I Run Because

You strap on your shoes. Lace them up from the bottom to top. Making sure your socks are nice and smooth to reduce the blister risk.

Step outside and turn on your distance tracking/speed tracking app. Thumb through previous runs and set a target for today’s run.

With the headphones blaring, you get started.

The jogging begins. And you remember the first time you went out for a run. In this moment, you realize you’ve grown. Previously riddled with anxiety and wanting to finish quickly, your mentality has shifted to finding a pace. The drive to pound the pavement fast has all but subsided. You still want to finish quickly, but you also realize that what used to be seen as a chore, has become enjoyable. You enjoy the grind of breaking through the first mental block.

And here it comes!

A half mile later, your body begins to resist.

Your breathing rate increases and your body starts to fight, a bit.

There’s a slight uphill and your brain tells you to take the easy way out. You want to turn around. You’re not that far from home. You want to walk back.

But you persist.

You put one foot in front of the other. Tonight you sleep in your bed.

You slow your pace as a means to catch your breath. You surprise yourself, you’re still running. Yet, you’re recovering.

And all the sudden, you’re back in your own headspace. A place nobody can take from you. You are cruising the block, thinking about the day. About your kid’s gymnastic experience. Do you want to enroll her in the ‘fun’ gymnastics program? Or the program with more structure? What direction do you want to take her? What should be structured and what should be play? And despite the lack of planning, how is she so damn cool, already?

I don’t know but you’re still running. And that voice that told you to slow down, suddenly tells you to push it a little bit more.

You find a pride point. You’ve never been able to recover while running. Hmm, maybe this whole running thing IS getting better?

‘Weird’, you think.

As you approach a hill, you tell yourself to just take what the hill gives you. You lean into it and allow the hill to dictate your pace.

‘Nice and easy, short and quick steps, just make it to the top’, you tell yourself.

As you make it to the top, your brain turns back on. ‘You’re tired, dude’.

And again, you find yourself in that battle. You’re halfway finished with your run and you become enamored with wanting to walk. But you’re on the downhill. You repeat, ‘just take what the hill gives you’.

One foot in front of the other. Tonight you sleep in your bed.

You slow your pace and your heart rate drops. Your feet are moving quicker than before. A sense of pride washes over as the hill levels out and you rediscover your pace.

You think about your business. Where do you want to take your career? What is the drive behind what you do? Where do you think you’ll be in two years? Two months?

You begin to plan. In your mind, you lay out a plan for success. You know what you have to do in two days, two weeks, two months, two years. Your life plan starts to unfold. You see it as clearly as you see the street lamp ahead.

You realize you’re nearing the end of your run.

Just a slight uphill to finish it off.

And you’re approaching at a speed that you haven’t reached during this run before. Your legs are burning, your lungs are screaming for air and the sun is blaring in your face. Funny that you just now realize how hot it is outside.

A slight uphill. And you’re close enough to just walk it off and call it a cooldown.

F*ck that voice.

One foot in front of the other. Tonight you sleep in your bed.

You finish your run in a sprint. With your mind, with your body, every ounce of your being, in protest.

You approach your house with heavy lungs. Your breath escapes as you finish with everything you have. And you finally get to your driveway. Run complete.

As a fitness professional, I can’t tell you how many of my peers hate on running. ‘Running sucks, just lift weights faster and take fewer breaks’, as a justified means to escape the idea. And sure, that works. You can 100% increase your heart rate and get all the cardio you need in, without running.

It’s hard. And repetitive. ‘Like a hamster on a treadmill’.

I’ll be the first to say it’s f*cking hard.

But for the last six months, I’ve fallen into running as a challenge. It IS repetitive. It IS hard. It DOES suck.

But I can’t explain how much stronger I’ve become. Every challenge I face has become more temporary. I understand the idea of attacking obstacles.

One foot in front of the other.

It’s teaching me that I can do hard things, regularly. I’ve been given an outlet for stress and anxiety. It has given me targets and goals. I’m able to push the boundaries more. I’m more proud of my body. For years, I resisted it because it was hard. And I still agree with that statement. It will always be hard. But for some reason, I’m comfortable with that.

And tonight I’m excited to sleep in my bed!

Peace like Geese,

Mike

I Am Lost and Don’t Know What Exercise to Do! What Type of Exercise is Best for Me?

I sit down to talk to a prospective client.

“What are your goals?”, I ask.

“I just want to lose weight”, they say.

“Why?”, I clap back.

“I’ve always been overweight and I hate exercise.” They say.

It’s a common obstacle. And every single day, someone will tell me how much they hate something, don’t enjoy something or (sometimes) flat out refuse to do something.

I get it. Working out can be hard.

It can be tough. And it will be, as there is an endless supply of ‘fun’ any fitness professional can dream up.

And I guess the optimist in me likes to see beyond the complaints…I don’t see it as a refusal to enjoy exercise as much as it is a challenge! Exercise in itself has a very loose definition. And it is not the same for everyone.

It doesn’t have to be lifting heavy weight.

It doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill.

Exercise is defined as ‘a process or activity carried out for a specific purpose, especially one concerned with a specified area or skill.’.

With that said, cleaning your home can be exercise. Mowing the lawn. Going for a walk. Really, anything that gets you off your butt and moving can be called exercise.

I’ve personally always been obsessed with the act of dunking a basketball. It’s a cool thing to see done and to me, it says a ton about that person’s athletic ability (or height). Anytime I’m feeling fully overwhelmed with the ‘perfect’ program, I fall back on going out to play some basketball. I like a mildly organized game, with people I do or don’t know. To me, exercise is play.

And I think there is also a bit of a genetic component to certain activities.

For instance, individuals who tend to weigh less or have a lighter frames (ectomorphs) tend to lean toward activities that they perform well at, or have a physical advantage in. Activities like climbing, running for distance, biking for distance or swimming are fun for a lot of these folks as they get an advantage from their physical stature.

Individuals with medium frames (mesomorphs) tend to lean into activities that are more explosive, intermittently. They tend to lean toward sports like basketball, short track sprinting, short track speed skating, soccer, gymnastics, hockey and tennis.

For even bigger frames (endomorphs), try activities that are a bit slower and can use strength as an advantage. These include powerlifting, hiking, golf, football, rugby and baseball.

The thing is, sometimes fitness can be like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. I’ve seen first hand how flexible exercise can be. Instead of trying to conform to the ‘norms’ of exercise, I always will introduce different types of stimuli to see what people truly enjoy. Not every workout has to be a butt kicker. But it should be fun. And it should be rewarding!

And if you haven’t found the right type of exercise yet, keep searching! Keep trying new stuff! Set aside a specific day to go out and kick a ball against a wall. Or throw a ball into a net. Or hit some golf balls. Because why spend all the time and energy worrying about getting to the gym everyday, when you can be out exploring? YOU GOT THIS!

Peace like geese,

Mike

Where do I get my exercises from?

Not really anywhere special. Youtube. Instagram. Google. It comes from my brain and exploration of movement. Something that always bugged me is the inconsistencies in movement pattern nomenclature. And maybe that is where I need more growth. But when a Doctor tells me there is a deficit in metatarsal extension and flexion, that’s not going to relay well to anyone I work with.

What we do as fitness professionals is simple, if only you have practiced and messed around with movement, enough.

Ideas come from understanding how a person moves within the confines of their anatomy.

Some folks will have short levers or long levers along whatever pattern we are trying to create.

We all Squat. We all hinge. Lunge, Push, pull, walk (in some fashion) and move.

Throughout the day, we move in those patterns, not exercises. We think about how your body functions relative to the other patterns. And we look at specific deficiencies in joint angle. Patterns are the basis for how we get stronger, leaner and move more efficiently.

When I decide to throw a movement into a program, it usually isn’t because it’s sexy or something fun I saw online.

We notice valgus on a squat. We see a pension for anterior knee shift on a lunge. There’s an asymmetrical shift in scapular external rotation as you flex your shoulder.

Literally, it’s how you move that we determine how best to attack your structural/neurological/muscular patterns.

With that said, there is a bit more than just observation that goes into our time spent working as a team. And I vow to dive deeper daily to improve your understanding!

Love you! XOXO

 

 

Heart Rate Response: Conditioning vs. Illness

Hey all!

AWESOME DATA on a followup to a post I made a couple of weeks ago.

The preceding graphs are tracking resting heart rate.

The picture on the left is my own heart rate in the last month. Last weekend, I came down with a non-covid illness. Though not drastic, there is a definite uptick in resting heart rate that can explain (and actually, helped predict) an impending illness.

The picture on the right I received from a client who has been absolutely crushing his step/cardio goals for the last month. It demonstrates the change in heart rate with a single month of consistent cardiovascular exercise.

Bill Nye would be so proud. What other variables of change you would like to see in regard to increasing fitness and health?

Covid and your gym!

Hey!

It seems like everybody is ready to get back to normal life, whatever that new normal will look like.

Let me preface with a word of caution – everyone is free to make their own choices, and I hope you make the choice that is safe for you – and all the people you interact with. Wear a mask to mitigate risk. Don’t hit the gym if you’re feeling sick.

With that said, I feel like there is about to be a seismic shift in the building blocks of the fitness industry.

Some detriments of the old gym setting:

  • High potential for contamination via touch. As a dude who spent time in the gym, I’ll be the first to complain people never clean their equipment itself.  You will see people wipe down the benches, the cardio equipment, but I honestly can’t remember if I ever saw someone wipe down a barbell.
  • At the same time, the ones who would do the minimal and wipe down their bench/equipment, never followed proper cleaning procedure. It would usually be a quick wipe with a moist towel. Gyms are not equipped to hire the number of people it would take to keep it clean. And high effort areas of the gym are going to be littered with inadvertent spit and sweat.
  • The harder you work, the more potential there is for virus to spread. Walk into any gym and notice how compact the cardio section feels. With the tightly packed space, with people working at various intensities, there is an obvious potential for machines and surrounding equipment to become contaminated via heavy, labored breathing.
  • Group classes are just a bad idea. Although I think there is a potential for that to be filled online or via more strict scheduling procedures, instead of drop-in. But that may also hinder the gyms availability to make group classes viable in their business model.

Fitness companies are going to have to find an answer for these issues. The care of equipment is obviously a big issue, as is working out with people in a confined space without much airflow.

There has been some positivity in the group setting. With groups of 5 people or less, South Korea saw no new cases of covid in the small classes they ran. Same goes for the smaller group classes that were in the lower intensity category (yoga, pilates), although there was no mention of the size of those classes.

So as we all transition back to normal life, keep these things in mind – attend small classes first as there is more ability for your instructors to keep it safe. Find lower intensity classes and search for a facility that doesn’t pack people on top of people.

I think there is a gym model that will capture and excel in the next few years to improve upon the pitfalls of the old gym model.

Personally, I’m going to abstain from the big gym life for a while. Boutique and smaller gyms with a more controlled environment are iffy from my end, but it seems like the less foot traffic, the better. Keep in small groups and respect your neighbors enough to practice social distancing!

As a reference, here’s a link to some stuff that happened in South Korea…

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/18/health/fitness-classes-coronavirus-korea-wellness/index.html

Peace like Geese,

Mike

 

The Big Picture

Hey all!

Sup?

Six pack abs.

Toned, lean arms.

Peachy booty.

We see it everyday. From the Insta feeds. The Tiktoks. The Facebook stories.

It’s in our hive mind, it invades our visual and tactile space. Every time you open an app and check on your friends, there it is. And you start to feel like you need to keep up! So you set a goal. You want to lose fat, but you also want to be real with it. You don’t want to be a model, but you DO want to get in shape and feel good about yourself. You want to feel your best and feel like you are making progress toward a healthier body. You want to look back in two years and be proud of your improvements. It’s the big picture you want to see change.

So you search the web for the best ways to approach health.

Eat this. Don’t eat that. Workout this way and not that way. But you’ll probably get hurt if you do it this way. But not that way.

I’ll tell you a secret. If you are reading this, you can get healthier HOWEVER you want.

You want to improve your breathing and swimming competence? Take up underwater basket weaving.

Want to improve your resting heart rate and accountability? Sign up to play soccer on Meetup every Wednesday.

I’ve seen people succeed by walking 30 minutes a day. I’ve seen people succeed by only changing the way they eat. There is nothing wrong with trying a new diet.

One thing remains certain in improving your health – You have to be ready. And only you can tell when you are ready. I’m here to motivate and push you to healthier habits. It’s also a huge part of my job to break it down to make it easier in the long run. If the task is too difficult to maintain, take a step back. Instead of going from 0 to 90 minutes of gym-dedicated time per day, start by walking for 15 minutes and preparing some food for lunch. Do that for two weeks then increase the walking to 25 minutes. Dedicate to the process – not the outcome.

And that perspective is hard to distinguish with all the beautiful, perfect people on your social media feed. The immediacy your feeds create draws you in.

But here is the harsh reality. 

You’re not going to have six pack abs today. Sure it would be cool to have them, but that takes time and dedication. There is a path, there is a process to get there. And if you respect it, you will get there.

With that said, what are you looking to get out of your health journey?

What kind of habits do you want to create? And how can you plan to reduce the amount of drag that your current lifestyle creates?

What pieces of your process are fun, right now? Because that might just be your ticket to a more fruitful future.

And I think most of all, have fun.

Lovies,

Mike

 

Heart Rate Lessons from my Fitbit

If you’re anything like me, you’re an exercise nerd who cares about how their body functions. You worry about things like Resting heart rate, blood pressure, VO2max and even sleep quantity. Each has an impact on the way you move and feel throughout the day.

If you’re nothing like me, Congratulations! You’re pretty normal. I’m going to do my best to convert you.

Last year at some point, I decided to see what Fitbit was all about. I heard all about the different versions, variations and qualities of fitness trackers. Some had GPS and some were glorified phones. But when it came down to it, I wanted something that would track my heart rate  and steps throughout the day. I wanted accountability to fitness, on my wrist as a reminder to focus on my health while also tracking heart rate. Not another toy that would force me to obsess over text messages or shoot lazer beams.

So I spent $99 at Target to get a Fitbit Inspire HR.

It’s bare bones but works great! Long battery life (charge it about once per week). The only gripe I have found is that during a hard workout, the measured heart rate jumps around once my heart bounces up higher than ~150 beats per minute.

Which bring me to the question, why does your tracking your heart rate matter?

Your heart rate says a lot about your health. First, I wanted to look at ‘bookend’ heart rate data, to assess my general health. The lower your resting heart rate, the stronger your heart muscle itself . As you adapt to exercise, our heart muscles gets stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with every beat. In one study, individuals with a resting heart rate lower than 70 beats per minute were half as likely to die from heart related illness than those whose resting heart rates were between 70-85.

Conversely, as you attain a higher level of fitness, your maximum heart rate goes up, relative to others in your age group.  The higher your maximum heart rate, the stronger your heart! 

Outside of the bookend data, there is importance in short term changes in resting heart rate. Variations in daily resting heart rate can be indicative of health issues – whether it is as simple as a lack of sleep or an illness abound – Resting HR can be an indicator of a change in health status. As an exercise guru, it also helps me with exercise prescription. For instance, if I wake up today with a resting heart rate of 55 but my ‘normal’ is 45, something is off. This information gives me a lot of feedback when structuring workouts – my own and my clients. It can tell me whether to push someone hard, or just make it a survive-the-day type of workout. In the end, my goal is to help you get stronger and FEEL better at the end of our workouts together.

As far as workout data goes, heart rate matters in comparing similar intensity/workloads. Let’s say you run two miles for the first time in six months. Your average heart rate during your workout will be relatively high, as your heart hasn’t adapted to the stimulus of your runs. And you probably regret eating all the donuts. After a month or two of training, you go on to run the same two miles at the same pace you initially ran. What you should see, is that your average heart rate will decrease with the same workload(distance).

At this point, this is kind of my bread and butter when tracking my own exercise on Fitbit. The other stuff is cool and I’ll dive deeper into other features another time but I felt this was an important piece to share if you happen to be tracking this kind of stuff on a daily/weekly/monthly basis! There are tons of other features like sleep, steps, community challenges, workouts that all mean something, and I promise I will get into them in the future!

 

 

Goal Setting: Tell a Hell of a Story

There’s a lot unfold in every life.

You walk down the street, on the way to the store. You see someone walking by and you give them a quick smile. They pass by, shooting you finger guns and a head nod. You meander by each other with nothing more than a head nod, a creepy closed mouth smile and some finger guns.

Smirk Sealed Lips GIF - Smirk SealedLips Yep GIFs

A blip on the radar, a second in time. This person walks by and is out of your life, forever. But then you realize, that person has an entire lifetime of memories, ideas, emotions, experience and perspective. A lifetime of stress, a lifetime of family and friends that they deal with on a daily basis. And to you, their entire existence comes down to a singular, passerby moment with a creepy smile.

 

There’s a word for that – sonder. The realization that every person has a story, no matter how small of a part they play in your own.

Which brings me to the meat and potatoes.

What story do you want to tell in life?

When your family dives into WHO you are, where do you want that discussion to go?

That story is told Every. Single. Day. It’s in the way you act. It’s in the people you impact. And that story is more than a blip. They can talk about the fun times, excitement you brought. Or they can say you were a great friend, a great musician, or a crazy fitness nut.

You are 100% in charge of your story.

Here’s a practice.

Write your story down. Write down who you are. Your values, your leisure activities. Stuff you do with family. Stuff you do with friends. Stuff you do for fun and for work. What are you passionate about? And make it as awesome as you can. If you were turning it into a movie, would it be an action movie? Drama? Maybe suspense? For me, I’d be honored to be a featured cartoon. Some days I’m Wylie Coyote, others I’m the Road runner.

What is your story right now?

If you were to draft yourself from a clean slate, what story would you want to tell?

What daily habits can you create to tell that story?

What are you doing currently to contradict the story you want to be told?

And most of all, how do you create a story that YOU would want to read?

50 Best Quotes for Storytelling — The Storyteller Agency

Whoever you are, know that I am proud of you. Your story is important and I hope the actions you take are consistent with the story you want told, today.

 

Goal Setting: Differentiating Failure from Absence

Hey! Sup?

Let’s talk about falling flat on your face.

Take a second and think about a time you when you failed. It sucks to look back. It takes over your brain. It reminds you of your inadequacy and disappointment. There’s a deeper hurt that is only felt because you STILL wish you had accomplished the goal you were so adamant about.

Now pause. There’s a caveat.

That time you failed – it can’t be a time you bailed. It can’t be a time you gave up before it even began.  It can’t be a promise you broke. It can’t be an unused treadmill. It can’t be a promise to run a 50 mile race only to realize a month later, it doesn’t sound fun anymore.  That is being absent.

What is failure? It can be a time you prepared to accomplish something great; you followed through and came up short. It can be a time you saw some progress along the way, followed through on the commitment and still felt the pain of loss. It’s second place after busting your butt to win first. 

The pain from failure or absence comes from your own perception. You are the only one who knows where you lie.

You can feel the pain of failure when you wish you had been just a little more prepared. Just a quicker step left to intercept a pass. Or came up a few strides short in a race.

I can’t impress the importance of differentiating between failure and absence.

Looking back at my time, I think of only a few truly painful experiences representing failure. I don’t really care if I came in first, second, third or last. I know if I followed through, it was a positive experience. Failure sucks, but I am better off having gone through it because I can look back at it and I want to learn from it. 

Being absent hurts. Absence is a lack of even showing up. There is no room to improve because you were never there. You bask in the dread and regret.  There are broken promises. Moments of indifference leading to pain. And if you are anything like me, pain of absence is way worse than the pain of failure. 

How do you fight absence?

You battle absence through action. 

Action defeats absence.

Whatever you are setting out to do, act. Don’t wait for the perfect time – that will never come. Are you trying to lose weight but want to finish off the rest of your food before you start eating healthy? All you’re doing is enabling yourself by keeping it around. Throw it away. 

Discipline yourself with action every day. You don’t need the perfect program, the perfect plan. You just need to show up. Even if it’s taking a walk to the end of the street and back in preparation for a marathon, something is always better than nothing. The hardest part is showing up.

And you DESERVE to give yourself the CHANCE at failure because you know as well as I, the pain of absence hurts that much more.

Park Workout 101

In this time of social distancing, the hard part is finding time and space to break free from our little bubbles. Waking up this morning, I rolled out of bed angst-y, angry and a grump to the Nth degree (just ask Heather).

Bout time to get out, shepherd some strength and HIIT something to calm the nerves.

I’m challenging you to this workout today. Whether it’s at home or at a park, the goal is to break from from what you are used to. Reach outside your comfort zone and develop a bit of freedom despite our tightly packed world.

Goals of the workout: Upper body strength-endurance, core and Sprint conditioning.

Needs: Stretch band to loop around something (basketball pole, door frame anchor, etc) and space (preferably a straight shot)

Set 1: Upper body strength – endurance (2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with minimal rest)

2 arm kneeling overhead band press

2 arm band Rows

Pushups (6-8 reps)

2 arm band curls

2 arm Banded Tricep press

Set 2: Core and Gut strength-endurance (3 sets with minimal rest)

Plank Hold (60 seconds)

Spinderman crunches (20 total)

Leg Raises (20)

Set 3: Finisher (10 sets)

Sprint 10 seconds at 90% intensity

Rest 60 seconds