The Warm-up and Why We Use it


     The fitness studio industry is currently in a bubble and gyms are opening up at a rampant rate. I don’t make it a habit to follow the formats of other studios, but I do have to keep abreast of what my competitors are doing. I will routinely shop these facilities, observing the treatment of their walk-in guests, their front desk protocol, and how their gym floor is situated. Something that appears to be common amongst many of these places is their lack of a proper warm-up. It’s either minimal, at best, or missing completely. As a gym owner, I understand that your goal is get people in and get them moving as soon as possible to experience your workout, but skipping this vital part can make someone’s 1st visit hazardous.

     It all starts with educating someone on why they need it. We use kettlebells, the TRX suspension system, and the Ultimate Sandbag as the primary tools in our workouts. None of these will necessarily create an injury, but if you’re not adequately prepared for strenuous activity, and that’s what exercise is, they could lead you to an injury. Warm-ups will not give you six-pack abs, help you to drop 20lbs of body-fat, or give you muscular definition in your arms. They will allow you to move better and with more intensity, which will help get you these results. Exercise protocols change as we learn more, so I will not state that this warm-up will be what we’re doing in 6 months, but we currently have 2 components in our warm-up.

     The 1st thing we do is some soft tissue work with a foam roller. Physical therapists use the term soft tissue mobilization. Chiropractors commonly use the acronym ART for Active Release Technique. Massage therapists just call it deep tissue work. As stated by internationally recognized strength coach, Mike Boyle, “It’s all pressure applied to tissue to deform it and cause a chemical reaction”. By rolling the muscles and tendons across the foam roller, you can change the tissue density and the quality of the muscle.


The Grid Foam Roller by Trigger Point used at the studio

Allowing a muscle to move more freely and with a better range of motion around a joint is big in injury prevention. It’s possible to spend 30-45 minutes foam rolling your entire body. I recently developed a new workout at the studio, called Mobility Worx, which spends an extended amount of time on tissue work. In our other workout sessions, we limit this time to 5 minutes. At the studio, we focus on the areas that we have observed are typically bound up in most people. This area is commonly referred to as the posterior kinetic chain. I explain it simply as all the muscles you can’t see when you look in a mirror. This includes your calves, hamstrings, glutes and back muscles. Dr. Thomas Meyers refers to this as the superficial back line in his book Anatomy Trains.



     After we perform 5-8 rolls across the hamstrings, glutes, and upper back, we move on to our mobility drills. The goal of these 3 drills is to address joint capsule mobility, specifically the hip and shoulder, and to start a couple of motor control drills. There are many things our bodies do as a reflex. Think about when you breathe, blink or walk. You just do them and don’t think about them, unless affected by injury. We have our members do a leg lowering drill which works on hamstring lengthening and pelvic control. We perform a hip mobility and thoracic spine mobility exercise. If you read my prior blog post, I stated that I have yet to see anyone who has too much thoracic spine mobility. Finally, we will have members perform 5 reps on each side of a hip extension from a seated position with a reach. The goal of this drill is to get the glutes contracting, extending the hips while having the upper body stabilize the shoulder by “packing” and using the lats or latissimus dorsi. To see our warm-up in entirety, you can click on the link below.

J & D Fitness Warm-up

     The bottom line is that we get a lot done in 5- 7minutes. It’s nothing outwardly exciting, but very important in guaranteeing you have a safe workout and, better yet, a great experience.

See you at the studio.


Thoracic Mobility- We all need it


     This past weekend, I sat down with Mike Boyle’s Advances in Functional Training, Revised and 2nd edition. I was sharing my thoughts on this book with a fellow veteran coach in the fitness world. He was shocked to hear me give this book high praises. Allow me to clarify, he agrees with the content. His reasoning was, “I doubt it taught you anything new. Why are you so high on it?” He was pretty dead-on, but the book provided me with affirmation on many of the things we do and practice at the studio.

     Boyle has written it as if you were sitting down and having a discussion with him over coffee. He provides many concepts that have become principals in functional training. To name a few:

  • The value of assessing people using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).
  • The Benefits of training in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse).
  • Why everyone should perform single leg exercises. 

These are all things we do at our studio. Again, it provided me with an affirmation. He also inspired me to write today’s blog post on why thoracic mobility is so important. Boyle and physical therapist Gray Cook have both been credited for creating the concept of training the body in a joint by joint approach. It was over drinks at a bar, that Gray was explaining to Boyle that the body is a stack of joints alternating between mobile and stable. 


The ankle is meant to be mobile, the knee should be stable, the hip should be mobile, the lumbar spine(core) should be stable, thoracic spine should be mobile, the scapula should be stable, and the gleno-humeral should be mobile. When this came out years ago, it was revolutionary. It has now regressed into a more commonplace viewpoint and theory. I feel the hips have received quite a bit of popularity, of recent, in the fitness world. In response, I thought I would spend some time sharing why the thoracic, or T-spine, as it’s commonly referred to, needs to be mobile and why everyone should work towards that. It comes back to something that Boyle stated in his book. “You will never tell someone that they have too much t-spine mobility”. I couldn’t agree more.

     The thorax or thoracic spine is the area of the spine just below the cervical spine where the ribs connect from the spine in the rear to the sternum in the front. From a September 2007 Newsletter by Robert Burgess, BEd, PT, PhD, Feldenkrais Practitioner, he cited the function of the thoracic spine.

 “The Thoracic spine provides us with 50 degrees of rotation, 26 degrees of side bending, 25 degrees of extension and 30 degrees of flexion in sitting.”

That’s a substantial range of motion required for optimal movement. The strategy that we use at the studio is a combination of foam rolling to enhance tissue quality with a couple mobility drills. I like to use this specific tool from the people at MobilityWod called the Gemini. Performing slow crunches with this tool positioned in the upper back between the shoulder blades can be very effective.

geminiBased upon the person I then like to do either a t-spine rotation drill from the ground or using the TRX suspension system. 5- 10 reps performed on each side appear to do the trick. Click on the links below to see two examples.


The reason you want mobility in the t-spine is so the scapula will be stable. This also supports the reason why we want mobile hips, so the lumbar spine and core can be stable. If you cannot provide mobility where and when it is needed in the body, it has a way of finding it in joints that it shouldn’t. Give these tips a try and see if you experience better t-spine mobility.


See you at the studio.

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That Foam Roller Doesn't Work


     I just got back from the Perform Better Functional Training Summit that took place in Long Beach, CA. My staff and I attend this event annually. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn as a team together. It also gives me a quick glimpse into the future of fitness and to see the new “hot” topics and training modalities. This year didn’t let me down, as mobility and breathing were frequently discussed. Neither topic is new, but how they are being implemented into the workout are. As the fitness industry get’s away from “Frankenstein”, or muscle group training, and shifts into movement-based exercise, people are starting to appreciate the benefit of moving better. I’ve mentioned in prior articles that it’s rare for someone to walk into my studio and share that their #1 goal is to move better.

     A few years back, I started programming mobility drills into my workouts. One of my strategies was to mix in some tissue work via foam rolling in the beginning to improve mobility. There has been some recent research and debate siting that we may have overstated the benefits of foam rolling.




This research states that the “adhesions” people feel they are breaking up with foam rolling or the Graston technique may actually be a neurological effect. I have seen clients benefit from foam rolling, but the explanation I’ve used may have been misinformed. This doesn’t mean we will discontinue the rolling at the studio. I’m a huge proponent of it. If it’s producing results, I’ll continue with it. What I learned this past weekend is that I may want to identify when to use it differently for optimal results.

     Greg Rose, founder of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and one of the co-creators of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), gave an informative lecture explaining the 3 factors you need to address when the goal is to improve mobility. The 3 factors are mechanical, neurological, and chemical. The objective of a coach should be to determine the source of the mobility limitation first, then take the appropriate approach.

     The mechanical factor references  a joint (ankle, hip, thoracic spine, and the gleno-humeral). Distraction, breathing, and flossing have proven to be good to fix these problems. Foam rollers work well in this setting. This is also where hanging, using inversion tables, has proven to work well. Kelly Starrett, author of the NY Times best seller, Supple Leopard, has popularized the distraction technique of using bands to create space within a joint capsule.

     The chemical factor can be inflammation. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, can be a big contributor to inflammation. It’s funny that the strength coach can be the source of inflammation and, in essence, create the temporary mobility restriction. One of the best & easiest ways to address inflammation can be diet. Fish oils, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts have been a good way to address inflammation. Sugar has been proven to be a contributor to inflammation. This has fueled much of the modified Keto-genic and fasting raves, as of recent.



     The final factor can be neurological. This is the explanation behind the body producing stiffness in an effort to protect itself. This factor hits close to home for me. Back in 2011, I suffered a severe hamstring strain. I was preparing for the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC). If you have ever performed a kettlebell swing you’re aware that it puts a big demand on the posterior kinetic chain (lats, paraspinals, glutes, and hamstrings). That’s one of the reasons why swings are a great exercise. Not the best choice when you’re nursing a hamstring strain. The injury caused inflammation and pain, which explains my lack of mobility around my knee, where the hamstring attaches. The neurological factor lasted for years because my body became accustomed to limping to shift weight off the leg. It took me years to re-train and strengthen the hamstring to where it fired back in the correct sequence. I could have foam rolled for an hour. It wasn’t going to improve my range of motion.

     I have a love for learning, especially when it explains something I experienced up close & personal. Don’t throw away your foam roller just yet, but there may be a few other ways to help you touch your toes.

     See you at the studio.

Breath and Mobility Work for Better Abs and Toned Arms?


     Years ago, I listened to famed strength coach Mike Boyle state that “Personal Trainers have the hardest jobs in the world.” Boyle is known for working with high level athletes from the NBA, NFL, and MLB. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the Boston Red Sox during their last championship run.


Boyleblogpic (1)_copy


     He was the strength coach for the Team USA Women’s hockey team during the last winter Olympics. He’s a “rock star” in my industry. When he speaks, trainers listen. It sparked my interest when he made that statement. He later went on the explain how he sees most of his athletes 4-5 times a week for 2-3 hours at a clip. Most trainers will see someone twice a week for 45 minutes to an hour. In that time frame, we need to work on fat loss, strength, and mobility (so they can do their exercises). Not to mention, we will work around any injuries they may have. Boyle’s athletes are usually highly motivated people that possess a huge financial upside based upon their performance, where the average trainer has to muster up their best cup of motivation to help people complete exercises they don’t want to do. Mike is right, it is a tough job????

    At the studio, I have different workouts available. Each workout is centered around specific outcome goals. We have Torch, our Gold standard HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout emphasizing fat-loss and strength. TRX flow has programming more for mobility and strength, with a heavy emphasis on core. Metabolic Disruption is exactly what the name proclaims; a HIIT workout that focuses on enhancing your body’s ability to burn fat. I’m in the process of releasing a new workout this August called “Mobility Worx”. The goal of this workout is to improve your body’s overall mobility. Before I get into explaining what will be done during this workout I should define mobility. I tend to not use the term flexibility much. Flexibility is defined by the range of motion around a particular joint in the body. Flexibility training is typically static and can be passive. Static means you’re not moving once in the stretch, (think of the classic sit and reach or hurdler stretch for the hamstrings). Passive means someone can assist you into the stretched position. A good example of this is having someone either lay on the ground or a bench and someone else assist them in stretching their hamstring by lifting their leg to the optimal position of 90 degrees.


hamstring stretch for blogpic_copy

     Mobility is flexibility, the architecture of the joint with motor control. The best example I can provide is a squat. When you perform a body-weight squat your body must contract (shorten) and lengthen multiple muscles at the same time for you to be effective. As you lower your body into the bottom position of the squat, your brain tells your quadriceps to relax as your hamstrings contract to pull you down. That’s motor control. To see an example of mobility watch me perform a 1-minute flow using Mobility Sticks.

Doug's Mobility Demo


Why is mobility more beneficial than flexibility? On multiple occasions I have been able to passively stretch someone’s hamstring where they can get their leg to 80-90 degrees, with assistance. Based upon that, they should be able to squat parallel to the floor, unassisted. I proceed to get them up, ask for them to demonstrate a squat, and they can barely get into position. There can be various reasons for this (past injuries or trauma, dehydrated muscles, weakness, etc.), but lack of motor control is a common culprit.

    There’s an old saying in the gym business that:


“You listen to what they want, and then give them what they need”.


I try my best to do both. Rarely do I get someone who lists mobility as their #1 goal. It’s usually “I need to drop 20 pounds around my mid-section and tone-up my arms”. To burn fat, you need to incorporate large muscle, multi-joint type exercises that burn more calories and elevate your heart rate. If you want to get leaner, be prepared for a heavy diet of squats, kettlebell swings and loaded carries if you train at my studio. The problem arises when some people have movement issues and cannot perform those exercises, initially. That’s when we must take a step backwards to mix in some proven mobility drills, so we can take 2 steps forward.

    In the last couple of years, one of the more popular topics of discussion in the fitness world has been breathing. We’ve known for years that if you can breathe better and more efficiently, you will get better range of motion. All you need to do is peek into any yoga class and you’ll observe that. The importance has risen in recent years because we’re seeing more people with symptoms of over-training, adrenal fatigue, and auto-immune diseases which have been linked to people living in a constant state of acute stress commonly referred to as “Fight or flight”. This is a response from your sympathetic nervous system when your body feels in danger. The job of the sympathetic system, when in this state is to contract or shorten muscles. It may be more challenging pressing a load overhead or squatting to full range of motion when in this state. Therefore, we’ll be starting every session of Mobility Worx with 2 minutes of breath work to prime your nervous system.

    This new workout will include breathing control, muscle and tissue work and mobility drills partnered with muscle activation drills. It may not sound super attractive, but it will incorporate everything someone needs to maximize everything they need to do in other strengthening and fat burning workouts. To repeat the phrase from above, listen to what they want and then give them what they need. If you’re interested in learning more about Mobility Worx or any of the sessions available at the studio, please feel free to reach out to me directly- or call the studio (702)892-0400.


See you at the studio.

It’s Hot in Vegas, and So Are We


     I hope you had a great 4th of July. It’s expected to be 105 degrees in Las Vegas today. We are officially in the dog-days of summer. I’m still shaking my head as half of 2018 is in the record books. Time stands still for no one. The mid-point of the year is a good time to reflect on how things are going on the goals you set out in December. Have you been able to stick to your workouts? Are you spending more time with your family? I’ve recently been evaluating things we do well at the studio, and on things I think we can improve. In business, it’s pretty simple, do more of the good stuff and fix the bad.


     We’ve recently had a surge of new members at the studio and that’s not normal for studios in the summer. June/July are typically the slowest months of the year for all gyms and we have a wait-list for some of our more popular training times. This may sound arrogant, but I’m not surprised. Going back to my statement from above, we are doing more of the good stuff and have either eliminated or cleaned up the things we don’t do well. I’ll give a couple of examples. When we first opened, we offered Yoga. It never really took off, primarily because we’re not a Yoga studio. We weren’t able to provide the experience of a Yoga studio. What we are is a functional strength and conditioning studio with an emphasis on fat loss. I have added more fat-burning, high energy workouts to the schedule. In response they have been well received.


     Another thing we have improved on is the coaching that’s done both before and after the session. I always wanted our semi-private to have the look, taste, & feel of private training. If I was training you in a one-on-one setting and you came in with a tight hamstring from sitting too much the prior day or a tight upper trap from a bad night’s sleep, we may spend some extra time with one of the massage sticks partnered with a few stretches before hitting the floor for our workout. I would also take that into consideration during our workout. If your traps are really bad, we may substitute something else for the overhead presses I originally planned to do. Normally, over-head presses are not a bad choice for you, but not the best option on this day. My coaches and I have focused on communicating with our members prior to the workouts. A little conversation can go a long way in enabling us to provide the best possible experience.


     Small group training is the rave right now, but it’s not very personalized in many locations. The cost is scaled as semi-private, but the service provided by many is still similar to the old 12-20 people, boot-camp model. I draw an issue with this. If you’re a Boot-camp, call yourself that. True semi-private training should be able to cater specifically to each person’s needs. If their needs can’t be addressed in this setting, then they should be directed to private instruction. One of the biggest struggles for many trainers and coaches is signing up members. When I mentor fellow coaches, I explain that you’re never selling. What you should be doing is actively listening to what someone needs, evaluate them, and then, as a skilled practitioner, provide advice on what you think would be their best option. Marketing expert, Seth Godin, has a saying that marketing is finding what people need and then giving it to them! The problem with most places is that they don’t have a skilled enough staff that can adjust to people’s needs and they don’t listen to what people need. I recently had someone come to me requesting a trainer, but based on their needs it was more physical-therapy. I recommended he visit a good therapist. Could I have adjusted some of his workouts- Yes. Was it to his best interest and what he needed? No.


     A large part of my job is teaching my staff. Later this month, I have the creator of Mobility Works (a system to increase mobility using sticks of different lengths) working with my staff at the studio. Next month I’ll bring them all to Long Beach, California for the Perform Better Trainer’s Summit, considered one of the best educational conferences in the fitness industry. We’re always learning, always getting better. This is why we’re busy in June. Our members stick with us because of the personalized attention and word has spread that we’re not another Boot-camp facility.


     I’ll see you at the studio.

Why I Don’t Offer Pilates or Spinning at the Studio


     As we come to the close of another school year, our attention is focused on the completed tasks of students.  I want to bring attention to teachers for a moment. Teachers are the unsung heroes in my book. They play such a huge role in the development of our kids and we don’t give them enough credit. You have to be a unique person to pursue teaching. You have to have a passion for teaching. It’s not the type of job that people aspire to if they want to accumulate a lot of money. Being completely respectful to any teachers that may be reading this, you never hear anyone say “I want to make millions of dollars as a teacher”. I’ve gravitated to observing teachers in the last couple years. If you strip down the competency of a trainer (that they know how the body works and they have a basic understanding of exercise), the success of the people they work with depends on their ability to communicate and teach.

     It was from reading about teaching that I became more aware of how people learn (visual, oratory, kinesthetic) and started taking that into consideration when coaching people. I’ve learned not to give a lot of credence to verbal cues for people who are visual learners. In that population, I’ll spend more time actually demonstrating the exercise. I’m quickly reminded of this when I make an error in judgment and give extensive verbal explanations for an exercise to one of my small groups and nobody moves. I’ll then quickly start to show the exercise and they’ll react with an “Oh, ok” and get into position. One of the more frustrating things I see when visiting a gym while traveling is when I observe a trainer just raising their voice as they coach. “Deeper, SQUAT DEEPER!” The poor person thinks they’re squatting deep enough, it’s just not clicking. The coach would probably get a better response if they demonstrated what the person was doing and then demonstrated what they wanted. I’m not guaranteeing this is the only way, but it may be a better option than talking louder. My wife and I shared a laugh when years ago we watched this trainer shout “Activate, activate”, as he trained this young woman. Activate? Activate what?

     Not to make this a venting session, but another problem I see increasing in my beloved fitness industry, is the novice coach teaching a skill that they haven’t mastered themselves. This is becoming one of my big gripes. I’ll explain how it’s manifested in the last 5-7 years. The certification and education business for trainers has exploded. Any weekend of the year you can pay to learn how to swing a kettlebell, lunge with a sandbag, or instruct spin. This is a good thing.



(Me along side some of my team and a few fellow coaches at a Trainer Summit in Long Beach, California)


The level of coaching has improved immensely due to this, and the fitness world is better for it. I’ve written before about how I volunteer for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as the state director for Nevada, and coordinate an annual state clinic providing expert speakers to whom trainers can listen and learn.


IMG_0180 IMG_0216

(Hosting Annual NSCA state clinic at the studio)


The problem arises when that young trainer returns home on Monday and proceeds to “throw up” everything they learned over the past weekend on their poor unexpecting client.

     When learning any new skill, your immediate response should be to practice substantially before you try to teach it to anyone else. I won’t say you have to adopt the 10,000 hour rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller Outliers, before you instruct. You should put a minimum of 20-40 hours of practice in before you start to use it in your programming. If you train yourself 4-5 hours a week, that’s practicing a month or two on yourself before you roll it out to clients. That time frame can slide up or down based upon the skill level of the task. I’m currently working on a new mobility and muscle activation program using Mobility sticks and mini-bands. I’ve been practicing for the last 2 months using the drills in my workouts, and feel I’ll be able to launch the program later this summer. Why do I think this is important?



     If you don’t have experience, you won’t have context to teach. The analogy I use is learning to write. You have to first learn the words, then how to put together a sentence before you can write out a thought. I love journaling, but giving a 3 year old a journal before they can write words is a waste of time. Part of learning is experiences and making mistakes. Knowing what not to do is sometimes more important than knowing what to do.

     It’s for this reason I don’t plan on offering Spinning at my studio anytime soon. Spinning is very popular right now. Many studios are being very reactive, as opposed to proactive, by ordering Spin bikes and putting it on their class schedule. Their idea is “our coaches will learn as they go”. In there, lies the problem. How can one teach others and learn at the same time?

     At J & D Fitness, I’ll continue to work with my team on becoming Masters of training, so we can continue to teach at an elite level. Similar to school teachers, my passion is for helping others, not to make millions of dollars. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


See you at the studio.

Building the Perfect Training Relationship


     Have you ever had an experience that went perfect, like a great meal or a great trip? There’s a commercial for that captures that emotion. A family is walking down the hallway to enter their hotel room. The voice narrating sets up the scene, “This trip has a been a year in the making”. The family looks beat from a day of travel, as they open the door to an amazing room and view of the ocean. The father does a reserved fist pump and the narrator says, “You got it right, you got it booking right!” The commercial is hilarious. I think we’ve all been there. If you’ve never seen the commercial, the link to the clip is below.


     Whenever I experience a great training session with someone, I think of what made it go perfect? I do this exercise frequently, so I can consistently replicate it, and teach my team how to do it. On the wall in my studio I have a quote- “Communication + Trust + Respect = Amazing Results”. This isn’t a random quote, I believe this is how that great session happened. 




     I never allow someone to just sign up without first having a Success session with them where we discuss their goals and what they are looking to get out of training at our studio. I want to first make sure they have realistic goals and then listen to what they want. I also want to discuss the obstacles that have prevented them from reaching those goals in the past. After listening, we always perform an assessment. At the studio, we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This is how I can communicate to my staff what exercises and drills are appropriate for this person. This time with the new member also allows me to learn a little about their personality. I wish it was as easy as showing someone an exercise and then sitting back to watch the magic. We all learn differently (visual, oratory, and kinesthetic), and we all have a different temperament to coaching. Some people are extroverts and some are introverts. Some people need you to be very precise with explaining why they are doing an exercise. Others need to experience success immediately or they feel like a failure. Getting a sneak peak of these needs is huge in creating a successful experience for someone down the road. I’m not a therapist and I’m not going to act like I’ve been trained to be one. What I can do is listen to people and making them feel comfortable. Catering to their personality is how I help to make them feel comfortable.

     Trust is built over time. Creating trust starts on day one. Explaining to someone that safety comes first and they will not get hurt is part of that. I learned early in my career, that if you want to damage trust, just pick a random exercise for someone and risk them getting hurt. Demonstrating to people that you gave thought to determine the right drill for them is very important. This is where I feel many coaches fall short. I never believe you should fall in love with an exercise. When I was introduced to kettlebells years ago, I wanted everyone to perform swings. It’s a great exercise to strengthen the posterior kinetic chain (hamstrings, glutes, lats and lower back) and provides a great metabolic effect for burning fat. I quickly learned that due to some physical limitations (lack of mobility, core weakness, and structural issues) some people should not perform swings. As a skilled practitioner I do know there are other options. There are those clients that I have perform floor bridges or cleans with the Ultimate Sandbag to get the same result. The bottom line is that I will never risk someone getting injured simply to check off doing an exercise. As Hippocrates said, “Do no harm”. 

     The third part of the formula is piggy-backed on the prior part. People need to respect that I’m skilled in what I do. If you can’t respect that I have spent countless hours learning, practicing, and honing my craft, our relationship is going to be compromised. I do understand where people can be hesitant to listen to everything I tell them. The fitness industry is not policed, and anyone feeling confident enough can call themselves a trainer. Therefore, I proudly display the credentials of my team on the wall in my studio. Combined, we have over 30 years of experience. Hopefully, this can calm anxieties someone may have about whether we are qualified to do what we do.

     When you add our ability to listen and assess each personal individually with our knowledge, you can create an amazing outcome. At my studio that outcome is stronger, leaner and more mobile bodies. How do I know this? I’ve been able to replicate it time and time again, that’s how. 

     See you at the studio. 


Why Doing Planks Will Help You Touch Your Toes

     Have you ever had a book that you re-read and it takes on a deeper meaning the second time? Then you re-read it once more and it takes on a different meaning yet again. I have a few books like this in my bookcase, but the one I want to discuss today is Anatomy Trains, by Thomas Meyers. I have owned this book for 8 years. Recently, I started experimenting with a series of mobility drills and the entire concept has its roots in this book. I’ve mentioned before that in fitness, new gadgets and fitness toys are created monthly, but new concepts arise infrequently. What I’ve come to appreciate are a few pioneers who take an established concept and go a mile deep in its understanding. Improving mobility by creating tension and anchoring using sticks that flex is one of those examples. The sticks I’m referencing are the sticks created by the team at Stick Mobility ( guys figured out that by positioning your body in various lengthened positions and using sticks to create tension you could improve someone’s range of motion and hence their mobility. The key is that those positions are fascia lines (superficial back, superficial front, lateral, spiral, etc.). 




     People enter our studio daily looking to drop body-fat & increase muscle mass. Rarely do we get people looking to improve mobility. That’s always an after-thought. “Oh yeah, I need better flexibility, too”. What I’ve learned and what Mr. Meyers has shown us is that if we can improve someone’s movement by following what he has coined “Anatomy Trains”, we will be able to increase stability (strength) throughout their body. I first purchased Anatomy Trains a few years back when I wanted to get a better understanding of myofascia & tissue work. Foam rolling was all the rave and I wanted to understand how a foam roller or “Poor man’s massage therapist” could improve someone’s quality of movement. I would soon learn that if I can help you move better, I can make you stronger. If I can make you stronger, you can move a load with less risk of injury. Then if I can have you move that load with a specific level of intensity (heart rate, neurological demand), I can then produce a metabolic effect that will utilize body-fat as a fuel source more efficiently, hence high intensity interval training (HIIT). My point is that to look leaner, you need to move better first. Here’s a video of me going through a quick warm-up flow using the Mobility Sticks before a workout.


     This brings me to a 2nd concept that I learned years ago, but truly didn’t grasp until recently. I’ve previously mentioned that we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) at the studio to assess the quality of someone’s movement prior to putting them through a workout. I believe it’s negligent for me to put someone’s body under load without confirming what their quality of movement is first. In the FMS, the 5th screen is the active straight leg raise (ASLR). In this screen, you are checking someone’s hamstring mobility. This is critical to know before you have someone either dead-lift or swing a kettlebell, two of my favorite exercises. Gray Cook, creator of the FMS, has discussed how you should check someone’s toe touch prior to the ASLR to determine if they may have a tissue (fascia, scar tissue, muscle) restriction or a motor control problem. The reason for the toe touch is to see if your body can create trunk (core) stiffness as your hamstrings lengthen allowing you to touch your toes. If your core is weak, your body can create stiffness in other areas, such as the hamstrings, as compensation. It’s a way your body puts the brakes on to protect itself from injury. This is why I frequently observe people improve mobility in their hamstrings by becoming stronger in their plank position. 


    I know this may be getting in the weeds a bit, but what I believe is revolutionary about the Mobility Sticks and their system is that they allow you to create tension by either pressing them into the ground and or flexing them as your work through specific positions and postures. This ignites a neuro-drive in your body which can activate inhibited or shortened muscles. It’s a way to hit re-set for your body in certain positions and movement patterns. Bottom line, you will move better. 




     This is another example of a new fitness tool (Mobility Sticks) that can help make big improvements based upon concepts (fascia and motor control) that have been around for a while. I guess I need to visit this section of my bookcase more often. 

See you at the studio.

I’ve Centered My Business Around Training 1 Person


     A long time ago, I realized you can’t please everyone. This can have its challenges at times, especially when you have new people walking through your door every day. I can help a lot of people, but every once in a while, I must explain to someone that our training studio isn’t a good fit for them. I learned that trying to accommodate every population and fitness goal will run both you & your staff ragged. It also effects how you train the people you strive to work with. I’ve done my best to work well with a specific niche due to this. 

     There is an old business exercise that centers around you creating the ideal program. To create the program, you must create this factitious client. In this exercise, my client is a 41 years old woman who wants to lose 20lbs. She has never been a member of a gym, and outside of trying a few workouts at home she got from a fitness magazine, she has never attempted much. On a scale from 1 to 10, her nutrition is a 6. She knows it’s lacking something, but just doesn’t know what. She’s intimidated to go to the local “Big box” gym in her neighborhood. She has eliminated the idea of beach vacations with her family as an option because the thought of being in a bathing suit for a week makes her cringe. She wished she could find someone at work to go with her to the gym, but none of her fellow employees exercise consistently. She feels stuck, frustrated, and doesn’t know where to start.  This is who I centered my whole business around. 

     When creating programs for kids, you have a lot of wiggle room for error. You can do things incorrectly and the kids probably won’t experience any problems. They won’t see positive results either. When dealing with adults over 35, you must be more precise. The level of precision with your programming jumps for every 10 years of age. If I miss an assessment with someone 21 years old, and have them lift something they shouldn’t, they wake up the next day complaining they slept funny. If I miss an assessment with someone who is 51, and they lift something they shouldn’t, they’ll miss work the next day because they can’t get out of bed. I treat assessments and initial consultations very seriously because workouts should make you better, not worse.

     I grew up in gyms, so I always felt comfortable in them. I remember going to my local rec center to lift at the ripe age of fifteen. I initially took my level of comfort in gyms for granted until one of my female 60-year old clients told me 10 years ago, “Doug, I feel very safe with you here”. Safe? It took me a while to grasp the fear of getting hurt and the larger fear of looking stupid that people experience. Getting someone to feel comfortable should be the 1st step for any coach. I have lectured to fellow trainers at clinics that you can be very competent on the subject matter, but if they can’t hear you over their anxiety, it falls on deaf shoulders. 

     My wife, son and I recently took a cooking class at William & Sonoma. Prior to cooking, the instructor taught us some basic knife skills. I have struggled in the past chopping, dicing and mincing. Not anymore. What I quickly realized something very simple for one person, can be very frustrating for another. I used to destroy avocados getting the pit out. I’m not embarrassed to admit this. Whoever knew putting a knife in the middle of the pit then turning it leaves you a perfectly looking avocado. The same could be said about watching someone foam roll. My point is that going to someone skilled can help avoid a lot of pain and suffering, and mashed avocados. 

     NFL Hall of Fame player, Deion Sanders, had a famous quote he said years ago. “Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good”. I couldn’t agree more. Looking good is judgmental to the eye of the beholder. The eye which we judge ourselves with can be very harsh. One of my biggest joys is helping people to like what they see in the mirror. Giving someone the tools to improve their appearance is invaluable. Watching these transformations has become part of my daily life and it motivates me to help more people. I’ve trained my team, so I could spread my reach. I guess the point of my story is that by attempting to help 1 single person, I’ve been able to affect the lives of many. 

 See you at the studio.

The Fitness Industry Is Led by People Out of Shape

     In March, I’ll travel to San Diego to walk the floor of the largest fitness trade show in the US- The International Health and Racquet Sportsclub Association trade show or IHRSA, as its commonly called. Every aspect of running a health club, gym, or studio will have a presence at this event. I look for trends and to see the direction the fitness world is currently moving towards. It was at this show a few years back that I saw a clone of my studio. When I opened J & D Fitness Personal Training 2 ½ years ago, I envisioned a semi-private personal training studio that had a focus on coaching movement, not using machines. I selected the TRX suspension system, kettlebells and the Ultimate Sandbag as my mainstays. It was from my personal experiences as a trainer that I understood the vastness of exercises I could perform with just these 3 tools. If you’ve never visited my gym before we have a rig in the center of the floor with the TRX straps anchored with sandbags and kettlebells stored on either side as bookends. 




A simple but very effective layout. You can imagine my amazement when I saw a reputable company featuring a floor plan similar to mine years after I opened my studio. The point I’m trying to make is that it was my years of experience on various gym floors working with different body types that allowed me to determine what I wanted. Now what if I told you that many of the larger gym chains & organizations are led by people with very little background in fitness. Many have never coached or trained a single person. Most have never administered a goal session with someone. If you asked them how to help someone improve their overall fitness level, they could provide you a topical answer- 3-4 days of resistance training supplemented with cardiovascular training and a healthy diet. That sounds more like a mission statement, not a strategy. In their defense, that is the norm in many businesses. I recently heard a statement that sums it up perfectly- It’s a Myth that industries are led by experts. Dr. Stuart McGill, Gray Cook, and Gary Gray are some of the top minds in fitness, movement, and strength and conditioning. I’m going to guess you have never heard of them before. Jeff Bezos graduated from Princeton University with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science and he currently runs one of the largest retail giants- Amazon. Brian Chesky, one of the co-founders of Airbnb, had no prior experience in hospitality before launching the accommodations leader. Maybe now you can understand why I tell people to ignore most of the programs offered in some of the big box gyms.

     The focus in many of the large big box chains is architecture, hard cost, and liability, not program design. I recently had a conversation with one of my members. He was a bit frustrated that the program he was doing at one of these large gyms was not only incomplete, but actually put him at risk of injury. His question to me was “how could a place that cost over $50 million to build allow something like this to happen.” My answer is that they are in the business of selling memberships, not changing people’s lives. There are many variables that are involved in creating a program for someone. You need to assess them. You need to find out what they want to achieve and determine if their goals are in fact realistic. You also need to design a program that caters to their specific needs. I have a saying that there is no such thing as a “bad” exercise. There are exercises that some people shouldn’t do. 

     I know I’m starting to sound like Mr. Anti-establishment, and truly I’m not. I have friends and contemporaries that are good coaches and work for organizations such as Equinox. Don’t take my rant as “all large gyms are bad”. If I can make one point, it’s that you shouldn’t assume a coach or trainer is qualified because they work at a busy facility. It’s the coach, not the facility that will determine whether you get to where you want to go.