Category Archives: plan

How your digital devices and apps do not move the needle.

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You downloaded the latest G50Xtreme workout series, you bought the compression training apparel, have the app on your smartphone and checked in via social media at your gym to keep yourself accountable, and posted a sweaty selfie so we know you didn’t just show up and lie. You’re doing it!




You then grab a super-greens superfood drink, enter its caloric info into another smart app and track your intake of nutrients. Off to shower, a clean dinner of steamed veggies and grilled chicken or white fish with a sprinkle of pepper and a squeeze of lemon, and a small glass of Chardonnay (c’mon, live a little now, ya hear!)

You calculated at the end of the day that you burnt X amount of calories (and you’re on track), fulfilled your workout quota and beat it by 10% from last week, so now you can add a restorative session of yoga or Pilates. Book a massage, because your body needs it and you earned it.

Crash on the couch, catch up on emails with House Of Cards playing in the background on Netflix, finish up that presentation for tomorrow. Turn off the tube, but turn on the Kindle for a little reading on how to be more effective, assertive and confident (you’ll follow up with the podcast in the morning on your way to work). Sleep 6 hours or less, and after 12-16 ounces of overpriced coffee in the morning, it’s off to the races again. You sit for 8-10 hours. Wait, no, you have a standing desk too, because more and more offices do that, because it’s good for you.

How you doin’?

What are you working towards?

Why is the standing desk good for you? No need to tell me, by the way, I know you read the research, Self magazine and GQ tweeted about the benefits.

My question was about your workout: what’s it doing for you? Is your posture better? Fewer headaches? Good alignment and muscular balance? Right on!

Now, can you get those results without all the digital noise around you? Can you also apply your fitness to your everyday activities: do you hunch at your desk, do you stand evenly, is your neck bent at 45 degrees staring at screens, or do you practice good posture outside the gym, are you mindful when sitting, walking, standing, carrying your messenger bag?



Bottom line: if you’re not getting the results, the digital gizmos and social media wear thin and become useless landfill fodder. Because if you’re so disciplined that you’re making progress, you don’t need them. And if you are not disciplined, no amount of toys will fill that gap between you and your goal.

Save some cash, save some time, reconnect with yourself and people without a crutch. Dumbo eventually learned how to fly without holding on to his feather.

How do you train for a long life?

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How do you train for a long life? Simple question, simple answer, simple mission if you are willing to accept it. Do everything, generalize, don’t specialize and don’t complicate things by thinking this toy or that diet only will get you there. Ironically, I am asking you to not listen to other scare tactics fitness marketers, because I don’t want to scare you, only want to “delight” you, so you feel good about what you are doing, or are willing to start doing.

It starts with movement. Like, getting off the couch. Here’s the simplest progression, a simple health & fitness recipe I can think of, assuming you’re already off the couch and standing (anyone unable to stand can still do some things seated):

  1. Take a few deep breaths, inhale through your nose, fill your lungs as much as you can, lifting your chest up, then exhale through your mouth.
  2. Now, do a few more breaths, and raise your arms to the side, or to the front, or back-then-up-and-down (pick, do what you can/want).
  3. Now, do a few more breaths with some arm movements, and bend your knees as you inhale and move the arms, and straighten them as you exhale to a fully upright position.
  4. Take a walk next, and focus on your breaths still, if you can remember. If not, enjoy the walk.

Notice I am not getting into any more specifics other than to match your movements with your breath. No reps, intensity, speed. Follow your rhythm, stay serene. Much is said about meditation these days, and people will sell you complicated programs on how to meditate, or move, or other. But you already know it. Your body knows it. It may have forgotten, but you always knew. Think about it: what’s the first thing you did when you came to this world? You took a deep breath (ok, you also screamed), because that breath is life, and then you moved your limbs, and it worked out pretty well for you for a while.

The next step is to enjoy the feeling, let it happen, because no one feels bad after doing this. Coughing up a lung? Your body’s telling you something. Get it checked out. Simple.

Don’t try too hard either. Just do it so you like it, which will beget your desire to want to do more. Like add some depth to your knee bend (deep knee bend/squat), or support your weight on any surface, angle that can support your weight, with your arms (pushups, planks).

Now, fast forward a few days, weeks or months. You’re doing more advanced stuff, lifting heavier weight, or doing more repetitions. Maybe now, you’re walking faster, or jogging slowly. Around the park, the block, the neighborhood. One time. Several times.

Don’t think of weight loss, don’t get hung up on calories, or what to eat. You’re old enough to know what’s good or what’s bad for you.

Don’t get too hung up on that potato, that bowl of rice, that slice of bread or that piece of fruit. If you have some animal protein (or if you are not carnivorous, you know other forms of protein), some veggies (leafy, root, green or other colors) and those are still somewhat recognizable in their cooked, chopped, baked or grilled form from their original shape, you’re doing well.

So, eat stuff in the general idea of what’s described above, move like described above, and relish in the fact that you don’t need to be exceptionally fit to live a long, happy life. I don’t believe anyone lived under a rock, in today’s age, to not know what’s good or bad. Move, eat well, challenge yourself, and be responsible about your choices.

Practice displacement (walk, jog, run, even ride), and lift something (self, kid, objects of various shapes, designed for training or not), or throw something. Twist left, twist right, shake your limbs. Rinse, lather repeat. Tortoise pace, not hare pace. You know the story. You’re in this for the long haul anyway, hopefully, for your kids, your grandkids, to enjoy the wealth you amassed, to see places you didn’t see, to work longer at what you love, or try something new.

We’re just here for the duration of a blink anyway, why shorten it irresponsibly?

Strangely, that recipe can almost sound like Crossfit, which it isn’t. It’s actually the other way around. Crossfit may have taken this concept to an extreme only. And you know what, there are plenty of levels between a Crossfit WOD and what I just suggested today. We are all in different places on that spectrum.

And that’s the theme with The Natural Method

Latest peek at photos from the upcoming book

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Because pictures tell a better story.

Many thanks (chronologically based on photography sessions) to Nick Bustos, Patrick Hartsell, Melody Schoenfeld, James Neidlinger, Ron Jones and Jennifer Winkelman for making yourselves available amidst all of your activities and busy lives to be part of this fitness project, shot by Antje Anders.

I also want to thank Throwdown and XFit Brands David Vautrin and Ted Joiner for lending us their facility and equipment!

Here is a sampler of jumping, lifting, throwing, climbing, fighting as well as some fundamental/basic educational exercises from the upcoming book based on Georges Hébert’s training program design.


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Hébert session programming at the workshop

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I posted last week 3 programming concepts: daily, weekly and annually (by ways of 3 quarters, so it’s essentially 4 ways, 2-in-1 on the last).

And while most seasoned qualified trainers have a good idea of what to put into a session, incorporating a new skill daily, how do we keep a sense of balance since not everyone can squeeze a daily session, as the world today is not as ideal as we’d like it to be.

Setting aside any excuses or reasons, it is important to have a good sense of the fundamentals and that’s precisely what will be covered at the workshop on the fundamental positions of arms, legs, trunk etc.

The design is such that some moves are changed every other day. Clever combinations can permit the time-challenged subjects to hit nearly all aspects of preparation of the body. Sounds almost like a tall promise in an infomercial to get all you training done in just minutes a day, but it’s not the case.

There also a lot of talk about needing an hour versus only really needing 10 minutes, and yadda yadda yadda, in today’s marketing confusion (and yes, that’s what it is: confusion so you fall prey to what’s sold).

Truth is: there is no universal truth other than everything works, especially if done well. You can’t really snatch 53kg for an hour at high energy output, and if you can, you can’t do it daily.

What’s better? A little everyday or a lot every few days? It’s all good really, and you’ll still need to change things up, while keeping others the same. And once you are proficient at a movement and have confidence in your skill, who really cares about the ultimate perfect form, as it varies amongst individuals and their own skeletal structure or abilities.

I was recently asked “what’s the Natural Method” vs “Unnatural”. It’s not about that definition of the word, just to discuss semantics, rather using what’s available to use according the the natural inclinations of our bodies and finding those, rather than fitting a square peg in a round hole, and to know that, you must go through a learning process and weed out the bad by focusing on the good and how it feels. Unnatural may also feel foreign to you when it’s a new skill, but if the body’s not fighting it with alarm signals, then you’re just learning 🙂


DAILY PROGRAMMING according to the Natural Method

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Daily training contains at least one complete session, consisting of the following:

Self-defense: boxing and wrestling;
Swimming (whenever possible)

The daily program is performed in one or several “takes” inside of the same day.
Each take is generally composed of lessons as just listed: fundamentals or basic educational exercises, functional/utilitarian and complete lessons.

The order of performance is preferably in the same order as described in Chapter IV, book 1 [INSERT CHART] or as describe under GENERAL PROGRAMMING

If, for whatever reason (lack of space, equipment, etc.) a different order is followed, it must be logical, meaning go according to the principles of increase, then gradual decrease of energy expenditure, with max effort reserved for the end of the session/take.

Example of daily programming broken up into two takes:
– 1st take: Lesson revolving round basic educational exercises/fundamentals.
– 2nd take: Functional/utilitarian lesson.

Total duration of session: 1 hour.
1st take duration: 25 minutes.
2nd take duration: 30 minutes.
5 minutes rest between takes.

Both takes contain races/running. Preferably perform a distance or endurance run in the first take, a sprint in the second.

You Have To Ship!

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Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, mentions that no matter your craft, you have to ship, to publish, deliver. Artists ship, not just factories from their warehouses. You ship your art by bringing the paintings to the gallery, even if they’re not done in your mind.

Studios release movies, and sometimes may change stuff, add footage, delete some, provide a Director’s Cut on the DVD. But they back something into the theatrical release.

When I took on the task of translating Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education, I wanted to share the content as quickly as possible, within reason of course. The labor of love associated with it, the journey and discoveries along the way, took a tremendous amount of time that a married, working father of two, with a start-up company to boot, had to squeeze at the expense of other things.

I certainly could have taken my time and released it all at once upon completion of the entire translation. Instead, because of trending interest and alignment from friends with their historical research, as well as using the successful model of movie Studios releasing trilogies over time, the process of breaking things down allowed me to get better reacquainted with the material I was exposed to in my youth, and I was able to build, organically with my limited resources, interest in The Natural Method. People who never heard about it discovered something of value and interest, while people who already knew about it, and practiced as well as formed groups, on social media or in their cities, contacted me with appreciation for making Hébert’s work more accessible with the English language.

My self-imposed deadlines are very much that: self-imposed. No one really cares about them, but it keeps me accountable, and on schedule. Keeping things open-ended, as any time management expert will tell you, can result in things never getting done. Additionally, through a tried and true process I experienced myself in everything I’ve done, people are better off with getting pieces of information at a time. Otherwise they tend to skip over what interests them less.

You could argue that I am removing a person’s choice to work at their own speed, and who am I to have such power? It truly only matters during the timeline of the translation of the books. When trilogies like Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings, The Matrix came out in trickle fashion, audiences were forced to wait. Now, it’s all available at once.

For those familiar with Hébert’s method, maybe getting it all at once would have been the way to go (which right now doesn’t matter, because nearly all the books are out, from this first guide). But for those un-familiar with it, the timely release of each section of the Practical Guide To Physical Education offers gradual discovery, application and everything positive related to the step-by-step learning process.

Exercise Guide

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As the release of the second installment of The Natural Method trilogy nears, I am getting asked “what is the difference between the first and the second book?” and also “do I need to get both?”

Simply put, the first book can be summarized as “to become a well-rounded athlete, do X, Y and Z and this is why“. The second book can be summarized as “and this is how you do X, Y and Z“. Do you need to get both books? In the words of Stu McGill anytime he’s asked a training question, “it depends”.

If Fitness History is of interest to you, wanting to know where the method came from, how it was created and tested, and on whom, or how to conduct a training session and in what specific order, then yes, get both books.

If having a methodical, well-crafted approach to create an all-around fitness program for your clients, group or individuals, with built-in systems to track and measure progress, establish baselines and remove uncertainties of training, once again the answer is yes.

If you’re only interested in reading about and applying the broken down movements mentioned in the first book, in detail and suggested execution, listing their benefits and specific how-to, then no, you don’t need the first book as the second one is a sufficient stand-alone exercise guide.

Let me pitch you the need for both, though. The word “guide” is relevant because having just an exercise guide shows you only how to do an exercise and its benefits on a given body part, or aspect of performance. Think of it like a cook book: how successfully can you compose a meal if you only have a list of ingredients and cooking techniques, but no recipes? The veteran chef (or seasoned trainer) knows how to combine the “ingredients” and the “techniques”. But how many fitness instructors, trainers, coaches actually only use a miss-mash of exercises strung along without a real purpose or plan?

The final aspect of the pitch is simple: it’s only a couple bucks and you can read it in about an hour or so and reference it any time.

Create Limitations

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Bruce Lee once said “to have no way as a way, to have no limitations as limitations”. Love those words. Respect the man. Always my #1 choice for live or dead persons I wish I could meet. Always.

Now, I’m about to contradict my hero.

If you move for the purpose of function rather than form, you move to “get it done”, no matter what the cost, or compensation. If you can’t bend your knees to pick something off the floor, you’ll bend (at the waist of hips, regardless of what’s correct). If you can’t lift a barbell overhead with proper shoulder mobility, you’ll angle back and perform an unsupported incline bench press. You’re bypassing your limitation, your ability to maintain good form, just to get the dang barbell overhead. Your lower back will (not) thank you later.

By creating a purposeful limitation in any movement (for instance, tall kneeling) while doing a torso twist will remove lumbar twist: your hips will remain squared with the knees and your torso will twist, as will your shoulders. Do that standing without placing a limitation, and chances are you will twist the hips and not get the adequate twist in the torso. (Note: you may do this standing if you squeeze your buttocks and pay attention to not twist at the lumbar, but it requires more control from you).

Creating the limitation exposes any weak link(s) in the kinetic chain. Essentially, you make a point of not allowing a stronger muscle or looser joint to do more work than its lazy counterpart is not doing. By “turning it off” or making sure it doesn’t compensate, you’ll find out the true strength or range of motion of the underactive body part.

Crossfit isn’t going anywhere

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Just like the Internet… I want to throw a disclaimer right off the bat: I am not writing a post to bash Crossfit and its aficionados in the hopes of getting a few clicks or instigate some kind of viral controversy.I’m rather more interested in making some observations and business suggestions so that all trainers who plan on doing what they love beyond the 18-36 months average career span of a trainer can adapt to the two kinds of markets that will benefit from the Crossfit movement.

The expression “if you can’t beat them, join them” goes somewhere along those lines. I don’t believe anyone needs to beat Crossfit. Its numbers are growing quickly and steadily, and may reach a slowing in their hockey-stick growth, but not much in terms of a dip (I don’t have a crystal ball either, but I am not too bad at detecting trends).

It’s not a matter of endorsing the philosophy behind it, what happens in the public perception, whether WODs are reflective of the Crossfit Games athletes’ actual training and how training is done in a box (Crossfit jargon for “gym”). Can you look like them and perform the Herculean feats of strength displayed in those games with the ever-changing software of their seemingly preferred go-to Paleo Diet and a few WODs per week? I don’t believe so, or rather, “it depends”, but that’s for another blog.

What I do believe (and the belief is supported by hard evidence with numbers in the first option) is that Crossfit creates either a market of joining them by becoming an affiliate, and benefitting from the movement’s popularity, or simply, as I chose for myself, by providing a workaround some of the more known setbacks experienced by the masses who join Crossfit boxes run by inept trainers.

Indeed, you can pay your way through a one-day course, pay your fee and open a box. I know amazing and smart trainers that did it, and I also saw nimrods with less fitness education than my 4 year-old do that as well, fueled by only their enthusiasm for fitness. For many years, my email signature was “I fix Crossfit”, and I was tapping in the injury market that was spilling from every box nearby. I’d run into people at sporting good stores, hear them chat about X move, or try on toe shoes, and insert myself into the conversation, drop a simple tip and a business card, and wait. Anytime I got a call, I converted that into a client. 100% of the time. I’d improve their deadlift, fix their swing, or help them do real pull-ups (no kipping).

Silly, huh? Some trainers who know may think “that’s stupid, those are basic moves”, but, um, yeah, it’s all about the execution of the basics. I don’t have to be Pavel Superman Cook to teach that basic if I know it well and deliver. If it’s awesome to the client, it’s good for both the client and my business. For reference, my approach to fitness has always come from an injury prevention standpoint first. Just like your first gun lesson revolves around safety, my own background in spinal injuries (which led me to become a trainer) got me to move clients safely and strongly.

Crossfit only helped me expand on that approach. I even created the SmartFlex™ with the intention of helping people move better, and when at some point in its marketing development, people asked me “would you partner up with Crossfit” (this was an exploration, that conversation was only hypothetical), at first I thought it was against my philosophy, but then I realized: if the popular belief is that Crossfit causes people to get injured, why not help them not get injured and make a buck while at it?

So, join them by becoming an affiliate, or help them by getting the education to help them reach their goals, correct their imbalances or other issues. There are many options, from the FMS (Functional Movement Screen), NASM’s CES (corrective exercise specialist), Z-Health, Indian Clubs, partnerships with physical therapists and chiropractors, Teeter inversion tables for spinal decompression and realignment, tools like the SmartFlex™ etc. They can be the pilot of the NASCAR, you can be their pit crew!

A greater purpose

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I want to first thank everyone who purchased The Natural Method and helped it make it to the #1 best seller in the Physical Education category. The outpour of interest and recognition of Georges Hébert’s hundred-year old manuscript denotes the profound interest in the fitness industry to “do better”. I see it as a hugely positive step in the direction of education, foundation and organization in training, something that can be still lacking in the industry.

Many of my friends, be they peers or mentors, always relied on the substance of others to promote their philosophy, after making it their own, and it almost always led to phenomenal results with their clientèle, which then led to their own recognition as pillars in the community. And because I frequently mention them by name, I will not do it this time and rather give them a silent homage, although they all know who they are (and I could write a blog which would read like the phone book if I mentioned all without omissions).

Assimilation and understanding ought to always be the first steps, before applying or dispensing the knowledge, in my humble opinion. By focusing on the lessons of the first book and taking ownership of the process, I also (hopefully) was able to carry on the message of education by emulation, which the book promotes. Hébert talks about the ability to simplify the process of training so that even a non-expert can, with minimal education, conduct a model training session. The understanding and application of the process begets a unification of the trainees and then exponentially spreads. Any certified trainer ought to be able to emulate that process with their existing knowledge.

Why didn’t I release all three books at once? Outside of the time limitations and my thirst to share right away what my mind was getting blown away with, I wanted to avoid the potential of someone simply skipping to the exercises descriptions only and missing out on the process and sequence of the method entirely. Since most trainers have a basic understanding of exercises but, as I have observed, string together movements without a cohesive purpose, the first presentation of this trilogy removes the distraction of the shiny new toy or the dismissal of something already known.

I may be wrong in my approach, but I’ve always stuck to the execution of the basics, and good old Georges was way smarter than I can ever be, so instead of questioning his approach, I simply applied and interpreted his model in a quickly “digestible” amount of information. Also, because education benefits from rote, I stayed loyal to his repetitive style rather than subjectively abridge his work for the sake of making it shorter. Anything worth investing time in ought to stay with you past your initial reading. If the same information is repeated over and over, it’s likely to stick. Anecdote: this is how I got to drive a NASCAR at full speed for 20 laps, passing other slower cars multiple times, engaging in a high speed chase with a buddy of mine, because we spent 90 minutes hearing 5 minutes worth of instructions drilled into our brains in different fashions!