2016 – Lesson One – Challenge One!

As this new year kicks off and really starts rolling, I think that I can start with a little piece of advice for you.  This has absolutely nothing to do with getting a bigger squat or losing 40 pounds and in the same instant, it has everything to do with those very things.  It has to do with everything that you will come up against in life.

It is not mind-blowing or mind-boggling, it is just something that we often neglect as we go through our day-to-day lives and our existence.  Most of us strive to be the best at whatever we do.  We want to be the best husband, the best wife, the best parent, the best friend, the best whatever…and in that struggle to be the best, we fail.  We fall short of the ideal.  We give into the FaceBook fantasies that someone out there is better at life than we are.  We see successes all around us, and feel the burden and pressure of not living up to someone else’s ideals or not doing everything that we should (or maybe even could) have done.

So for the next year, I challenge you to learn about yourself.  I encourage everyone to take a little bit of time and figure out what is really going on underneath your own hood.  Learn about what makes you tick.  Not just what makes you upset, but why you are upset.  What really sets you off?  What really gets you going?  What are the key pieces that have been there when you have succeeded and what about when you have failed?  And then not be afraid to share that with others.  Share that with the people in your life.

Don’t react in rough situations, understand why you react and let the other parties know what the truth is.  I know from personal experience that I often live in the “you should just know” world.  Far too often, we are afraid to speak up and tell someone what is going on with us and we harbor it.  And bigger than that, we don’t even know what caused us to be mad or upset.  We just know that “THEY” did something…but we reacted.  We control that reaction and we control how we behave in a situation.

So if you are making goals for this year, take a little time and learn about yourself.  You are probably doing better than you think. You are probably a better spouse, parent, sibling and friend than you give yourself credit for.

yoda...there is no try

Year in Review – What’s Coming in 2016

I am a day or so late in getting this one out, but the extra day of reflection was good for me.  I took a little more time and spent it with some loved ones.  I took my daughter to a movie and spent most of the day reflecting on just what the past year was all about.

I will not call it a bad year, nor will I call it a good year.  I will leave it at being a learning year.  It was a year when I look back, it is easy to point out the hard moments and several moments I wish would have been different.  I find many moments that need to have their endings re-written, but then the lessons would have remained locked away with the pain.  Stories that end up perfectly, do not teach us the hard lessons and those had to be learned.

So as I look back on the past year, it is a year of stepd being taken so that I can become more and more the man that I want to be.  It was a year where decisions were made that allowed me to grow into the father, husband,friend, and coach that I want to be.

I attended a few too many funerals for those lost all of a sudden, but I learned how to open up my heart to those that were mourning.  I learned the power of a hug when it is needed and wanted.  I learned the value of laughter in mourning.  I learned what it means to sit in the silence of the ashes and just know that I want to be a part of the healing process.  In these moments of sudden loss, I witnessed true strength.  The kind that you cannot develop on a barbell, but only through the will to stick with someone when their life gets rough.

I walked away from some of my safe places in the hopes of learning more by living in some chaos.  I took that steps to try and live a larger purpose more committed to the ones I love, including myself.  I stepped out of some safety and put some burdens on the ground so that I can grow.  It will always be a bittersweet moment, but I know that I left my mark in those safe places and it is time for them and me to move on to new challenges and new adventures.

And through all the rough pathches, there has been growth.  There has been a growth of internal strength and will.  It has helped me to know that sometimes, it hurts, but you cannot stop and other times, you have to stop because the pain will just be too much to continue on.

And there have been gorious moments.  Moments where you know that you were put on this planet for this moment and to meet certain people.  There were days where I introduced people to my love of the barbell, the kettlebell and the odd object.  I attended several certifications that helped me to learn that it is ok to be different.  Just be you, do what you love and let the chips fall where they fall.  Do you!

I fell in love with the puzzle that is small business.  I rekindled my passion with writing and let those things come together and start to form something unique that is leading into the new year.  I am excited about the risks and challenges that are coming in the new year…what does the new year look like?

No idea, but my eyes, ears and heart are open for whatever is thrown my way!

Keep On Progressing…Goals Refinement!

So here we are…back again!  Refining our goal setting and goal keeping process.  In the last post, I asked you to do some very basic (not easy) things:

  • Buy a new Journal
  • Figure out how you tick (what do you need to make successful habits)
  • Write out your goals
  • Break them down into three categories (short-term, medium-term, long-term)

So what do we do now?  I have the goals, I just start working really hard to keep them, right?


I want you to look at those goals that you have and the breakdown is not important right this instant, but it does give you a rough deadline for completion and if you are like me, that is important.  The deadline is important.

The next thing that I want you to do is to begin to utilize the other pages in your new journal and look at your list and figure out the “why” behind each and every goal that you have.  What you are doing is taking a minute to decide what is motivating you to want that goal to happen.  Are you really even doing it for yourself, or do you just think someone else will be happy if you do it?

As you work through your list, you want your goals to have personal value.  If something is written down, just for the sake of writing down or it sounds good to have it on the list, but it means nothing to you, failure is the most likely outcome.  You have to make sure that the goal actually adds meaning to your life.

A common goal is to work out more.  Gyms love the start of the new year, but they cannot make you show up.  Why do you want to work out more?  Maybe you want to play more with your kids, your grandkids, take your dog on more walks, look better in a swimsuit, make the neighbors jealous.  I don’t know your answer, but you need to have a reason.

If you cannot come up with a SOLID why for a goal, remove it from your list.  If your goal is only on there because someone else wants it for you or from you, remove it.  The goal must carry some value to you.

If your only motivation for working out more is because my husband or wife wants me to or thinks I should or it sounds good…mark it off.  Get rid of it.  You don’t really want it.

This is a difficult step and a challenge because it means the list might change.  You have to be real with yourself.  Do not search for reasons…follow your gut on this one and shoot from the hip.  If you do not feel a reason hit you quick…delete the item.  You can always re-add it later…when it has more value.

So that’s all I got today…figure out the why!

Turn the page and start figuring it out!


What’s Next ?!?!

Group Photo

Now that the turkey hangovers are done and life is getting back to normal for most people or the chaos of the holiday season is starting to roll in, I am already thinking about what is up next for the Barbell Poet.

My initial answer is to simply say…I have no idea!

That is not a bad thing, just an unknown.  I can say that over the next 31 days as we head into a new year, I will continue to get better and develop myself.  I will spend the time focusing on my training, my nutrition, my goals and starting on a path of personal growth in the new year.

A couple weeks ago, I stepped down from my position in order to do the very things listed above.  I stepped down to get better personally and get better as a coach.  And that is where I will start.  I have given myself the month of December as a minimum to start coming up with the goals for the new year…what will those goals look like.

As of right now, they start with the following:

  • Write a Book (It doesn’t have to be published, just written)
  • Take the GRE and consider getting a Masters (have to look at the financials on that one)
  • Update THIS website
  • Develop a solid habit of training consistently
  • Clean up the nutrition
  • Develop my own training philosophy by studying people that I admire
  • Helping my kids with their homework
  • Helping my kids use their imagination
  • Surprising my wife every now and then (fewer hurried and rushed date nights)
  • Learn about and put together a solid business philosophy that I can be proud of and that represents me
  • Enjoy the beauty of small blessings
  • Be better!

That is where I will start.  Does it mean that I will never coach at my old gym again?  Not necessarily.  Does it mean that I will stay in my current situation?  Not necessarily.  It means that for the first time in a long time, I am open to change.

I am excited about the future and what might be coming my way.  I am excited to attack life again and focus on being better everyday…even if it is just a little bit!

When It Was Simpler…Fun

There was a time when CrossFit was about the challenge.  It was about pushing yourself to be better each and every day.  It was about you vs. you and conquering new challenges.  There was a time when the workout itself was simpler.

You walked in and there it was 1 workout.  Not a three part algebraic equation of strength cycles, mobility work, a metcon and then the notion to slam your recovery drink of choice (only to later debate about which one is better).  It was simple.  Two or three movements on most days…something brutal like a Filthy 50 every once in a while.

I won’t call those times better, just simpler.  It was a time of just you and a barbell or you and your body.  Cleans. Burpees. Snatch. Pullup. Deadlift. Squat.  That was a foundation and it was raw.  It was lift heavy, move fast and be proud.

I sometimes catch myself missing those days.  Not because I don’t love what CrossFit and functional fitness has evolved into, but because it was easier to measure progress and progress was measured the same way you worked out.  There were minimal debates about Wendler vs. Conjugate vs. Invictus to get you ready.

You just did.

If you were like me, maybe it was the first time you really performed an Olympic Lift, maybe first time you touched a barbell or kettlebell at all.  And you loved it.  You felt the thrill of moving a heavy load a large distance.  You embraced the sound of the bar crashing to the ground after a successful (or failed) attempt.  You felt the adrenaline as you knew today there is only one work out.  There is no B or C…just A.

Crush A.

There is nothing to save yourself for.  Crush A.  There is no metcon after the lift for you to save yourself for.  Crush A.

Today’s programs, progressions and methods are most definitely better, but sometimes you don’t want better.  Sometimes you want to be a little reckless…ride that bike without a helmet, drive with the top down and not a care in the world.  You look back and miss the days where all you had to do was Crush A.

And Just for fun…the most epic clean and jerk you will ever watch!

It’s So Easy a Child Can Do It…

This past weekend my oldest was jumping in the backyard in her bounce house.  She was having a blast and laughing and calling constantly, “watch this, daddy!  Watch this!”  I naturally watched as she jumped as high as she could.  Landing on her knees and trying to bounce back into her feet.

Then after about twenty minutes, she was bored.  She asked me what she should do next.  I asked her, how’s your front roll.  So she did a front roll.

I said, “Great, now show me ten perfect front rolls”.

“Sure, but will you count, daddy?”


She started and I would say…one perfect roll, two perfect roll, three perfect roll, four….

“Daddy, was that one perfect?”

“Not quite as good as the other three, but if you want, I will count it.”

“No, no, no…I will do it again.”

And this went on.  She would roll and roll and roll.  And after ten perfect rolls, she asked me for what next.  So we worked on her candlesticks.  Again, she asked me to count but this time she told me to only count them if they are perfect.  As she progressed through the candlesticks, she started to realize what was a “perfect” rep and those that weren’t.  When the rep was not perfect she would come up laughing but say “no, no, no that one doesn’t count” and reset for another one.

It is easy to see where this is leading.  We as athletes learning our craft we must be willing to say “no,no,no with a smile and do the rep over again”.  As a group of people who desire to be better in lifting and in life, we have to be willing to say that was not right and I am going to do it again.

But do we?

Do we acknowledge the faults in our reps and not count them or do we live in a world of close enoughs and almosts?  Do we accept a half squat when we know we can accomplish the full squat?  Do we even challenge ourselves to do the best work we can do each and every day.

Like this time with my daughter, re-doing a rep is not punishment.  It doesn’t have to feel terrible and miserable.  It doesn’t mean that we failed, it means that we have a certain standard that we are trying to meet with the things that we do.  It is imperative that we hold the standard.

It’s something so simple, a child can do it.

Is it All About Competition?

Saw this article on my Facebook feed…and it got me to thinking.

  • I work at a CrossFit Affiliate
  • I am not about Competition
  • Am I really a CrossFitter?
  • Is CrossFit built around being first or being better?

First and foremost, I appreciate articles like the one referenced above because they are not written with the notion that CrossFit is inherently dangerous.  I appreciate the article because it acknowledges that there is a risk of injury but when you work with a quality coach and a quality affiliate, you minimize (not eliminate) that risk.  It even concludes that CrossFit is a “great way to stay active”.

With those things out of the way, is competition THE component that is pushing CrossFit to grow?

From where I sit and based on what I have seen from the early years of CrossFit (I did my first workout in 2007) in the corner of a boxing club.  CrossFit was not the phenomenon that it is now.  The games were for anyone that wanted to compete and the prize money was pretty much whatever you collected when you passed the plate.  There was no talk of mobility.  The target market was built around ex military and law enforcement.

Then it blew up overnight…thanks Reebok!

It was ESPN and CrossFit as a competition and entertainment started to come through.  It went from being underground to fitness clubs everywhere.  And everyone wanted to compete.  Weekend competitions started popping up and we were hooked.  Your workout is my warm-up became a battlecry. And the athletes of CrossFit started showing up more and more.

So it stands today.  There are affiliates across the globe and more and more popping up every day.  And we are still left with the question posed at the beginning…what is causing this growth?  Competitions have helped, but ultimately, the results that the program gets are pushing the growth.  The exposure to new training modalities are pushing the growth.

The most beautiful thing that CrossFit has allowed to happen is owners to run their gym, how they see fit.  Want to emphasize olympic lifting..go for it.  Enjoy strongman…fill your gym up with Atlas Stones, Yokes, Farmers Handles and get after it.  They say you can train however you want.

Everything within this universe of fitness has been built around exposing more and more people to new ways of training that do not involve treadmills and machines.  Women have learn to love the deadlift, the clean and jerk and kettlebells.  Men got to train like Rocky in an abandoned building, sweating and feeling alive again.  And they got their buddies involved.  And the community grew.

And that is where the reality of this phenomenon’s growth comes from.  Everybody suffered together.  Everyone felt the same misery in the moment and then felt the rush of accomplishment at the end.  We shared an experience and no one had to program for themselves.  We were not stuck on auto-pilot watching television as we tried to figure out the best pace on a treadmill and everyday was different.  It was always new.

So how did CrossFit become the phenomenon it did?  It was not boring; it introduced everyone to new things and it was centered around a community sharing in the same experiences.  Competition is there for you if you want it…but it isn’t everything.

On Father’s Day…

It is Father’s Day…and I am a dad of two.

So today, I am going to get a little personal.  I saw the post that was on zenhabits and thought that I would share about the lessons I want to leave my kids.  I am a firm believer that:

If you want to leave a legacy, you have to live a legacy!

So today, I am breaking from my training strategies, business suggestions and everything else and just being honest.  If that is not your cup of tea, we will return to our regular training talk next week!

I want my girls to watch me, and question me.  I want to be open to their curiosity and not destroy it.  I want them to know what it feels like to wonder and not know.  I want to be their trusted advisor but not their salvation.  I want them to know what it is like to mess up, learn and grow.

I want them to see me angry…for the right reasons and the wrong.  I want them to see me admit my imperfections and have to humble myself and ask for forgiveness from them and others.  I want them to know that their dad is not always right…but he isn’t always wrong either.

I want them to see the struggle that all parents face.  The struggle to keep their head up in hard times and the reality that some times life beats us up and knocks us down, but not out.  We RISE!  As Maya Angelou says…and still I rise!  I want them to know that every sacrifice that I make is one out of love for them or someone else.  When you give, you grow.  When you share, you gain.

I want them to know that joy they bring me.  I want them to know that I love dancing with them in the living room.  And the joy in my heart when they tell me they love me to heaven and back…knowing that some day, I will not be here to tell them how much they mean to me.  Heaven and back works for me.

I want them to know that I pray, that I cry, that I get upset and that I know joy and happiness.  I want them to know that I work hard for everything that we are blessed with.  I want them to see that work.  I want them to know the value of hard work and that no matter what the job is, I will take it so that they are taken care of.

I want them to see me as an example.  An example of the man they should be looking for to marry.  I want them to see how much I love their mom and know that they deserve that much love.  The guy doesn’t have to be just like me, but he better love them unconditionally and endlessly.  They need to see a man in front of them that gives them the strength to tell some suitors, you are not worthy of me…and find that special someone that is.  That person that they are excited for me to meet because they know he will love them correctly.

But above all else, on this Father’s Day and all of them, I want them to know the joy that they bring to my life.  And that no matter what, one day when they are parents, I hope they have kids just like mine.  Pure joy…even in the midst of the chaos.

Love you girls!

Grain Brain By Dr. Perlmutter – Book Review

grain brain


It has been a while since I have put up a book review on the blog, so today is as good as any.  I am still on pace to hit reading a book a week, but I will admit that I have slacked a little on reporting on them.  If you are someone that is wanting to know more about why the current standards set out by the US government are off, than this book is a pretty decent starting point.  If you don’t mind a little science, then this is well worth your time and energy.  If you are not a huge reader, but still want the information, then get it on itunes or audible.  Pretty simple solutions.

The biggest thing that I can encourage people to take away from reading anything that has to do with nutrition or leading a healthy life is for you to be open to new ideas.  I appreciate this book because it emphasizes that point that fats are healthy.  That fats do not make you fat!  It talks about the importance of cholesterol in your diet as well as how the body reacts to sugar and gluten.

There has been more and more growing research to support the idea that gluten sensitivity is a very real problem and is a root cause to more than know.  I also appreciate that the author has a desire to find root causes for treatment and not focus on the symptoms.  Whether you choose to try a gluten free diet or not, one thing to remember is that we all must have an open mind to new research that is coming out.  We need to find a way to eat that helps us feel and perform our best.

For me personally, I will be working hard to get off of gluten and see how it affects some of the things that ail me, such as allergies as well as putting into effect some of his recommendations on supplements (Vitamin D, tumeric, and Omega 3) into my daily habits and see how it affects my focus among other things.

I enjoyed this book as it made me think a little more about what is going on with my body based on what I eat.  When you look at things from the perspective of this affecting my ability to think clearly and perform my job to the best of my abilities, things can become a little more real.  Many of us, can eat poorly and handle not feeling well or having an upset stomach.  When we start to think about it really affecting our performance…it can instigate change!

Until we meet again…tell me what you are currently reading and learning!


Feels like I have not written something for ages, so I am back.  I am not sure how well you will like what I have to say today, but I am going to simply put this out there for you to do with it what you will.

You want results?  You want to change something in your life?  You want to be stronger, faster, leaner, more mobile, something.  What is stopping you from getting there?  What is the reality behind why you are not progressing?

You like the idea of being faster, stronger, leaner, more mobile or whatever it is, but you are not willing to do what it takes to get there.

You are a kid that wants a puppy.  They are in love with the idea of a puppy, but they really don’t know the sacrifice that is necessary to own one.  They love the idea of throwing a frisbee…but don’t want to be in charge of feeding it daily.  They love the idea of walks, until they have to stop what they are doing and take the dog on one.

We all fall in love with the ideas of what we want, but seldom can accept what it takes to get there.  We make excuses or say that this program just isn’t working.  But are you really chasing the stronger, faster, leaner, healthier you…or just really like the idea of it?

I am a victim of this mentality as much as anyone else.  I want to be leaner, but I don’t like giving up tequila.  So I like the idea of leaning up…but don’t always succeed in putting it into practice.  There are other months where I can be strong as an oak tree…dig in and not touch the stuff and the results come.

But ultimately, I have to admit that the truth of the matter is that some times my reality does not line up with my wants.  I am in love with the idea of the puppy, but really do not want to go clean up after them.