Category Archives: Fitness Philosophy

Does Your Motivation Come From a Dark Place? Good…

As we close 2017 and head into a new year, we are almost becoming immune to the idea of politicians, celebrities, and athletes being involved in major scandals, particularly sexual harrassment.

As a society we hold famous people to a higher standard, but when you think about it… why should we? They’re human beings like you and me. The only difference is that they’ve achieved a level of success, fame, and wealth that most of us could never dream of. While some attribute this success to god given talent, the true reason is development of skill through insane amounts of repetition, practice, and hard work. The cynical among us may believe it’s all luck, but it is that relentless drive implemented day after day that lead these people to enormous success.

What do they have that most of us don’t?

Where does this desire come from?

Some say their passion comes from love.

I would argue the opposite. It comes from anger. It comes from spite. It comes from a bad place. When you have a chip on your shoulder, it’s not because someone was nice to you. Someone told you you can’t do something, and it lit a fire under you that resulted in the early mornings and the sleepless nights of hard work. Maybe it was a poor upbringing and the subsequent resentment of your parents throughout life. Maybe it was constant bullying or lack of interest from the opposite sex. Or maybe it’s a deep anger that can’t be attributed to just one thing.

If you sit back and compile a list of successful people involved in any sort of scandal, controversy, or brush with the law, it’s rather daunting. These aren’t just ordinary stars, it’s people at the top of their game! It took me about ten minutes and I came up with a ton of legendary figures with checkered backgrounds. I’m not talking about traffic violations here, these are major transgressions. The majority of these are sports related as that is what I know best, but take out a piece of paper and see how many you can come up with given your interests (politics, music, movies, etc.).

Tiger Woods, whom many consider the greatest golfer ever, cheated on his wife with reportedly over 100 women.

People forget how good of a player O.J. Simpson was. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in a 14 game season! Only six other men have rushed for 2,000 yards in the history of the NFL, and all of them did it after the league expanded to 16 game seasons. O.J. crossed over into television, movies, and commercials, becoming a beloved figure to the general public. He was involved in the ‘Trial of the Century’ where he was accused of brutally murdering two people.

In most sports there is a debate on who the best ever is. But there isn’t much of an argument in pro basketball, where Michael Jordan tops most peoples’ lists. Jordan was and still is a huge gambling addict. Charles Barkley once stated that Jordan would bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single golf game. There are wild gambling conspiracy theories about Jordan, like his father being murdered due to an unpaid debt or the notion that he left to play baseball in 1993 because he was actually suspended for gambling on NBA games.

Pete Rose, a 17 time Major League Baseball All Star, is banned from the Hall of Fame after it surfaced that he bet on baseball while managing.

Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, two of the best hitters in baseball history, are the posterboys for the steroid scandal that plagued baseball in the early 2000’s. Bonds was the greatest player I’ve seen in any sport in my lifetime. In 2004, at age 39, Bonds was intentionally walked 120 times! He was so dominant pitchers were literally afraid to pitch to him. Any baseball fan will tell you that Bonds and A-Rod were well on their way to hall of fame careers long before the steroid allegations began to surface.

Mike Tyson lost a huge chunk of his prime boxing career after being convicted of rape and serving three years in prison. Despite this, he is widely considered to be the most dominant heavyweight of all time. I highly recommend his autobiography ‘Undisputed Truth’ for an insight into his rough upbringing. To Mike’s credit, he denies the rape allegation to this day, which is believable since he is so candid about other aspects of his life. The book also details his drug abuse and sex addiction throughout his career.

Ray Lewis was the face of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. At a Super Bowl party, Lewis and a group of his friends got into a fight which resulted in the murders of two people. Lewis was indicted for murder but negotiated a plea agreement and served no jail time. People still ask to this day, what happened to the white suit?

 

Make no mistake, I’m in no way condoning this behavior. What I’m trying to do is draw a parallel between success and having ‘a dark side.’ Having a dark side isn’t a bad thing, the key is to control it. You never hear about the people who control it, who don’t act on it in a negative manner. Do the Tim Duncans, Derek Jeters, and Lebron Jameses have this edge to them? Do these charitable, yet successful people who have never had a DUI or domestic violence report lack this internal motivation fueled by rage? Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. These guys have established a reputation and don’t want that sort of thing to get out.

In a world of Instagram quotes and fake positivity, you may be questioning your intent if you’re one of these people motivated by anger. I’m telling you, don’t. Use what you have to use to achieve your goals. Be true to yourself. Now, don’t go killing your ex girlfriend and a waiter, but be true to your motivation. It’s okay to feel that way.

In my opinion, you can’t completely change who you are on the inside. That dark side will always be there. I remember an interview Mike Tyson had, I believe it was with Howard Stern, where he was asked about his mindset and attitude when he was heavyweight champion. Mike stated verbatim “I don’t even know that guy anymore” insinuating that the anger was gone. But every now and then it makes a guest appearance, as showcased here:

This is a decade after Mike last stepped in the ring. After his retirement, Tyson transformed his demeanor into a likable, charismatic, dare I say charming figure. But as you can see, that fire never completely leaves you.

 

 

Culture Beats Talent: Time To Take This Narrative Seriously

Todd Bowles has gone from lame duck coach to possible focal point of the Jets rebuild

Every year we are enthralled by the Leicester Cities and George Masons of the sports world; teams that overcome odds to defeat adversaries of far superior talent. On the flip side, we are baffled by newly assembled ‘super teams’ that come up short on the big stage. Sometimes we forget that these elite athletes with unfathomable physical talents and skills are in fact… human beings. Human beings with feelings, emotions, good days, and bad days. Naturally, all human beings are impacted by their surroundings and environment. When things go awry off the field, it can affect things on the field.

Coming into the 2017 NFL season, the New York Jets were a laughingstock. Media experts projected them to win two, three, maybe four games at most. Yet here we are in mid-October with the Jets sitting at 3–3, and it’s arguable they could even be 4–2 if not for an inexplicable Austin Seferian-Jenkins ‘fumble.’ The Jets could very well run the table (in a bad way) and go 3–13, but it seems unlikely. Dare I say Jet fans are a bit optimistic regarding the product on the field. Forget analytics, this is a team that plays hard for each other and their coach, Todd Bowles.

How could a team that lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, and Sheldon Richardson, only to replace them with Morris Claiborne, Jermaine Kearse, and Kony Ealy perform better? Granted Revis and Marshall are in the latter stages of their careers, but on paper it’s safe to say the team got much worse during the offseason.

The answer is culture.

Culture makes an enormous difference. Those who are in a position of power pretend to recognize this and will give you lip service on how important it is, but in many cases their actions don’t reflect it. Think of all the locker room cancers throughout the years across all sports given opportunity after opportunity because of their superior physical talents. Chad Johnson, Pacman Jones, Terrell Owens, Percy Harvin, Albert Haynesworth, just to name a few. Smart, successful teams don’t sabotage their culture by adding these types of players.

Losing Marshall, Revis, and Richardson was the proverbial breath of fresh air the Jets needed. There’s a lot to be said about the simplicity of being able to relax and feel comfortable at work. We are more productive and perform better when we are not looking over our shoulder or expecting the worst day by day. Last week the New York Giants went into Denver, one of the hardest places to play in the entire NFL, and dominated a well-rested Broncos team coming off of a bye week. Is it any coincidence that this happened after Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall (Sorry Brandon I didn’t intend on picking on you this much) went down with season ending injuries? It’s no secret that Beckham is a major distraction, despite his world class talent. The Giants had zero hope going into Mile High on a primetime stage that night. No one expected Orleans Darkwa to run down the Broncos’ throats.

But perhaps we should have expected it. The examples of culture change leading to success are endless, all in recent history. The Bills traded Sammy Watkins and let Stephon Gilmore walk, leading everyone to believe that are in full tank mode. They are currently 3–2, and are a tough matchup for any opponent. The Rams fired Jeff Fisher and hired Sean McVay; suddenly Jared Goff doesn’t look like the bust we all thought he was. If the Giants go on a run, it will be interesting to see how they address Beckham’s contract in the offseason. Perhaps it isn’t the sure thing we all thought it would be.

The question becomes, how can you change culture? In my opinion, the hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Ownership
  2. Coaching/General Manager
  3. Players (Quarterback in particular if we’re focusing on football)

Ownership rarely changes, especially as the NFL essentially prints money year after year. Sorry Redskins fans, you’re stuck with Dan Snyder for awhile, and he’s only 52. Even as owners get older and experience health issues, they are more likely to pass duties to their family rather than sell the franchise. This can go either way, but in most cases it’s more of the same (whether good or bad).

Coaches and General Managers, on the other hand, are extremely volatile. ‘Black Monday’ occurs at the end of each regular season, where upwards of ten coaches receive their walking papers. A team is often a reflection of its head coach. Bill Belichick’s players are disciplined, Mike Tomlin’s players are energetic, Pete Carroll’s players have personality and are outspoken. Some would argue that coaches are not given enough time to instill a culture with their team, due to the volatility of the position. Hard to argue with this, given the impatient nature of society today.

I can’t help but chuckle when media personalities say things like “imagine if Team X drafted Dak Prescott, or Team Y drafted Russell Wilson!” Prescott and Wilson are two franchise quarterbacks that happened to fall in the latter rounds of the NFL draft. They were put in situations where they could grow and succeed. If the Browns drafted Dak Prescott, they would still suck. The Browns are a dysfunctional franchise that lacks the leadership and environment to develop players.

Gone are the days when Saints fans would wear paper bags on their heads

Perhaps the best example of the massive effect of culture change occurred in 2006 when the Saints hired Sean Payton and signed Drew Brees. For years the Saints were dubbed ‘The Aints’, due to their futility on the field. They did not finish with a winning record for the first twenty years of their existence. Payton and Brees’ impact was immediately felt, with the Saints making it all the way to the NFC Championship game in their first year together. Three years later they delivered the first ever Lombardi trophy to New Orleans.

So fear not Browns, Redskins, Bears, Bills, Jets, Lions, and Bengals fans. The Payton/Brees combo has taught us that ANY franchise can be saved. The question is whether or not the teams realize that talent is not the only variable for success.

Should You Hire a Fat Personal Trainer?

No one will mistake me for Dwayne Johnson anytime soon, but I consider myself to be in reasonable shape. I’ve owned my personal training company for a few years, and have been working out for over a decade. If you saw me on the street, I’m confident you would say ‘yeah, that guy looks like he works out.’ Stalk me on Instagram and decide for yourself.

This is certainly not a politically correct statement, but if you are a trainer, I believe you have a responsibility to be in shape. You should not only be a guide and resource of information to your clients, but you should also set a standard and inspire them. Personal training is not like other jobs. Credentials and experience are some, but not all of the determining factors for an ideal trainer. Would you hire a tattoo artist with cartoonish ink on their body or a stylist with hair like Sideshow Bob?

I’m not saying an overweight trainer doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Many of them are actually quite knowledgeable from my experience. But, there’s more to this job than shouting instructions. Certain clients will have high fitness levels and can be pushed to their physical limit. Is it appropriate to have a client perform an excruciating cardio circuit if you couldn’t handle it yourself? Shouldn’t you practice what you preach? Let’s be honest, when you see an overweight trainer waddle around the gym, don’t you roll your eyes just a little bit?

You may wonder why a person would become a trainer in the first place if they don’t live the fitness lifestyle themselves. The truth is, the process of getting a training certification is quite simple. Buy the book, take the test, pass the test. Boom, you can now legally train anyone you want. Pretty low cost of entry into a potentially lucrative industry. A person with good sales skills can make a successful living as a trainer, even with the extra fluff around their waist.

Conversely, many people with great physiques are completely clueless as well. There are tons of gym rats who look great in spite of themselves. Look at any ‘gym fails’ compilation and you’ll notice that quite a few of the victims actually have some quality muscle. Genetics are a major component when it comes to building a physique.  Some people can develop a well-sculpted physique doing almost any routine despite subpar form and no mind-muscle connection.

I don’t expect most people to agree with me. In their eyes, they probably think a trainer should have the knowledge and communication skills to help clients reach their goals and improve their health. There is no doubt that those are two attributes every trainer should have. In this day and age, we are scorned when we pass judgement on others based on appearance. Personally, I feel the need to display a respectable physique 24/7/365. I hold myself to a high standard. I would be completely embarrassed to huff and puff after demonstrating an exercise or joining a client for a jog as a warm-up. This is the profession I chose. If you hire me, it’s a honor.  I have an obligation to look the part.  If you introduce me to someone as your trainer, I want their reaction to be “well shit that makes sense” not “oh really” followed by muffled laughter.

Is Becoming a Personal Trainer Too Easy?

I get the question of how one becomes a personal trainer quite often.  The answer surprises nearly everyone.  Buy the book, pass the test.  That’s it.  There’s no practical application or hands on work.  This was the exact process in getting my NASM certification, which is a highly regarded certification.  Personal trainers deal directly with a client’s physical well-being, shouldn’t there be more to it than a multiple choice exam?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the ease of the certification process.  If it wasn’t that simple I may still be sitting behind a desk staring at a screen all day.  I was able to make a complete career change in my mid-twenties, years after college.  But to be honest, the personal training certification process really should be more rigorous.  I’m good at my job solely from experience and being a practitioner in the gym myself.  That book and that test didn’t change a damn thing.

I’ve seen some crazy shit at the gym.  Frankly I’m surprised more people don’t get injured, which goes to show how much the body handle.  But the wear and tear will eventually catch up and the body won’t be able to cope with it.  If you get bad advice from the beginning, you’re screwed.  Habits are hard to break.  A book worm that can memorize some vocabulary words won’t always be able to properly explain tension, posture, and form.  One-on-one interaction is a completely different ballgame.

The solution is simple.  Keep the textbook bullshit, it’s still somewhat relevant.  And make no mistake, I’m not trying to make this a four year college degree.  But every prospective trainer should have to complete an internship.  Shadow an experienced trainer for awhile, perform a few sessions yourself, and work with different people with different levels of fitness.  Get in the gym yourself as well, there’s no reason to not ‘walk the walk.’

Another controversial topic is the concept of out-of-shape trainers.  One argument is that a knowledgeable and successful trainer doesn’t necessarily have to be in shape.  The other argument is that the trainer should set a good example and maintain a high level of fitness.  I certainly favor the latter.  You don’t have to look like Phil Heath, but to me it’s hard to take an overweight trainer seriously.  There’s an overweight trainer at one of the gyms I frequent.  I’m sure he knows his stuff, but dammit when I see his pudgy ass shouting instructions I can’t help but shake my head.  And as I’m writing this I just had a spontaneous thought; a trainer should have to pass a physical qualification test similar to the police academy.

Being a personal trainer is a noble profession.  You can really improve the quality of someone’s life by getting them into shape.  There is a bit of a stigma with trainers though, and I think much of it has to do with the simplicity of becoming one.  If we change the process we can change the perception.