 30 years from now.

4 Keys to Increasing Business Value

  1. Create Documented Systems (Policies and Procedures)
  2. Clean Up Your Financial Books
  3. Create Business Where the Owner is Not the Operator (main income generator)
  4. Create a Business With  Excellent Client/Customer Loyalty

Create Documented Systems

A business has very little value of how it is operated is all in the owner's head. Get all that information out on to paper where someone is able to pick it up, read it and then duplicate it. Trying to keep a business growing when the owner who has all the businesses' knowledge is seems like a very daunting if not impossible task.

Clean Up Your Financial Books

Make sure that all your financial information is up-to-date and it is easy for the buyer to complete their due diligence. Get all your cash sales on the books, e.g. record everything. One way to value a business  based onmultiples of earnings before taxes, income and amortization (EBITA).  One client who invests in businesses said many business are trading on 1.5 x income.  This could mean a significant change in value if half of the revenue is in cash sales and not recorded, Paul said to get that on your books. 

Create a Business Where the Owner is Not the Main Income Generator

There isn't much to sell being a owner/operator  who generates all the income. It isn't a bad thing to own a job, being a single person operator.  However, what about creating a business with a team of people - such as a Personal Training business with a team of trainers instead of the slew of independent trainers that are out there? Is your team empowered to make decisions are you able to delgated to them? 

Create a Business With Excellent Client/Customer Loyalty

Clients tend to follow the trainer or practitioner but not always; clients are often referred to the practitioner, not the business. Paul mentioned that value of the intangibles such as client goodwill is reflected in the financial statements - e.g. revenue is generated by clients.

If you own a studio or clinic try to make your clients part of the fabric of the business by incorporating them into the business' culture. Introduce them to all the staff, find ways to have them be treated or trained by other team members. As owners make sure you get to know as many clients as you can. Make a connection with them so they feel connected with the business, not just with the provider.

Educate current clients on how to refer to the business, not just the individual team member. When new clients comes to your clinic help them understand your process and that you work together to assist with the client/patient's needs. Doing both of these while having a client transition plan will help mitigate any loss of income when staff leave.

These are only some of the considerations Paul Savage mentioned when considering selling or seeking investors, however they are what resonated with me.  All four of these are not easy, however I believe that focused attention and a lot of hardwork to these matters will add value while increasing the viability of Lifemoves.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Achieve Business Goals Like an Olympian

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics, which are heading into their second week we have witnessed feats of extreme dedication and human drive. These athletes have not become overnight successes, many toil  for a decade or more in their sports before finishing on the podium. What they do have in common is the intense desire to achieve success and the knowledge that this is their time to shine, to lay it all on the line.

How can we harness the same dedication, perseverance and patience to achieve our own entrepreneurial goals?

Start with a Long-Term Plan - Finish with Today's Plan

I remember starting my business with plan which had the next 3-5 years outlined with specific steps and performance measures. This is very similar to the way high performance athletes train. Each Olympic cycle is called a quadrennial, which is broken down into smaller and smaller segments until the details for each training day are specified. Do the same with your business. How often are you taking the time to sit-down, review, adjust and plan?

Find the Internal Flame

Find an intrinsic reason to reach your goal. This will light the fire within that will burn no matter what others say or which obstacles you come across because it can't be put out! It took Brent Hayden three Olympics to stand on the podium, that is 12 years. Since he was young double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius has had an intense desire to run in the Olympics; Friday he did and reached the semi-finals of the 400m in Track and Field! Having a meaningful reason for reaching your business goals keeps you motivated.

Set Performance Goals

Athletes set performance based goals, not results based.  To reach the Olympics athletes must meet specific performance criteria to qualify in events preceding. In a business goals of $X income or $Y profit (which are results) need to be broken down into what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve them. For example how many widgets do need to sold or how many clients need to booked or called?

Be in it for the Long Haul - Celebrate Everyday Wins

Olympians don't step onto the field of play without years of dedication to their sport. Entrepreneurs need be in it for the long haul. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, but it has been the most enjoyable part of my working life.

Sure, some businesses launch and have tremendous success early on, then they burn and crash like those rockets we made as kids. Instead ride a the wind like a kite. Keep your hands on the string, but as the winds change learn to change strategies with it so that you can soar for as long as possible.  Each day has at least one success; smile and celebrate it! Be patient, long-term success is much more rewarding.

Do Just Enough with Appropriate Volume and Intensity

Olympians do put a lot of effort into their training, however there is always a balance between stressing the body enough through training for it to both physically and mental adapt and incorporating appropriate recovery strategies. Entrepreneurs need to do the same to avoid mentally breaking down; they are notorious for neglecting vacation time.

There will be times in business when you have to do more work to get a project completed or launch new producted but, with appropriate planning you can add periods of recovery after these intense and volume laden times. Pushing too hard each day in training often leads to over training or injury which sets athletes back weeks or even months. The art is to do just do enough to keep the momentum rolling so that the joy remains.

 

Keep it Simple

Business growth always adds complexity. Greater complexity adds to the mental strain so, keep examining your business to create more simplicity.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

5 Reasons To Climb the Grouse Grind


A client asked me the other week “What brings you joy?”  At the time I had difficulty answering, perhaps it was because it was the end of the day and week and I was a little tired.  There are many things that bring me joy including the Grouse Grind® which provides a close by escape from the city.

Since picking up the timer card in 2009, I have climbed the Grouse Grind® over 125 times.  Last night the trail was quieter and more relaxed with several sections where I was alone. On rainy days it is mostly those who are dedicated Grinders who visit the mountain.

There are several reasons that I come to Grouse every week during the summer and crave it during the winter when it is closed.

Reconnect with Nature - Get Grounded

We get so busy during the day that we can lose contact with the beauty that surrounds us in Vancouver. Yesterday, was no exception. The rainforest canopy last night was absolutely gorgeous after the rain stopped.  My family travelled from Saskatchewan to Alberta during the summers for overnight week long hikes in the Rocky Mountains. Now living in Vancouver I appreciate the landscape this city has.  It would be a shame to neglect the beauty that is in my backyard.   Each climb provides time and space to be my introvert self, reflect, and calm my nerves from running a business while reconnecting with the earth.

Increase Physical Conditioning and Stamina

The 2,800 steps offer an unparalleled opportunity to challenge my physical capacities. I grew up competing in cross-country skiing and biathlon; it was the hills that I was able to catch people on. Each season I continue to push myself to see how fast I can get on the Grind®, with the aim of being the fastest in my age group. 

It is a set course that is measurable. The timer card combined with a heart rate monitor makes it very easy to see changes in fitness as well as chart age group progress.

Being among the fittest in my age group will keep me physically younger, prevent injuries and chronic medical conditions while continuing to inspire others to challenge their own physical limitations. Increasing my stamina leaves  with me more energy at the end of some of my long work days which are often both mentally and physically taxing.

Build Self-Confidence

For years I struggled with depression due to school bullies. They thought that biathlon was a sissy sport – though we were skiing 10-20km per race, with a rifle on our backs and competed in two races per weekend; this was until I skied circles around my classmates during a PE outing to Cypress.  I strongly believe that this lack of self-confidence prevented me from reaching my potential in the sport.

Just cresting the top always makes me feel great and like I have really accomplished something. This endorphine kick lasts most of the day and spills over to other activities. Setting new Personal Bests, doesn’t happen every climb, but when it does I feel fabulous for several days. It provides something to celebrate; it gives me more confidence and belief in myself.  This renewed confidence assists me with feeling like I can do what is necessary to grow my business.

I climb to show those who thought that I wouldn’t accomplish much that I am physically capable of great things.  I might not be able to win a marathon, but I believe I can be among the fastest on the mountain.

Make Friends

Although I am in introvert and I like to climb alone part of the reasons I come to the mountain is to see friends who share a common interest. There is a group of us who go up multiple times per day (something I once thought was CRAZY). We all encourage each other to push our limits, support each others’ goals and celebrate our accomplishments. We catch up between Grinds at Startbucks or on the Gondola.

 When you ascend the Grind® as often as we do – you get to know the wonderful Grouse Mountain staff. Also, it is always nice to say hello and encourage people on the trail who are sharing a similar experiences, but might be climbing for their first time.

Fundraise for BC's Children

This year I am participating in the Grind for Kids fundraiser because the Children’s Hospital was a big part of my personal well-being and I want the kids today to able to experience the same joy I do when I am moving outdoors.  My goal is to raise $1000 in 50 Grinds with 25 of those under 40 minutes. I am half way to my Grind goals, but need a little help with the fundraising.   

If you enjoyed reading these blog posts please consider making earthier a pledge per Grind or a direct donation on my behalf – click here to donate.

 Why do you climb the Grouse Grind®?

Other Grind Articles





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Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting Re-AMPed About Your Business



Sometimes my entrepreneurial motivation wanes and I need something to fire me up again.  On Canada Day I was listening to a podcast about how to harness your inner athlete while heading to the Grouse Grind® where my inner athlete thrives. That day I took 1:45 minutes of my personal best to set a new one of 37:13, this places me in the top for 15 for my age group. I am AMPed!

The Grouse Grind® is 2.9 km climb with a 2,800 feet elevation gain, a small mountain which I have climbed over 100 times. I am striving to be among the best at this and it is something I know I can be a master at, it is also something I can do on my own and the purpose it is to build confidence that transfers to other parts of my life. 

Why? It is both a mental and physical challenge that I can complete and feel victorious every time,  especially on Sunday. The rush lasts several days which gives me confidence to complete other activities especially those related to my business.

How do we find the motivation? How do I reignite the passion for my business? What does being AMPed up mean? The term comes from Mark Margolies,  a sports psychologist who has worked with over 2,000 people. The podcast was an interview by Beth Beulow of the Introvert Entrepreneur (yes, I am an Introvert); she can be found on iTunes.

Autonomous

Entrepreneurs have a lot of freedom to do what we want to do.  Yes, sometimes there are certain constraints that we might “THINK” are limiting us; however maybe there other ways to get there? I am not working for anyone who is telling me what to do on a day to day basis or how to do it.  I have the freedom and autonomy to make it up as I go along.

My business can shift, grow and develop as its surrounding do the same.  I can shape it to be what I want.   After a great deal of thought I decided that my definition of success is to get the two locations Lifemoves® has thriving such that I have more financial  and time freedom.  Lifemoves® does not need to be a national or global brand, nor do we necessarily need to have our own facilities, because with that comes a lot more risk.

Mastery

What are we good at? What is your Hedgehog? Last week I had a good discussion with one of my employees who agreed that I need to delegate more.  Business leaders  need to give people the opportunity to do what they are good at so that they can be great masters at it while the leaders focus on the path towards the vision. 

As a business owner and clinician there are certain things I am good at, while others I am not good at. It is time to harness my strengths and really master those.

Purpose

Knowing your purpose is really important. My purpose has been reignited while listening to several podcasts on business and strength and conditioning.  What is it? There several parts to my purpose:  to assist as many people as I can to lead physically active lives; to show them how to become physically and mentally resilient despite injury, disability or chronic medical condition; to show them what movement is all about; to provide others with the opportunity to do the same within my business. 

After all Lifemoves®’s purpose – is that movement is an integral part of life. I am AMPed about moving into the new space in North Vancouver. It will provide a more optimal environment to be autonomus, fulfill our purpose and be masters at what we do.

How are you going to get AMPed up about your business?

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thriving in Competitive Rehabilitation and Fitness Market


Moving from the confines of a large gym,with lots of foot traffic to  a smaller independent training studio has presented many challenges. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun “Vancouver’s Sweat Equity:  Facilities vie for their share of city’s multi-million dollar fitness industry” has reignited the entrepreneurial fire within while helping me become aware of  the opportunities for and threats against my business.   Much of the $2-Billion Canadian fitness and recreational sports centers industry is in B.C. which has grown 30% from 2006 to 2010 (Statistics Canada). 

 There have been some major changes since 2000 when I joined this industry in 2000 when I volunteered at a local community center to provide Personal Training for a client with a cervical spine injury.  Changes include a few new big name players, GoodLife Fitness and Club 16 as well, the 50 year old local chain Fitness World which sold to a U.S. based company in 2009 hoping to cash in Fitness World’s longevity and the celebrity name of Steve Nash.   There have been some smaller studios which have flourished while others have come and gone within a couple of years.

Personal Training has become a career that many people are pursuing, so smaller boutique studios and independent training studios (where trainers pay drop-in fees per client) are popping up across the lower-mainland.  Some trainers are even moving out the big box gyms to pursue independent opportunities. It takes a lot of effort, risk and over $100,000 open your own facility, so many trainers choose the shared competitive space of an independent training studio.  If Industry Canada stats show that 30% of business don’t make their 5th anniversary and the competition becomes fiercer, how can we thrive?

Kinesiologists are stuck in the middle between the rehabilitation and fitness industries. Physiotherapists are doing a great job of marketing their profession and businesses, they are also stepping further into the realms of providing more exercise therapy which includes active rehab.  As Lifemoves reaches its 5th anniversary what perplexes me is how do we maintain our differentiation and gain a bigger market share of this large industry?  Vancouverites have a lot of choices and the number is only growing, so how do we get them to choose us? 

Another question I have is how can this business be structured and operated in ways that we are able to provide uncommon service that is for the greater good, but is also profitable? There are several societal benefits to growing a business that exclude more profit.  These include being able to provide more people with employment as well assist more people in their pursuit to return to work and improve their health and quality of life.

The basic answers to these questions is first to relentlessly pursue excellence for the greater good while making the right decisions in the right context. Secondly, it is really know what your business is about and what solutions you really provide. Thirdly, it is to find creative ways to market our services so that the values and benefits we provide our clients remains top of mind so that they do talk about us to others.

There seems to be room for growth in the fitness and rehabilitation industry? How are you going to grow your business?

References

Vancouver Sweat Equity

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