The Growing Trend – As We Age

Finisher Walking Confidently

We all get older.  We all have to come face to face with the reality of aging.  My wife recently was blessed with being firmly planted into her 30’s, and I am rapidly approaching 40.  Our health must remain a priority as we age.

There is a trend among those that I follow for inspiration…they are getting older too.  Every day, I still receive their emails newsletters talking about training like a savage or training like a Spartan.  BUT there usually is a little more that is revealed in the text of their message.  For most of them, and as I continue to learn, the definition of what it means to train like a savage has changed.

As we age, we learn that there are two keys to training successfully –

  1. A Strong Mental Game
  2. Smarter Programming
    1. Training for a Goal

And that is the reality that we deal with.  As we age, it is our mental strength that is more important than ever.  We have kids, real jobs with real demands and any number of other things that will push us away from training.  It will push us towards complacency.  We have a culture that rewards and celebrates ease.  Jobs keep us indoors more and more often.

It is easy to stop challenging activities and harder and harder to start them.  We only see the mountain and believe the little voice that says…you don’t even know where to start when it comes to climbing.  So we stop or don’t even start.

We accept the lie that is our own inadequacy.

The little voice wins!

And so I challenge you to silence the little voice.  Just start and commit to starting every day.  Commit to pushing through the mental challenge that says it is easier to stay the same than it is to change. Commit daily and just commit for that one day.  Don’t promise to give up sugar for a month when one day is a big enough challenge.  Give it up – one day at a time.

You build muscle one rep at a time and will power one decision at a time.

And that points to the second challenge of getting older.  We cannot train like we used to.  We used to see something and say…that looks fun…let’s destroy ourselves.  300 burpees for time, followed by 20 rep max back squat – Let’s go.

And now we look at that and realize, there is no logic to that.  There is no benefit to our health and growth.  We accept and know that we must train smart so that we can continue to function for those that need us.  We have to train smarter and understand what the goals of our programming are.

It is why the role of your coach is critical.  They are not there to destroy you, they are there to build you into what you want to be.  Coaches are not demolition crews, we are construction workers and project managers.  We have to understand what our client’s goals and desires are and then, starting with the foundation, build it.

If we fail to do this, we can and will destroy all that they are doing to be mentally tough.  It is on both of us to create and build success.  I am willing to do my part, are you?

Start with a Clean Slate…Goals in the New Year

I write something about goals every year.  Like most people, I see the start of the new year as one of those rare chances to have a clean slate.  That is to say, when the year ticks over to read 2016, I can safely say…

I haven’t messed up this year

And it’s not a lie.  It is not a false statement but rather a challenge to see how long I can maintain that status.  I have learned over the past year one big thing, and that is, that in order to have a strong and successful 2016, I need to prepare for it starting now.  I actually need to start cleaning the slate now.

So how are you going to get prepared for the changes that you want to make in the new year?

First and foremost, I recommend that you go out and buy a journal that is devoted specifically to your goals and the process you are taking to achieve them.  In fact, I recommend you buy a nice journal for this purpose, think of it as investing in your own success.

New journal = New Opportunities.

The second thing that I will recommend is to take a little time getting to know how you tick.  What motivates you, what leads you on a path to success and what doesn’t?  If you are someone like me, then you are going to need to figure out how to build accountability into your goals.  Based on the work of Gretchen Rubin, I am probably a pretty solid “Obliger”.  That simply means that I am more likely to succeed when someone else is counting on me.  I work best with deadlines and clear expectations. If you want to know more about her Four Tendencies, take the quiz or buy the book. (I bought the book on iTunes and listened to it.)

For example, knowing that I am an Obliger, I now post my workouts to my followers in the morning with a statement that I will post my results after I complete it.  I have created a system when I am accountable to them.  If I did not do this, I probably would not work out or I am more prone to allow someone else’s problem cause me to push back my workout.  You can get this same accountability simply by joining a gym with a friend and committing to meet there at the same time.

The biggest thing though is to start taking a little time to know what will most likely make you successful.  Once you know a little bit about how you tick and how you react in situations, you can move into the next phase of breaking the goals down.

I recommend that you take the time to break your goals down into short term, medium term and long term goals. It is a simple method to measure success and accept that changes and accept that success does not happen overnight.  That is a really good start to your goal writing process.  There are several more steps that I recommend, but I will save those until tomorrow.  For now…take the time to:

  • 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)

And if you need help…ask!

yoda...there is no try

You Just Don’t Know…Until You Do!

I have worked with hundreds of athletes.  I have watched tens of thousands of lifts, successful and unsuccessful.  I have helped people trudge through their personal struggles and fears and have loved every minute of it.

I have watched as people have stared at me with that look in their eyes, telling me that they are going to fail and they are right.  They fail because they have told themselves that they will.  They do not believe that they can accomplish the lift, the task, or conquer the problem.

They look at it and say that it is just too much.

And I ask them, constantly, why are you afraid?

“Because I might fail.”

And there is that word.  That word that I am growing to hate more and more each day…might.  Might is five-letter word that defeats all of us far too often.

I might fail…but I might not.

And so we accept it.  We accept the failing, we accept the missed lift, the lost opportunity and the not so perfect day…all because of what might have happened.

Cue the Yoda memes and the Batman slapping Robin meme backup.  Might is not a result.  For my fellow Yoda fans, try is not a result.

I tried…is a cop out.  If you say you tried, you are probably really saying, I didn’t succeed.  The bigger question is not about success and failure, but did you stop?  Did you learn?  Did you grow?  Are you willing to fail again?  Is failure what is really holding you back?

What if success really has that grip of terror on you?  What if when I asked why are you afraid you answered me honestly…Because I might succeed.  Then the expectations go up.  Then people want to see me do it again.  If I get a PR, then the next time, I better at least match it.  I got a pull-up, a muscle-up, a handstand walk for 30 feet, a best selling book, a platinum record, start and sell a multi-million dollar company…and what happens that next time you try?

Will people expect more of you?  Want to see you fall from grace?  Will you let it get to you?  Will you get out of your own head and give yourself the right to succeed again?

So I ask again, “Why are you afraid?”

You’ll never know until you…do!

Own Your Successes!

I recently wrapped up a 6 week program on leadership.  It was an intense time of paradigms being broken and minds being expanded.  As we reached the conclusion of the training there was a graduation and chance to invite a couple people to celebrate.

I did not want to invite anyone.  I shy away from praise, spotlight, and more importantly success.  I feel guilty when I accomplish something.  I constantly feel like I need to hide the fact that I am growing, making progress and being successful.  Somehow, I feel like celebrating my success diminishes or limits someone else’s.

This happens in many areas of life as well as in the gym.  It happens.  It seems like when you make progress or get better, we can pull ourselves into a shell of silence or downplay the growth out of fear that someone else will feel inferior.  We downplay that we have lost 5 pounds because someone else might be struggling in that area.  We downplay a new personal best in our lifts because they are not as good as someone else’s or because we do not want to make someone else feel bad.

It’s time to stop!

We worked hard to be successful and we have a right to own that success and be proud of it.  We made decisions that allowed us to succeed and that might mean sacrifices were made (I’m looking at you cookie cake).  We deserve to be proud of ourselves and we should invite people into that moment.  Not because we are egotistical or gloating, but because we have accomplished something and we deserve to share that with people that want to celebrate us!

We are always told to learn from our failures and our faults.  It’s time to do the same thing from our successes.  Learn something, share what you learned and keep learning.  Share the sacrifices made to be successful and learn that you can continue on the path to success.  Learn how hard growth really is, and share the challenges with others, so they can know they are not alone.  Celebrate your success and share your success to others know that it is possible.

And once you have celebrated, file it away, set a new goal and repeat the process.  In the world, people want to be happy, they want to be asked to enter joyous moments just as much as they want to support you in the challenges and struggles.  Give them the opportunity and allow yourself to be happy with your own success…celebrate those moments…use them to motivate you for bigger and better things!


Embracing the Struggle…

Originally written for The BodyLab CrossFit

Last Friday, the workout of the day was the following:



This was meant to be a challenge and not an “easy” three rounds.  Did you embrace the struggle?  Did you step up to the bar that is to challenge yourself to do more than what you knew you could?

This workout is designed to challenge you across both physical and mental boundaries.  It is meant to push you into that territory where we have to silence the critic that is our mind and push through.  When picking the weight to complete in this workout, you should have picked something that allowed rounds one and two to be hard and failure should have been a very real option on round three.

I commend all that people that had to start at least 4 rounds of this workout in order to finish three.  I watched with pride as people refused to drop weight but chose to attempt the challenge several times before succeeding.  They embraced the struggle and the fight.

Do you embrace the struggle that is present in every workout?  Do you play it safe?  Do you challenge yourself to move correctly and complete every rep or is finishing first what matters?

This week, commit to embracing the struggle…commit to accepting nothing less than your best!

Coming later this week, some tips on how to always push yourself in my next podcast!  Get ready for that one…and for your viewing pleasure, here is me failing at my first attempt doing this workout at bodyweight!  #itSucked


School, Skills and Forgiveness

I have been away from the blogosphere for a while.  I apologize for that, but I am back tonight to share a little something that is weighing on me, literally.

But first a little tale…don’t worry it is relevant.

My little girl started school this week.  She is starting kindergarten and she will, good Lord willing, be a person that never loses a passion for learning.  She is starting on a journey of growing into the woman that she is meant to be.  She will learn many lessons from books and many more lessons from the people and places that she will come in contact with.  She will grow and she will fall down.  She will succeed and she will fail.  And I want her to.  That is how we all learn.  We experience life, we do not read about it.  And we have to learn what consequences are.  And her mother and I, as parents, want to support her on this journey.

And here we come to today and the weight we all carry on our shoulders.  It is the weight that we must be perfect in order to be successful.  It is the weight that keeps us from seeing progress and only allows to see ourselves through the lens of failure.  That is to say that when we start on this journey to a healthy lifestyle, we had a magical goal that defined what would be success.  And every time we look in the mirror, eat that bad meal, or have a bad day at the gym or cannot learn a lift, we can only see it as failure.  We cannot see beyond the failure.  We cannot see past the mistake to see that we are “in process”.  We cannot simply see that we are still in school and still learning what it means to live a completely new way that is against what we are used to.

And I say we, because I am guilty.  I cuss myself and the failures that I have.  I had a terrible day at the gym today…and I could not even congratulate myself for showing up and giving a solid effort.  I could not even say proudly that I learned some things that I need to focus on technique wise.  I just saw failure.  I just saw every non-perfect meal and the fact that I was not where I WANTED to be!

And so I hung those feelings on the door and got ready to coach.  And I watched as the people that I train, gave it their all.  They pushed.  Some succeeded and some faltered.  They had things limiting their abilities and so we made changes.  But they worked hard.  And I was proud to be their coach.  They gave 100% and gave me their best.  But I know some of them are still struggling with the same things that I do.  They still see that they are not to their goals and they dwell on that.

It is time to return to school…it is time that all of us, give ourselves the right to admit that we are on a journey and we are allowed to fail.  We are allowed to learn from our mistakes and learn what helps us and what hurts us.  We are going to have to deal with people who are brutally honest with us that say the things that we don’t want to hear, but NEED to hear.  We are allowed to fail as long as that does not mean we are done.  We are allowed to continue to learn what it means to be successful.  Just as my little girl has to be allowed to learn about life and consequences, we have to give ourselves the same freedom.

We all have to learn the consequences for our actions.  But more importantly than that, we have to learn to take responsibility for them and not be too hard on ourselves when we falter.  We have to not add weight to our lives, unless it is on a barbell.  We cannot put the added burden and scars on ourselves that we so often do when we are not progressing as quickly as we think we should be.

I love my athletes because they trust me.  They have learned how to be vulnerable with me and let me into their struggles.  I love that they give me an opportunity to speak to them and be honest with them.  We talk and then they choose what they want to do.  They recognize that we are on a journey and they inspire me daily.

Patch Adams and Training

I am a big fan of the movie “Patch Adams”.  That is my go to, having a bad day movie.  It inspires me to think outside the box, to focus on a solution and to always focus on the person.

But there is something else that we all need to take away from this show.  That is the simple ability to break free from the molds.  We don’t, and shouldn’t look like every other coach out there.



I sit back and look at everyone trying to mimic or be just like someone else.  We watch as someone else has been successful or implemented some other program, and you think that the easiest path to success is to copy them.  And I am here to say, don’t.

I love Patch Adams because he was true to himself.  He desired to help people and thought that being a doctor was the best path.  He wasn’t afraid to tell the psychologist that he sucks at listening to people and helping them.

I’m not encouraging all of you strength coaches to go out into the world, telling other coaches that they suck, but rather…stay true to who you are as a person and as a coach!  Sometimes that means that you will be on the outside of the norm…who cares?

Are you getting results?  Are your athletes (clients) happy with their progress and development?  Are you able to look at yourself in the mirror and night and be proud of that person?  And more importantly:

Will you be able to be that person again tomorrow, and the next day?

I appreciate Patch Adams because he was himself, he would not change and eventually, in spite of it all, people ended up needing to learn from him and wanting to know his methods.

Be yourself…Learn the facts, learn other methods, but implement them your way and own it!

More Than One Way To Skin a Cat

Recently I put out this article on my home gyms page.  It is one of my favorite things to work with.  I enjoy getting out a sandbag or throwing around an Atlas stone.  I enjoy struggling through a kettlebell session.  But the bigger truth for using these objects is that it adds diversity to your training.

One of the reasons that CrossFit took off and became such a phenomenon was that no two days look the same.  You can go months without seeing the same combination work elements and still see great results.  There needs to be a process to what you are doing, but there are numerous ways to go about getting there.  It is one of those rare occasions where a straight line is not always the quickest path to success.

So as a coach and as an athlete, I encourage you to look for new ways to achieve the goals that you are looking for.  If you notice an athlete is struggling with a specific area of their lifting or movement can one of these other objects help them get the result that they are looking for.

First and foremost, don’t introduce these methods of training if you are not familiar with how to do them.  Make sure you are able to spot faults and correct them.  Consider that my disclaimer in this post.

But once you are comfortable with the movements, they are great for you to use for functional reasons but there is a bigger reason as well.  Your athletes will loves the change and the challenge.  And this is the key to have a sustainable athlete base.  Because we all must be honest with ourselves that the average person that we have walking into our gyms is someone wanting to get in better shape.  They are looking for a healthier lifestyle and it is our job to help them get there and help them enjoy the process.

So we have to mix it up.  It is important to increase the challenge in new and different ways.  I am not going to lie, it is uplifting for a coach to see people get excited when they come in and see that they are going to be using the sandbags or the stones or yokes.  It is great to look around the training floor and see people intently listening to a coach and they explain how to properly lift a keg or perform a sandbag getup!

So I leave you with this question…what do you do to help get your athletes better and keep them engaged with the process?

What Does Your Certification Mean?

Let me get real with you.  I want to talk about the value of certifications to me as a coach.  They are just pieces of paper for the most part.  A wall full of them means that I spent a lot of time listening to someone talk about training.  It means that I spent some money and someone gave me an attendance award.  Maybe I passed an exam; that means I understood some concepts or memorized some information.

But for the most part, a certification does not equal a quality coach!

As a coach, I display a certificate because I am proud of attending, but know that deep down each certification that I have is a starting point for growth.  If I stop there and do not put anything into practice, then it is worthless.

So how do you decide what certification to get?  There are two things to take into consideration.  First, think about is it required for you to do what you want to do.  That is the primary reason that I have several of my CrossFit certifications.  The L1 is required to be on the floor of the gym I train at.  The additional ones that I have were solid starting points for development and growth.  These are what I classify as foundational certifications.  They are there because you have to have them.  That is their primary purposeIMG_1966USC-Cert-Logo2

The second type of certification is what I would refer to a value certification.  For me these are the one’s that you hang on the wall and are proud to do so.  These certifications talk to your character as a person and as a coach.  I recently completed Zach Even-Esh’s Underground Strength certification.  This is one that I would call a value certification and that is because much of what it talked about, is about who you need to be as a coach.  What we coach and what we teach people is secondary to being better people daily.

This second type of certification is one that hangs on the wall and you say I represent this brand or I represent ZEE and his brand.  I better keep up the standards that he has set and attack life the way that he does.  And in reverse to some degree, by putting this out ZEE represents me.  That means that we are accountable to each other.  His motto of “Live the Code” is a call to lead your life in a way that makes people take notice.  Those are value certifications.

So what do I recommend when you are trying to decide which certifications to get.  First and foremost get the ones that you must have to run your business, but then start looking for the one’s that best represent who you are and who you want to be.  Get the one’s that when someone sees it on your wall, they get a sense of exactly who you are.

But above all else, remember that the certifications do not make you a great coach…you do that!


Some times we have to step back and look at where we started and how we ended up where we are now.  We have success stories and we have regrets.  We can only hope that from those regrets we have learned something.  We have a lesson that moved us to be better.

So here is my biggest regret in my training journey:

I failed to embrace the beauty of the simple things.

That’s it.  I was a person that was fascinated with the large volume, crazy long, crazy intense workouts. I did not know how to embrace and enjoy the beauty of each and every movement.  As I have grown, this has notion of living in the moment, embracing the lift has become more of a standard for me.

It is why I call myself the barbell poet.  For me, hitting a lift with solid technique is poetry in motion.  I have watched as athletes hit their first clean and said “so that’s how it’s supposed to feel!”  It is an epiphany moment.  It is a feeling that they chase after from that day forward.  It is their first step of being able to know what is on and what is off as they grow in their own individual training journey.  This lift, like poetry, causes an emotional response within.  We are stirred to try and capture that emotion again.

For me, in the here in now, I have embraced the notion of simplicity in training.  My workout has moved from being an epic poem, to a haiku.  It is designed around impact with the least amount of words possible. As I approach the workout, I attack each piece, each individual rep as if it is the most important part of my training artwork.  It allows me to craft a better, more complete picture.  It is not built out of the frenzy of the chaos.

There is beauty in a single bolt of lightning, not the chaos of the storm”

I have started to see how much I actually enjoy training.  It allows me to appreciate the perfection of movement that is required to do a perfect pull-up or a perfect pushup.  It allows me to appreciate each piece of the clean, or the snatch.  It allows me to grow and progress with a better appreciation for the journey.

Do I still bring intensity to my workouts, yes!  Do I still give 100% with each and every workout…of course!  I just have learned to see the beauty in the simple pieces.

How do you approach your workouts?  Are you all about the volume or do you appreciate each piece?