As a fitness expert for the past 20 years, Joel Harper has helped thousands of people find the healthy person inside. He has trained people of all ages, and his influence has reached from Olympic gold medalists to corporate employees. Along with an impressive client list, Harper has produced 17 fitness DVDs, including Joel Harper's Fit Pack – Nine Short Workouts and Joel Harper's Firming After 50 , as well as DVDs in partnership with Dr. Oz, including YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty and YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy . Harper has mastered the art of helping others understand the importance of good health and fitness while making it fun and easy.
SUCCESS: Some people really have an aversion to working out. But isn’t a workout also about relieving stress?
Joel Harper: If you have any sort of tension in your body, it should be worked out. When you have food in your teeth, what do you do? Floss! When you have tension in your muscles, what should you do? Stretch! Muscle pain means something is wrong. There is not enough blood flowing to that area of the muscle, causing toxins to build up, and toxins cause a myriad of health issues.
Many people suffer from lower back tension. The real problem is that their hips are tight from sitting all day. That pain shoots from the hips to the lower back, up to the shoulder area, through the neck and eventually to the head, causing headaches. All they needed to do was properly stretch the hip muscles before and after sitting at a desk, in a car or on a plane for long periods of time.
How much time are we talking about here?
JH: You can get into good shape in 10 to 20 minutes a day. Though it sounds unlikely, the proof is in the results. None of my DVDs last longer than 20 minutes, and clients share their success stories with me all the time. You can work every muscle in your body in those 20 minutes. And the best part is there is no expensive equipment to purchase. You simply use your own body weight as a gym while barefoot in your own home. Watch a clip from Dr. Oz's favorite eight-minute workout by Joel Harper on SUCCESS Videos.
What does a healthy body feel like?
JH: A healthy body feels floaty, energized and tension-free with nothing hurting. I work with people to retrain their minds that the priority of their exercise routine should be for energy in order to be able to accomplish more and live a tension-free life. If you don’t feel that way, then something is wrong. The good news is it can be fixed.
While helping a client with a workout, he told me that he had been running in the park every day that week. That sounded good until he revealed that one of his knees had been hurting all week, and he ran anyway. That should never happen! Continuing in pain will cause further damage that may become more difficult to correct. If something hurts, there is a way to fix it through targeted stretching. I worked with him, the pain left and he was able to run without causing further damage.
How do we stay committed to something that seems tedious after a while?
JH: The mistake many people make is that they think about working out while they are working out. That turns it into a chore instead of a desire that will improve health and create energy, just as brushing teeth and flossing will prevent decay.
When working out with clients, we play games while doing repetitions. For instance, saying the alphabet backward while doing pushups or spelling the word encyclopedia backward while in the plank position. Sometimes I ask them to name 20 airlines that can get me to California from New York. The focus is no longer on the exercise, and it becomes fun.
Another boredom buster is to work out with a friend. My clients are allowed to bring a friend for free to their training appointments. Just as the corporate/business environment promotes teamwork for better results, I find that working out with others produces a better atmosphere for sticking with the routine and getting results.
It’s also a good idea to mix it up. Do different exercise routines on different days. It’s important to increase the heart rate, and that can be done in many different ways. Remember to drink lots of water (half your body weight in ounces) each day in order to flush out the toxins from the muscles and keep the blood flowing.
What happens when we get to a certain point with weight and muscle tone and can’t get past it? How do we break that barrier?
JH: After observing people and their barriers for many years, I have realized that people reach their limit for one reason: their deserve level. Let me give you an example. We all know someone who grew up in a nice house, had a nice house when he first lived on his own and is still living in a very nice house. He may or may not be wealthy, but always lives in a great home. Why is that? Because a nice house is his expectation. He feels he deserves to live nicely. It is his deserve level.
Others you know may have always had and always will have a great body. They will do whatever it takes to have that great body; it’s what they deserve. I have trained two people at the same time doing the same workout. One person will push all the way through while the other will stop, feeling unable to finish. That person has worked to the point of maintaining what she feels she deserves to look like. She has hit the top of her deserve level. What will happen to that person if she continues to work out? Will her legs fall off? Of course not! She will break the unseen barrier in her mind and become better than she feels she deserves. Conquering that level will bring her to places she has never been, and the results will be visible.
Breaking that barrier is a little more difficult for some than others. But if they stick with it and push through, their barrier is broken and their deserve level is higher. Then they become people who will always have great bodies—because they expect to.
Turn your workout from a chore to a desire by believing in yourself, and reap the benefits of feeling energized, tension-free and able to accomplish more than you ever have.