Category Archives: Fitness Philosophy

A Dirty Little Secret About Working Out No Trainer Will Tell You

…Except me

Before the magical reveal, there are two basic criteria that must be followed for this to hold true and they are:

  1. Your exercise form isn’t complete garbage
  2. You’ve established some consistency with your training, which means working out at least three or four days per week

Here’s the deal for every beginner…

You can follow ANY workout program and experience great results. No trainer has a magical program. You can literally do almost anything.

Now, as you progress in your training you may want to learn proper periodization and tailor your needs as your goals change. For that, hiring an experienced trainer or strength coach may really provide some value. Until then, your program doesn’t matter.

Why is this the case? When you introduce a new stimulus/stress to your body, it has to adapt. That adaptation leads to muscle growth, fat loss, and an overall change in lean body mass. Going from sedentary to gym rat is a major change. Whether it’s calisthenics or powerlifting, you’re going to progress very quickly. These are the ‘noob gains’ people speak of. They usually last six months to a year.

Unfortunately, this becomes a curse for many lifters. They apply the ‘use what got me to the dance’ mentality and never make any changes to their routine. They continue to perform their three sets of ten reps on the bench press and wonder why they’ve hit a plateau.

Does this mean it’s completely pointless for someone new to the gym to hire a personal trainer? Of course not, it’s always a good idea to learn proper form from the beginning. Oftentimes a novice client will come up to me, almost apologetically, and explain that they’ve never lifted before. This is actually a blessing because it’s much easier to teach a blank slate rather than fix a bad habit.

The majority of my clients don’t hire me due to a lack of knowledge however. They hire me for accountability. Most people simply don’t like to work out and won’t do it unless they have a trainer. Some may consider this silly, but I say do what you have to do to get in the gym and improve your health. Your mentality changes when you realize that skipping a workout means you’re letting someone else down besides yourself.

I don’t want to dissuade you from hiring a trainer. Hell, it’s how I make a living. But be mindful of the trainers trying to sell you on their protocol that guarantees results quickly. Anyone new to the game can get results quickly with good form and consistency. Ironically, I believe my services are better for intermediate and advanced lifters who have hit the wall with their training. As we head towards 2018 and the thoughts of getting in shape flood your mind for the new year, just remember that showing up is half the battle.

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.

Why Do We Vilify Certain Athletes?

Let me say right off the bat that this blog is not necessarily about Colin Kaepernick.  But the situation did remind me of this topic, which I’ve been meaning to discuss for awhile.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the coverage Kaepernick got (late summer is a slow period for sports), but more so by the public backlash.  Perhaps patriotism isn’t as dead as I thought.  But, it’s very interesting how media and society pick and choose the athletes that they scrutinize.  There are athletes who do something wrong, yet the punishment in the court of public opinion doesn’t fit the crime.  They are destroyed for acts that, in the grand scheme of things, are not that big of a deal.  Then there are athletes that can do no wrong, where their popularity and charisma trumps all.

 

A-Rod vs. Big Papi

 

Alex Rodriguez

For much of his career, Rodriguez was the most hated man in baseball.  He was booed out of every stadium, at times even his home stadium.  A-Rod took steroids and damaged the integrity of the game.  He fought the system hard knowing very well he was guilty.  However, whether you cite the Mitchell Report or the Biogenesis scandal it’s clear that hundreds of players used performance enhancing drugs.  But Rodriguez, perhaps unfairly, became the poster boy for PEDs.  A-Rod supporters called it a witch hunt.  Rodriguez mentored young players like Robinson Cano and Aaron Judge.  He had an intense passion for the game and was known to stay up after games watching MLB teams on the west coast play. But tabloids like the one shown below would never mention that.

arod

 

David Ortiz

Ortiz’s name was also linked to steroid use .  For whatever reason it is overlooked by most fans.  Big Papi is retiring at the end of the season and in the meantime is enjoying a farewell tour when visiting opposing ballparks.  This particular steroid user is being showered with gifts as he bids adieu to the game of baseball.  Ortiz is a beloved baseball personality and appears in numerous commercials.  But in the end, is he any less guilty than A-Rod?

 

 

Lebron vs. Kobe

 

LeBron James

LeBron will never live down The Decision.  The Decision was a special ESPN broadcast in which LeBron would decide where he would ‘take his talents.’  After carrying the likes of Larry Hughes, Mo Williams, and Daniel Gibson deep into the playoffs, he announced that he would now play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  For this he was considered a traitor to his hometown of Cleveland and arrogant for making his choice on live TV.  This led to infamous jersey burnings and backlash among many fans, not just those in Cleveland.

When you step back and analyze the situation, the hate for Lebron is outrageous.  The talent around James in Cleveland was absolutely horrendous, so he decided to play with his All-Star buddies in Miami.  By the way, The Decision TV broadcast raised $2.5 million for charity, but that’s not an interesting headline or news story.  Lebron married his high school sweetheart and has three kids.  You never hear about adulterous behavior or quite frankly any bad behavior with Lebron.  He is one of the most charitable and philanthropic athletes in the league.

 

Kobe Bryant

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case and the Kobe-Shaq feud each have their own Wikipedia page.  But again, it’s another example of athlete scandals that are forgotten.  He wasn’t always considered the best teammate, perhaps a victim of his own work-ethic and competitiveness.  But that’s not what we remember.  We remember 81 points against Toronto, 60 points in his final game, five NBA titles, 18 All-Star appearances, and a slam dunk title.  It’s clear that Kobe’s transgressions greatly outweigh Lebron’s, but wouldn’t you agree that Kobe is by far the more popular athlete?

 

 

 

T.O. vs. Marvin Harrison

 

Terrell Owens

T.O. was loud, obnoxious, polarizing, and a bad teammate.  Say what you want about Owens, but he never got in trouble off the field (sans for child support payments, apparently the dude is broke).  No DUIs, no domestic violence, no drugs, always showed up in shape and ready to perform.  Football players like Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger are often praised for their toughness, but what is often forgotten is that Owens caught nine passes in the Super Bowl just weeks after breaking his leg.  He was killed by fans for his tendency to drop passes, choosing to ignore the fact that he often played games with broken fingers.

 

Marvin Harrison

I originally had Ray Lewis as the opposition for Owens, but I’m going to do you one better.  The Ray Lewis murder story is well-documented, but not everyone knows about Marvin Harrison’s troubles.  Marvin Harrison has been linked to the murder of Dwight Dixon, which was chronicled in this ESPN E:60 piece.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znv-Pm5bRuA

Harrison and Owens are linked because both are elite wide receivers that were eligible for the hall of fame this past year.  Harrison was elected despite being widely considered the inferior player.  Owens has more receiving yards and touchdowns than Harrison, and played with lesser Quarterback talent.  Numbers aside, the ‘eye test’ would show that Owens was a more dominant and game changing player than Harrison.

 

 

 

DC vs. Bones Jones

 

Daniel Cormier – Criticized for a boring style of fighting.  Respected by his peers, talented analyst for Fox Sports, but guaranteed to be booed if his face is shown during an event perhaps due to his rivalry with the next man on this list.

 

Jon Jones – Hit a pregnant woman’s car and fled the scene.  Failed drug tests for cocaine and PEDS.  Refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice which led to the cancellation of UFC 151, the first event to ever be cancelled.  Yet still one of the most popular fighters in the sport.

 

 

 

Tebow vs. Manning 

 

Tim Tebow – One of the most polarizing figures in sports due to his faith and unusual style of play.  Someone unfamiliar with Tebow may assume that he is polarizing because he pushes his Christian beliefs to the public, but he really doesn’t do that.  He is the MVP of intangibles; great person, teammate, charitable, hard worker, and leader.  Let’s be honest, Tebow probably should be on an NFL roster.  The read-option formation is still heavily used, and despite not having the greatest mechanics Tebow is still a threat to both run and pass.  However, the media coverage that comes with Tebow scares most teams away (aside from perhaps the Atlanta Braves).

 

Peyton Manning – Everyone loves Peyton Manning.  He’s one of the best Quarterbacks ever.  He’s funny, charming, and in every TV commercial known to man.  When he was accused of having HGH sent to his house under his wife’s name, it got ZERO attention.  Whether it’s true or not is almost irrelevant, but this is a perfect example of how the media controls what we deem as important.  If HGH was sent to Tom Brady, do you think it would be ignored?

5 Things We Can Learn From Tim Duncan

He tallied 19 and 5, shook hands with the opponent, and walked off.  Is there not a more appropriate way for Tim Duncan to end his career?  There was no Kobe/Jeter farewell tour for ‘The Big Fundamental’, nor did he want one.  The best power forward of all time knew he was just that, and knew he didn’t have to gloat about it.  Let’s take time to reflect on a great career, especially considering he’s the type of guy to fade into the sunset and never hear from again (although I think he may coach one day).

 

 

1. Loyalty Still Pays Off

How ironic that a guy who played his entire 19 year career with one team retires just days after Kevin Durant signs with the Warriors.  This isn’t a shot at Durant (okay yes it is), but the free agency era in sports has all but killed loyalty.  The Reggie Millers, Dirk Nowitzkis, and John Stocktons of the world are rare.  Duncan not only spent his entire career in San Antonio, but took a pay cut on numerous occasions so the team would be competitive.  Safe to say that it worked out, as the Spurs never experienced a losing season and won five championships during the Duncan era.

 

 

2. Bet On Your Strengths

Low post skills, passing, defense, bank shots.  Duncan played in a unique era.  That skill set was vital for a big man in the 90’s, but is almost nonexistent in today’s game.  Yet he never changed.  Maybe he started shooting a few more mid range jumpers but all-in-all, his game stayed the same.  I’d say it worked out, 15 All-Star appearances doesn’t lie.

 

 

3. The Game is Mental

Duncan has a degree in Psychology and believed that emotion was a sign of weakness on the basketball court.  He was notorious for complaining about foul calls, but aside from that you’d be hard pressed to get anything more than a fist pump out of him.  This doesn’t mean he wasn’t a master of psychological warfare.  Check out the look on his face when Dwight Howard gets ejected, after Duncan had dominated him for an entire playoff series.

duncanlaugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Good Guys Still Win

Tell me one time Tim Duncan has been arrested, fought with a teammate, got a coach fired, showed up to camp out of shape, or had a bad contract negotiation.  In a world where many athletes are exposed as douchebags, Duncan is truly a classy person.  Ask his teammates.  More importantly, ask his opponents.

 

 

5.  Be True To Yourself

Ever see a fighter try to hype up a fight, but it comes off as robotic and awkward?  It’s just not them.  Duncan is one of the top ten players of all time.  Yeah he had some endorsements, but this guy could have made ridiculous money in sponsorships.  He chose not to because it’s not what he is about.  He’s not on social media.  He wears plain clothing.  He plays Dungeons and Dragons (that’s not a joke).

 

 

Kudos on a great career Tim, despite beating my Knicks in 5 in the 1999 finals.  To conclude, I leave you all with this video.