Friday, December 11, 2009

Dynamic Warm-up

The Importance of a Dynamic Warm-up

I always see the average gym goers walk into the gym and do one of the following: 1) perform some quick arm circles, walk over to the bench press and then start struggling through their sets. Then they stand up and rub their shoulders because they are hurting or 2) Go to the treadmill, walk at an easy pace for 5-10 minutes and then go start their workout. These are not correct ways of warming-up. In fact it is pretty much a waste of 10 minutes. A consistent dynamic warm-up is very important for injury prevention, increasing blood flow throughout the body, increasing joint mobility, increasing muscle flexibility, increasing range of motion, and activating specific muscle structures for the upcoming workout. Without a proper dynamic warm-up, you will get injured. You should never just jump into your first set of working out. You must work on your weaknesses in a dynamic warm-up in order for you to increase performance and fitness. During a dynamic warm-up you should address the following: Glute activation, hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility, knee, scapular and core stability, active flexibility, coordination movement patterns, agility and quick feet drills, heart rate elevation and body weight strength movements.
There are many variations of a dynamic warm-up. If you are consistent and understand why you are doing certain movements, then you are on the right path. It is important to be progressive during this warm-up. Do not start with the most intense exercises. Slowly progress your way from low intensity to higher intensity movements. Remember, technique is number 1. Learn to master each exercise. Be precise and strict with your movements and you will improve your posture, flexibility and move better. Start implementing a dynamic warm-up into your daily workout routine and you will see the huge benefits in your workouts. Go to for an example of a proper dynamic warm-up.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No excuses - Make your workouts short and intense

No excuses! Short High Intensity
Workouts for the Holiday Season

One of the top excuses I get during this time of the year is “I don’t have time to workout.” You have to make time in your schedule to stay active. Learn to plan your day around the time you want to workout. If you have kids then get your workouts in when they are at school or when they are taking a nap. You do not need a lot of time. You just need the right positive mindset. Below are three quick but high intensity workouts for you to do during these busy times. These workouts should be no more than 30 minutes.

Always perform a dynamic warm-up before starting these routines. A proper dynamic warm-up can consist of knee raise pulls, straight leg kicks and lunging variations. You can go to to see an example of a dynamic warm-up.

Workout #1 – perform each exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 10-30 seconds depending on your level; perform 3-6 sets depending on your time
1a) Jumping Jacks
1b) Front Plank
1c) Speed Squats – repetitive bodyweight squats
1d) Push-ups
1e) Jump Squats – focus on landing soft and balanced

Workout #2 – Treadmill Blaster (you can actually use any piece of cardio machine)
5 minute warm-up at easy jog pace
8 x 30 seconds on 30 seconds off gradually increasing to a medium speed
8 x 15 seconds on 45 seconds off gradually building to a fast speed
2 minute cool down walk

Workout #3 – perform this circuit 3-6 times through, depending on your time
10 Push-ups
10 Split Squats per leg
10 Hip Lifts

10 Inverted Rows

20 second front plank
10 Squat Jumps

Monday, November 30, 2009

Random Thoughts - It's been awhile

It has been too long since I have blogged. From writing articles for the newspaper, training myself, training my clients and working on CFAtv ( I have been super busy. The last 4 weeks have flown by and I imagine the next 4 weeks are going to go by even faster. Here are some random thoughts to make us all think a bit:

  1. I always advise people to work on finishing the year on a strong note. Now is the time to start thinking about what you want for the upcoming year. But instead of just thinking about it, take it to the next level and write down your goals and aspirations for the big year ahead. And yes, it will be a big year. A new decade. We are now in the "10's". With those written down goals, let someone look at them and keep them check in with that person every 3 months. It will keep you accountable knowing that someone will be checking in with you to see if you have made progress. Don't be stubborn, it will help.
  2. This debate about stretching has been going on for quite sometime now. Literally 5 years ago, I never really took time to stretch. I thought a few dynamic flexibility drills did the trick but I was wrong. Flexibility is so important for long term health. Whether you are a professional athlete or an 80 year old man, you need to stretch. Before, during, after your workouts, it doesn't really mater, just get it in. In a perfect world it is best to foam roll, static stretch and then warm-up, but sometimes we don't get to do it that way. Take some time out of your day to strecth, you will see a big difference in the way you move and perform.
  3. When was the last time you helped someone without getting paid or getting a reward for it. Character defines what you do when no one is looking. As a community we must be good people at all times. Go out and lend a hand and you will feel great.
  4. Ok now that Thanksgiving is done, we must get back to great eating habits. Focus the next 3 weeks on eating super healthy. Enjoy the Holidays but in moderation. It is crucial to get your workouts in and eat the right foods on a consistent basis. Stay on track to accomplish your fitness goals. Do not wait till the New Year, DO IT NOW!
  5. Successful people get up before 6:00 am. Start going to bed a little earlier and wake up early. Nothing too positive happens between 9:00pm-5:00 am anyways. Use that time to rest the body and get adequate sleep. Sleep might be the most important thing for good health. Sign up for an early morning workout to start the day on a positive note. You will see the difference.

Ok have a great week and do not except being average. Make it a great day!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Kahuna "Duathlon"??

I was ready for my usual 4:15 am wake-up. In fact the last 3 hours of sleep consisted of waking up every 20 minutes looking at the clock, making sure I didn't oversleep. I woke up and was ready for the long day ahead. I did a little foam roll and stretch before I headed to the transition area. My body felt good. I walked over to the transition area (hotel was 1/4 mile away). I found a good spot on the bike racks and I set up my gear. Then I waited and watched all the athletes come and go. The anxiety wasn't too bad but I did have some nerves. I took off on a easy spin on my bike. This helped calm the nerves and got my body temp going. By the way, it was an usual clear morning. The stars were so bright. Could there be no fog this morning?? I got back to transition area from my warm-up on my bike and started putting on my wetsuit, then we all started our way to the ocean.

As we got to the ocean it was still dark. But as you looked to the east, there were clouds traveling in our direction. I spoke too soon. After a quick warm-up in the 53 degree water, I was ready. The first wave was supposed to be at 7:00 am. The fog quickly drove in and blanketed the beach. There was probably no more than 1/2 mile of visibility. So the start time was now postponed. We stood around talking to our friends and family. I got cold. So I took off on a couple easy running laps on the beach so I could keep the blood pumping. IT was now 8:00 am. The announcement came from the race director, "We have cancelled the swim." There were mixed emotions from the athletes but I just took the news and went with it.

So now to the unusual start of a race. We lined up in our waves at where we would have exited the water. The start would be a 1/4 mile run up to the transition area (the same run we would have done after the swim). I was pretty excited for this because running 400's is what I do best. I figured this is the one time I could lead the race! haha So the gun sounded and I took off , got into my zone and lead the entire 1/4 mile run up to the bikes. I was the first athlete in my age group on the bike course. Well my lead didn't last long. Two miles into the bike 3 athletes in my age division zoomed by me like I was biking in place. I kind of laughed and kept going. Now it was time to bike 56 miles.

The bike was fun. With the ocean in our site the entire time, the scenery could not be beat. I stayed in my zone the entire time. I was pushing but didn't let my legs burn out. At about mile 15, I had to get off my bike and fix my chain. For some reason it got stuck and I could not pedal its way out. No big deal though. I was really working on my mental game for this event. Just have a good time, stay in a zone and trust my training. Soon before you knew it I was at the 1/2 way point. I grabbed some Heed drink from a volunteer so I could refill my aero bottle and was set to finish the 2nd half. As I neared the end of the bike, I dropped my gear and started to spin out my legs. My body was feeling good. My legs were feeling tired, but good. I was ready to run. It was motivating to see my friends and family cheering me on.

In transition, I decided to take the time to reach in to my backpack and grab my cliff bar. I am so glad I did this. I needed the calories. I headed out on the run and felt good about the next 13 miles. I knew if I stayed steady, I could run in 1 hour 50 minutes or under. So I kept my pace, I stayed fueled and let all that training pay off. The run was fun. I would talk to other athletes and thank the volunteers. It took away from the pain. Speaking of pain, my feet felt like pins aand needles were sticking in them. IT felt like nerve pain on the balls of my feet. I worked through it. Soon before you knew it I was at mike 6 and then the halfway point. I was happy when I got there. I told myself to "zone out" for the next 3 miles and I did. I was quickly at mile 10 and was still feeling good, tired but good. Over the entire run, I had 5 gels, 1 bottle of gatorade/water, 5 cups of water and 3 cups of Heed. My nutrition paid off. I turned the corner and headed to the finish. The infamous run in the sand to the finish line. This year it wasn't that bad. I was ready for it and killed it. I was pretty emotional and happy when I crossed the finish line. I knew I had a good day.

2007 numbers
Bike: 3 hours
Run: 2 hours 18 minutes

2009 numbers
Bike: 2 hours 45 minutes
Run: 1 hour 50 minutes

Thank you to my wife Stephanie for putting up with all my training and being my #1 fan. Thank you to my parents, my sister Elizabeth and her daughters Julianna and Adi. Thank you to Ira, Gardner, Connor and Brian for making the trip to support and watch the race! It was awesome for them to come and cheer me on. What's next? Who knows. Rest right now and then I will figure it out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Fitness Business Journey

What It Takes – A Fitness Business Journey
BY: Justin Levine,

When I first decided that I wanted to have a gym of my own, I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t a business man. I was a great trainer. I had the connections, I had the clientele and I had the support. So I jumped on the tight rope. Unfortunately in business, there is no net below. Stepping into the fire, I quickly got familiar with the business ins and outs. Operating expenses, payroll, training employees, QuickBooks, profit margins, receivables, cash flow, marketing, working really long hours, etc.. The list can go on and on. Getting clients into shape was the easy part. The business side was the hard part. The one piece of advice that I was given from another business owner I knew was, “Just make more money than you spend.” Pretty simple concept right? Yes, there is some truth to that comment but it just isn’t that simple. In 3 years of being open, my business knowledge has expanded so much but I still have a long way to go.

Here is my story:

How it began
The first thing you need to do if you want to open a fitness facility is get really good at training. Don’t think you are ready if you have only been training clients for a couple of years. You need at least 5 years of training 30-40 hours a week. There is nothing better than being in the trenches. If you just know the business side of things but have no knowledge of the training, it will be very hard for you to make it. You have to have a passion for helping people change their lives! A fitness business will fail if you are not producing results. I first started training my friends in college. I would invite them to the gym to workout with me and I would devise “old school bodybuilding” routines for us to complete. I loved it! I went on to get my degree in Human Performance and Sport. When that was completed I was given an opportunity to work at Notre Dame University as a fitness facility intern. This is where I learned how to manage a fitness facility. I worked long hours and got paid very little. One of my job duties was to run students and staff through equipment orientations. I would teach them how to use the various machines around the gym. I took this job a bit further. I would sit down with them and discuss their goals and their current lifestyle habits. I then started designing individualized programs for these individuals. All of a sudden these people were getting results. Wow, it worked! Soon before you knew it, I had walk-on athletes coming to me and wanting to train with me. I began designing sport specific programs for these top level athletes. It was all done for free but I didn’t care because I loved doing it. Fitness became my life and my passion. I moved back to California (my home state) and lived in Los Angeles for 8 months. I worked at a mainstream-big box facility where I trained between 35-45 hours a week (training 35-45 hours a week is very demanding). And no it didn’t start that way. It took about 4 weeks, unpaid, of hanging out in the gym to start building my reputation. With a college degree and right out of an internship from Notre Dame, I was getting paid $9.00 a session. I would get to the gym at 5:30 am, then would take a short lunch break and then back at 3:00 and was there till 7:00 pm. Those were long days. I left that gym to come back to my hometown of Visalia. I quickly got a job at a private fitness facility. It was more my style. The atmosphere was family oriented and I had already known quite a few people there. I started with 1 client. That is right….1 CLIENT! This 13 year old kid was my prized client. I trained him like he was a professional athlete. Next thing you knew I had 2 clients, 4 clients, then a full schedule. It took about 2 months for me to build my reputation and schedule. It did not happen overnight.

Taking the Leap
I had reinvented the personal training department at this facility. Soon before you knew it my schedule was so packed that I had to give clients to other trainers. But again, it did not just happen. I was working my ass off. I remember some nights around 7:00 pm; I would be on my 12th session of the day, leaning on a piece of equipment because I was so tired. Once I had worked at this private fitness facility for 3 years, it was time to make a change. I needed more of a challenge. I was training nothing but 1 on 1 sessions, working 9-12 hour days/6 days a week and my pay had pretty much topped off. It was grueling, draining and financially tough. I had built a very solid relationship with a father of two kids I had been training for 2 years. He told me that I had “changed his kids’ lives”. He wanted to help me out. He told me that whenever I was ready to start my own gym to let him know and he would be my private investor. I was in awe. I could not believe someone would do this for me. I thought it over for sometime and continued to train. I waited about another 6 months and then decided to take him up on his offer. Again, I made a connection with another client who happened to know a commercial real estate agent. This agent had a facility he wanted me to check out. It was the one! By the way this real estate agent is now a client of mine. Another lesson to be learned, Make Connections!
I didn’t do anything right at the start. I created an unorganized budget, I had no clue about start-up costs and I did not have a business plan. Again, I knew how to train, I knew how to work with people, and I had a passion towards fitness. About 1 year into it, I finally took the time to create these things, which has helped the business tremendously. I believe in what Brian Tracy says, “Just get it done 80% and then go back and tweak. But just start!” I had about 10 clients to start out with. Before you knew it I was hiring 2 trainers to work for me because those 10 clients doubled to 20. Next thing you know a junior college softball team was training at our facility. Now we have over 70 clients and athletes and 4 trainers that are apart of California Fitness Academy.

Now that I am in the Fire
Read! Learn! Train! Read! Learn! Train! Apply! I spend most of my time training clients. That is what I love doing but when I am not doing that I am reading and learning. I have figured out that the older I get, the less I know and the more I have to learn. There is so much knowledge out there. And the crazy part is that this information is very accessible. Whether it is in a book, a video, a website or a blog, the education is out there. Here is what I am constantly reading and following on a daily basis:,, Thomas Plummer, Todd Durkin, Core Performance and Brian Tracy.
Owning your own business is a double edged sword. You can make your own hours but end up working all day anyways. You are your own boss but for me I am tougher on myself than any other person can be. You do not really get a set paycheck which is good and bad. Financially you can have a really good month and follow it up with a really bad month. You take responsibility for when everything is going great but you also take responsibility when something is not going right. I have so much to learn and have so much room for growth. Have I made it yet? Not to where I want to be. It is just a matter of time. This shit does not just happen overnight. I learn from the big dogs in the industry (Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mark Verstegen, and Todd Durkin). These are the guys that keep me inspired and motivated to get better. I see what they have built and I want that. Would I do it again if I could? Hell Yes! To me, life would be boring without challenges.

Here is a little bit of advice for someone trying to start their own fitness business: work your ass off, do not settle for average, read everything and expect to be at your gym more than home. But GO FOR IT! If you have the determination and the want to make it happen, you will!

5 Things I would have changed if I could do it all over:
1. I should have looked for a more cost efficient building. The building I am in now is nice but too expensive. I am already trying to sub-lease it out so I can move to a more cost and space efficient building. I needed to be more patient with this process.
2. I would not get the real turf with the little black rubber pellets. This stuff is messy and annoying. My clients always complain about how it ends up everywhere at their homes. I even get some clients who accidentally swallow one or it slips into their ears. Not good! My next flooring will just be normal turf.
3. I paid too much for start-up equipment. I should of just started with necessities (dumbbells, med. Balls, bikes). I love the Keisers and power racks but I probably did not need those to start with.
4. Read more business related material. Especially Thomas Plummer, Pat Rigsby, and Ryan Lee. I should have started this right off the bat. Education is the path to a better business.
5. Meet with a business coach. Or even just a mentor who is willing to guide you along. A business coach will keep you accountable and on your toes. To me this is mandatory.

Here is a timeline of how it all happened for me:

May 2002: Graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a degree in Human Performance and Sport

August 2002 – June 2003: Internship at Notre Dame University

June 2003 – January 2004: Los Angeles – trained at big box facility

January 2004 – April 2006: Trained at private fitness facility

January 2006: Made the decision to start looking for a possible building (I was still an independent trainer at private facility)

April 2006: Found a building; went through all the city permits and signed the lease.

June 2006: Started construction and started moving in within 3 weeks.

July 2006: Laid the flooring (turf) and began training athletes without any equipment.

Middle July 2006: Received equipment and officially opened doors August 2006.

For more information, please visit or you can email Justin
anytime at

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fitness/Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid

Fitness and Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid

The fitness industry is full of myths, misinformed information and gimmicky programs that people buy into on a daily basis. From P90X to the NutriSystem diet, these gimmicky programs get people to buy into a short term approach to fitness. These systems are great if you stick to them but just like any fad, most individuals fall into the trap of yo-yoing their way through these different programs. Fitness NEEDS TO BECOME PART OF YOUR LIFE! This is not a short term project that you just do for a few weeks or months. It needs to become who you are as a person if you truly want to feel good, stay away from deadly diseases, and take advantage of everything around you.

Here are a few fitness and nutrition mistakes people are making on a daily basis:

1. Fad Diets. Ok, diets might work in the short term but who wants to count points or eat boxed foods the rest of their life? No one! You need to change the way you eat. Learn to make healthy choices when you go out to eat, learn how to grocery shop and learn how to cook healthy. I like this quote when it comes to nutrition: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” So if you do not have your refrigerator and cupboards stocked with good, healthy and fresh foods, you will not make healthy decisions. If you do not prepare your snacks and lunch before you head out for your day you are more likely to make a bad choice throughout the day. So learn to make the change and be healthy all the time. A diet might jumpstart your fitness regimen but slowly get off of it and live the healthy way.

2. Crunches are good for your abdominals. “Repetitive flexion, extension, and rotation of the lower spine puts tremendous pressure and force on the low back skeletal area,” says Dr. Stuart McGill, a low back specialist from the University of Waterloo in Canada. If you continue to bust out hundreds of crunches a day, do not be surprised if one day you blow out a low back disc. The “core” region of your body integrates from your thighs to your rib cage and everything in between. You should not perform exercises that isolate just your abdominals. You need to build a strong core structure by firing your entire torso region together. Side planks, front planks and bridging are all great exercises that produce stability throughout the torso.

3. Long slow distance training for fat loss. You see this at every gym you walk into. People on the treadmill, bike or elliptical going at a slow to moderate pace for 45-70 minutes thinking they need to be in a “fat burning” zone so they can lose weight. Well this is not the answer for fat loss. You might lose some weight at first and see some results but you will plateau fast. Now if your goal is to complete an endurance event (triathlon, cycling or marathon) then yes, you need this type of training and that is a whole article in itself. But keep that as your goal, not weight loss. Interval training is the way to go if you want to see rapid fat loss. An interval is when you work for a specific amount of time and that work is followed by a short rest. You can use any piece of cardio equipment for this protocol. Try performing 20 intervals where you work for 20 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds (make sure to warm-up properly before starting this workout). You need to push yourself during these types of workouts. The intensity needs to be high but know the intensity and level you need to be at.

4. Buying into fitness infer commercials. Again, like diets, these programs are not a long term approach. How can you miraculous change your body in 90 days? I hate to break it to you, but it just doesn’t work like that. Unless you plan on working out 2 hours a day and eat perfect, it doesn’t happen that fast. “If a program seems too gimmicky to be true, then it probably will not be the answer,” says Mike Boyle, internationally known strength coach. It seems that every time I turn on the T.V. there is some type of gimmicky product being advertised. The “bender ball”, “slendertone”, “hip hop abs”, or P90X. These programs might get you motivated and get you active but they will never last more than 6 months. Plus, they might even be bad on your body. Put exercise into your schedule. Make it a lifestyle habit and watch your life soar.

If you want a fit and healthy lifestyle it needs to be just that, a lifestyle. Ingrain these principles that were discussed into your daily schedule and you will see the benefits. Fitness is for everyone! So go out and make it happen and get active!

For more information, contact Justin at

Friday, August 7, 2009

A great read!

I read this article by Todd Durkin and it instantly hit the spot! Talk about firing you up. Whether you are in the fitness industry or any industry for that matter, you can take these things and use them to GET BETTER! Isn't that your goal everyday? I know it is for me. Not just a few days a week, EVERYDAY! Enjoy this great read from Todd Durkin....

Do Your Job…Better! 10 Ways to Add LIFE to Your Client &
Your Career By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

Nothing bothers me more than poor body language during a training session. Drinking or eating during a session, sitting down while someone is doing floor work, crossing your arms when a client is grunting through his/her last few reps of a grueling workout, or just not having the positive energy to deliver an experience that is memorable. These things make me sick to my stomach. The more trainers that I speak with around the country and the more business managers and owners I speak with, the more I realize we have a problem in this field with some trainers that just don’t “bring it” every day. Here is the deal: If you aren’t bringing it every day, do yourself a favor, do your clients a favor, and do your business a favor, try a different business. Right now, our country faces one of the greatest challenges we’ve seen in a long-time. We’re experiencing a depressed economy, foreclosures, bankruptcies, lay-offs, and a ton of trickle-down stress that can negatively affect relationships, mental health, and physical health. There is so much negativity out there that it can be downright depressing. Do not let this be you and do not let it affect you! We need to step up our game and YOU be the one that is a “game changer.” In the name of this industry, we all need to feed off each other and be a beacon of light that infiltrates energy, positive attitudes, and a “Can Do” belief that anything is possible to our clients and our teammates. Walt Disney says, “Everything speaks.” What you wear, what you say, your body language, your energy, your session, the music, the cleanliness, the colors, the smell, the service, and the experience that you deliver all tell a story. What is your story‌ What area(s) can you improve on to keep bringing IT every day‌ My friends, training is not just a job—it’s a calling. If training is just a job that you show up for and count your hours and your pay-check, you are definitely in the wrong field. As passionate, motivated trainers that are looking to get to the next level, here is what we need to do our job…and do it BETTER: · Work harder. Sorry, there are no short-cuts to success. If you want to be a great trainer, it’s probably going to be harder than you think. Attending conferences, constantly reading, always learning, and doing things way beyond the hours you are being paid are all the price you pay to be a standout. · Be enthusiastic. John Wooden says that if you want to be successful, you must be “hard-working and enthusiastic.” This starts with a friendly greeting when the client walks in the door, keeping your energy up during the day, being engaged with your clients at all times, being an attentive listener, making your clients smile, and simply being excited about even just small accomplishments your clients achieve. · Deliver great customer service skills. Trainers, we need to step it up here. You can be a great trainer, but if you are not sound with your customer service, you will be stuck in constant mediocrity. Calling people by their names, answering the phone by the 3rd ring, stopping and sincerely thanking your clients, writing them notes, or sending them occasional gifts or tokens of appreciation goes such a long way. I was recently at a Thomas Plummer event and he said something fantastic: “Welcome to my house, these are my guests, I expect you to treat them with respect and to dress for them professionally.” He went on to say, “If you don’t abide by this, you should be fired. While employees may be replaceable, guests are NOT!” · Thank your clients. I will say it again. Be sure to thank your clients and let them know you appreciate their business. Your clients are very savvy how and where they spend their money and they choose to spend it with you. What are you doing to keep them from going somewhere else‌ · Dress to impress. Do you dress professionally‌ Are your shoes clean‌ Are you nicely groomed‌ Do you look like the true professional that you really are‌ · Body Language that speaks. Are you in the game‌ Do you lean in when speaking‌ Do you lean in when listening‌ Are your eyes ALWAYS on your clients‌ There is NOTHING more important than your client when you are with them. Show it!!!!!!!! · Do something…for someone else. Try being a “servant” everyday. Be a servant to your clients, to your employees, and to your employers. When you come to the game with an attitude to give and to serve, it pays big dividends. · Embrace criticism. That’s right. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Ask your clients what you can do to better assist them; ask your boss how you can do a better job as an employee; ask your employees what you can do to be a better boss. Either way, embrace the feedback and be open and willing to improve based on what you hear. · Bring the ENERGY. This is what it’s all about. Everything you do creates an energy. People come to you or your business for the energy you provide. I liken it to a light-house. If your “light” shines bright, many ships will sail towards you. If you are dark, quiet, and “a-drift”, no one will ever find you. Light it up and shine bright! · If you want more money…work harder. Why is it that people feel “entitled” today‌ Whether it be clients, employers, or employees, people often feel “entitled” to more money, more success, more this or more that. I don’t get it. Nothing replaces hard-work, going above and beyond, and creating your own success. It’s the extra work, the extra effort, and the “And Then Some” attitude that will ultimately lead you to greater compensation opportunities. But the bottom line is that you must work for it. The attitude should not be “I expect more money and then I will work harder.” It should be, “I will work harder and then I can expect more opportunities to earn money.” · Create the experience. I love this statement for training businesses, “We are the best part of your day every day!” If you do the little things it takes to be successful and really focus on creating a great experience, success will be created. I can promise you this, if you can do these aforementioned items (10 items + 1 extra!), you WILL create more success as a trainer. This will result in better results for your clients, your business will improve, and the overall experience for your clients will improve. At Fitness Quest 10, I always say to our staff that we need to be an “island in a sea of depression.” What I mean by this is that I want our clients to know that they can always come to us for a consistent experience that delivers a positive energy, a great session, and a home away from home. I want our business to be the “best part of your day every day.” What is it that you want‌ If you continue to focus on getting 1% better every day in all that you do, pretty soon, you will be not only a darned good trainer, you will be a great business and you will create profound results and experiences.

Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is a personal trainer & massage therapist who motivates, educates, and inspires people world-wide. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, where his wonderful team focuses on personal training, massage therapy, Pilates, yoga, and nutrition to help transform people’s bodies, minds, and spirits. Todd trains dozens of NFL & MLB baseball athletes and provides motivational talks and programs to companies and conferences world-wide. Additionally, Todd is the Head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council. He has appeared in 60 Minutes and been featured in Sports Illustrated, Business Week, Prevention, ESPN the Magazine, Self, Shape, and the NY Times and Washington Post. You can sign up for his FREE award-winning Ezine newsletter, the “TD TIMES”, at or

Monday, July 27, 2009


First watch this video of MMA athlete, BJ Penn "doing abs".....

I can not believe a top notch athlete like BJ Penn does not hire a trainer that knows about correct training. This exercise shown is RIDICULOUS! Do not every perform this movement (unless you want serious back pain).

It brings up some great points so we can at least learn from something so erratic like this....

  1. If you want to work your "abs" learn exercises to keep your lower spine stable and stiff (planks and side planks are great!). If you want to see your abs, change your diet (eat lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins at every meal, good quality fats and drink water all day). If you want more power in your core, buy a medicine ball and perform slams. Remember the "core" of your body is from your thighs all the way up to your rib cage and everything in between. Crunches are a waist of time (NO pun intended). Excessive rotation movements like the one in the video is a remedy for low back pain. Be smart and efficient with your training.
  2. BJ Penn is a great MMA fighter. He is good at what he does because he was born with a top notch skill. BJ Penn can do pilates and yoga all day and he will still be a great fighter. Imagine what he could do if he had a good program design. Look at George St. Pierre. This guy is a specimen. He was born with a talent and trains the correct way (trainer is Jon Chaimberg). He is the most explosive MMA fighter, pound for pound. Same thing with a Terrel Owens or a Reggie Bush. They are who they are because they were born with unbelievable athletic skills. They could be on any training program and still be great at their sport. Do not expect to look like Terrel Owens by just pushing some bands around (this is what he is shown doing when training). Most "regular" people need a structured program design to get in great athletic conditioned. Being random with your workouts is not the recipe for results. You need proper progression and structure so you can continue your improvement. Here is what we do at CFA:
  • Foam Roll/Soft Tissue Work - 8 minutes
  • Active Stretch/Activation/Dynamic warm-up - 12 minutes
  • Power/core/shoulder pre-hab - 10 minutes
  • Strength Tri-Sets or quad sets - 15 minutes
  • Interval Conditioning - 10 minutes
  • Cool down stretch - 5 minutes

Total: 60 minutes

3. Lastly, do not go to youtube to learn how to train. Yes, I have videos on youtube that can teach you some proper ways to train. But there are so many other training videos on their that are B.S.. If you want to learn how to train the right way, check out these websites:,, (yes that is mine), (Dewey Nielsen's blog), and

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CFA Newsletter

California Fitness Academy’s
Email Newsletter

Do you really want results? Do you really want to get in the best shape of your life? Do you really want to reach your peak performance? Do you want more energy? Do you want to be healthy and full of vitality? If you answered yes to these questions, then what are you willing to do to reach your goals? It is easy to make big statements and confess what you want. But the big question is, “what are you willing to sacrifice and do to accomplish your goals?” It is not easy to get to the next level. It takes discipline, a strong work ethic, determination, passion, and drive. You have to be disciplined to eat the correct foods and get your workouts in. You have to be willing to work hard so you can get to the next level. You must be determined so you can continue striving forward. You need a passion and a love to better yourself and always self improve. And you must have a consistent drive to move forward in a positive manner. Learn from your mistakes. When you cross a speed bump, what will you do to get over that hump? Life is what you make it. You can either lie down and be average or you can continually strive to be your best. Success will not just knock on your door. You will need to go out and make it happen and work your butt off. Write your goals down on paper and then show them to somebody so you can be held accountable. It is your choice to make it a great day!

Workout of the Day:

Dynamic Warm-up
-Birdog x 8/side
-Leg swings x 8/leg
-Deep Squat/Hamstring stretch x 4
-Lunge/Elbow to instep x 4/side
-Knee raise pulls x 5/side
-Straight leg kicks x 10/leg
-2 x 10 jumping jacks
-2 x lateral shuffles x 10 yards
-2 x tempo runs x 10 yards

Strength Work
1A: Split Squat x 8/leg
1B: Perfect Push-up x technical failure
1C: Front Plank Hold x 20 seconds
*Complete these exercises one after the other, rest 60 seconds after each set and repeat 3 times

2A: Stability ball leg curls x 8
2B: Inverted Rows x technical failure
2C: Side Plank holds x 20 seconds/side
*Complete these exercises one after the other, rest 60 seconds after each set and repeat 3 times

Interval Conditioning
10 sets of 20 seconds hard/40 seconds easy
*pick a pace that you are physically capable of performing (fast walk, jog, or sprint)

Sample Meal Day for Fat Loss

Meal One
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg3 slices of turkey breast meat½ red bell pepper and handful of mushrooms

Meal Two
Protein Shake (make this a low carb shake)
1 piece of fruit

Meal Three
4-8oz lean protein (e.g. chicken, turkey )1 large green salad with 1-2 servings green vegetables

Meal Four
½ cup of cottage cheese
1 piece of fruit

Meal Five
4-8oz protein (e.g. lean red meat, fish, or chicken)2 servings vegetables

Meal Six
Protein shake ( make this a low carb shake)

*Healthy eating is how you will reach ultimate fitness goals
*You must eat clean in order to change physically
*Alcohol must be limited if you want to change your body composition
*You need good lean protein sources at every meal
*A multivitamin, vitamin C and fish oil should be taken daily to enhance your nutrient intake

California Fitness Academy specializes in:

· Private Group Training
· Fat Loss Conditioning
· Sports Specific Training
· Healthy Nutrition Education

If you need some guidance in starting a fitness program or need a push to get out of your plateau, come try one of our fitness classes for free. You will be on your way to getting in the BEST SHAPE OF YOUR LIFE!!

“If you think you can or think you can’t… are going to be right.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fitness for the "Masters Athlete"

Yesterday I spoke to the Visalia Rotary club. My topic was fitness for the masters athlete. Here is an outline of what I discussed:

Daily Training Concepts:
-Joint Mobility/Muscle Flexibility/Posture - #1
-Core Stability (NO CRUNCHES!)
-Power and explosiveness
-Functional strength training
-Specific Conditioning
-Soft Tissue/recovery techniques
-Nutritional Strategies

Mobility/Flexibility/Posture - VERY IMPORTANT

-Re-establish proper range of motion
-Daily corrective exercises that will enhance mobility, flexibility and posture
-“One day of mobility work for every decade you have been alive” Mike Robertson, Robertson Training Systems
-This portion can take as little as 10 minutes a day; put in the time to feel better!

Core Stability/Strength
-“Build stability and stiffness in the lower spine; stay away from flexion, extension, and rotation at the lower spine”
Dr. Stuart McGill, Low Back Specialist
-Assist in creating good postural habits
-“But I have back pain…”
Your back is strong, your hips are weak, causing compensation which leads to back pain

Power Training
-“Masters athletes lose power at roughly twice the rate as they lose strength”
Mike Boyle, S & C coach at Boston University
-Muscle power decreases by 3.5%/year after 35 if we do nothing about it
-Types of power training include: med. balls, controlled jumping, sprint work, etc.

Functional Strength Training
-There is a 10% decline in muscle mass between 25-50; 45% decline by age 80 (7 lbs. of muscle/decade)
-Your strength will go fast if you do nothing about it; must continue to work on strength to maintain and even increase

-No Long Slow Distance “cardio” training (unless your goal is to complete an endurance event)
-Perform Specific Intervals (bodyweight circuits, run sprints, bike sprints, tempo running)
-Know the volume and intensity you need to be at (individualized for each person)
-Be efficient and work hard

Recovery Techniques

-As you “progress” through life, it takes your body longer to recover; no longer in your 20’s anymore; be smart with your training
-Are you eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water?
-Are you getting enough sleep?
-Limit your alcohol intake. Especially on workout nights.
-Do you train everyday? If yes, make sure you are not overdoing it.
-Are you working on mobility/flexibility consistently?
-Overtraining leads to injury and lack of motivation and “My body hurts”
-Buy a foam roll and use it daily; it will become your best friend

Putting it all Together
-Fitness is mandatory; It will increase your longevity, your vitality and your energy
-Mobility/Flexibility is #1 priority – “Let’s start waking up feeling great…not in pain.”
-Make it a lifestyle….healthy living is a life long journey one day at a time
-Eat healthy 85% of the time

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strength and conditioning and Nutrition mistakes

5 Nutritional and Strength and Conditioning
Mistakes to Avoid in the Sport of Triathlon

By Justin Levine, Owner, Head Fitness Coach at
California Fitness Academy,

The sport of triathlon is a very specific event that is growing as we speak. Many individuals are embarking on the lifestyle of constant training, continuingly watching what goes into their bodies, and always finding that slight edge over the competition. Below are five mistakes that triathletes are consistently making on a daily basis. Work on correcting these mistakes and watch your performance soar.

1. Not lifting any weights. This is probably the most common mistake among triathletes. Most triathletes think lifting weights will get them bulky and inflexible. But in all actuality lifting weights the correct way will enhance your performance, reduce injury, and correct imbalances. The sport of triathlon is very demanding on the body. Overuse injuries occur because most individuals are not functionally strong. They can swim, bike and run all day long but have them do a push-up and it will be extremely tough. You need to be a strong athlete, all around. When you think of lifting weights to enhance your performance, do not think of excessive weight lifting; instead, think of hip mobility drills, shoulder stabilizing exercises, single leg squats, chin-ups, push-ups, single leg dead lifts, and core stabilization work (plank/side plank are the most common exercises to increase stabilization of the trunk). What you do in the gym will assist you out in the water or on the road. So put together a plan and execute. Talk with an educated strength coach with experience in endurance sports strength and conditioning and he/she will guide you in the right direction.

2. Not eating enough protein. Again, this is another regular mistake among triathletes. The common triathlete definitely eats plenty of carbohydrates: Pastas, fruits, breads, vegetables, and rice are your main source of energy throughout the week. It is vital to stay at full tank with your carbohydrates but it is also very crucial to eat plenty of protein. Protein will help you increase lean muscle mass, burn unwanted body fat, and recover faster and more efficient after long training sessions. When you have more lean mass and less body fat, you race faster. I have clients who suffer in their workouts and do not recover properly because they are eating a low amount of protein. A general guideline for triathletes for protein intake is eating at least ½ - ¾ of a gram per pound of body weight. So a 150 pound female should eat 75-112 grams of protein a day. The more training someone is doing, the more protein should be consumed throughout the day. Figure out your nutrient needs and you will increase your performance.

3. Overtraining. Most triathletes are “A” type personalities and want to do everything it takes to increase their performance. A huge limiter to getting better at the sport of triathlon is overtraining. Too many athletes spend way too much time spinning their tires and never moving forward. They dig themselves into a hole that is very hard to get out of. They are constantly training hard. But the question is, “are they training efficient?” I learned that training smart and not “hard” is definitely the way to go. You must be able to read your body and know if you have symptoms of overtraining. Interrupted or inconsistent sleep, nagging injuries, lack of performance, daily fatigue, decrease in appetite, lack of motivation to train, and persistent muscle soreness are just some symptoms of overtraining. Remember, training should be fun, positive, and keep you healthy. And unless you are a professional, this is not your profession, so you need to know when you body is not feeling 100%. When you get to that point take some time to rest and recover, which brings me to my next point.

4. Rest/Recovery/Regenerate. This is also a limiter to increasing your performance. You have to remember that no matter how many training hours you put in, if you get hurt, you can’t train. When you can’t train, you can not get better. So resting and recovering is an important aspect of the sport that needs attention. You must schedule rest days during the week. The body is not meant to train 24 hours, 7 days a week. You need time to get off your feet, rest your mind, and rest your body. If you do not schedule rest and recovery time, you will quickly burn out and will lose the motivation to train and ultimately get hurt. Regeneration is also significant. Foam rolling and massage, consistent stretching, active release techniques, and ice baths are just a few recovery techniques you must implement into your training regimen on a daily basis. The body can be a fined tuned machine but if it breaks down you will not be able to get to the level you set out for. So pay attention and listen to your body.

5. Forgetting post-workout nutrition. I have many clients that workout extremely hard. Then I ask them what their nutrition plan is after the workout is over and they give me a blank stare. Most people will wait or forget to eat after a workout is completed. You are defeating the whole purpose of working out if you do not have a post-workout meal planned. When you workout, you break down muscle tissue and deplete muscle glycogen. In order to recover properly, and start preparing yourself for your next workout, you absolutely need a post-workout recovery meal. You have a 30 minute window after a workout is over to replenish what your body depleted during the workout. Some good, quick choices to choose from are: a glass of low fat chocolate milk, a whey (fast acting) protein shake, a piece of fruit with a glass of milk, or a protein bar that is a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Once you get in your post-workout meal within 30 minutes, then you can have a more substantial meal, like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, a lean chicken breast with some brown rice and vegetables, or some yogurt with some fruit. You will see the difference in your training, your performance, and your overall vitality by being consistent with your post-workout nutrition plan.

The sport of triathlon is a great way to stay healthy, fit and energized in your daily life. If you continue to train hard, remember to train smart. Work on your limiters and weaknesses and strive to get better. Be patient, be consistent, and stay motivated and you will be on your way to success.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Protein – The Miracle Nutrient
By Justin Levine

I have been noticing in most individuals that they are lacking protein in their diet. They are eating plenty of carbohydrates, getting their good sources of fat, but are really limiting the amount of protein in their nutrition plan. Protein is a nutrient that our body needs for building lean muscle, increasing metabolic function, stabilizing blood sugar levels, efficient fat burning, and strengthening bones and muscles. Without it, your results will be stagnate and inconsistent.
Types of protein can be from a natural food source such as egg whites, lean deli turkey, chicken breast, and fish or it can come from a supplement source like a whey or soy protein. Almost anyone I talk to will not get the sufficient amount of protein their body needs to sustain the amount of lean muscle they have, let alone try to build lean muscle mass. When this happens, your body will go into a catabolic state and will breakdown its own muscle tissue as part of trying to build what you lose everyday. This will counteract what you are trying to do in the gym, which is build lean muscle mass and speed up metabolism. If you are constantly sacrificing your muscle tissue, your body will never get into a consistent function of trying to build lean muscle and burn unwanted body fat. You will continually dig yourself into a hole that will be hard to get out of.
Whether you are trying to gain weight or lose weight, you need to increase your lean muscle mass. By doing so, you need more protein in your diet. If you are trying to gain weight, you need between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, a 200 pound male needs between 200-300 grams of protein depending on his goals. If you are trying to lose weight, you need between ¾ - 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 150 pound woman needs between 112-150 grams of protein depending on her goals. It sounds like a lot of protein, I know, but if you are constantly thinking about getting in your protein sources, it will add up quickly. Below are some examples of getting in at least 100 grams of protein a day:

3 egg whites: 12 grams
5 slices of lean turkey meat: 35 grams
1 whey protein shake (8 oz. milk): 28 grams
6 oz. lean chicken breast: 30 grams
Total: 105 grams of protein

1 whey protein shake (8oz. milk): 28 grams
2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter: 7 grams
3 oz. salmon: 25 grams
1 cliff bar: 10 grams
6 oz. lean chicken breast: 30 grams
Total: 100 grams of protein

Moral of this story is to eat MORE PROTEIN! Wake up and eat protein, go to bed and eat protein. You will see the benefits and your results will soar! Good luck!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Five things I have learned in the past year

Well I am 1 month away from owning a gym for three years. WOW! Time flies so fast. It is incredible the things you can learn in such a little time. I will make it one of my goals to continue to learn and better myself each day I am in the business. This is long term. This is not a sprint. I will be at it for the rest of my life.

These five things I have learned over the past 3 year of my Life.

  1. Set and write down your goals. This is an important one. It keeps your accountable. I literally write down my goals and look back at them at least once a month. If you want a certain number in the bank account, if you want to train a certain amount of clients, if you want to accomplish an athletic feat, whatever it is, you need to write it down. If you do not write down your goals, you will just be a talker and not a walker. I am not saying that if you write down that you want $100,000 in the bank account in one year it is going to happen. But if you write it down you almost feel guilty each day when you have not done anything to get you closer to your goal. Once you have determined your goals, then figure out the steps it will take to achieve that goal. All goals take steps. They take daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks. If you have no clue the steps it will take, then you better get someone to assist you to make a plan.
  2. Owning a Business is NO JOKE. When I first opened my facility, I was a personal trainer who knew how to train. I loved helping people and training came easy for me. In this past year I have learned that I need to know more about business. The business side of things is tough. Marketing, really long hours, employees, taxes, facility upkeep, bills, gross revenue, net revenue, retaining clients, keeping clients happy....the list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, I love the challenge. But it definitely is not for the weak minded. The past 3 months I have spent reading more business related material than fitness related material. I have learned from guys like Alwyn Cosgrove, Pat Rigsby, Mike Boyle, Todd Durkin, and Bill Parisi. These guys all have profitable fitness businesses and they are all willing to help a trainer out. Even if they do not know they are, they are. I read their blogs and newsletters and listen to them at seminars and webinars. They know how to keep it fresh and up to date, and that is what I want. This is an area I will grind and grind to keep learning the ins and outs of business. I have a ways to go but I know with my persistency it will pay off.
  3. There are so many whack fitness programs out there. I didn't really learn this in the last 12 months but I needed to bring it up. Do not fall into the trap to do those gimmicky fitness programs out there. Anytime you turn on the TV there is some type of fitness infercommercial playing over and over. Yes they might work but what happens when they are completed? Now you have to do it on your own and you are back to square one. Yes they might motivate you to get off your butt but what happens when that guy yelling at you from the TV gets on your nerves? You will quite and get frustrated. You need to build fitness and eating healthy into your life. Make it a part of your daily routine. NO DIETS, NO FAD WORKOUTS, just plain hard work, dedication and consistency. Your life will take off. You will have more energy, you will decrease your chances of sickness and heart disease and you will take advantage of everything around you. Mike Boyle once said, "If it seems too gimmicky to be true, then it probably doesn't work." Again, fitness is work but it can be FUN. It is all what you make it. Get on a bike, go out for a run, do some mobility and flexiblity work so you are moving properly, and hit some push-ups and chin-ups. The endorphins are just waiting to be released! Make it who you are and enjoy the benefits.
  4. Mobility, flexiblity and soft tissue work is #1. Whether you are an athlete, general fitness individual, weekend warrior or a child, you need to work on moving properly on a consistent basis. This aspect, to me, is the most important part of fitness. It doesn't make sense if you are extremely fit but have numerous issues and imbalances. You will never feel good and that is a huge goal of mine when I am training you, is for you to be pain free. You must spend time to work on these things. We start every workout with a thorough dynamic warm-up. Not just 5 minutes on a treadmill, that is not a warm-up. Every client spends at least 5 minutes to foam roll when they come into my facility. Then we go through ankle, hip and thoracic mobility drills and then perform some full body flexibility drills. If I have someone who has major movement issues then they will have to do some of these drills at home on their own. I never cut this portion short. I will cut their strength work and conditioning short before I cut mobility and warm-up. Find my article on "6 corrective exercises athletes should do", and you will learn some basic movements to do on your own.
  5. Think before you speak. I had a conversation with a client of mine who has been a very successful business owner the past 15 years. She brought this up to me during this talk and challenged me to work on this. She called it "self awarness". As a business owner and "someone in charge" the things we say are taken very seriously. People listen to us and do the things we ask. It is so critical to think before things come out of our mouth. Whether it is a conversation with a client, an employee, a family member or with your significant other, you must mentally think about what you are about to say before you say it. Say to yourself, "How will this comment affect this individual." I am learning to do this right now. I am far from perfect. I say things sometimes and wonder "why did I say that?" This is a concept I will continue to work on so I can continue to grow as an individual and as a business owner.

Time to go make it happen. Let your actions speak loud. You will never have to brag about yourself if you are always working hard and striving for excellence!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

California Fitness Academy's 12-week Fat Loss Program

California Fitness Academy’s

Summer 12-week Fat Loss Program

“We guarantee 12 pounds of fat loss or you will get your money back.”

Each individual will commit to:
· 5 workouts a week at CFA
(2 training sessions with a CFA coach and 3 conditioning workouts on your own)
· Weekly food logs
· Body fat test every 2 weeks
· Consistent healthy nutritional habits
· Re-scheduling a session if you miss

Start NOW!

Lose that unwanted body fat so you can enjoy the rest of the summer looking and FEELING great!

$330/month (1st month due at start of program)

Call 334-8990 for more information.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Random Thoughts

So, if you have noticed it has been a few weeks since my last post. Yes, I admit I have had writer's block. So to stir some thoughts in my head a bit, here are a bunch of random thoughts about training, nutrition, life, sports, motivation, and more.

Hope you enjoy.

  1. You need to challenge your body in your work outs. Do not just go to the gym and sit on an elliptical for 45 minutes at a slow steady pace. That is not a workout. Your body will never change doing that and you will never get in shape. Do interval conditioning and be intense. You do not need as much time and you will burn more calories over time with this type of training. If you want to hit the weights, use pair, tri or even quad sets for your workout. Meaning put 2-4 antagonist movements together so your rest time is minimal. This will make for a much more efficient use of your time. If you are standing around resting for 3 minutes between sets, you are wasting time.

  2. Always and I mean ALWAYS start your workout with a dynamic warm-up. This warm-up should increase joint mobility, muscle flexibility, assist in correcting bad posture mechanics, elevate your heart rate, activate specific musculature, prepare the body for the workout ahead and most importantly reduce your chance of injury! A proper dynamic warm-up is just as important as the strength training and conditioning. If you can not move in a proper function then you will just create more of an imbalance by adding external loads to exercises. Take the time and warm-up!

  3. Kobe vs. Lebron??? Well if you know me, you know my answer. I am picking Kobe any day and all day. Kobe is the best basketball player in the NBA right now. In fact he is probably top 5 players of all time. When the game is on the line I love being a Laker fan because I know Kobe will take over and guide them to a win. I like Lebron but he isn't at the level Kobe is at yet. He is a very explosive player and I enjoy watching him play but Kobe is the MAN!

  4. How important is nutrition you ask??? When you look at a year, you need to eat healthy 85% of that year. So, 310 days a year need to be full of healthy carbohydrates, lean proteins, and quality fats. You have 55 days a year to cheat and eat what the hell you want. That is about 1 time a week. Along with being active and getting your workouts in, nutrition is part of the equation to achieving your fitness goals. Think about a car that looks great on the outside: nice paint job, nice rims and nice tires but then you feed that car bad fuel and bad dirty oil and never maitenance the vehicle. Guess will not run and will eventually breakdown. Same with our bodies. If we are not putting quality fuel into our body we will have no energy, get sick, and eventually break down. Feed the body with good nutrition, it is a must!

  5. STOP DOING CRUNCHES! I have wrote about this in past blogs. If you are still doing crunches, you need to stop. Perform planks, side planks, push-ups, chin-ups, medicine ball throws, and core rollouts for a great core routine. This will build stability and stiffness in the lower spine so you can move more freely throughout the rest of the body.

  6. Life is all what you make it. You can wake up everyday with a negative attitude and not enjoy the things you do and the people around you. It is your decision. But you can also wake up with a positive mindset, ready to take on each day, and a burning desire to be successful. "Your attitude determines your altitude." Remember this quote next time you have a bad attitude towards something. You can change that attitude with a snap of the fingers. Ghandi was quoted as saying, "Live everyday like you are going to die tomorrow. Learn everyday like you are going to live forever." Do not settle for average. Educate yourself and live everyday to the fullest and watch your life soar!

  7. Ok, so I had to bring up my LA Dodgers. I don't want to jinx them but damn they are playing great right now. It is great being a LA Fan right now. Hopefully they will keep the momentum and continue this hot streak all the way to the playoffs and into the world series. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

  8. My own personal training numbers so far in 2009: 177 hours, 112,600 meters in the pool, 1285 miles on the bike, 293 miles running, and 59 miles racing. Since I started logging everything in 2008: 614 hours, 371,500 meters in the pool, 4539 miles on the bike, 756 miles running, 314 miles of brick training, and 194 miles racing. I am not bragging, just thought it is cool to look at all the training I have put in in the past 2 years.

  9. If you have knee, shoulder or hip pain, what are you doing about it to alleviate that pain? Do not "work through" the pain. Do not just take time off. Do not make the pain worse. You need to perform corrective exercises that will help strengthen the areas around your pain site. The majority of non-contact pain is caused by a "neighbor" that is weak or tight and not doing their job. So if you have knee pain and have never had major impact to that structure then you need to look at the mobility of your ankle and the mobility in your hip. Odds are you have tight ankles or hips or both and your knee is taking the unwanted movement, thus causing pain. Buy a foam roll and roll the hell out of your major muscles to help decrease density in the muscle tissue. This will aid in your recovery, increase the blood flow and improve muscle tissue quality. Do not let a "little twinge" just pass. Figure out what you need to do so you are pain free.

  10. Stay motivated daily. I know this is easier said than done but again it is a mindset. Surround yourself with motivating and positive people. Get rid of your negative friends (I wouldn't call them friends if they are always negative). If you want to be successful, you must create an environment full of inspiring people that will support and guide you to your goals. Go out and make it happen and do not make any excuses!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Corrective Exercises - FINAL


As a bonus, here are three exercises triathletes (or any athlete for that matter) should never do again:

1. Crunches - The movement of crunching puts the spine into flexion. The spine does not want this load. The function of the spine is meant to remain stable. Repetitive movement at the lower spine will cause pain or even worse a blown disc. Read any of Dr. Stuart Mcgill’s, a low back specialist, research and you will see why spinal flexion, extension and rotation are a recipe for a blown low back disc. Want a healthy and strong back? Build stability and stiffness and stay away from crunching.

2. Leg Curl Machine – This machine is a very non-functional “strength training” exercise. First of all it is a machine. Machines do not build function. Your movement is constricted on an exercise machine. Secondly, this exercise will work the hamstrings without engaging the hips and the glutes. When you do that it will lead to over dominant hamstrings, thus leading to imbalanced glutes and hips, which can lead to injury. These two muscle groups need to work together. Try the stability ball leg curl instead. This will allow your hips to work with your hamstrings and this will create balance and a strong posterior lower body.

3. Low Back Hyperextension – Have you ever done the “Superman” exercise? Just like crunching this is another recipe for low back pain. Again the low spine is meant to remain stable. When you put unwanted load on the spine it will cause serious back issues. It might not happen the 1st, 3rd or 50th time you perform this exercise but every time you perform spinal flexion, extension or rotation you are setting yourself up for disaster. Stay away from this exercise.

Mike Boyle, “A Joint by Joint Approach”,
Mark Verstegen, “Core Performance”,
Dewey Nielsen, Impact Performance Training,
Triathlete Magazine

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wildflower Weekend race report

It was another great adventure at the 2009 Wildflower Triathlon. We battled camping in the rain, running the tough hills in the hot sun and swimming in the infamous green moss in the lake. We had 2 members finish in the top three in their appropiate age group, we had 2 members finish their first Olympic triathlon and we had one of our members battle a fall in the mountain bike course. The weekend was full of laughs, stories and great comaraderie.

Here is a report of the weekend.

We showed up Thursday to a great burst of sunshine. The campground was at the beginning stages of full excitement. It wasn't too crazy as of yet. People were showing up throughout the rest of the night. We put up our camp and enjoyed the rest of the evening. Friday came quick. At around 3:00am it started to lightly rain. IT would rain off and on the whole entire day. Some of our tents got wet inside but we battled it out. By Friday afternoon the campgrounds were getting full of lean and fit triathletes. You have never seen this many athletes at the same time. They said 8500 athletes were competing over the next 2 days. We cooked dinner Friday night in the rain. Luckily for our club, we have nothing but positive people so we made the best of the night. Saturday morning arrived and Ira, Sandy, Jim, Kendal and Mike were getting ready to compete in the mountain bike course. And yes, the weather cleared up and it was going to be a great day. I was able to get some great pictures of the professionals competing in the long course event. These athletes are machines. Andy Potts won the long course in 3 hours and 59 minutues. Thats 1.2 miles swim, 56 mile bike and 13 mile run. His run was 1 hour 14 minutes which is 5:43 minutes per mile. GEEEEEE! What do these guys eat??? I want to know. It is inspiring watching these guys go.Back to the mountain bike course. Ira was our club's fastest member as he finished the course in 1 hour 5 minutes. This is Ira's only 2nd triathlon. Jim Barnes finished 3rd in his age group. With a mix up in the results, Jim finally got the correct award for this course. Kendal had an unfortunate fall on the course. She was going around a corner and locked up the back break and took a hard fall. She was resilient, got back up, fixed her bike and finished the course. Great job to Kendal for sticking it out and finishing the race. It shows her character and determination to get up and keep going. Congrats to Mike Means and Sandy Roberts for a great race as well. They all represented VTC!Sunday morning arrived and it was Carol Camstra, Scott Nelson, Mike Keller, Steve Hert and myself's day. The weather was nice in the morning but you could tell it could get a little hot as the morning went on. We all headed down to the transition area to set our gear out. There were so many athletes. In fact around 3500 athletes participated in the Olympic course! The transition area had a very positive buzz going around. Before you knew it we were all on the course competing. After we got through the swim, we had Lynch hill to deal with. Lynch hill is a 3/4 of a mile hill with a 10% grade. This is tough coming right out of transition. The bike course is full of rolling hills and some tough climbs. There were cyclists everywhere, behind your, infront of your, to the side. IT was pretty neat seeing everyone compete. The run course was tough. The first mile was rolling hills then miles 2-4 was a pretty steady incline that definitely took a toll on our legs. Once we hit mile 5 it was all downhill so it was nice to see that mark. The best part of the race is running down the finish shoot and hearing the spectators cheer. We had some great results in this event. Carol Camstra was 3rd in her age group. She had a great time of 3 hours and 7 minutes. Scott Nelson completed his first Olympic course (a tough one at that) in 2 hours 50 minutes. He had a great bike leg. Great job to Scott. Congrats to Steve Hert for finishing his first Olympic course. And Mike Keller battled the course and he did a great job as well. Overall this weekend was so much fun. It is not so much about the time racing and competing. It is about spending good quality time with positive and motivating people. We all battled through the ups and downs of the race but even better we all supported each other and were there to share our stories. Good job to everyone and hope we can get more to participate next year!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Off to The WIldflower Triathlon

All the training will pay off as we head off to Lake San Antonio for the 2009 Wildflower Triathlon. This weekend is full of fun and exciting events. From the top professionals competing to the inspiring age groupers, this is by far the biggest triathlon in the USA. The Visalia Triathlon Club will be represented by Scott Nelson, Ira Zermeno, Kendall Haskins, Sandy Roberts, Mike Keller, Steve Hert, Carol Camstra and myself. We are all very excited and ready to compete and show our skills.

Wish us all good luck!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Corrective Exercises - Part 5

The final Corrective Exercise....(The last part of the series will show three exercises athletes should never do again. Be on the look out for it.)

6. Thoracic Rotation – Again, another simple but effective exercise. Too many triathletes suffer from low back pain. These issues are most likely caused from tight hips or an immobile thoracic spine. Our thoracic spine is the 12 vertebrae located in the middle of the spine. You need active mobility in this region. If you lack mobility in this area you are likely to move at the low spine and cause back pain. Also, because of lack of mobility in the thoracic spine you could spark serious neck and shoulder issues. When sitting, your thoracic spine is in a locked position and its true function (extension, flexion and rotation) is turned off. This can lead to poor posture mechanics which can send a chained signal to the rest of the body to compensate. Compensation is what leads to injury. When one part of the body is turned off or non-functional then another area will try and pick up the load and this will lead to an injury. This exercise is done on all fours. Your body must remain straight and in good position. Put one hand on top of your head, rotate down and touch your opposite shoulder and then rotate up as far as you can. Try and look up to the ceiling when rotating up. You will feel the stretch between your shoulder blades. Start off by performing 8 a side and build to 15 a side.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CFA Motivation


Goals do not just get accomplished. You do not just wave a magic wand and “boom” your goals are achieved. You must eat the right foods, get your workouts in consistently, be organized, stay positive, stay motivated and eat the right foods (yes I said it twice, it is that important)! When people first start a fitness program, the first few weeks are great. The motivation is high, the work ethic is great and the attitude is very positive. But fitness is a life long journey that needs to be addressed one day at a time. If you have a specific weight loss, weight gain or performance goal, then set a date for you to accomplish that goal. When you have a specific day and it is written down you are more likely to accomplish that goal. But what will you do after you get to that date? What will you do when you accomplish that goal? You must continue to be healthy and fit for the rest of your life. I train professional athletes. When they are done playing their sport, I would want them to continue working out and eating healthy beyond their sporting career. There is no finish line when it comes to your health. Do not make excuses! If you are consistently eating healthy and consistently working out throughout the week you WILL achieve the goals set. When you accomplish your goals, set the bar higher and continue to work towards those new goals. When you get frustrated, use that frustration to push yourself in your workouts. There is no magic remedy to fitness. It is hard work and dedication and sweat. Go out and make it a great day! Your attitude can take you as high as you want to go!


Are you working out on machines? If so, you need to stop. Machines do not build function. Your movement is constricted on a machine. If your program is loaded with machine exercises and non-functional training then change your program. Start implementing functional exercises like squats, chin-ups, push-ups, deadlifts, planks and free weights into your program. Check for ideas and examples of these exercises.

Stop with the crunches already! Did you know that doing repetitive crunching (flexion of the spine) puts unwanted stress on your lumbar spine (lower back)? Your low spine’s function is to remain stable. Repeated flexion, extension and rotation of the low spine will lead to pain in the low back. Look at it this way: take a metal hanger and start bending it back and forth. Eventually that hanger will snap. It might not happen the 1st, 4th or 50th repetition. But eventually that piece of metal will snap. This is how your low back functions. If you are constantly performing crunches then you could blow a low back disc. Start thinking stability and stiffness for “core” exercises. Planks, side planks, medicine ball throws, and chops and lifts are examples of great core stability movements.
Intervals are the most efficient conditioning protocol to get in shape. Stop with the long, slow distance “cardio” work. Intervals will increase your metabolism, are much more time efficient and there is a lot of variety. Try this interval workout: warm-up 5 minutes at a walking pace, then perform 3 x 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk building your speed each set. Start off at a jog and build into a run. Then perform 15 x 20 on 40 off high paced intervals. The level depends on the individual. If you are conditioned then you can perform sprints on a treadmill. If you are deconditioned or can not run, then perform sprints on a bike. Cool down 5 minutes. This workout will take you 26 ½ minutes. It is very intense and efficient.


Eat all day long. Do not just eat 2-3 meals throughout the day. Keep your metabolism fired up all day by eating smaller meals 4-8 times throughout the day. Breakfast is very important for getting your metabolism started. Eating a bowl of cereal is not a good breakfast. Get quality proteins and good, complex carbohydrates in the morning and throughout the rest of the day.
Eat clean and eat fresh. The fresh food is unprocessed. This will aide in your progress of getting results. Processed foods are high in sodium and sugars. Stick to fresh vegetables and fruit, quality proteins and good sources of fat. Read labels and know what you are putting in your body.
It is getting hot outside. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You should be drinking at least ½ of ounce to 1 ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. So if you weight 150 pounds you need 74-150 ounces of water. The more activity you have in your day the more you need. Keep a water bottle by your side all day long.

Do not be the person that makes excuses. You need to learn to make sacrifices in your daily life so you can be healthy, have more energy and be fit! Everyone can do this! Believe in yourself and stay positive.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Corrective Exercises - Part 3

Corrective Exercises - Part 3

4. Mini-band Walks – Most triathletes have very strong quadriceps and hamstrings but very weak hip stabilizers. The glute medius is a very important muscle for stabilizing the hip joint and controlling the femur. If you have weak hip stabilizers you will not be able to control the movement of the femur, which can cause hip, knee and low back pain. Running and biking are unilateral movements. You are always using one leg or the other during these sports. If you can not stabilize on one leg because of inadequate hip stabilizers you will get injured very fast. This exercise, done daily, will strengthen your glute medius and will assist in stabilizing your hip joint. The more stability you have in your hips the more we can swim, bike and run more efficiently. When performing this exercise, think of having a book on top of your head with great core stability. Do not wobble all over the place. Remain tight and balanced. Your toes should be pointed inward to get more recruitment of the glute medius. When going lateral start off by doing 10 small steps to your left and 10 small steps to your right. Build to 30 small steps to your right and left. When going linear start off by doing 20 small steps forward and back and build to 30 small steps front and back.

5. Lateral/Straight Leg swings – This dynamic exercise is performed to increase hip mobility. This is a mandatory movement in your daily workout routine. If you lack mobility in your hips, your low back will take the stress and will eventually start to hurt. These movements will open your hips in a frontal and saggital plane of motion. World renowned strength coach Michael Boyle says, “The problem is that the hip is built for mobility and the lumbar spine for stability. When the supposedly mobile joint becomes immobile, the stable joint is forced to move in compensation, becoming less stable and subsequently painful.” During lateral leg swings keep your back stable and let your hips do the movement. Cross the center line of your body and do not let your toes externally rotate out. Keep your toes facing the wall. With straight leg swings maintain a tall and stable trunk. Swing your leg up as high as you can go without bending your knee. Keep your toes flexed back.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Five quotes to keep in your mind.....

1. "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right."

2. "Your attitude determines your altitude."

3. "Nothing is might just take a little more work."

4. "Do not settle for average, BE YOUR BEST!"

5. "Do not make excuses....Make it Happen!"

Sometimes the right words can change the way you think. So when your motivation is running a little low come back to these quotes and read them out loud. When you wake up in the morning tell yourself it is going to be a great day. Start off with the right positive mindset and you will accomplish so much. Remember success does not just happen. You need to work at it. Make daily to do lists, stay educated and stay inspired. There is so much out there for us to achieve. Be the person that walks the walk. Life is too short to just sit around and wait for things to come to you. Go out and get it and watch your Life SOAR! will change your life forever!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Corrective Exercises that Triathletes need to do: Part 2

Part 2: Corrective Exercises Triathletes Need To Do

We continue to look at corrective exercises that athletes need to perform on a regular basis to increase stability, build balance and function and can tremendously assist in reducing injury in the sport of triathlon.

2. Plank/Side Plank – This might be the most important exercise for triathletes. We need stability and stiffness in our lower lumbar region. If we are unstable our low back will get unwanted movement, thus causing low back pain. There are many repetitive movements in swimming, biking and running. You are continually doing the same thing over and over which can cause asymmetries in the body. Having a stable core means that your body will be able to release power throughout your hips and shoulders more efficiently. The plank effectively trains all of the stabilizing muscles in your body, from your shoulders, through your spine, to your hips and ankles. The plank is a very simple but efficient exercise. You do not have to hold a plank longer than 45 seconds for it to be effective. Start out by holding a plank or side plank for 15 seconds and perform two sets. Build to 4 sets of 30 seconds. Once you have mastered this progression, elevate your feet on a bench or box. You must maintain a straight body, braced abdominal region, and stiffness through the exercise. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides and directly underneath your shoulders and keep your forearms straight out in front of you.

3. Deep Squat to Hamstring stretch – This is a powerful exercise. This will help loosen up your ankles, open up your hips and stretch your hamstrings. Triathletes get very tight in their hips and hamstrings from constant biking and running. This exercise done everyday will enhance ankle mobility, hamstring flexibility and hip mobility. Make sure to keep your chest up and back flat, keep heels on the floor and keep your elbows inside of your knees during the squat. As you go into the hamstring stretch, push your hips up and keep a straight back until your feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Start off by doing five full repetitions of this movement.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Corrective Exercises that Triathletes need to do

This is the first of a 6 part series on corrective exercises triathletes (or any athlete for that matter) must do everyday to balance their body. With so many overuse injuries in the sport, these athletes must make it a priority to perform these exercises as part of their daily workout routine.

1. Y’s/T’s/W’s/L’s – Whether you are swimming, biking or running, triathletes need strong stability and posture of the upper back. If you have a weak posterior upper body your body will learn to compensate through unwanted stress of the lower back, shoulders, hips and knees. These simple exercises will enhance shoulder stability, rotator cuff strength, and scapular control. The scapula area (shoulder blades, rhomboids, rotator cuff, middle trapezius, posterior deltoid and subscapularis) are all stabilizing muscles of the upper back. If we lack strength in these small stabilizing muscles our posture will suffer thus causing stress and pain in other areas. You need to be in a good athletic position while performing these exercises. Knees should be slightly bent and you should be bent over 45 degrees towards the ground. Remain strong and tight in the trunk area. Start out by doing 6 repetitions for each exercise and do not use any weight. Build to 10 repetitions of each exercise. Once you have done this set of exercises for at least 4 weeks, then you can move to 2 pound dumbbells. This exercise is meant for light weight so we can continue to strengthen the stabilizers. The heavier you go the more your deltoid will want to take over, thus defeating the purpose of these moves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why do you workout????

  1. It makes me feel great.
  2. To increase my energy.
  3. So I can look good in my clothes.
  4. To be in the best shape of my life...Always!
  5. To be healthy
  6. To compete
  7. So I can be strong and fit
  8. To believe in myself
  9. It keeps me feeling young
  10. It increases my longevity
  11. It keeps me positive
  12. To release stress
  13. Because after a long day it is the best thing to do
  14. It starts my day off on a perfect note
  15. So I can be lean and healthy
  16. So I can keep up with my kids
  17. Because I want to hit the golf ball farther
  18. To stay mobile and flexible
  19. To increase my vitality

Set your goals, have a plan of action and go out and do what you have to do to conquer those goals. You can go as high as you want to. Just believe in yourself and stay motivated!

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

IT was wet and cold but a day to remember!

This morning was the Spring Fling Duathlon. I woke up at 4:00 am, took a shower, ate a piece of toast with peanut butter and jelly and banana, packed my gear, put my bike in the truck and it was time to go. We left Visalia by 5:15 am. We arrived in Fresno at 6:00 am just as it started raining. As 7:00 am rolled around the rain continued to poor down. It was going to be a wet and cold event. But there are running/biking Gods out there because the rain stopped when the start gun went off. A modified warm-up was good enough to get me off to a good start. IT was a fast start. The first 8 guys ran the first mile under 5:45. Then we settled into our zone. After the first lap I saw my good friend Ira and gave him a high five. Ira has battled back from a serious fracture in his tibia and fibula 1 1/2 years ago. Now, he is running 6 miles. Pretty inspiring and amazing. I finished the first 4 miles in 25 minutes, got on my bike and it was time to bust out 8 miles. The bike was windy and wet. The morning rain left the roads slick and slippery. It was a medium pace to the turnaround and a fast pace back to the transition area. I got off my bike, made a quick transition back to my running shoes and I was off. I was in 10th place at the time. Because of a fast transition I was in 8th place with two competitors about 200 yards in front of me. They were my carrots that I had to chase. I went out hard. At about the 1 mile mark, I picked up my pace. The two guys infront of me were now close. I cranked up the pace and went right by them without letting up. We had one more hill left to climb and I pushed hard all the way to the finish line. Out of 91 competitors, I finished 6th overall and 3rd in my age group.

Megan Piepgrass, another Visalia Triathlon Club Member did awesome! She finshed 1st in her age group and 3rd overall in the women division. Ira finshed 31st overall and 5th in his age group. And great job to Melanie for sticking it out and finishing the event.

We battled the weather and the extreme conditions. Another day to put in the books and another day to remember!

Past writings