Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are you an Athlete? (Part I)

In your head, answer these questions for yourself:

  • Do you compete in an area of your life (work, relationships, siblings, finances, belongings, schools, etc)?
  • Do you strive to improve your performance in any of the above areas? 
  • Are you concerned with the function of your body on an everyday basis?  From your heart, lungs, muscles, bones, joints and hormones? 
    • If so, do you know your current statistics, from blood pressure to resting heart rate, strength to endurance, adrenal/hormonal profile and triglyceride level?
  • Do you care/are you aware of your genetic limitations?
    • If so, are you attempting/willing to beat them?
  • Do you look at a picture of an athlete, celebrity or friend and say, “Wow they have great (insert whatever bodypart or area you are admiring here)”?
  • Do you take pride in your fitness or aesthetic/genetic accomplishments?
  • Do you know that a fitter employee is promoted quicker than the employee who is fatter and out of shape? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than one question from above, then you have the potential to be considered an ‘athlete’.  Notice I wrote, ‘potential’. If you answered no to everything, well, Godspeed. 

By definition, what is an athlete?  According to Merriam-Webster, an athlete is a ‘person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.  In addition, participation in competitive activities requires the commitment of all those involved (coach and athlete).  Thus, it becomes less of a ‘recreational activity’ and more of a win/lose situation. 

What does this have to do with me?  Traditionally, if you’re not a participant in sport, then you’re not considered an athlete.  However, as previously asked in the questions above, I am starting to wonder how to apply active participation in furthering fitness levels through various lifts, measurements, etc.  This participation is necessary in order to actively push genetics to the side, fight disease, and be considered an athlete in the sport called life, and to avoid losing in areas of your life. 

Wait, losing?  How am I losing?  Do you have a physical therapist or a strength coach?  Are you adding to your current fitness levels or getting ‘back to 100%’?   Do you have a cardiologist under the age of 50 or a fitness coach?  Do you do juice cleanses a few times per year at 300 bucks a pop or pay for a nutritionist?  Do you pay for premium liquor, beer and wine but not for premium nutritional supplements?  Do you have a massage therapist that you regularly see or do you see a pain specialist?  Do you have a life coach or a psychiatrist? 

The difference might be word play, but all successful people are considered winners, and most are successful in many areas of their life.  (Steve Jobs and many successful CEO's have/had a life coach)  I would consider ‘successful’ as a synonym with a ‘winning’, and ‘unsuccessful’ synonymous with ‘losing’.  But can you measure it in life? 

Look at it this way.  If you are an out-of-shape 45 year old, who drinks 6 nights per week, carries a beer belly, knows their cardiologist, physical therapist, juice cleanse distributor and psychiatrist’ home phone numbers, then you are a reactor.  You are playing ‘defense’ in your life, and you lose 4-6 hours per week on lost productivity, both because of doctor/therapist visits and because you’re consistently looking up symptoms for heart attack and stroke.  I wouldn’t necessarily consider you a loser, but you’re definitely not on the ‘offense’ at trying to ‘win’ in certain areas of your life.  

However, if you’re an in-shape 45 year old with something resembling a 6 pack, see a fitness coach twice a week, drink red wine for health benefits 1-2 nights per week, see a nutritionist once per quarter, a massage therapist twice a month, have your premium nutritional supplements on auto-resupply from Amazon, and have a life coach, I would definitely consider you ‘winning’.  You have not accepted the hand you have dealt, and are clearly playing ‘offense’ in more than one area.  

 Okay fine, I get winning versus losing, but what does this have to do with me?  I would be hard-pressed to believe that this winning mindset would only be found in someone’s health and fitness profile.  In fact, using the above definition of winning versus losing, a loser is definitely not an athlete because their participation in their own life is as a spectator, as they watch others play their roles in their lives and hope they can help.  Compare that to the winner, who is participating in every area of their life.  From heart to joints, lungs to muscles, stomach to intestines and brain to bone, they have made the commitment towards their ‘sport’.  Life, as we know it, is challenging in many ways: 
  • We fight our genetics
  • Manage our emotions
  • Budget for time and money
  • Strive to obtain that massive office or home
  • Place our kids in the best school. 

Can you qualify yourself as an athlete?  Answer these questions, revised from above: 

  • Do you accept the health ‘cards’ you have been dealt?  Or is it your turn to deal yourself a new hand?  
  • Do you want the benefits from increased health and fitness levels because they coincide with increased pay raises and productivity while having less sick days? 
  • Do you want to see your trainer, nutritionist and massage therapist more than your cardiologist, physical therapist and pain specialist? 
  • Do you want to pay more for nutritional supplements and nothing for cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering medications? 
  • Do you want to work with a life coach at improving certain areas of your life or talk with your psychiatrist about your argument with so-and-so?

If you answered yes to 4 out of these 5 questions, then you have the potential to train for the sport called life. 

If you’re ready to train for the sport called life, then you are ready for the details of training for life in my next article.  Stay tuned.  

-Coach Kev

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 Simple Lessons from Fitness Experts

Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Today, I was really inspired to post a more summarizing look at the Future of Fitness and highlight some take-home points from the presenters with my own interpretation.  From core training to cardio training,  unilateral loading and intermittent fasting, let's take a look! 

1) Anti and Uni are the future of movement training.  This topic was of huge debate in Phoenix: the value of single leg training versus bilateral, and for good reason.  Recently, strength Coaches Mike Boyle and Mike Robertson have extolled the virtues and benefits of training on one leg versus two.  In the fitness industry especially, trainers and coaches typically pick one side or the other, and debate the sides ad nausea.  But is any method RIGHT?  Both have their place, and being 'right' truly depends on the person's 'sport'.  Hockey player?  Definitely needs a ton of single leg work.  Shot put?  Maybe as an accessory exercise, but not as a focus or main lift.  Key word here is specificity: training for the requirements that your sport, life, body type and energy demands.  My personal workout program consists of varying unilateral (one leg and one arm) lifts, paired with bilateral movements (power, olympic and kettlebell).  One of my favorites as an accessory exercise (can also be done on hardwood or tiled floor with towel underfoot):
2) The Power of Less.  Not only as a great book, but as a way to implement change.  Quality trumps quantity!


  • Nutrition: having less choices to make eliminates the potential for cheating (aka Intermittent Fasting)
  • Cardio: interval training, of 1/8 mile (200m), 1/4 mile (400m) or 1/2 mile (800m) runs are completely exhausting when repeated with shorter rest intervals, and don't take as long as a 45-60 minute long slow cardio workout on a treadmill, stepmill or elliptical.  Caloric burn is also extremely high post-workout
  • Strength training: working out 2 times a week for 60 minutes is a thing of the past; even celebrity trainers are using shorter workouts (30 minutes) at varying intensities and different focuses each workout
  • Supplements: fish oil + multivitamin + probiotic.  Eat real food from mother nature, organic if necessary.  
  • Movements: lunge, deadlift, squat, push, pull, resist movement
  • Power training: doesn't necessarily mean kettlebells or fancy plyometric movements, rather, focus on moving quickly (in some cases, as quick as possible) to develop and stimulate harder to reach motor units within muscle.  Can be done with own bodyweight!
3) Tissue quality is highly important.  From Don Chu to Thomas Meyers to Mike Boyle and Gray Cook, fascial fitness is a topic that, for good reason, has been the focus on many workouts, treatments, and seminars.  Phoenix was no different, as Don Chu highlighted some of the ways muscle works separate from fascia, and Thomas Meyers elaborated how the evolution of the human has led us quite far away from where we were hundreds of years ago.  Buying a foam roller, getting a massage or ART and stretching muscles that are 'short' and strengthening muscles that are 'long' will be topics in mainstream health and fitness magazines for many years to come.

4) Box Gyms will filled with immovable equipment while Fitness studios will be filled with people moving in space.  This much we know: people want results along with service.  Big box gyms are starting to decline, with everyone from 24 Hour Fitness to Lifetime Fitness (the manufacturer of equipment!) seeing their numbers decline.  Fitness studios, on the other hand, are service and results-oriented.  In fact, for most, that's all they care about, and they're damn good at delivering.  Wonder why?  Look at a picture of lifetime fitness versus a training studio:

Selling results or membership?

5) Metabolic training is the new cardio:  Combining bodyweight movements, bands, TRX, medicine balls, ropes, kettlebells in a workout, with minimal rest, will replace 'cardio' sessions.  Cardio programs have a 70% dropout rate after 8 weeks, while retention rates for workout programs like the video above are extraordinarily high.  Personally, I love metabolic workouts, both for how they feel during (not high in impact upon joints) and after (energized, not lacking energy).  Form can be maintained while intensity is lowered, allowing participant to dial in on quality. 

I was truly inspired from Phoenix's conference, and am looking forward to delivering more perspiration and motivation.

In health,

Coach Kev

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Future of Fitness (Summary)

Ah, finally.  The moment you (and I) have been waiting for.

The summary of all the presentations (except Thomas Meyers and Josh Henkin: they presented on the last day and I had to catch an early flight), with some questions they brought up, and answers to their thoughts with my own interpretation. 

The reason this is beneficial to me (in addition to my reader) is two reasons:
1) Reviewing my pages and pages of notes finalizes what I will be integrating into programs, warm ups etc.
2) These highlights of what I have upgraded to in terms of nutrition, warmups, movement patterns, etc will be more easily implemented and remembered

These two steps are crucial, and a large part of what separates myself from other trainers.  Just this week I tallied how much I have spent on furthering my education and improving my quality of service (books, seminars, DVD's, travel for seminars, and new equipment for the studio), and it exceeds $6,000.

As Alwyn Cosgrove (one of the presenters from the conference) would say, I say this not to impress you, but to impress upon you the value and seriousness of which I take who I am (Coach) and what I do (change lives). I can't yet say I've extended lives or prevented disease, but I can say that my mission is still the same: to change the lives of people I come in contact with.  Health and fitness will be the future commodity that will be treasured and eventually treated as important by those outside the current 'healthy' lines, as those within the field currently treat it.  Not only does improving one's health and fitness help one feel better, but it actually saves money.  By 2015, the average American will be burdened to the account of $1,400 from paying for the costs of obesity.  This is outrageous, and the 69% of the country that are currently obese and overweight need help.

Finally, I started to think about what really differentiates me from other trainers at health clubs, gyms and studios, and it goes something like this:

No one cares as much about your health and fitness as I do. 

That's my guarantee to you, my reader, my friend, my client, my family members.  As my 91st article that I've written in the past 3 years on health and fitness, I'm taking the time to extend this article to new lengths, fully highlighting all the 'trends' that you will see within the future of fitness.  Here.  We.  Go: 

To continue reading, please sign up for my newsletter at the right.  You will be emailed a PDF of Part I of the Seminar highlights. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Future of Fitness (Books to Read)

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend Perform Better's Meeting of the Minds, a seminar in which the speakers gazed into their personal crystal ball to predict the future of many different fitness subtopics.  From nutrition to stretching, programming on one leg to two, no stone was left unturned.  Some of the newer technology used by professional athletes and clients can be found in an article HERE.  In addition, many presenters mentioned psychology, organization and life-optimization as topics that will play a large role in the future. 

For this article, I decided to highlight the books that were highly recommended at the conference, both by presenters and attendees.  Let's get going!

  • A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink
  • Drive, also by Daniel H. Pink
  • Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck (I'm already halfway through this one - loving it!)
  • Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath
  • The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta 
  • Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson and others
  • The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  • Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
  • Self Improvement 101 by John C Maxwell
  • Ultimate Warrior Workouts by Martin Rooney
  • Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell
  • Onward by Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO)

If you notice, there's a huge theme here (of which I agree with):  Personal Trainers, Nutritionists, Strength Coaches and Therapists all are starting to look more towards the mental power that each individual has.  Harnessing that mental and psychological power yields far greater results than treating each person as just a physical being, and ignoring the mental side of things may hurry your exit from the health and fitness business.
 Myself, I believe that motivation is similar to showering: it needs to be done daily (not an original quote, but I believe it).  I love reading and studying how to better my craft, but I also believe that if I am a better, more complete person, inside and out, then I have more to offer my business, my family, friends and network.

Next, we'll look at some of the other themes from this weekend, including actual highlights from lectures and presentations.

Until then,

Coach Kev

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Future of Fitness

At the Perform Better's Meeting of the Minds Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend, the main topics presented revolved around one thing: The Future of FitnessNot only did every presenter do a great job in highlighting the fitness of years' past, but each one took a long look into their crystal ball and forecasted their predictions for what we might see in the next 10+ years. 

View from above the resort (on a mountainside)

For this article, I am going to highlight some of the technology that will be making our life easier to track, monitor and control different factors that we were previously unaware of.  Here we go:

#1 Zeo Sleep Manager:  Previously, it took thousands of dollars to monitor your sleep overnight at some crazy sleep lab.  Now, for under $200, the Zeo Sleep Manager connects wirelessly to your laptop or mobile device and analyzes your sleep patterns (monitors lifestyle patterns, sleep stages, and more).
#2 Know your Genetic Limitations: Previously, genetic tests and metabolic testing was a complicated and often limited practice.  Now?  The website 23andme takes the craziness out of the equation and simplifies, and the website says 'Gain insight into your traits, from baldness to muscle performance. Discover risk factors for 97 diseases. Know your predicted response to drugs, from blood thinners to coffee. And uncover your ancestral origins.'  I'm in!
#3 Simplify Goal Setting and Establish Habits:  Kicking old habits to the curb and starting new ones used to be like pulling teeth.  Now, with this amazing app available on Itunes, (Available here), you can track, monitor and establish new habits with a daily tracking and monitoring system that even shows up in your calendar.  You can even schedule things every 3 days, weekly, or even monthly.  Bottom line?  Great app that has huge ramifications for establishing new eating habits, exercise patterns, etc. 
#4 Sportably:  One of my favorite discoveries this weekend, Sportably is a 21st century way to track everything from weight lifted to resting heart rate, stresses outside the training routine, quality of sleep, mindset and nutrition quality.  Website: Sportably

#5 Meal Snap: Wonder how many calories are on your plate?  Using its intense caloric database and estimating system, Meal Snap is an iPhone app that allows you to take pictures of your meal and then analyze the caloric details of the meal. 
#6 No Brown Days:  Wayne Cotton, a respected financial advisor and marketing expert, has established a very cool system to track productivity and keep momentum from accomplishments moving you forward.  Use his roadmap and 90 day wonder to re-establish control over your time, and avoid the brown days!  No Brown Days is something you can implement immediately and start to feel the effects of more free time after organizing your life.

#7 Fitocracy:  Want to keep 'score' of how intense your workouts are?  And compare them to others and check the intensity level based on others' comparable workouts?  Then Fitocracy is a perfect way to keep score, turn fitness into a game, and compete against friends and co-workers.  Check it out!

More to come on the highlights of this amazing Perform Better-run event.  Loved it!

-Coach Kev