Category Archives: Motivation

What I’m Thankful For 2010

I began writing this post yesterday but after consuming all of the turkeys within a 10 mile radius of Boston, I went into a severe turkey-induced coma.  This is o.k. because I am bulking and right now my goal is getting strong and getting in extra calories.  For all of you who are trying to lose weight I hope you were able to enjoy your Thanksgiving in moderation.

This isn’t going to be one of my typical posts but I did want to share with you some of the things that I am Thankful for this year.  I could easily make this list hundreds of items long but I will keep it to the things that have made the biggest impact on my life.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family and friends who have supported me since day one when I said I wanted to be a personal trainer, well knowing it is not the most lucrative career.  (or is it?)

I am thankful for the fact that I have one of the most rewarding careers and I am passionate day in and day out about what I do for others.  There are not many people in this world that wake up in the morning and say I love my job, I can’t wait to go to work today.  I am.

I am thankful for all of the books I have read, seminars I have attended and coaches who have inspired me to become the coach I am today.  It is crazy that only one year ago I was working in a commercial gym and teaching people how to do a leg press.  I am also thankful that we got rid of the crunch machine at Fitcorp, if any members ask, it was stolen.

I am thankful for all of my clients who have put their faith in my abilities to make a serious impact on their bodies, health, and their lives.  I have already worked with over 80 people this year and have seen amazing results from clients who said they would never be able to lift a weight above their head to clients who said they would never be able to do a simple lunge.  You are the reason I love what I do.

I am thankful for the great community of coaches such as Bret Contreras, Mike Boyle, Mike Robertson, Patrick Ward, and many more whom I have contacted with questions and received great advice and direction.  Their passion for the field makes it easier for an eager, new coach such as myself to learn and become an expert.

I am thankful for the phenomenal staff at Fitcorp at 125 Summer Street in Boston for I couldn’t ask for a better team.  Thanks to Fendy for inspiring me to learn and never stop from the first day I met him.  Thanks to Kelly Cassidy for sharing her RKC knowledge with me, without her my get-ups and swings would suck.  Jen for her baked goods that I will eat at the gym since no one else will.  Kelly for being funny and inappropriate at all times.  Ben for being Ben and hooking up the corporate events.  And of course Amanda for being the best damn GM anyone could ask for!

I am thankful that Chipotle opens across the street from work on December 1.  We have been blessed with cost efficient burritos.

I am thankful that I still have my Nana alive and kicking and still cooking the same Thanksgiving I have had since I was 3.  Everything is mashed which makes I can eat more in less time since I don’t have to chew.  It is good to know that I can still enjoy the same foods that I had as an infant when I am 90…with gravy.  Her cornflake stuffing is still the best on the planet though.

I am thankful that my grandmother survived her stroke several months ago and is able to laugh with the rest of the family.  It makes you realize how precious your family really is.  And I am also thankful to have a grandfather that has stepped up to take care of her.

I am thankful to accept the title of uncle as of Anthony Edward Enos was born on November 17th.  After fighting an infection he is home safe on Thanksgiving.  He is getting a tiny pair of dumbbells for Christmas this year.

I am thankful for my own health and all of the incredible things I am able to do with my body such as lifting heavy crap off the floor.  After realigning years of damage from crappy lifting I am more mobile and flexible than I ever thought possible.  I also began getting into powerlifting after finding out my max deadlift was only 335lbs back in August.  I am now pulling 465 and climbing thanks to 5-3-1 and Show and Go.

I am thankful for finding the most amazing girl to share my downtime with.  She is motivated in her own endeavors which inspires me to push myself further to succeed in life.  Everybody needs one of those because without them we would just be a bunch of aimless meatheads.  And although she is a runner (forgivable) she loves to lift and more specifically, deadlift.  I am verklempt.

Last but not least, I am thankful for all of the readers of this blog who check out the stuff I write daily.  When I began this blog several months ago I was getting maybe 5-10 hits per day but has now grown to over 500 hits per day.  There are much better things to be doing in life but you choose to read my thoughts and I truly appreciate that.  I love to teach and I am glad to relay all the things I learn.

2010 has definitely been good to me as I hope it has been to you.

Please share what you are thankful for below.

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Rainy Day Workout

I am not feeling very witty or clever today so I am going to keep this post short and sweet…kind of like some people’s attention span during thier workouts.  You know the type, do a set, get a drink of water, think of the next exercise, think about last night’s premier of Conan, watch my client’s actually training and getting work done, then watch sports center on t.v. before starting thier next…oh wait, what was I doing again?

I know it’s rainy out but that is no reason to get lazy by skipping a workout or sitting around the gym pretending to workout.  Both are equally as lame as Justin Beiber live on broadway. 

Here is an idea great workout for a rainy day like today and don’t worry, snow is right around the corner.  As always begin by warming up by foamrolling,

5 Min Warmup

  • One-leg glute bridge                                               10/side
  • Lateral mini-band walk                                         10/side
  • Walking spiderman with overhead reach        5/side
  • Reverse lunge                                                           10/side
  • Lateral Lunge                                                              5/side
  • Jumprope                                                                    2 minutes

15 Min Metabolic Circuit

  • Side plank with weighted fly                                       10/side
  • Jump split squat (or bodyweight split squat)     10 reps (10/side)
  • Kettlebell swings                                                             10 reps
  • Yoga pushups                                                                   10 reps
  • Kettlebell suitcase deadlifts                                       10/side
  • Squat and press                                                               10 reps
  • Reaching plank                                                                 5/side

Complete the circuit and repeat 3 to 5 times resting 1:30 in between sets.  The first round may seem easy, the rest will not.  This is a great mindless workout to get you in hear and training hard with little to think about to kick the habit of standing around.

In other news, since my blog has grown over the months (much thanks to you all for reading and sharing my humble blog) I will be adding video to my posts in the very near future.  I am working hard on getting video of various exercises to help you guys learn while I am away.

Any suggestions on what my first video should be? (get your mind out of the gutter please, this is a family site)


The Hottest Thing a Girl Has Ever Said To Me

If you have ever had any doubt that I don’t get out much, you are absolutely correct.  Between training myself, my clients, education, writing, and following the Boston sports phenomenon (even the Sox this year) I don’t get out much anymore.  Something like all work and no play comes to mind.  So is the life of the committed personal trainer.

In the end of the day it is a good thing that I love what I am doing and get to have fun at work.  How many of you can honestly say that?

Needless to say, I find it very attractive when a girl is genuinely into exercise and properly training her body.  Initially, I get the same speil with many of my clients regarding doing things like squats, pushups, and lifting heavy things.  Believe me, it is a tough sell to most women when you say that lifting heavy and squatting will not make them big and bulky.

After training for several weeks most of thier opinions change and they actually begin liking lifting heavy.  It is a beautiful thing watching a woman deadlift 135 for the first time after saying “I could never lift that much.”  One of the girls I have been working with since last March is now doing barbell front squats, deadlifts, and assisted towel pullups.  She looks phenomenal and is doing things she never dreamed of.  Makes a trainer proud.

In addition to training clients at my facility, I also work with several distance or online clients whom I write monthly programs for.  My most recent addition is a girl who came  because her current program was lacking, well, everything.  A friend of hers had her doing leg presses, machine bench presses, and even worse the leg ad and abductor machines.  Have you ever seen the PSA commercial with the Native American walking through the polluted streets?  This is how I feel inside when I hear stories like this.

She was more than happy to completely junk everything she was doing and start anew.  I took her through the initial FMS assessment and she passed with flying colors.  Pilot to co-pilot, we’re ready for takeoff.

I wrote her a 3 day program consisting of a full mobility warmup and exercises like goblet squats, deadlifts, single leg rdl’s, and pullups (negatives).  First off, she is able to get through each day’s workout in less time then it was taking her to make her way through the land of machines.  Second, she loves actually using her body to exercise as well as lifting heavy things.  Her profession: a preschool teacher. 

Two weeks after beginning her program she sends me this message: “I saw a video of a girl doing one legged squats (I’m assuming pistol squats).  What do I have to do to learn how to do those that smooth and clean?”.    Wow, I’m smitten.

Not only that but she want’s to pick up a mini-band to do lateral walks to help her squat improve.  Not only does she like to train but she wants to get better.  At this point I’m totally speachless.  I love what I do and I love it even more when I am able to get others to share the passion. 

On a side note, about a month ago Tony Gentilcore wrote a post in response to another Boston trainer’s article on why women shouldn’t squat and only fitness professionals who are “un-informed” have their clients squat.  This post was responded to by glute afficionado Bret Contreras in a well thought and well put post.

This week the follow-ups were posted in an epic, but respectful, “you got served” kind of manner.  Be prepared to have some knowledge bombs dropped on your ass.  These are must reads to that explain why squatting is good for us and dispel any myths and reasons we shouldn’t.  Part 1, Part 2.

In other news, I am actually getting out tonight to go see the new Saw 3D.  This is going to be my first 3D movie so I have high expectations.  See, my life isn’t all barbells and  Kettlebells.


Uncommon

I read this book when I first became a coach after seeing it referenced on StrengthCoach.com and just reread some of the pages I folded.  Coach Dungy believes that the path to significance in life isn’t found through money, celebrity, or power but rather from attitude and ambition.  I just wanted to share some of the takeaways I got from the book that can be applied to life as well as your goals.  You have a much greater chance of becoming uncommon by your efforts rather than your natural talents or gifts.

Here are 5 ways to start practicing right now becoming uncommon and separating yourself from the rest of the pack.

  1. Live with passion and enthusiasm:  There is no greater way to sell yourself to the world on what you love to do than passion and enthusiasm.
  2. Always take the high road: Your choices will determine your success: Bad Choices – No Success, Good Choices – Good Success, Great Choices – Great Success.
  3. Don’t hoot with the owls if you want to fly with the eagles: How you spend your “off-time” will determine your success.
  4. Work harder than anyone else: Work-ethic always pays off in the long run.  While those who have great talent are taking it easy, work as hard as you can, and you will eventually pass them up.
  5. Catch a Break: The best way to catch a break is to get to know and become friends with as many people as you can.  There is huge truth in “it’s not what you know it’s who you know.”

-Tony Dungy

From Strengthcoach.com & Tony Dungy’s Book, Uncommon.


Off Topic and the Fitcast

First off, does anyone remember Pogs?  You know that game where you take a “slammer” and smash a stack of milk caps or “Pogs”?  Yes, random but I was out last night at the Good Life and they had a themed high school dance night and had Pogs strewn across the bar and the tables.  The only thing that was missing were slammers.  I’m sorry but someone dropped the ball on that one.

Since I am doing an off topic post I am going to take a second to give a shout out to some friends of mine over at the FitCast.  If you haven’t heard of it by now and you are serious about your fitness then I suggest checking it out.  It is the crem de la crem of fitness podcasts that I myself listen to almost every morning while preparing my 5a.m. breakfast feast.

just Kevin, Jon, and Leigh being Kevin, Jon, and Leigh

The show is hosted by strength coach Kevin Larrabee, CSCS and co-hosted by Dr. Johnathan Fass, dPT, CSCS and the awesome female strength coach Leigh Peele, who lays down some great nutrition knowledge.  They are hilarious and have great chemistry like peanut butter and jelly (and coconut, cacao nibs, and banana which I just had…effing delicious, don’t judge me) and speak on some solid health and fitness topics that benefit everyone.

I could go on all day about how valuable this podcast is to anyone interested in increasing their fitness knowledge by eons but you will just have to check it out.  I’m telling you, all it takes is one episode and you’ll be hooked (they are up to episode 192…unheard of for fitness podcasts).

Some of the weekly guest speakers have included Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Roberson, John Berardi, Eric Cressey, Craig Ballantyne, Mike Boyle, and Bret Contreras along with many, many others to numerous to mention.  This is the best of the best in the training community, strength coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and just plain old amazing people.

If you have iTunes I suggest subscribing to the Fitcast or you can also check out their website to download each episode.  Listen to them during your commute, on the train, at the gym, or while you are pretending to work.  If your fitness is as important to you as it is to me then check it out.  Free information rules.

I have been tuning in for months and since each episode is between 45min and 2hrs I myself still have a lot of listening to do.  About 50 episodes worth of hilarity and badass topics to further my education.  Each episode also concludes with about 20-30 minutes of off topic stuff that is also pretty great to listen to as the eggs are cooking.

Peace, Love, and Pogs

If you like my posts, please spread the word and share on Facebook and Tweet the shit out of them to spread the word.  Bonus points if you post questions and comments.


Death Sentence: The Chair

One thing that many of you may not know about me is that back in college I first majored in engineering and information management before making the leap to exercise physiology.  I know they are as similar as icecream and broccoli (both of which I love), but I decided early on that I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk for 9 or more hours a day.  Well that and I had a healthy addiction to exercise and a passion for helping people move and be healthy.

Since the creation of the internet, our society has greatly moved from the blue-collar work of the past and is being sentenced to white collar jobs.  Working at a desk for 40+ hours a week is just like you are being charged for a crime you didn’t commit.  Research has proven that slouching at your desk has numerous negative side effects such as lumbar lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt, both of which cause low back pain as well as contributing to cardiovascular disease.  If you are interested, here is the research abstract at PubMed.com.

Some of the exercise that you do in the gym will help to counteract some of these negative consequences, granted you are doing the right things.  Or will it?  New research says that the 5 45min workouts you do a week will still place you in the sedentary category and does little to combat the 60+ hours a week you spend at a desk.  This doesn’t include TV time once you get home to relax after a long day of sitting.  Even worse are the people who sit on machines at the gym.  So we sit at work, sit at the gym, and sit at home.  Simple solution: get off your ass.

More importantly than making you fat, being inactive is causing tightness in areas such as your hips, shoulders and spine and creating weaknesses and imbalances throughout your body.  Rather than getting into semantics, being “active”  means more than just running on a treadmill and doing a couple pushups on a regular basis.  It means getting out and doing non exercise activities such as playing sports or other activities, gardening, doing yardwork or hiking.  I got out and did Franconia Ridge last weekend and it was spectacular and highly recommended.

In an article in this month’s Men’s Health, Bill Hartman, C.S.C.S. talks about how our bodies adapt to what we do the most.  If we are used to sitting for 10-12 hours a day, our body will get really good at sitting with detriment to other functions like standing, walking, jumping and all the other stuff we have evolved to be able to do as humans.  So in addition to nonexercise activities, Hartman recommends getting out of your chair multiple3 or more times a day and doing posture correcting exercises like these.

For your hips: Hip Extension Stretch

  • Make sure you contract the buttocks of your rear leg to extend the hip.
  • Raise the hand on the same side of your rear leg over your head and slightly bend towards your opposite side.
  • Hold 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

For your shoulders: Scapular Wall Slides

  • Stand with your back against a wall with your butt, back, shoulders, head, and forearms in contact with the wall.
  • Start with your arms in the shape of a W and slide them until they form a Y.  Hold for 3 seconds and return.
  • Repeat 10-12 times.

For your spine: Chair Mobilization

  • Sit so the back of your chair is just below shoulder blade level.
  • Place your hands behind your neck and bring your elbows together.
  • Bend back and push your elbows upward as your exhale and hold for a count of 3.
  • Repeat 10-12 times.

So the next time you ask the question “How much should I work out?”, my answer will be “All the damn time!”.  Schedule regular workouts for strength training, cardio, pilates, or whatever you enjoy to help you burn some fat and increase your fitness but more importantly, do the things that counteract bad desk posture and stay active.  Also, set goals and make small choices that will move you towards them.  Fitness is more than just working out at the gym so don’t get sentenced to the chair.

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Groundhog Day

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change” – Albert Einstein 1879-1955

Before I get into today’s post I would like to ask you two questions.  The first question is why do you train?  Seriously, what is the one underlying reason that you spend countless hours running on a hamster wheel and moving heavy ass objects from point A to point B, back to point A and so on and so forth?  I’m pretty sure that everyone that is reading this has come up with a different answer ranging from but not limited to getting stronger, losing weight, gaining flexibility, gaining or maintaining health because your doctor told you to, and being more attractive to the opposite sex (people say this changes as you get older but that is bullshit).

Although they are all very different goals they all have one thing in common: CHANGE.  People train, workout, exercise, whatever you want to call it to elicit some kind of change in themselves.  I mean c’mon, what guy doesn’t want a body like Brad Pitt in Fight Club and what woman doesn’t want a body like Angelina Jolie in Wanted (They make a great couple don’t they?). And don’t you want your “slightly more fluffy” than when you met significant other to look the same?  Yeah you do (no matter what you tell them).

My second question is does your training reflect this?  What I mean by this is do you have a plan to improve whatever you want to change and a clear mental picture of what you actually want?  If you are like most people you answered no to both of these questions.  Too few people really know what they are supposed to be doing so they get comfortable doing what they already know and stick with that.  The problem is that they stick with that program of bodypart training, stretching, and cardio for months or even years and expect a change.

In biology, the law of accommodation states that the response of a biological object to a given constant stimulus decreases over time.  By definition, accommodation is the decrease in response of a biological object to a continued stimulus.  In training, the stimulus is exercise.  In his book Science and Practice of Strength Training, Vladimir Zatsiorsky relates this law to exercise by stating:

Because of accommodation, it is inefficient to use standard exercises or a standard training load over a long period of time.  Training programs must vary…

…To avoid or decrease the negative influence of accommodation, training programs are periodically modified.  In principle, there are two ways to modify training programs: quantitative or qualitative.

Very basically, this means that every once in a while you should do something different than what you are doing now.  Shocking, I know.  Quantitative change would be either changing the number of reps or the load lifted.  Yes women, that means lifting heavier weights (those pink 5lb dumbbells are only good for so long).  Qualitative change would be replacing the exercises or program all together.

Quantitative changes in your program may be easy but should be carefully planned.  Initially you will gain strength rapidly as your body is neurologically adapting to the new stress but eventually you will plateau.  Even if you are increasing the weight to match your strength, the law of accommodation will eventually kick in.  The next step would be to alter the number of repetitions or sets you are doing.  An easy way to do this is to change your rep range monthly.  If you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise this month, next month do 3 sets of 6 or 3 sets of 12.  The change doesn’t have to be drastic but it does have to be a change.  Your body WILL adapt.

With qualitative changes you will have to be a little more creative.  The best athletes and strength coaches in the world realize this and work diligently to create the best training program to fulfill this need.  On the simpler side, if you have been training hard with barbells your whole life then switch to dumbbells for a month or two.  If you have a large male ego like myself and try to lift heavy ass weights all the time take a step back and start doing some body weight training.  Believe me, doing inverted TRX pushups are just as hard as benching 325 (my max in college).

So instead of waking up every morning like Bill Murry in Groundhog Day, start thinking of ways to change up your current routine.  Or be one step ahead by actually sitting down and creating a monthly plan for your training.  This may be where having a good personal trainer or coach may come in handy.  I’m sure that there will be questions so post them below and I will answer.

CHANGE IS NECESSARY.

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