Category Archives: plan

99% Marketing, 1% Fitness

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Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Josh Graves from Fitness On Fire TV, who created a channel for anyone who’s passionate and on fire for fitness and wants to help you ignite that with a variety of topics and interests. We shot what was mostly a sit-down & chat interview, which is kinda nice to be honest, and not always be blasting through “workouts” for the sake of create a metabolic disturbance. I’ll post the link when the interview goes live.

I’ll be frank with you also, I had a fun topic to discuss today, but I completely forgot the topic and am at a loss for inspiration. So, I’ll leave you with a short shameless promo for the book, and an observation at the gym this morning that everyone can benefit from, which is 180º from what I am trying to accomplish daily, or my fitness peers alike . First, the eBook is slated for release on October 22, 2014. That’s 8 short days away! I hope I can get it all on time and look forward to everyone’s reviews on Amazon. This is important work, labor intensive and time consuming, self-published and I invested a lot into promotion, SEOs and more, but time is my most previous commodity. It’ll be priced ridiculously low, so please spread the word so I can continue bringing more information like that to you, as I have two more books slated for release in January 2015, parts II & III of the Practical Guide to Physical Education.

Now, there is also something to talk about when it comes to fitness. So, there’s this “new” (sic) fitness program that’s being tested on a focus group at the gym. Typical: high energy, loud music, super motivated lead trainer, people pouring buckets of sweat and participating essentially in an exhausting game of “Simon Says”. No one will come out of it moving better, more athletic or with any measurable mark of fitness. The goal is, once again, weight loss. The process: non-sustainable exhaustion and severe caloric reduction. 99% marketing, 1% fitness, 0% innovation. I understand we live in a society with ADD that thrives on going after the newest shiny object (that’s why I made the SmartFlex™ black. Just kidding…). These kinds of programs no longer upset me. I don’t have time or enough cortisol left in my body to dwell on that. What does bother me is this one gentleman who is part of the focus group.

Mind you, people are getting paid to participate. Humans are the least reliable test subjects (will power, or lack thereof if you will). Attrition rates are high and compliance is usually mediocre. A free fitness program just ain’t cutting it, being healthy and the promise of a better life has as much value as a discarded tissue these days. No one is thankful of the opportunity.

Back to the gentleman; one of my friends happens to be in charge of filming and documenting. She saw this poor sap move as is his spine had been invaded by a telephone pole, his legs swell to weather ballon proportions and make a grimace that would make Mona ‘Hatchet-Face” from Cry Baby look like a Maybelline spokesperson. So, she kindly brought him over to me and introduced us so that he could get proper care and training for his back (and everything else that may be wrong). This was Thursday last week. Today, who do I see back in action and again, sporting the same painful face, movement and dysfunction? Yup, that guy. And afraid of eye contact too. I normally don’t bite, and anyone who knows me would not qualify me as intimidating (at first glance, thin sliced Gladwell style). Thin-slice back at you buddy: you’re what’s called “uncoachable” in my book.

Instead of focusing on jamming a square peg into a round hole finishing the program and trying to lose weight, what he should be doing is: improve his mobility, assess his movement dysfunction, find a sustainable program to maintain beyond the duration of the test group, and by moving more at an appropriate fitness level (not high impact sadism), moving better, eating better,  and being able to do this DAILY. In just a short week or so, there’s going to be a $1.99 practical guide. Just follow the layout of a session, ask questions when needed, and for Pete’s sake, you’re getting paid to work out, spend a little and get the opinion of someone seasoned. Doesn’t have to be me, I can send you to someone near you!

Lesson model and order

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This is an excerpt from the book, Chapter IV. It charts the order of drills and explains the intensity variations for optimal performance within the session, from warm-up to cool down.

  1. Any kind of walking.
  2. Corrective exercises.
  3. Flexibility and mobility of the arms, leg and trunk.
Correcting mindset, warming up the body and general loosening up of the body (aesthetic benefits).
  1. Basic arm and leg movements, simple or combined, free hand or with gear.
  2. Lifting.
  3. Throwing.
  4. Combatives: boxing and wrestling.
General and symmetrical development of all the body parts. Joint flexibility (aesthetic benefits).Skill development and coordination in order to improve fighting, lifting and throwing abilities (functional benefits)
  1. Suspension/Hanging.
  2. Supported/Planks.
  3. Climbing variations.
  4. Balancing drills geared also at overcoming fear of heights/vertigo.
Specific development of the upper body, trunk and core musculature (aesthetic benefits). Sense of equilibrium, agility of all kinds for climbing or scaling (functional benefits).
  1. Hopping.
  2. Speed training.
  3. Short distance runs.
Intense action on the major systems of the body: cardiovascular and respiratory (hygienic benefits).Improvement in normal and work pacing (functional benefits).
5Trunk and core specificEmphasis on back, thoracic and abdominal musculature development (aesthetic benefits).
  1. Jumps of all kinds: with or without momentum, with hand support, on moving or fixed obstacles.
  2. Velocity/speed   and distance running (like in Section 4).
  3. Swimming.
  4. Games utilizing running, jumping, swimming, fighting actions etc…
Same benefits as in Section 4, but more intense.All the exercises in this section produce hygienic, aesthetic and functional benefits.
  1. Breath work.
  2. Marching/Walking.
Restore the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.Breathing education.





–       Exercises in Section 1 simply serve to warm-up and loosen up the body.

–       Exercises in Sections 4 and 6 on average require greater effort than those in Sections 1, 2 and 3.

–       Section 5 is positioned on purpose between two sections of more strenuous nature (jumping, running etc.) because the exercises in this section require little effort but provide the body with the necessary relaxation characterized by a lowering of the heart rate.

–       Finally, exercises in Section 7 are geared towards restoring the breath and lowering the heart rate before resting. They can be performed during the session when the taxing efforts of a particular exercise require restoration.


Don’t forget to have fun!

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Dan John said “the goal is to keep the goal the goal”. There was a blog worth the read last week in which Coach Stevo expands on that concept.

I am not going to preach on the increasingly familiar, yet not new, rather quite ancient concept of not working out to work out, or to get through the work out but getting either nothing more out of it or not applying it for something else. The athlete trains in order to perform better at a given sport. Working out for health is great, but it’s not just about the numbers at the doctor’s office, or on the scale, or the poundage on the barbell. If it helps you do the fun stuff better, the social and moral stuff better (like helping your fellow human get up, lift a couch, defend against a bad guy…).

Yes, there is satisfaction in pressing that Beast, finally! But don’t forget you also like to go to the batting cages, play a few inning with your office league. Or, catching some big waves while the swell is hitting your local spot, before it fades. You gotta be ready for it when it hits so you can enjoy it better and longer. Or, your grandchildren are visiting and you need the energy to chase them. Whatever floats your boat. But, please, go find a boat. Otherwise, it’s work. It gets stale, you don’t want to do it, you can’t measure it with the things you like, just the things you need to do (like a pressing or deadlifting protocol).

You want a plan? How about some of the concepts from Georges Hébert’s Guide Pratique de la Methode Naturelle? Hébert, by the way, is the original “traceur” to whom Parkour is credited to.

“Activity is a law of Nature. Every living being, obeying an innate need for natural activity, reaches complete physical development by the mere usage of locomotion, as well as manual labor and defense mechanisms.

Humans, in their most natural and primitive state, in the wild for instance, are compelled to lead an active life in order to sustain their needs, fulfilling complete physical development by only performing natural and functional exercises: walking, running, jumping, climbing, lifting, throwing, swimming, self-defense etc, as well as the partaking in mundane activities.”


“In civilized countries, social obligations, conventions and judgment distance men from their natural outdoors environment and often prevent the practice of physical activity. Physical development becomes set back, even stuck by said obligations or conventions.

Of those in modern society who are able to take a sufficient daily dose of training in line with their constitution can reach, without any particular method, full physical development by the simple practice of natural exercises and their variations and by performing basic functional drills or standard labor. This is a form of imitation of people living in a wild natural state, the difference being they do so by choice and leisure rather than by necessity.”


“Any physical education system or method contains the following exercises:

  1. Basic educational exercises: basic arm, leg, trunk movements, suspended/hanging work, supported work (planks, push-ups), balance work, hops and breathing patterns.
  2. Natural and necessary functional, divided into 8 categories: marching/walking, running, swimming, climbing, lifting weights, throwing objects and defensive/combative tactics.
  3. All sports and games, even for fun rather than useful function, as well as common manual labor.”


“You only need a brief moment to reflect on this to understand that these eight categories are all useful, in various degrees, throughout our existence. Outside of them exists the practice of activities like fencing, horseback riding, rowing, which are of secondary use or limited to a certain population; or games, ports, acrobatic or fun activities, none of which are needed for all individuals, regardless of social status or occupation.

Henceforth, there is only one general system geared at the perfection of the human machine, and it is based on progressive training and the methodical practice of natural and functional drills. We can call it the Natural Method.”

So, please remember:

1. Learn.

2. Prepare.

3. Apply.

“Just” training (#2) is not the goal.


Why Should You Train With Me?

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There’s a bunch of trainers our there. What would make you pick me over another? I am not the bee’s knees, but then maybe I am. It’s a matter of perception. I am not going to talk and gloat about my constantly upgraded, humbled, broken down, improved or reality-checked skill set, because I have coaches and mentors who would slap me 36 ways till dinner and then continue, because I know only a fraction of what they know.

I am a father, a husband and this is not a job. Training is a career, a passion, a true calling. I am not a fair-weather trainer, in-between acting gigs or waiting for some better thing to come around.

I understand struggles, life, responsibilities and everything that falls into that. I learn more so I can discard more and simplify.

I’ve simplified so much that in 6 short weeks, I maintained my weight and dropped 2% body fat without trying, just following a simple plan. So simple, I only did 2 exercises per day and kept my workouts short, very short.

In the following 6-week round, I have already packed on 3lb of muscle and over 12″ around my frame, and I’m only 3 weeks deep into it. I packed 3″ on my chest, 4″ on my shoulders, 1″ on each leg, 2″ on each arm and 1.5″ around my hips/glutes between October 10 an October 31, 2011. Body fat remained the same.

Yes, I am in “bulking up”, but not really trying. I am more in a “non-prep” prep phase for a tough 11-mile obstacle course. I just want to have the strength and stamina to do it. The bulk is a bonus.

I am watching my eating, though I am flexible and do not deprive myself. This isn’t a weight loss program. But if I did watch what I eat, the same program would make me lose fat. Because the first 6 weeks where I maintained body weight and lost fat means I added muscle, but got leaner. That’s to 1/2 the population out there, who wishes to lose weight. It can be done, easily, correctly.

My eating fueled my recovery and my ability to push through the next phase, and only half-way through, I made tremendous gains. That’s to the other 1/2 of the population, and more specifically, to all the hardgainers out there who waste hours at the gym and do not put on an ounce of muscle or walk away sore but unable to do any of the things they wish they could do. I am a hardgainer, so imagine what you can achieve if you are not one!

Remember, my being the father of a toddler and husband means I do not have the luxury to kick around the gym for a few hours, doing two workouts a day and watch myself in the mirror. I do not have the cash flow to operate a body fueled on illegal substances. I am 37 years old. I can push as hard as anyone ten years younger or more. It also means I am no rookie.

The race is my personal goal, and I want to prove that I can design a program that will both allow me to get ready and be ready anytime, even now. I know it works, I tested it.

I have the experience so you can have the education. I overcame challenges so you can do it better. I work hard because I didn’t win the genetic lottery and was busy the day God was giving away natural talents. Then he had mercy on me and gave me the gift of teaching. That also motivated me to be the guy that can and does, not just teaches.

Wanna know how I did it?

Wait another 3 weeks… I will keep you posted here and there. But I got something coming your way you won’t want to miss.

Effective Communication

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“Humpty dumpty sat on a wall…”, skip to “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”.

First, those must be some awesome and dexterous horses, trying to piece together a busted egg-shell.

Second, the road to success is paved with good intentions, but the map may be off, or the directions, or you can find construction on the road which forces a detour.

As always, I draw these conclusions from both training and non-training experiences. Today’s entry comes from both based on yesterday with family in town and clients having specific needs. Too much to tell in a blog, too little time, so I’ll cut to the chase.

I can be anal, specific, detail oriented even if I appear flexible. I’m flexible with the approach, and if I can get you from A to B, how I get there doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get there. And each step is clearly defined, every factor taken into consideration.

A change of plan, condition, mood, medication, shoes, meal or any other variable can single-handedly offset your course, like a snowball rolling down the hill, or dominoes. If you’re dealing with someone who is invested in you, trust them with empowering them with that knowledge. Being a professional means you know how to adapt and be discreet, factor in and deliver a better approach for the given situation.

Take it easy, my friends…

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Words one rarely hears from your average trainer, right? Usually it’s go!go!go! and push!push!push!

And sometimes, that yields diminishing returns. Sh*t, I myself pushed so hard recently, I reach a short term goal successfully at the expense of another goal. One was a professional goal out of necessity, the other a personal one. When you chase 2 goals, sometimes, you’re lucky if you get one. I was lucky I reached the pro goal at least, the necessary one. Both in fitness, btw.

So, I’ve decided to scale everything back. Follow my own program, not one I got from another brilliant and successful coach in my own training community. Not to say you shouldn’t get a program from someone else (I do that daily for others), but as in all programs designed in a book for numbers (as in numbers of readers/buyers) you CANNOT personalize. Sometimes, I like to experiment with other’s work, sometimes I design my own for myself as I do for others. And I find the latter works much, much better for me (not because I am better, but because I have applied the knowledge others instilled in me and chose the best possible aspects of it to my needs and physiology at the present moment, which is the point of education).

Another person’s design may not suit your reality. Life happens, and you may have the discipline to follow through the steps as prescribed, but sometimes, you simply ought not to, because you wind up further away. Yes, I agree sometimes that a bad workout is better than no workout, as another great trainer FB friend of mine and RKC posted in her blog, but (and I pointed that out to a client recently), sometimes you need more rest, more food in you or any variable that your program factors in and life factored out that day. Say you dropped a couple of pounds from lack of sleep and lack of food, whatever the reason (baby schedule off in my case), should you push for an all-out workout that morning, when you’re neurologically weak and it’s your heavy day? Answer #1 can be Yes, you might learn something. I learned once like that that if I dropped a pound or two, didn’t sleep enough, I shouldn’t progress in the session as planned (I log all variables and all screw-ups as well as successes which helps me isolate the missing element). Don’t wanna teach myself and my body a bad habit and break the groove. So answer #2 is No, for me at least and really, sometimes you too.

If you miss the train, there’ll be another one. If you fall off the train, well, you know what happens…

So, I am resetting, going back to the basics, going light. Call me a wuss if you want. I dare YOU to take it easy and go light and be man/woman enough to own it! Reset your neural pathways and go strong in a little bit again!

No Holds Barred Weight Loss Answers

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This week’s blog post is courtesy of a good friend of mine. Not about boxing or fighting, unless you’ve been grappling issues of weight loss and still wonder why it ain’t coming off. This blog doesn’t come with its own set of ice, advil or nurse. Read at your own risk.

Greetings, Actionauts! Thanks to the regular purveyor of wisdom on this blog, our friend Philippe, I have been given the opportunity to take a turn at the helm. Let’s hope I keep it off the rocks!

My name is Jay Chavez, and I have enjoyed working as a personal trainer for over twelve years. Prior to that I worked full-time for a naturopathic doctor for two years, and continue to work with him to further the health and well being of my clientele as well as increase my understanding of the human condition. In all of that time, in both the clinical and gym settings, there have been a number of frequently asked questions that just keep popping up. I would like to address a few of them here in the hopes that I can help bring a little clarity to the confusion.

How much time do I have to answer the question? I usually get asked this one at barbeques, birthday parties, and while standing in line at the bank when people recognize me from the gym. My trademark, two-minute-conversation response?:
“Show your body more respect than you have been. Treat it like your most valued possession, and it will become just that. Stop shortcutting, nickel-and-diming and disrespecting your absolutely best friend. Stop spending all of your money on the latest styles and gadgets and invest it in the quality of everything that goes into your mouth from now until you think you are lean enough, healthier than you ever thought possible, and poop roses.” I will then get the inevitable raised eyebrow or chuckle, and then the, “No, really, what should I do?” Somewhere, not so far away, an organic farmer is gently weeping…
I have had clients drop body-fat so quickly that their friends and family became concerned about their health. “Are you sure you’re OK? You’ve lost a lot of weight recently.” When those same friends and family members find out that their loved one is in fact quite healthy and has simply been working with a trainer, I usually get a barrage of telephone calls inquiring as to how they can work with me to get on a similar program. When I explain that the key to the fat-loss involves eating nothing but high-quality foods like grass-fed beef, free-range organic eggs and fruits and vegetables that are raised without any trace of pesticides and/or herbicides, the number of interested parties drops to near zero. “I couldn’t do that because (fill in cliché/really lame excuse here), but is there some way we could compromise so that I can still eat what I want and lose the same amount weight as (admirably disciplined client/friend/family member), just maybe not as quickly?” I then politely inform them that of the many lifestyle issues that cause people to become over-weight/over-fat, whether it is due to an excess of junk food calories, work related stress, shortage of essential nutrients, etc., etc., they all can benefit tremendously from the life-renewing forces that this “health-food” diet contains.
Your body is capable of miracles (like, for example, the amount of fat-loss most people are looking for in the two weeks before their best-friend’s wedding), but only when it is being fuelled to operate at full capacity.

This one, while asked quite often on it’s own, is almost always rearing it’s head in the discussion over the previous question. There has to be an easier way! I know twenty-something-Susie-or-Johnny-treadmill-neighbor doesn’t eat like that, and they look fantastic! Alas, I usually have to remind them they are not the Susie-or-Johnny of right-now, they are the Susie-or-Johnny of the future, when years of neglect and abuse have finally taken a visible toll (I will expand on that at another opportunity; I only have so much space!). All of the wonderfully slimming hormones your body produces during puberty eventually run dry, and you are left accountable for the quality and quantity of each and every calorie that crosses your lips. “But wait!” cry the math majors. “If burning more calories than I consume causes weight-loss, then that means I just need to work out hard enough to burn the right number of calories to continue to eat what I want and stay lean!” The look on their faces as they come to share this “discovery” with me is quite priceless. You’d think they just stumbled across something along the lines of cost-effective renewable energy, or free Internet porn…
I have a good friend who, for the purposes of protecting those that should know better, we’ll call “Betty”. Betty too had come to this incredible realization long ago while in the process of studying to become a professional personal trainer. She did the so-called “calorie-math”, and in order for her be able to consume all of the pizza, beer and ice cream that the average person “enjoys” while still maintaining a figure that regularly made grown men fall off moving equipment, she needed to work out for three hours a day. Every day. Now I know that part sounds incredible, but it is no-where near as crazy as the fact that she actually did it for nearly ten years! I met her at the beginning of what were to become the last two years, at which point I was informed of her self-described “win-win” program. I then had the audacity to question where exactly the “winning” aspect was in any routine that left the participant lean but with poor skin and hair (her long-running concerns for which she had also expressed to me) and no time whatsoever for a personal life. It turned out she was always too busy working out to be going out. Being Betty wasn’t easy, after all, nor therefore would any attempt be to woo her. This sad fact was what brought the staggering run of intensive exercise to its uncelebrated end. She conceded that I was right and we designed a meal plan that helped her to maintain her physique and improved her health. Much to her delight, three years after that new beginning, she still looks as fantastic as ever, while now only spending four or five hours a week exercising.
So what is my answer to the question? Can you work out hard enough to eat what you want, and still look the way you want? I guess that depends on you first answering my qualifier-question of whether or not you value participating in everything else going on in the world outside of the gym.

Before I can answer that, I (or any competent trainer, for that matter) would first have to understand your current “stress budget.” Your “stress budget” is the total amount of stress that you are taking in from your chosen lifestyle. That means we figure out how demanding your career/job/indentured servitude, your personal life, your diet (that word again!), and your recreational activities are on your adrenal glands. That’s right, those two walnut-sized organs do more than just sit on top of your kidneys like cute little bowler hats. They manufacture and secrete a myriad of hormones that help us adapt/cope with all of the aforementioned “stressors” in a manner that – ideally – helps us maintain our health and vitality. However, they are small, and can only handle so much stress for so long before they begin to fall short of their ability to keep us bouncing back up for yet another round of our chosen foolishness (yes, I know what some of you do with your free time away from our sessions…). When that happens, not only will your quality of life take a serious downturn, but your health will be placed in jeopardy as well. Stay within your stress budget and you will avoid a lot of problems!
If your adrenals only have a few minor issues to contend with, such as the occasional three-hour oil change, then you can be said to have a very low stress budget. That means you have plenty of adaptive energy in reserve, and could theoretically use it to participate in an exercise regimen that calls for working out four to six days a week at a high level of intensity. If, on the other hand, your adrenal system has to cope with a lifestyle perfectly suited for its own prime-time reality-TV program, well, I’ll just say that your best bet is to start out real-slow. To start with, try working out one to two days a week at a moderate intensity.

Jay can be reached for scheduling nutritional consultations at, and seen in many non-fitness related establishments around the Los Angeles area.

Sometimes, people just wanna work out…

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We don’t always know what’s best for everyone.

A great pitfall for a trainer is to confuse what clients want and what clients need. When you’re just fresh off your cert’, ACE, NASM, ACSM, AFAA or any other nationally recognized brand, and your level of experience is low (in terms of paid client hours worked), it takes little more to a training session than just direct traffic from big body parts to smaller ones, tell folks “do your cardio”, all following a basic bodybuilding routine, whether the clients wants to gain mass, lose fat or “tone up”. I mean really, it’s all a variation of the same song and dance.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you start to become more knowledgeable, curious, educated and will invest a lot of time and money, which you recoup with greater results and client retention. And then, it happens…

The aforementioned type of trainer, blissfully following a routine from a fitness mag, certified with just the basics and the knowledge of their own body and Myosplash or CreabombX super supps they ingest, will likely not correct your form, “stack fitness on top of dysfunction” (Gray Cook) and make you feel “hurter”, which in the language of the neophyte means “wow, this really works!”. To me, that one millimeter of imbalance is what makes the tower crumble later down the line. More often than not, I end up being the one to correct some other person’s work. I know tattoo artists don’t finish someone else’s tattoo, but I need to eat and if I can make your life better by moving better, I will.

The trainer who invests into more education, training, research etc, will shine by comparison. It should be apparent at the first session already, with a good assessment of movement, abilities, form etc, as well as a progress map outlined for the client to follow. That type of trainer will justify your investment in the long haul.

Sometimes, trainers who know a lot become almost too rigid in their approach, by going into what Pavel calls “Paralysis by analysis”, wherein too much knowledge stops one from doing work and always be correcting. In other areas, this is a form of perfectionism which also leads to procrastination and lack of progress, like rewriting the first sentence of your Pulitzer prize winning article, thus never completing it.

Sometimes, the client just wants to work out. So, sometimes, you let them. Yeah, you make sure there’s nothing wrong in the execution, allow the muscles to feel the pump, let them enjoy their process. You’re still getting them fitter and better, even if it strays from your adamantium-clad program design. The same goes for music. Sometimes, you need to sit down and listen to a piece, dissect it, appreciate its nuances and theme variations. Sometimes, you just need muzac in the background. Doesn’t make you a bad person. Makes you flexible and human.

Navigating the seas of strength.

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It is by knowledge and experience that I navigate the oft tumultuous seas of fitness.

Defeating physical pain, conquering mental anguish and surmounting performance plateaus, I pilot the only vessel I’ll ever carry from the pre-dawn of my life till the lights go out at dusk.
I seek uncharted biological territories, but heed the warnings of captains before me. I’ve sailed the planet through peaks, valleys and oceans, successfully challenged monsters and battled with wits and brawn at my side. Some beasts I haven’t tamed, others are emblazoned on my crest.
“Be water, my friend”. Sometimes, I resist its currents and fight its tempestuous nature, other times I let it guide me through its channels to where I ought to be.
With the realization that it is sometimes beyond me, survival comes from accepting its beauty. You can depart from any port, circumnavigate the globe and find yourself in the very place you left physically, but have you embraced the journey?
You can Powerlift, Oly lift, body lift.
You can machine press, dumbbell press, barbell press, kettlebell press.
Upright row, seated row, bent-0ver row, renegade row.
Pull-up or pull-down.
Bench press or push press.
Relax to the point of tension.
Slow grind or fast & loose.
Clash with Titans or defeat Goliath, for sometimes, a well aimed little metaphoric pebble can take you down for the count. Even the greatest warrior Achilles had a weakness.
Search your golden fleece, find your golden goose. Your journey awaits you, but you must prepare for it.
Embark with me, join the ranks.
Soon, the Actionaut will leave these banks!

I need to be Zen…

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It happened again today. It’s not like I shouldn’t expect it, and you’d think I’d learn after all this time. I even thought that after a few hours, I’d cool down a bit and let bygones be bygones. But, seeing as Mondays are usually learning days for me (Tuesdays, I write), while I am listening to a teleseminar hosted by Geoff Neuport, Senior RKC (site:, interviewing Dan John ( I thought I’d beat the iron while it’s hot.

I am taking advantage of a slight change of environment for my training for a couple of weeks, by going to a very “chichi”, expensive gym, because they were giving away a free trial membership. My own gym is literally a few blocks away, but I figured what the hell? Some pros switch gyms all the time for variety and fun. This one prides itself at having the “best trainers”, all NASM certified (which I am, among other certs). I also like that they have kettlebells there (and I find myself to be the only one using them. I even heard a staff trainer tell his client how bad it is for your joints to train with kettlebells. I let it go. The guy didn’t look like he could punch his way out of greasy paper bag, though he probably knows more about hair conditioners than an Aveda rep).
But here I was today, in my “cage” where I was going from bench press, to deadlifts, to shoulder presses and split squats. Simple, 5 ladders of 3 rungs per drill, moderate weight, good grinds. Today, I was not drawing attention by doing Turkish Get-Ups, Windmills or KB snatches. I was blending in.
What stood out, though, was watching trainers demonstrate crappy training progressions (by jumping around from one exercise to the next without rhyme or reason or purpose, letting clients move with form that resembled a house of cards trying to withstand gusty winds.)
Countless times, I saw idle trainers walk by a person working out on their own like an epileptic without even the conscious attempt to correct them! I mean, come on! You don’t have to collect money every single time from a person for a simple form correction!
As I was doing a joint mobility drill, I had a person come to me and ask for advice on how to do the same thing. Same thing when I was deadlifting, a gentleman near me was doing bent-over rows with poor form, so I corrected him, and he welcomed that. I felt great. Apparently, I demonstrated skills that these folks recognized.
It’s interesting to “secret shop” and see what others are doing. A colleague of mine sees a “sh#t show” (her words)all day at her gym in Vancouver, BC, with so-called “trainers”. Pavel Tsatsouline, Mr KB himself, has learned to not get bothered by it. I feel it is necessary to try to educate members in proper exercise techniques, but how do you do it if there is no quality control anywhere in gyms? It’s like a surgeon passing the medical boards, but botching every surgery afterwards with no consequences! Each bad move I saw was making ME hurt, so I can only imagine how the poor sap protruding his knees and going into spinal flexion during some plyo-box jump squats is going to feel later!
I propose that all trainers start a “secret shopping training guild”, go to gyms and offer our services and report anything that ultimately represents a liability to the gym by having their staff ignore proper technique. Who’s in?