If I Was In Your Shoes, I Wouldn’t Be.

When it comes to workout clothes, I’m not a picky man. “Can I move in it?” is about all I care about. When a question of shoes comes up, I’m a bit more selective… Some might say snobbish. But those people just aren’t on my level, really. **snobby chuckle**. Kidding aside, I think shoe choice is more important than most realize. So when I got this question about the best model shoe for strength training, I started my reply with, “Mother nature, really.”

And that may sound sarcastic, but hear me out. I train barefoot as often as I can. I’m fortunate to have my own gym at home as well as access to a few gyms that allow it and promote it. I am afforded the opportunity to do so more than others as most larger/chain gyms have policies against it. And understandably so. I’ve seen people do some pretty nasty things during my time working in chain gyms. Let’s keep them covered as much as possible, please. 

So let’s talk about the benefits of barefoot (or close to) strength training. When it comes to weight/strength training, I think it’s best summarized as using your body to control the space between 2 pieces of mass; The Earth and the barbell/dumbells/kettlebells. You practice putting your body between these 2 (or more) objects while moving through biomechanically sound shapes. As you do this over time, your neuromusculature develops to get better at doing so. You get stronger, more resilient, and In layman’s terms: GAINZ, BRO!

Now, if we look at the opposing ends of your body and how they interact with the mass they’re responsible for, a firm maintainable contact at both ends is desired. For example, if you are doing a barbell overhead press you want a solid, symmetrical grip on the bar. And at the other end, you want your feet firmly connected to flat ground. Most people don’t think about shoes with a lot of uneven cushions on them as a disadvantage because they’ve been wearing shoes like that their entire lives. In fact, most will look to those as the preferred option. But consider this; If you were trying to press a bar overhead, would you want to do so wearing thick, cushy “Mickey Mouse” like gloves? Obviously not. You can understand how that would diminish your control, limit applicable strength, and open you up for potential injury. Just the same, when you strength train, you are producing force into the ground to move objects. If you are standing on cushions you are losing acceleration when you initiate movement and giving up stability as you continue to drive, hold, and lower the weight. You can see how this is not ideal. 

When I am in a gym that requires shoes, I prefer to wear Converse Chuck Taylors for a few reasons. They’re reasonably priced (I buy them from Ross or Marshall’s at around $15-$20 a pop), “Chucks” last a long time, they’re very close to barefoot training, and they have a clean and simple style. The last part is the least of my concerns for a workout, but I can wear them to dinner afterward if necessary. I do spend as much time as possible barefoot (around the house, working in the yard, etc) but I’m known for rocking my Chuck Taylors whenever a lack of shoes would classify me as “That guy” or “The suspect”. The last decade has brought many options for “minimalist shoes” to consumers but with most of them, you’re paying more for marketing and brand name over substance. When compared to Chucks, they’re usually WAY more expensive, don’t last as long, and will have negligible (if any) benefit over C.T.s.

The next subject to cover is “lifters”, or competitive weight lifting shoes. These are very hard-soled shoes with slightly elevated heels. The design here is intended to put the lifter at a mechanically advantageous position from the floor to perform very specific movements, namely the Olympic lifts. I do have a pair of Reebok lifters. They were gifted a few years ago by a friend who swore by them. I most likely would not have bought them on my own, but I do use them occasionally if I am working up to a max effort Oly lift. There is an argument to use these shoes for the squat and deadlift patterns too, but in my opinion and personal practice, barefoot or minimalist footwear is the best option for general strenth and practical application as that’s how I will be working in the real world. 

Weirdest. Threesome. Ever

I do have a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers that I bought a few years ago. Yup, those weird “toe shoe things”. They can be useful, but they are more expensive, you have to buy special socks or go sockless, and you run a higher risk of getting interrupted in your workout when people ask you about your crazy looking shoes. If I’m going to use the V5Fs, it’s on a trail or obstacle course where it may get muddy and boots are less than optimal. Chucks do not do well on muddy trails and boots can get heavy, quickly. 

Over the years I have converted many-a-trainees to Chucks as their “go-to” workout shoes when barefoot isn’t an option. It’s really easy once they try it and instantly feel more stable in their movement and can add a few more pounds to the bar. Give a minimalist shoe option a try and let me know how you like it!

I hope this helps! 

Fear & Judgment… AKA, Your First Time in the Gym.

Fear is an asshole. Its Goliath stomping around, exclaiming his capabilities, & keeping an entire army at bay with threats of what will happen to the individual who dares challenge him. Fear is looking to keep you feeling cozy where you are and limit your potential. And even though it’s been said countless times, let’s make it countless+1… Fear is a fucking liar. Just know that it’s not only dispensing little white lies & it doesn’t even stop at outlandish claims; its strongest assets are the lies of omission. Because what Goliath is leaving out, is that he can barely see, he’s slow as a drunk three-toed sloth, and his joints are crippling him with pain. Goliath. Is. Afraid. Of. YOU.

Talking with a client, circa 2008. She (let’s call her Ass Kicker, because, well… it’s accurate) was a young professional (late 20s) going through a reinvention of herself and it was an amazing transformation to behold. With each week, AK was gaining new skills, sharpening what she had, and her confidence was soaring! The topic of conversation on this day was “strange things you see at your job”. Undoubtedly, anyone who hears this subject will have something to contribute. Every profession has moments with people that leave you scratching your head. I’m positive that at least one memory erupted from your life & brought a smile to your face (or possibly another expression.) The common ones in gyms are: insane physical attempts in the name of “functional training”, people with creepy stalker vibes, and ridiculous bathroom/lockerroom activities. We were countering back and forth on what we’d seen & riding the pendulum between laughing & cringing. By this point, I had been working professionally as a Trainer/Coach for about 7 years but had been in gyms consistently since 1989 so I had my share of offerings. After a few rounds, I threw down an observation that perplexed me long before fitness was my profession. Something I was sure would freak her out, as it had me; No matter what time you go to the gym, someone WILL be sitting in their car in the parking lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 PM or 1 AM, someone is there… waiting… ALWAYS. I sat back and waited for the, “Wow, what do you think they’re doing?” that I had come to expect when I shared this information. But her response was different & unexpected.

AK: “Do you want to know what they’re doing? At least some of them?”

Me: “… Ummm, SURE! What are you thinking.”

AK: **Calmly & confidently** “I’m not thinking, I know. That was me, at least 3 days a week for 2 months before I joined here. I would have my bag ready in my car, packed with gym clothes, drive straight here from work and sit in the parking lot trying to get myself to walk in the door.”

Me: “…” **Fucking FLOORED**

For almost 20 years, 7 of which my profession was “helping people change their lives”, I was walking past people on the threshold of a life-changing step & I was completely unaware. I couldn’t stop thinking about this over the next few days. It was kinda “existential-crisisy”. But what could I have done? Even if I was aware, I can’t take responsibility for anyone else’s actions. We’re all the authors of our own story, however bold or cautiously we chose to write it but outside influences are absolutely real. Everyone needs the occasional nudge in the right direction to grow and NO ONE can lay claim to actually being self-made. Hard work and disciplined decision making absolutely play a role, luck is certainly a factor however, I think the biggest contributor to true growth is the fear/comfort zone balance.

“Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.” — Chuck Palahniuk

Fear is a universal truth. People fear the unknown. Yet even with-in that statement lies the solution… get to know what you fear. Face it head-on & learn about yourself. With the above example of Ass Kicker, you wouldn’t have imagined her being afraid of being in the gym because of the image I painted of her. But it’s the image I held of her because it’s the image she put out there in spite of what she was feeling! She later admitted that she was intimidated by me when we were first introduced and even said, “It’s part of the reason I signed up for training with you; I was committed to getting outside of my comfort zone.” Who would have thought that my ugly face would be my money-maker!?! But seriously, the lesson here: lean in the next time you feel fear.

“Everything you desire is on the other side of fear”. -George Addair

So where to start? A few years ago, Tim Ferriss popularized the “Comfort Zone Challenge”. This challenge advocates you do something in public that stands out from the norm, doesn’t harm anyone, and you can’t provide the explanation of “I’m doing a challenge.” Stuff like asking for a 10% discount every time you buy something or laying down on the floor for 10 seconds when waiting in line. And if someone asks why, you reply, “I just felt like it.”

Sounds easy, right? Go do it. Today. And don’t bring a “watch me do this” friend. That’s cheating. I’ve done this level of challenge often & my heart rate still bumps up a bit. If you’re reading this in a public place; coffee shop, work, etc… try it now. Lay down for 10 seconds and don’t offer an explanation. If you’re at work you can forward this article around your office the next day, or the next week if you can hold out that long. I’ll let you in on a little secret; It’s REALLY weird if no one asks you why.

The point of drills like these is to strengthen your resolve the way exercise strengthens muscles; So when you need courage, you’ll have some in reserve and you can muster the bravery to do what needs to be done. Having said that, when a pivotal point arises that’s an actual life-changing situation, stack the deck in your favor. So if you’re looking to join the gym this would be the time to deploy the “watch me do this” friend. It’s not cheating in this case, it’s called the buddy system, or building your tribe, or teamwork, or whatever. Just get the job done & call it a win.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” – Mark Twain.

Are their jerks in the gym? Yup, just like real life. And just like real life, those jerks are jerks because something in their life sucks. You should feel sorry for them. And just like in real life, there is a diverse group of really great people in the gym. You may even want to consider that you’re guilty of judgment if you deny this. You can’t gauge all the people here based on your worst expectation of who you might meet. If you’re afraid of being judged by EVERYONE for walking in here & think that no one will be supportive, then that’s hypocrisy on your part. There are ROCKSTAR-level-great-people here that your life will be better for you knowing, and theirs will be better for knowing you. Stop letting fear lie to you by telling you that you don’t belong here.

I’ll leave you with one more pro-courage quote to consider next time you feel fear creeping in:

“If you haven’t shit your pants at least once in your adult life, you’re not trying hard enough.” -Brandon Mancine

Calories, Sex, & 100 year Old People.

In a recent social media post I made it clear that I believe calorie counting, for many is an unhealthy practice. To be honest, I was surprised by the number of medical professionals that showed their support. There was of course the messages that showed their… not support. This post is to clarify my view point, show how/why I’ve built it, and hopefully offer some needed guidance to those looking for nutrition advice.

Far too often the first nutrition question I get asked is: “How many calories should I eat a day?” Starting in 2012 during consults, when the person I was sitting with would ask about calories I would ask them if they knew what a calorie was. Roughly 1% of the population knows. The subsequent conversation goes like this:

Me: “Do you know what a calories is?”

Person: “Yes”

M: “Ok, what is it?”

P: The “umm”s & “err”s fill the air.

For the record, its the measurement of energy it takes to heat one gram of water one degree Celsius.

But here’s the thing… The healthiest people in the world don’t count calories… Did you hear that? People who see their plates the way Neo sees the matrix just screamed “You mutherfucker!” at me all at once. (Oh well, I always felt like a uniter.) But its true. Now, many may want to point to their favorite Insta Fitspo hashtagger, games athlete, or sponsored influencing calorie counter as a beacon of health but they’re most likely wrong. I’ll give you that they’re fit. As “fit” denotes that they are conditioned to perform well at X task; get likes, perform athletically, and sell you products, respectively. But are they healthy? Maybe (and that’s a big maybe). One of the healthiest in the world? Not likely.

If you’re looking to find the healthiest people in the world, look to the blue zones. These are the sections of our globe where the population lives full, active lives with the highest percentage over the age of 100. Allow me to repeat the key words there: active lives… over 100. These centurions are as active and capable in their 90s and beyond as most Americans are in their 20s. And they were found to be fulfilling lives too. Deep with purpose, real social engagement, and vitality. Compare this to your average American senior. They’re out living everyone on the X and the Y axises. While they all had some things in common, counting calories wasn’t in the mix… at all.

They did, however have a good relationship with food. But what the hell does that even mean? Let’s look at it this way; What does a healthy relationship with sex look like? (Stay with me here) Late nights with no info on the source? As much as possible as fast as possible? Cheap & easy? You’re not agreeing with any of these, right? Its OBVIOUS that these are unhealthy traits, right? OK, how about these; Sex by tally? Stroke count? Score of any type? Those can be great ways to identify a problems, for sure. But using it as a method to guide action quickly becomes a world of “have tos” & “can’t do’s”. It creates scarcity mindset and only highlights failure.

On the flip side, a healthy relationship is knowing where it’s coming from, cultivating its production, adding the spice that brings the flavor you’re looking for and BAM! You have a meal! … Oh… we’re you still thinking about sex? Get your mind (and your food) out of the gutter.

Furthermore, Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition studied the success rates of adherence to nutrition changes. Participants were given 1, 2, or 3 changes to make in their eating over 30 days. The group with 1 assigned change had a 55% success rate after 30 days; the group with 2 changes dropped to 15% and the group with 3 was below 1% success rate. Meal plans do. not. work. And any plan built around a measure that the follower doesn’t understand?… If I were a betting man…

Look, you wouldn’t plan a cross country trip by feet traveled. You would drive to check points along the way and enjoy the trip. So do that. And you wouldn’t pack it up and head home if/WHEN you make a wrong turn, right? So don’t do that either. Make a note, take the lesson and get back on your journey.

So here’s the deal; focus on actions and make them good habits. You don’t need to buy all your groceries direct from the farmer, but there’s probably a farmer’s market near you where you can get some much better choices and support your local community. You don’t need to cook every one of your meals, but if you don’t know how to cook, there are services that will deliver ingredients to your door with “Cooking for dummies” level instructions. If you’re already doing some of that, try growing your own food. You don’t need to grow all of it, but starting a garden is not a bad idea. It may sound daunting, but that’s also an activity that can bring a couple/family closer together. How’s that for a healthy a relationship… with food?

Food for thought.

Is the Sauna Useful? If so, When and For How Long Should You Sit?

Is the Sauna Useful? If so, When and For How Long Should You Sit?

When asked about the advantages of sauna use at the gym, most people reply with something about detoxing and sweating out the bad stuff. While there is truth to this, I used to joke about the sauna being part of the “executive workout package” and would rarely incorporate it into my week unless I was post-holiday, birthday, or vacation and in need of some detox. Until a few years ago that is when I was lucky enough to come across a study showing a benefit to strength gains through sauna use after an intense strength session. (I couldn’t find the link to this study, but it showed sauna use post workout reducing fiber damage allowing strength gains to be maximized and recovery time minimized.) This aligned with my goals so I started to incorporate sauna post workout, especially after a more intense session.

A few months later I had my genetic testing done and started learning about how to maximize beneficial gene expression through nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation. (I highly recommend getting your genetic testing done as it dramatically reduces the guess work in nutrition and workout programming.) Through these readings I saw many studies finding significant long and short term health marker increases from sauna use beyond what I thought possible.

First, for anyone dealing with one or more risks of cardiovascular disease, a recent study showed dramatic improvements in many important biomarkers indicating reduced risk after just one 30 minute session. (Please don’t be ‘that guy/girl’ and hit the sauna once thinking you’re all fixed… just in case you are I’ll list some upsides to continued use.) If hypertension is a concern for you, then consistent use should be important. A study from The American Journal of Hypertension showed sauna use of 2-3 times/week cutting risk by a quarter and 4-7 time nearly halving it. The point here: on top of eating well and working on your conditioning, spend some time in a hot box.

But there’s more…

When I think of degenerative mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, I have to admit that it’s one of the scariest things I can imagine. So when I started finding studies correlating sauna use with decreases in both diseases with as little as 2-3 twenty minute sessions/week I was telling all my clients to take part, but it should be noted that those that sat in the sauna for 4-7 times/week saw ~65% lower risk for both. (Even after adjusting for nutrition and activity.)

There have also been findings published that show sauna use maintaining muscle mass and strength during immobilization or injury. This is obviously useful for me right now (those that don’t know, I had my leg pinned between 2 vehicles by an intoxicated driver on 11/20/17), but I had used this strategy during de-load phases as well.

So, what do you do with all this info? First, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about something like this. (If they ask why you’re interested, feel free to send them all the links provided in this article.) Even once you’re cleared to “go hot”, I would advise using the buddy system, and especially the first time you enter a sauna. The common times I see referenced in research results are 15-20 minutes. I’ve been sitting for 20 minutes, 2-5 times a week (on the higher end now, given my situation.) The temperatures used tend to be around 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit and I’ve seen anecdotal reasoning for toweling off every 7-10 minutes so as to not reabsorb the toxins you’ve released back into your pores (makes sense.) If you’re strength training… *ahem* which you should be… *ahem* plan sauna time after your strength sessions to decrease soreness, speed recovery, as well as all the additional upsides coming with it.

Thanks for reading! Please share this info to help make a healthier world.

Travis Stevens Could Definitely Kick My Ass… but…

Last week I saw an article shared on Facebook. It was an interview with a World Champion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Judo practitioner Travis Stevens and was focused on his thoughts on CrossFit. The article was shared with the following quote from Travis: “It’s like trying to get and education by going to the library to read a few books.” and then the poster comment, “Best metaphor I ever heard on the subject.”

I saw this & thought to myself, “Yeah, I like that. Looking to better yourself in a way that is psuedo-self-guided while having access to many resources that you can vet and consider whether or not you want to incorporate. Sounds like what I like about CF!” So I clicked the link and… Turns out Travis is not a fan of libraries. The article was titled, “Travis Stevens: ‘I’m an Olympian, and I will never do CrossFit’.”

Now before I continue, Travis Stevens is an amazing athlete who has accomplished feats few other people will. His dedication to and achievements in the sports of BJJ and Judo are undeniable. I am not implying… I CAN NOT imply that I have anything to offer near what he can in these pursuits. However… I wouldn’t ask my carpenter to fix my car… especially if he’s Amish. I use this analogy since it seems clear to me that Travis has never been in a CF Box, but simply speaks on what he’s heard about them. Here’s the article and it’s not a long read, judge for yourself.

My reply to the poster was, ” I think as fitness pros, we should look to teach people how to identify when things are done right. Saying, “I’ve heard stories of broken backs, pulled muscles, and other injuries.” can be said about any method, and is truly ignorantly opined. Honestly, when someone diminishes another’s method (without saying why/how theirs is better) they lose credibility in my eyes.” A few agreed with my comment, but most went on to criticize CF for many different reasons. 

So here’s my replies to all the internet commenters…

“So you’re saying Travis should do CrossFit?” No. Travis does not need Crossfit. Would it beneficial to him? Probably if he had a good coach, but it looks like we’ll never know. But no one “needs” CrossFit. No one “needs” Judo, or BJJ, or bodybuilding, or strongman, or any particular method of health and fitness programming that exists today. But they all are useful for getting people moving. And they all become dangerous when the ego gets involved. Especially when it’s the instructors ego. Here’s a list of world class athletes who do use CF and tout its benefits. There’s also all the games competitors. Yes, they follow a progressive strength program. But their conditioning is obviously CF. “Well they’re all on PEDs!” Some are, but all sports at the world class level will have PEDs. All of them. No, that sport is not an exception. Neither is that one. All of them.

“Why do you love CrossFit when the injury rate is so high?” First off, I love my wife, my family, and my friends… and my dog(s) (depending on when you read this, I may have 1 or more). My love is reserved for living things, not brands. I enjoy incorporating CFs methods in an intelligent way to get me in and out of the gym as quickly as possible so I can enjoy as much as life has to offer me. I believe the idea of a high injury rate exists since CF grew in popularity in the same timeframe as social media. And let’s face it, people are much more likely to share a “fail” post. If social media were around in the 80s & 90s (when I was coming up in gyms) I feel you would have seen the same phenomenon in the name of bodybuilding; Ego driven people “exercising” past the point of diminishing return is NOT a new thing. And it’s egotistical to think you’ll stop it.

“It’s primary principle it randomness.” This is not true. What people are referring to is the concept of “constantly varied”; This is not random. Constantly varied should be planned.

  • Random: ran·dom /randəm/ – adjective – chosen without method.
  • Varied: var·ied –ˈ/verēd/ – adjective – incorporating a number of different types or elements.

Randomness is however rampant in gyms. In my almost 2 decades as a Fitness Pro, when a gym goer would explain to me why they were doing an exercise far too many times the reason would be, “I saw (insert hot person’s name) doing it.” Let’s assume “hot person” knew what they were doing; In most cases, even if the exercise purpose was understood by the gym goer, scaling or redesign was the best course. Even still, “constantly varied” is not the primary principle. The first thing taught in the Level 1 Certification is as follows: MCI. Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity. Learn the pattern, practice it to perform it well repeatedly, then add appropriate intensity. This is a great outline for practicing any fitness method intelligently.

“CrossFit is a sport, not a training modality.” This is not true either. Yes, the games do exist, but the training method came first, still exists, has evolved since its inception, and will continue to evolve. Also, and this purely my opinion; I don’t follow the games. When I express this, most CrossFitters look at me like I have two heads. If they’re on I’ll watch. The athletic display is impressive. But I really prefer boxing and MMA. But to be clear, the sport and the training method are different.

So…

Is CrossFit perfect? Nope, but the perfect fitness plan doesn’t exist. But its as good as any method out there and better that most for general health. It’s strengths are that its community based, has an emphasis on eating intelligently (promoting food as more important than exercise), focuses on abilities over aesthetics, and encourages the pushing and highlighting of small wins, not egomaniacaly driving people everyday. This is an important difference between good and bad coaching.

Do not quote this next sentence unless you quote the whole paragraph. You can show me bad CF coaches, bad boxes, and people who were injured following ego; But for every one of those there are countless boxes that have had a marked improvement on the health of their community, people who have gone from being obese to being fit and maintained it for years, senior citizens that can outperform the average 20 year old (not that outperforming the average 20 is impressive nowadays.) And you can look to any brand… in any industry and point out “what’s wrong”. Do it too long and that’s all you’ll tend to see.

-B

Coaches, clients, gym goers, & owners… Can’t we all just get along?

Anyone who’s spent time in a gym (of any size) knows that there will be drama at some point. Relationships gone awry, competition getting out of hand, or just general douchery it’s going to happen. Good coaches and owners know how to deal with it and to do so quickly. If they themselves are the problem… that’s another issue all together but that issue will solve itself when the doors close quickly. I received a query from a frustrated gym goer today who may have been dealing with douchery. Here’s an excerpt that conveys the gist:

“At my gym, the staff either tries to sell me a personal training package or won’t answer any questions at all. I don’t feel like going to the gym anymore. How do I handle this? I have a 24 month membership. Have been a regular for the past 2 and a half months and I’m trying to lose weight. I have lost around 10 lbs. But I have come to realize that the instructors are only looking to make money out of it. How do I find good guidance for my goals?”

Here was my response:

Good job on getting started. That is the hardest part as I’m sure you can remember. In order to not have to start fresh again you have to do the second hardest part… keep going. And you’re doing great so far since you’re made it past the average 3-4 weeks when most drop off. Just keep in mind that in pursuit of any achievement, you will have things, people, and moments that discourage you. Successful people are able to overcome these points by staying focused on the end goal and (while they have a well thought out game plan) they remain adaptable to changing their plan if & when change is needed.

It sounds like you’re looking to change by building up your support system in living healthily, but having trouble finding someone to partner up with. So here’s my advice: I hope you understand that professional guidance will bear a cost at some point but I agree that it shouldn’t break the bank. I can understand both sides of this challenge as Trainer/Coaches come in several different forms. Some are good, some are not. I will say the best, first metric for qualifying a good one is this: Are they insured? If they are, then they are looking to be professional and make sure everyone is taken care of should the worst case happen. If not, then they are just looking to grab money & probably aren’t investing into themselves to be better. There is more to look at beyond this, but make sure this is covered first.

When it comes to education, degrees are good, but not necessary. Having done this as my profession for almost 2 decades, this is not a side job for me. I invest time & money into my profession with continuing education certs regularly and am always reading something related to my personal development but do not have a degree in the field. There are also those in the industry that do this as a side job. I know a few “part time” Fitness Pros that I would recommend, but they are few & far between. Then there are the total obvious scam artists. They can sell ice to eskimos and just copy and paste their programs for everyone. I hope you’re not dealing with this type of Trainers but it sounds like you may be.

Now, I know that not everyone can afford a personal trainer every time they workout. This is why the good ones offer coaching, remote or in person. We meet with the person via phone, video or face to face at the agreed upon times and give them a program to do on their own. If your Trainers don’t offer a variation of this, then they aren’t really able or interested in helping people and unfortunately probably don’t understand exercise enough to build a long term program.

On the flip side, there are gym goers that are always looking for free advice. As I said before, I do this for a living & it is how I put food on the table. I have no problem giving a free session, but I do so for a few reasons: in part to help people get comfortable in the gym, but also to showcase my depth & breadth of knowledge in exercise, health, fitness, and nutrition. So if I’m working with someone (whether it’s a free or paid session) and someone interrupts the appointment to ask me their one hundredth “quick question”, then they aren’t valuing my time or the time of my client. These people can fuck off.

Ultimately health & fitness is a culture of self efficacy & communal respect. Coach or client, gym goer or owner; If one doesn’t understand this then they are hurting their own health & that of their community.

As I said at the beginning, great job on getting started! It really is the hardest part. Now you just have to do the second hardest part: “Keep-ing” Keep going, reading, learning, working, trying, and appreciating what you’ve accomplished so far.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out.

Online question: What are the advantages of weightlifting?

Got this one in my inbox earlier this week and my first thought was: an easier question would be, “What are the downsides to weightlifting?”, because there really aren’t any. You can say that I’m biased, but let me make my argument first. Here was my reply…

Here’s a quick rundown of a few: There’s the obvious advantages of being stronger, but let’s talk about what that actually means to real life. It means you are more capable. All the physical things you “have to do” just got easier. Strength has the greatest carry over to all other physical skills, so a few intelligently applied hours a week really will have a tremendous positive impact on your life.

Another additional benefit is decreasing injury susceptibility. Everyone thinks of strength training as making muscles stronger/bigger, but a properly applied strength program will increase bone density & strengthen ligaments & tendons. So far we have do more, with less chances of injury. I’m in!

But it doesn’t stop there. Assuming you’re eating halfway decent, strength training will have a positive effect on your hormone profile and will help with your overall mood. Here’s a study that shows a progressive resistance training helping older adults with depression. Ok, do more, less injuries, and happier!?! GREAT NEWS!

If you still need another reason, here you go; It’s good for your brain. A study out of the Georgia Institute of Technology showed that as little as 20 minute a day had an average 10% increase in the memory of healthy young adults.

So to review; more capable, less breakable, happier, and smarter. Have I convinced you yet? Either way, I’mma go move something heavy!

Will Supplements Help With Depression?

I got this question today and was quickly hit with the urge to recommend 3 or 4 supplements that can help. But, this isn’t a simple yes or no questions. There are plenty of factors to be considered.

First; Start with your core nutrition. Supplement, by definition means, “In addition to…” Supplements were meant to fill gaps, not replace food. So if you’re not eating quality protein, veggies & healthy fats, then the supplements you take will be less effective than if you were.

Second: Sourcing & manufacturing are important. Do not look to cut costs when it comes to food and supplementation. Do your research and find quality supplements that are built to address your needs. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be spending a fortune or that more expensive products are better, but I can assure you that the cheapest products on the shelf are (for the vast majority) useless. Working with a Coach to find the best path for you & help you stay on it is advisable. Again, do your research to find a quality Coach.

Third: Make exercise & activity a priority. A properly progressed exercise program will do wonders for your mood. This has been proven in countless studies & can be proven by going outside right now and doing 5 rounds of :30 second sprints with :90 seconds or rest.

Lastly: Social interactions with quality people. There’s is an old saying (i don’t know who said it) but it goes, “Before you diagnose yourself as depressed, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes.” We all will have to deal with one or two at some point, but do your best to purge them from your life. Move, quit your job, hang out in a different place, or just have an awkward conversation like, “Could you please stop doing X, Y, Z…” All this may seem difficult to initiate, but your well being is worth it.

To answer your original question: They can, but there is no magic pill.

If you have any further questions feel free to reach out & please share if you think this could help someone you know.

The 28 things I’ve learned in 39 years.

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I turned 39 a few weeks ago and was asked if I was going to write a “40 things I’ve learned by 40” post. “HELL NO!” For 1, life is never that organized to teach you 1 thing a year (mine isn’t anyway) and 2, why wait for 40? There are sure to be a few you disagree with and probably some contradictions if you dig. If you do, I’d love to hear what you find. Also, while I consider these all to be true, some are comical and some will get dark. So fair warning. Here are the 28 things I’ve learned in 39 years:

  1. Having a backbone isn’t about aggression, it’s about character.
  2. There are 3 limitations in life. # 1 & 2, only you truly know. # 3 you’ll never know.
    1. Your imagination
    2. Your determination
    3. You lifespan.
  3. Don’t work for anyone but yourself. Work WITH others and be selective. This doesn’t mean you have to be self-employed, just make sure your value is understood.
  4. Bring value.
  5. When looking at past performance
    1. Past performance is the best indicator for future performance.
    2. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
  6. Staying in a safe place makes you less healthy & fit. Progressing health & fitness makes you safer in more places.
  7. Choose quality over quantity. While this sounds cliché, it covers everything: Goals, friends, food, experiences, opportunities… I have yet to find the exception.
  8. Communication is paramount in all relationships. This has less to do about talking than you may think. Listening to understand others points of view is a skill that must be developed. Entertaining additional points of view should be practiced. (especially those opposed to yours)
  9. Those that often point the finger at others as “bad communicators” are typically bad listeners.
  10. There are only 3 times it’s appropriate to wear skulls on your/as clothes:
    1. You have earned them…
    2. They’ve been given to you as a gift…
    3. You’re at Comicon.
  11. Sex first thing in the morning is better than sex just before going to sleep.
  12. Those complaining about a lack of work/life balance need to work on the balance in their life.
  13. Regardless of what all the science & facts say; if something feels right, do it. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. Science once told us the world is flat, 9 out of 10 Doctors preferred Camel cigarettes, and the 4 minute mile was considered impossible.
  14. If someone is always looking over their shoulder, you shouldn’t feel comfortable with them standing behind you.
  15. Everything is negotiable.
  16. There’s a time to study the root and a time to gather the fruit. Get good at both.
  17. If you’re offended by something on the Internet, you deserve it.
    1. Probably true outside of the internet as well.
  18. There are a few phrases you should never say: The 2 most common are; “You don’t understand” & “I don’t care.” The first implies you fully understand the others entire existence. The second isn’t true if you took the effort to say it.
  19. Everyone has thought about suicide. Realizing this is true should provide hope during dark times.
  20. The world is a mirror; you get out what you put in.
  21. Reality TV is for suckers. Yes, that show too.
  22. Sugar is a drug and is much worse for you than marijuana.
  23. Put your grocery cart back. There may be an exception or 2 to this rule but if you’re trying to come up with them, the rule was written for you.
  24. Someday quickly becomes never. Either set a deadline or let it go.
  25. Anyone who says, “It doesn’t matter what you meant, it’s what you said.” Probably won’t ever say anything meaningful.
  26. If you borrow a car, return it with a full tank. Both literally and figuratively,
  27. Everything I need to know about life, I learned through marksmanship: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Learn the fundamentals; focus on getting better at them. Then compress the fundamentals. If you try to be the “fastest gun in the west” you never will.
  28. If there is no risk involved, there is either no pay off or the venture isn’t completely understood.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Please share if you enjoyed it.

The 11 General Orders Of Health & Fitness

The 11 General orders of fitness.

These standards are meant to be a guide for conducting yourself in a fitness facility. They are based on the following 2 principles: 1.) Health & Fitness is a culture of self-efficacy & communal respect. 2.) Enjoy your journey.

Should the person(s) overseeing your facility have a rule that contradicts these, adhere or go elsewhere.

  1. Leave your ego at the door. It is your enemy in this environment.
  2. Know your goal. Have a time bound plan to achieve it. Be adaptable.
  3. Know the difference between training and competition. Listen to your body in training so you can use your body to win in competition.
  4. Respect all Athletes, Exercisers, Gym-goers, Trainers, & Coaches. Do not compare their goal or programs to yours.
  5. Be personally hygienic.
  6. If you don’t eat or sleep well, don’t expect to perform well.
  7. If you are/maybe contagious, stay home.
  8. Some equipment is meant to be dropped, some is not. Learn the difference.
  9. Curling in the squat rack is the equivalent to killing kittens. If a 9 year old does it, he will be talked to, guided to appropriate resources, and monitored. If an adult does it, they suck.
  10. Clean up & put your equipment away in its proper place. (This may not be where you found it.)
  11. Do not give the staff a hard time.

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