Is Spinning Enough?

   As 2017 draws to a close and we push through the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect and take an audit of your overall fitness program, or lack of. It’s also a time to create new goals for the upcoming year. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (SMART). I’ve used goal setting as an opportunity to take stock of myself and narrow my focus on things I need to improve. Mobility has become a priority the past couple of years. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to value the importance of being injury free. I’m currently creating a mobility program that I plan on using weekly, in conjunction with my strength training, for 2018. 

     I also use this time to question and challenge the norms in my industry. In the business world, they reference this as being a disruptor. I would not classify myself with titans such as Elon Musk of Teslar or Travis Kalanick of Uber, but I do have a tendency to go opposite of the pack in the fitness world. This has served me well. As I write my final blog post of 2017,  I would like you to ponder this question. Is your current exercise regime a complete exercise program or more of a skilled activity? 

     Tennis is a great example of a skilled activity. Playing lots of tennis will improve your ability to play tennis. The required running will improve cardiovascular fitness, but it has minimal impact in regards to improving strength and mobility. The amount of running is also greatly affected by your opponent. I do think it can benefit your power and muscular endurance. It does come with sacrifices and negative side effects, such as over-usage injuries, commonly experienced in the shoulder, elbow and bicep. 




This is not to just pick on tennis, as I view all activities this way. I have a simple formula that I use. Does it improve strength, mobility, cardiovascular conditioning, power and work capacity? 

     Running is another activity that has many benefits along with a few voids. I’ve worked with runners in the past and some of the issues they experience are overuse injuries of the foot and lower leg, posture problems, poor power development and weakness of the core. Before I get the running community in an uproar, I believe running is a superior way to improve lung capacity and muscular endurance in the lower body. It’s just not complete and is high impact leaving joints susceptible to injury. As people start to investigate different exercise programs before the New Year rush, I wanted to give you a couple things you may want to consider. 

     Does your workout improve strength? There isn’t a single population where being strong is a detriment. I typically tell people that as you age, strength training slides on the continuum from benefit to necessity. Some in the senior population experience a drop in quality of life due to the fact they aren’t strong enough to participate in many recreational activities. Strength training does have a beneficial carry over to other recreational activities. Have you ever heard of anyone losing a round of golf or a tennis match because they were too strong?

     Next, you should always want to improve and maintain mobility. I reference mobility, not flexibility, because I want to tie in motor control. Mobility is the foundation for which all activity is built. You want to move well and move often. The negative side effects of sitting has been thoroughly discussed and written about, at nauseam. Having good thoracic (upper back), hip, and ankle mobility are not only fundamental in all sports, they also play a key role in injury prevention. As we age, calcium has a tendency to accumulate in the ankle capsule directly inhibiting proper movement of that joint. At my studio, we mix in some minor ankle mobility drills with the objective to help members with their squats. Everything starts from the ground up. When mobility starts to diminish in the ankle, you can observe a loss in dorsi-flexion (pulling the toe up towards the shin). A healthy range of motion is 20-30 degrees of ankle flexion. I attribute the common senor shuffle, where people shuffle their feet instead of driving off the big toe as they walk. This lack of mobility is the cause of many spill and falls. 

     Spinning is last example of a skilled activity. This activity was popularized by the Manhattan based Soul Cycle Studios, which offer group spin classes and the new Peleton cycle which allows you to take a cycle class in the privacy of your home. You don’t have to look far for spinning studios, as they are popping up everywhere. It has become the new “in vogue” source of exercise. Before you jump on the bandwagon, please take a moment to consider if it improves power output, upper body strength and mobility.




I’ll leave you with this thought. Lance Armstrong had a strength and conditioning program he did off the bike to compliment his riding. If riding wasn’t a complete program for Lance, then you may want to consider adding a few planks and rows in your own program. 

     My objective of this article wasn’t to knock every activity outside of strength training and simply pick them apart. Something that can’t be understated is the amount of fun that these activities provide. No matter what you choose to do, it should be fun. In today’s modern world, where people are accused of sitting to death, finding an activity you enjoy and will consistently do should be the top priority. I don’t want my rant to hinder someone from increasing their overall activity. As an ambassador of fitness, my 1st responsibility is to get people to move and move well. Pick an activity and ponder if it is enough or should strength training be added. Happy holidays and I’ll see you in 2018.

Did You Get Your Workout on Pinterest?

  I want to touch on one of the most important aspects of working with a trainer. It rarely gets discussed and most gyms are happy that prospective members don’t ask about it. It’s exercise program design. There should be some type of plan with your workout. It doesn’t have to be ultra detailed or intricate, but nonetheless, it should exist. Here’s an analogy I frequently use. Do you get in your car and just drive, or do you have a destination? There are multiple ways to get to a location, but you should have some type of route planned. This leads me to why we do an assessment on everyone that starts a program at the studio, whether private or in a small group. An assessment allows us to know our starting point. Think about when you use Google Maps; the 1st question you must answer is ‘Where are you starting from?”

     The holidays are here and during this time I will typically have family and friends share their current exercise routines with me. After they explain their workout, the 1st question I ask usually is, “Do you like it?” Sometimes I’m asked my opinion and I’ll usually answer that question with a question. “Is it working?” This is where I sometimes get funny looks. If your workout claims to make you stronger, “Are you getting stronger?” If it promised to help drop body-fat, “Are you leaner?” That’s not a trick question. To be fair, it is possible to be on a program to lose body-fat and not lose a pound for 3 months. I’ve seen this before, even under the guidance of a good program.

     When you create a program for someone, there should always be a reason for everything you do. If you can’t explain why you’re doing it, you shouldn’t be doing it. When I mentor young trainers, I always tell them that because it makes you sweat or it’s hard are NOT appropriate answers. It’s a shame, but those criteria are largely what many people look for. I once had a woman tell me that I should crank the heat at the studio above 85 degrees because people will sweat and that’s good. This came from a smart person. 


It just shows me the misconceptions that exist out there with exercise. I’m going to explain how you put together a solid program for fat loss & strength.

     I always start with an assessment because I need to see if someone can squat, lunge, hinge (think deadlift), lift their arm overhead, stand on a single leg (walking) and brace their trunk (plank) without pain. Pain is a red flag and can notify us if we need to address something before we proceed into a workout program. If pain doesn’t exist, that’s good. I’m also looking to see the quality of the movement. Before you challenge someone with an exercise you have to make sure they can accomplish that movement pattern. If they can’t perform a lunge, they may need a couple months of lunges performed with assistance, before we progress to bodyweight lunges and eventually add load to that exercise. We may need to substitute an exercise for lunges entirely. During this building phase, I will also limit their reps. You want to avoid going to failure during this period, because your objective is for them to perform reps with perfect form before you progress to that next level. This process is for all exercises. Move well, show me perfect reps, and then we can push intensity. That may sound like common sense, but that’s not where many people start. As a coach I have to explain to people that we must build a solid foundation first. I love kettlebell swings, but if you can’t perform a toe touch, you have no business trying a kettlebell swing. It does take trust on behalf of the member, but hopefully as a coach you have explained this process, so they are aware and have realistic expectations. Once you have good movement patterns, it’s all about load and intensity. To create strength, you must use a load that is a stimulant. Your body is a great machine and builds based upon the adaptation process. I have a quote on a poster in one of the studio bathrooms. It reads “If you do what you have always done, you will get the results you have always gotten”. Simply put, to get stronger, you must lift more. More could be 3 lbs., or it could be 30 lbs. 

     After you dial in the appropriate load, you need to address heart rate intensity. I have always used heart rate monitors in my studio because it allows us to be precise. No guess work. Sweating is not the way to determine if a set of an exercise was performed at the appropriate level. I tell people I can sometimes start a light sweat during my warm-up. If I can manipulate the correct heart rate level while pushing a sled, I can guarantee that I’ll get the benefit of a metabolic effect, which is ideal for burning fat. 

     The sad part of the story is that as a society, many of us have gravitated toward Edu-tainment. In the era of YouTube and Facebook, people like to do exercises that look cool. The internet provides an unlimited ability and access for learning, but we want to be entertained also in the process. The right fit isn’t always a top priority for some. Sometimes the best exercises look very boring. Don’t confuse boring for not being challenged. Loaded carries are an awesome full body exercise. They are great for the core and help elevate the heart rate to increase work capacity. Watching someone walk carrying a heavy sandbag may not translate to 100,000 views or likes on YouTube. Standing on a stability ball will. That’s the entertainment part. 

     When creating your next exercise program, ask yourself if you have a starting point. We all start from different points. Do you address movement quality? You don’t want to get injured by compensating. Does it make you stronger? There isn’t a single population that strength is a detriment. Finally, do you push the intensity if your goal is fat loss? How do you know? Answer these questions and you should come out with a well rounded, well-structured program. 

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

See you at the studio.

Don’t Forget About Who You Train

   This Saturday I will be hosting the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Nevada state clinic at the studio. We have 8 speakers (including myself) scheduled to present 50-minute presentations on various strength and conditioning topics. Training the glutes, programing specific to mixed martial arts, and how stem cell therapy has influenced the fitness industry are a few of the hot topics that will be discussed. These events provide professionals in the fitness community the opportunity to maintain their certified professional status, acquire continuing education credits and remain current in the industry. Coaches typically leave events like this inspired, motivated and ready to apply some of the concepts on Monday. There in lies the problem. 

     Gray Cook is an internationally recognized physical therapist and one of the leading minds in the strength & conditioning field. He is one of the co-founders of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) which has become the gold standard assessment tool used by fitness professionals. Similar to having your blood pressure, temperature, and weight checked when seeing your physician, the screen allows a trainer to see how well someone moves before designing an exercise program for them. Gray recently did a talk for the employees of Google that was revolutionary. It was ground breaking because he was in front of a room of non-trainers and fitness practitioners. This audience didn’t possess an in-depth understanding of exercise. He couldn’t take many of the assumptions he usually can when presenting. He was forced to speak in simple terms to convey his point of how diagnosing someone’s movement quality is important when creating an exercise program. I watched the presentation online because I feel there’s a lot I can learn from the way he discussed his subject matter.

     A big problem in the fitness industry is after a trainer attends an event, they return to their clientele on Monday and proceed to “throw up” everything they learned over the weekend in a single session. I’ve attended events where legends of the fitness arena such as Pavel Tsatsouline, Charles Poliquin and Gray are featured. One of the key points that gets lost in translation is that these presenters are in front of an audience highly motivated to hear what they have to say as they listen, sitting on the edge of their seats. The speakers come from a high level of credibility, and nothing they say is questioned. For a trainer this is the equivalent to seeing Steve Jobs launch a new product at a Mac event years ago.

     The average trainer needs to understand that when they are speaking to Mary the school teacher on Monday they will have to first earn her trust, and then understand that she has a limited knowledge of exercise. They will need to take the necessary time to help Mary feel safe and comfortable. In her eyes, you’re not a superstar, just someone who may be able to help her. The trainer shouldn’t be offended when Mary ask, “Why am I doing this?” Mary is outcome goal oriented. She wants to lose 20lbs. and look attractive to her husband. The kettlebell swing may be apart of the process to get her there. As a trainer you should direct her towards embracing the process. Coming to you 3 days a week is the process. Pushing a weighted sled along the turf is part of the process. The key is to not lose Mary along the way. Keep her focused, provide emotional support when needed, and create a program catered to her needs. No matter how eloquent you put it, she could care less about hearing the benefits of shoulder stability while performing the Turkish Get up. She has a dress in her closet she wants to fit into.

     So, my message to my fellow trainers out there is to continue to learn and grow. Listen and read literature from the leaders in our field and then remember who is standing in front of you on Monday morning.

I Can’t Do the Workout for You

     This Friday I get the opportunity to travel to Anaheim, California for the day to present at the National Personal Trainer Conference, hosted by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. My topic title is “Successful Strategies of Running a Personal Training Studio”. It was a year ago that I was approached by a fellow speaker who thought I would be a good fit for speaking at events. I have spent many years being an attendee at events and now I get to be one of the people in the front of the room. One of the reasons I never considered speaking about many of the strategies I use at the studio, is because I thought many of them were common practice. After a few conversations with a few gym owners, I realized I was wrong. 

     My talk is broken up into 5 sections. They are marketing, finances, operations, sales and employee development. I enjoy employee development the most and have a fairly good understanding of marketing. The objective of marketing in the fitness world is to get people results and then share that story. Marketing expert Seth Godin (author of The Purple Cow, The Dip, Lynchpin and many other best sellers) has a great way of defining marketing. When he was asked to define marketing in an interview a few years back, his response was 

“Advertising is a price you pay for an undifferentiated product for the masses. Marketing is the way you avoid paying that price. You avoid paying that price by designing a product worth talking about.”

There lies the challenge for both the trainer and the client. Many trainers take the approach that it’s about Facebook ads of woman in bikinis and guys flexing a six-pack. I disagree with this approach. On the other hand clients sometime feel it’s about the price, not the workout or environment. I have a story about one of my female members who fought with her weight her entire life. She’s 50 years old and has tennis elbow. Her doctor told her she was 50lbs. overweight. She knew she needed to lose weight. More important to her is that she wanted to feel better. She went to a wedding last year and didn’t like how she looked. She was depressed and didn’t enjoy going to social events anymore. She found my studio searching through Google and decided to stop by. She instantly felt welcomed. She walked in during a workout that had 4 people working out. They looked like “normal” people to her. If she had to guess their ages, they were between 35-60 years old. She met with a coach who asked her a series of questions. He then mapped out a plan of her working out 3 days a week for the next 3 months. They scheduled a time to discuss nutrition. He explained that to lose 25 pounds, he would need her to commit for a minimum of three months. He answered all of her questions and scheduled her for an assessment. She completed her first week of workouts feeling challenged and very accomplished. She made new friends at the studio. She experienced tough workouts and received emotional support from the coaches. She learned how to push herself more than she ever thought possible. She now feels more confident and makes jokes about how much she sweats. One year and 35 pounds later she tells everyone that she has never felt better. She has decided to schedule a vacation with her new boyfriend and show off her body on the beach.

     She did the work. We gave her guidance. Telling her story is how I market. Changing her life is how I grow my business. Making a difference in someone’s life is how I define success. The cool thing is that I have stories like this walking all throughout my studio. I have a wall of testimonials right next to the entrance. I don’t have before and after pictures. I do have a wall of success stories and that’s more important to me. Part of my presentation this Friday is to motivate other gyms and studio owners to strive to do the same. 

See you at the studio.

P.S. If you need help reaching your fitness goal, send me an email at so we can schedule a time.

Why We Do HIIT Workouts at the Studio


      Have you ever noticed when things become a buzz topic, people find themselves using terms without truly understanding what they’re talking about? I feel that’s currently happening with high intensity interval training or HIIT. Part of why I write is to simplify many of the fitness topics that either overwhelm or confuse many people. Today’s blog post is my attempt to de-mystify HIIT training. If I start to lose you, please hang in there, and hopefully it will make sense at the end. 

     To understand how we got here, you have to go back to the origin of cardiovascular training. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Cooper institute in Dallas, coined the term aerobics in the late sixties. The scientific definition of aerobic work means in the presence of oxygen. In reference to exercise, it refers to those exercises which demand “large quantities of oxygen for prolonged periods and ultimately force the body to improve those responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the muscles,” as stated by Dr. Cooper. There are many benefits in training the body aerobically, or cardiovascularly. One of the main advantages is the ability of the body to improve its heart endurance. As time progresses with training, the heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient in pumping blood to the working muscles. This is where steady state training became popular.

     This is where I may get “a little in the weeds”, but I’ll do my best to keep it simple. When you begin an activity, the initial energy (up to 10 seconds) is provided by ATP/PCr (adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatine). This energy is stored in a cell and doesn’t require oxygen to burn (imagine 3-5 jumps as high as you can). If you continue to exercise for longer than 10 seconds, up to 90 seconds, your body will start to use the glycolytic energy system. This is when it will start to use stored muscle glycogen as fuel. This takes longer to do for the body and isn’t readily available (think of kettlebell swings for 1 minute). If you continue to exercise for longer than 90 seconds, your body will start to use the oxidative phosphorylative pathway. This fuel takes the longest for the body to deliver and is why intensity levels will start to drop off. Have you ever heard the term “you can’t sprint a marathon”? It’s in this process that the body will start to convert stored fat as a fuel source. That’s why the goal in the past was to see how long you can go. The longer you go, the more fat you could potentially burn, was the mindset. The confusing part is how much fat is converted. This process is very complex for the body and the body converts fat at a slow rate. The amount of fat used has widely been overstated. 

     Let’s fast forward 30 years to 1996 when Japanese scientist, Dr. Izumi Tabata, completed this now legendary study on high intensity interval training or HIIT. Tabata and his colleagues conducted a study that compared moderate-intensity continuous training (walking on a treadmill) at 70% of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) for 60 minutes, with HIIT conducted at 170% of VO2max. The HIIT workout consisted of eight, 20-second all-out exercise bouts, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes of exercise. These bouts were performed on an exercise bike. So to keep this simple, picture one group walking at a brisk pace on a treadmill for an hour, and another group performing these all-out 20 second sprints with a 10 second rest interval on a bike for 4 minutes. The study found that HIIT improved aerobic capacity to a similar degree as moderate-intensity continuous training, but also resulted in a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity. Those findings led to the development of a wide variety of HIIT programs. The HIIT group experienced better improvement cardiovascular and yielded a greater lose in fat (4 minutes compared to 60 minutes). Hence, the phenomenon of HIIT training began. 

     HIIT produced a bigger decrease in fat mass in less time. It was later determined that this was due to EPOC, or Excess post oxygen consumption. This has frequently been referred to as “the afterburn”. 

      As stated in Wikipedia:   “In recovery, oxygen (EPOC) is used in the processes that restore the body to a resting state and adapt it to the exercise just performed. These include: hormone balancing, replenishment of fuel stores, cellular repair, innervation and anabolism. Post-exercise oxygen consumption replenishes the phosphagen system. New ATP is synthesized and some of this ATP donates phosphate groups to creatine until ATP and creatine levels are back to resting state levels again. Another use of EPOC is to fuel the body’s increased metabolism from the increase in body temperature which occurs during exercise.” 

“EPOC is accompanied by an elevated consumption of fuel. In response to exercise, fat stores are broken down and free fatty acids (FFA) are released into the blood stream. In recovery, the direct oxidation of free fatty acids as fuel and the energy consuming re-conversion of FFAs back into fat stores both take place.”

     I utilize the HIIT protocol in our studio for our Torch & DVRT workouts. We slightly modify the heart rate targets because we want to emphasize strength exercises which require some skill. Our new workout, Metabolic Disruption, is more of a true Tabata workout using less skill type movements which will allow more all out effort, without risk of injury. 

     That’s what the research tells us. Hopefully this was able to clarify what a HIIT workout is, how your body responds to them, and why they are beneficial.


     I have been recently reading and researching articles about mindfulness. Mindfulness and meditation have experienced a recent surge in popularity. Part of this phenomenon is that we live in an instant access, always on the move MTV era. We have information readily available to us, via our smart phones & tablets, 24 hours a day. We are always plugged in, hence we become distracted by what just happened two minutes ago. One of the things I enjoy is that when I’m training someone they have no choice but to concentrate on what they’re doing. The workouts in my studio aren’t centered on sitting on a machine where you can have a conversation on your phone while you exercise. You have to be in the moment. Squatting while bear-hugging a sandbag or pushing a sled along the turf eliminates that dilemma. To help people get to that flow state, where they feel present and connected, they need to enjoy what they’re doing. Part of why people tune out is because they don’t like what they’re doing. 

     Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who just complains, glass half empty type of person, and you find yourself mentally fading away from the conversation. I know personally, when at the movies, if I’m not engaged in the first 15-20 minutes, chalk up my $20 bucks for admission as a rental fee for taking an hour nap in the theatre recliner. What really brought this to my attention was when I recently had a conversation with a client of mine. I asked him “How many people do you think enjoy what they do for a living?” He responded, “less than 10%.” My instant reaction is that he’s way off. No way! Google, Siri here I come. After a little investigation I was able to discover that he wasn’t too far off. Based upon a Gallup poll taken in 2013 and later printed in Forbes magazine, only 13% of workers feel engaged by their jobs. “Engaged by their jobs” means they feel a sense of passion for their work, a deep connection to their employer and they spend their days driving innovation and moving their company forward.

      The vast majority, some 63%, are “not engaged,” meaning they are unhappy but not drastically so. In short, they’re checked out. They sleepwalk through their days, putting little energy into their work.

A full 24% are what Gallup calls “actively disengaged,” meaning they pretty much hate their jobs. They act out and undermine what their coworkers accomplish. Wow. 

     This is exactly what has happened with exercise for so many people. Many hate or are disengaged with exercise because they don’t like it. I blame my industry on poor marketing that has led people to believe that if you don’t look like a fitness model you should give up. I’ve written before about the poor representation of the fitness industry in the media. We all know that mantra, “No pain, No gain”. 

3-myth-about-no-pain-no-gain 2

     Outside of the youth with blessed metabolisms and those with gifted genetics (you know the ones who don’t exercise and look great) I understand why people check out emotionally. Just like the job they hate. People work because they need money to survive in our society. They exercise because research has proven all of the positive health benefits. What if you found a workout you enjoyed just like finding a job you’re passionate about? Wouldn’t that be special? Can’t exercise be fun?  Can you be challenged and have fun at the same time? I know you can, because I see it every day. 

     One of the jobs as a coach is to know when you have to push people. More important is to know how much to push. A push can mean motivating someone to hold a plank an extra 7 seconds, completing a 30 second set. That may not sound like much, but it’s huge when they could only hold it for 15 seconds prior. The key is to push an extra 5-10% routinely. Too frequently you hear of people going from a 10 second hold for 3 sets to 5 sets of 45 seconds. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume their form may have been compromised. I compare it to being exposed to the sun. Exposing yourself to 10 minutes of sunshine can give you a slight tan and a healthy dose of Vitamin D, 2 hours can produce a bad burn. Some people experience adrenal fatigue because they have been misinformed. They believe every workout has to be “all out”. I have a sign I post in the studio about every 5 weeks. It’s green and reads “Throttle Back”. I use the week to back off intensity with everyone to avoid burn-out. It’s a great time to work on mobility drills or introduce a new exercise which will require some extra coaching time which will provide more rest. 

     The bottom line is find a place where you enjoy your workouts and the people around you. I guarantee it will make a big difference. Learn to be in the moment by enjoying what you do. If you don’t believe me, just ask my members. 

See you at the studio.

Enough with the Hype Already

     “I had a plan, before I got punched in the face.” That’s a famous quote from Mike Tyson after he was knocked out for the 1st time. Funny, but it brings up a valid point. How many times have you had the perfect plan, to find out later that it had a few flaws? Making mistakes is part of the building process. Three years ago, I started training people in small groups featuring a specific workout. I named it the Torch Workout. It’s a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout using exercises that improve mobility, strength and power. I used the research from Dr. Tabata & Dr. Martin Gibala. We still successfully feature this workout today at the studio. 

     When I opened the studio 2 years ago, I knew I would need an additional workout to compliment Torch that would have slightly different goals. Hence, TRX Flow was created. This is an interval workout, with an emphasis on mobility and specifically, core strength. After making a few tweaks, this workout has grown in popularity. 

     Everything hasn’t gone perfect along the way. We tried offering Yoga & TRX Yoga. Neither were a big hit with the members. Not using the poor response from those workouts as a setback, but more as feedback from what people wanted, we came out with Dynamic Variable Resistance Training or DVRT. This has been a big hit. I started to see that, like a restaurant, you can’t offer only one dish, you have to have a few options. I’m going to stay true to our core value of expert coaching offered in a small group or private setting catered to the needs of each individual. You wouldn’t find Chow Mein in an Italian restaurant. I did experience that my members enjoyed some variety. It was listening to my members, or scratching their itch, that Metabolic Disruption has been created. 

     I’ve been writing and talking about this workout for months now. It’s taken me a lot of planning. I had questions to answer on layout, format and efficiency. I also wanted to stay true to my core values. So what is Metabolic Disruption?

     It’s a 40 minute heart pounding fat-burning workout. Similar to our other workouts, the warm-up will be included in that time frame. Once properly warmed-up the workout will begin. The clock timer will be set to 12 ½ minutes. Participants will be spread out between 5-6 exercises. The clock will start and not stop until it reaches 0. The goal is to work as hard as possible at the exercise until  a heart-rate of either 85% (Orange) or 95% (Red) of your maximum heart rate. The coach will determine the appropriate level for each member, based on their current fitness level. Once this level is reached, it must be  maintained for 10 seconds. Then recovery times begin. Rest until the required heart rate is reached, lower by 20%. Someone working at 85% max heart rate will rest until they drop to 65% (Blue) and 75% (Green) for someone working at the higher 95% level. Then proceed to the next movement and repeat the process. There will be minimum rest time during the 12 ½ minutes. The goal is not to pace, but to go to the maximum level. Think sprint, not jog. Once the clock hits 0, members will have 2 ½ minutes to get water & rest before the cycle repeats again. Yes, another 12 ½ minutes. Intense!

     The beauty of this workout is that each person’s heart rate determines their intensity level & recovery period. Some people will get through the circuit 4 times, while some may complete 2 times. Also, the type of exercise will be low skill level. This is to promote an all out effort. Metabolic Disruption will feature exercises such as the ropes, sleds and our new Ski Ergs.


    Many of the members are happy with their improvements in mobility & strength. Many have gotten leaner. What I did hear is the need for something to compliment our other workouts with a pure cardiovascular drive. Here you go, folks. The new schedule will be available soon & will be effective the week of October 16th. We will have this workout on the schedule in 5 slots in the early morning, a new afternoon time, and evening times, as well.

 So stay tuned and I’ll see you at the studio. 


Interested in Being a Guinea Pig

     I’m currently designing a new HIIT (High intensity interval training) workout that we’re going to feature at the studio. The name of the workout is Metabolic Disruption. It will be rolled out this October. The name is self-descriptive. The goal of this workout is to ramp up your metabolism by completing multi-joint, compound movement exercises at specific heart rate levels for a set duration. The exercises are self-limiting. Internationally recognized, physical therapist Gray Cook recently wrote a great article about what self-limiting exercises are & their importance in health & fitness. 

   Here’s a brief excerpt taken from the article. “Self-limiting exercise demands mindfulness and an awareness of movement, alignment, balance and control. In self-limiting exercise, a person cannot just pop on the headphones and walk or run on the treadmill, fingering the playlist or watching the news on a well-placed monitor. Self-limiting exercise demands engagement.” 
I wanted to add a workout that will be challenging, beneficial for fat loss, and safe. It came out of necessity. We currently have workouts for fat loss & strength, core, and mobility. Strength and mobility are the main cogs in our current roster of workouts, but I wanted to add something equivalent to running or using a rowing machine. I didn’t want the impact of running, and something easier to learn than rowing. This workout will fit the bill. There will be a small level of trial and error, but that’s with anything new.

     I recently got into a discussion with a client of mine who does some volunteer work with the Air Force. He was very negative on testing. His thoughts were that money and time are wasted with testing. I partially agreed. Waste can happen with excessive testing. Michael Masterson wrote a best seller, Ready, Aim, Fire. It’s a book that’s written for the entrepreneur and business owner. In starting a business, you have to be ready to try things not knowing if they are going to work. Mark Zuckenberg, of FaceBook, has a famous mantra “move fast and break things”. I’m dealing with people’s bodies at the studio, not a picture of what they ate for lunch, so I may move a little slower than Mark. I do agree though that some people fall into that trap of waiting and not moving forward until everything is perfect. I’ve learned that nothing is ever perfect. I’ve taken the approach to take some calculated risks and to be in a state of constant “tweaking”. 

     When I started small group training 3 years ago I experimented with how large I could go in group size, before I felt a drop in quality of instruction and coaching. I went as large as 8 people in a single workout. After a few months of trying I realized 8 was too large and dropped it down to 6 people. I was able to pull off 8, but knew the amount of energy required wasn’t something I could replicate repeatedly. In the big picture, I also knew I couldn’t expect every trainer I hired to have the skill set to pull it off. 

     Next I played with the work to rest ratio. Initially we used a 1:1 ratio. Complete an exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, then rinse and repeat. After watching heart rate levels drop too drastically we quickly adopted the 2:1 ratio, and once every 5 weeks we use a 3:1 ratio to add a spark. We call that Red week. I’ve played with everything from studio layout to the flow of members between sessions. It’s never perfect, but this constant environment of tweaking allows us to get closer and closer to our masterpiece. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it turns out. 

     I’ll see you at the studio.

It Was So Good, I Stopped Doing It

     Two conferences down and one to go. This past weekend, I attended the International Dance & Exercise Association (IDEA) World Conference. This was an easy one for me, it was in my hometown of Las Vegas. It was the 2nd week in a row that I’ve attended a fitness related conference. I have a personal connection with IDEA, because it was the first conference I attended, over 20 years ago. Throughout the years, I personally feel they have gravitated more towards the appeal of the “Big box” gyms and group fitness, but nonetheless, I like to stay current with all the trends in the fitness industry. There wasn’t anything new or revolutionary discussed in the lecture halls or on the trade show floor. 

     Twelve years ago, when TRX debuted at this show, it was revolutionary. No one had heard of suspension training before. Now they’ve become a main staple in the fitness world, with many people knocking them off and putting their spin on suspension training. Five years ago I came across sandbag training. It has since become a huge part of our programming at the studio and 2 of my coaches along with myself are certified sandbag instructors. I frequently credit Josh Henkin, creator of the DVRT system, with being very innovative in how he uses sandbags to improve the quality of movement and strength. New training modalities are rare and I frequently find myself going back to basic exercises for steady improvements.

     In this era of “what’s the newest thing”, we all have a tendency to get caught up in the new shiny toy. One of the reasons I review the workouts at the studio on a weekly basis is because it allows me to question myself. Are these the best programs for my members? Can I justify everything that we’re doing? Is there a better way? I will also go back to old workouts. This is when I find the “old gems” of exercises. An old gem is a great movement/exercise that generates results and has been proven to work. Like everyone else, I sometimes get distracted and move on to other exercises. If it works, why did I stop using it? I think many people look to exercise for entertainment. They get bored. Here’s an example. One of the objectives at the studio is to improve everyone’s upper back mobility. The area of the upper spine is called the thoracic spine or T-spine, as it’s frequently referred to. In the best case scenario, you want a stable & strong core, and a mobile T-spine. To see 3 exercises that can improve upper back mobility, watch the video below.

3 Quick exercises to improve upper back mobility 

     One of the 3 exercises in the video is part of our warm up at the studio. That means every time someone walks in the door, they should be doing this before they begin their workout. Now most of my members will agree that they need to move better. Movement quality is the foundation of my programming. You need to move well first, then you can get stronger. And, if we work at the right intensity, we can burn body-fat. It all starts with movement. After a few months, it’s common for our members to get a little lazy with their warm-up. That’s when we, as coaches, have to reel them in and explain how important these exercises are. They aren’t the most exciting things we do, but they are effective. Like many things with big outcomes, it’s the little things that we do that can add up and make a big change. 
See you at the studio.

47 Years Old and Still in School

 I’m back from a great vacation with the family and ready to get after it in the studio. Mid-June to August is typically the slowest time of the year in the gym business. I use this time to take a vacation, get some extra reading in, and attend workshops, conferences and clinics. Some consider this type of thing a bore. I personally can’t get enough. If you follow my writing, you are aware that I shunned attending conferences my first 5 years of being a trainer. It was due to my own immaturity; I thought I knew it all. Thomas Plummer, nationally recognized fitness consultant, refers to this naïve mindset of the rookie trainer as their “rite of passage”. Everyone goes through it. It was after I listened to strength coach/trainer legend Juan “JC” Carlos Santana speak at an IDEA conference in Maryland, I quickly realized how little I knew. That was in 1996. I’ve been addicted to learning and honing my craft every since and haven’t stopped trying to improve.

   Over the next 6 weeks, I will attend 3 separate conferences. This week the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) host their national show in Las Vegas. This will be a busy week for me, because I also wear the hat of state director for Nevada. One of my direct roles is to organize our annual state clinic. Trainers, doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors use these opportunities to earn continuing education credits. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy having input in bringing education to our state. The NSCA is celebrating 40 years in existence and they always provide some of the top speakers and research in strength and conditioning.

   Next week, I’ll attend the Personal Trainer conference promoted by the International Dance & Exercise Association (IDEA). I intend on spending my time listening to lectures on running a gym/ studio. One of the fastest growing trends in the fitness world is the small studios. Just take a drive around your town and you can find a personal training, spinning, Pilates, or yoga studio in every shopping center. IDEA observed this growing trend and dedicated an entire weekend of classes and presentations on the business side of fitness. This should be a lot of fun. One of my biggest takeaways from weekends like this are the conversations I have with fellow studio owners in the hallways outside the lecture halls. Nothing is better than exchanging ideas with others who are in the trenches every day, like myself, trying to change people’s lives.

   Finally, in August, I will take my entire training staff to Long Beach, California for the Perform Better Training Summit. This is the mother-ship of all training workshops. They will have 25-30 speakers present over 3 days. I’m friendly with a few employees of the company and know that they receive over 300 applications from people interested in speaking. This is where the “Best of the Best” will be. I’ve listened to Olympic coaches and interacted with the industries elite and most successful trainers at this event. It never lets me down. It’s an extra honor that one of the speakers has asked my team to help with his hands-on demonstration. Josh Henkin is the creator of the Ultimate Sandbag, a tool we use at the studio. I make it a requirement that all of my team members attend and I pay for their entrance. Everyone that works with me knows that I highly value education. The fitness industry is a living thing. I have changed and evolved my philosophy on training and protocols throughout the years. I have accepted that there is always a better way. For the sake of the people I work with everyday, I’m always on the lookout for the best way. My attitude is that if you’re not improving, you’re getting worse.

   I hope you had a great 4th, didn’t eat too many hotdogs and aren’t missing your workouts. Temperatures are breaking records, so stay cool and hydrated.

I’ll see you at the studio.



J & D Fitness
4180 South Fort Apache Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89147