Sunday, November 28, 2010

15 Random Thoughts

1. John Wooden's book is amazing. I was able to get through most of it in a 3 day weekend at my in-laws. The concepts he talks about are valuable life lessons that should be practiced every day. This book should be read at least once a year to be reminded of the important lessons.

2. Thom Plummer kicked butt in Newport Beach. For those fitness professionals that attended, we grew our arsenal to better our business. I have seen many fitness pros get stagnate with their business. They do the same training, the same marketing, have the same business plan year in and year out. And that is why they lose business. We must stay cutting edge and on top of the industry to keep the customer satisfied and motivated to train and get better.

3. 51 weeks till Ironman Arizona. This will be a life changing event. Reading John Wooden's book stamped the idea that the journey is the fun part. I will enjoy and live in the moment of each mile I log, each training session I complete and each lap that I swim. Showing up to the race will be a big achievement and completing the race will be icing on the cake.

4. Speaking of weeks, we have 11 weeks till our first born child will be born. Talk about amazing, nervous, excited, ready, life changing, stressful, and AWESOME! It is crazy to think about the child that Stephanie and I produced will be here shortly. I will raise that kid to the best of my ability and teach him or her many valuable life lessons.

5. Working out should be fun. Too many people get caught up doing the same routine over and over and over again. This leads to stagnation, plateau, boredome and lack of motivation. As humans we need variety in our life. So learn to switch up your workout routine every 2-3 weeks. You can change the exercises, the sets and repetitions, planes of motion, the weights, use different tools (like kettlebells, Jungle Gym straps, medicine balls, etc) and the order in which you perform the exercises. Just make sure to have an upper body press (push-ups, bench press) and pull move (inverted rows, DB rows), a hip dominant (bench hip lifts, single leg deadlifts), a knee dominant (1-leg squats, lunges) and core stability work (planks, landmines). Keep your workouts fun and fresh and keep pushing.

6. I am pretty annoyed with how professional football players can not just make a play and hand the referee the ball without show boating or dancing around. It's your job to make plays so you should act like you have done it before.

7. What was the last book you read? Knowledge is power. The more you read the more powerful you become. Just like our bodies need training, our minds need to be conditioned as well. Books are our minds "treadmills". Let's get on it and "run" for miles!

8. What are you doing every day to better yourself? Self-improvement can be worked on daily. There are some things we can not change. But we can change ourselves. As Todd Durkin would say, improve 1% every day and expect big improvements over the long haul. Ask yourself the questions every day, "what can I do to better myself?"

9. Write down your goals. As 2010 is winding down we must begin thinking of how we want 2011 to go. We have to look back at this year and assess our strengths and weaknesses. Where can we get better? What can we continue to improve upon? What can we realistically achieve in 2011? You should have your 1-year goals written (preferrably typed out) before the New Year. What do you want? Goal setting is the map that will lead you to success.

10. "Can you say you are giving 100% every day? If not you are wasting days." Thom Plummer challenged us to become better and give it our all each day. Never let a day go by where you only give 80% because then you are not doing all that you can do to reach the next level. I feel the minute I start resting, someone else is out there going strong and passing me so my rest days are few and taken when needed. We have the choice to have the mindset to reach ulitimate levels. Remember if you aren't moving forward, you start moving the wrong way. There is no "staying the same".

11. Your character represents who you are, the way you dress, the way you act, the way you talk, what you do when no one is around, what you listen to, what you watch, the people you hang out with and the way you treat others. Start improving your character and everything else will go in the right direction.

12. My favorite foods: red and green bell peppers, grilled chicken, bananas, eggs, natural peanut butter, cliff bars, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, grilled mushrooms, and can't forget chocolate milk (after workouts of course). Remember, you are what you eat. If you want high level performance you must eat high level foods.

13. Talk is cheap. Too many people talk too much and do not produce action. Actions speak much louder. So if you say something, please back it up with action and follow through.

14. Try these warm-up drills before your next workout: perfect jumping jacks, walking lunges, sumo squats, pogos, skipping, lateral shuffles, careoka, inchworms, push-ups and short hard runs. This will get your entire nervous system ready and fired for a great workout!

15. Books that should be read every year: "How to Win Friends and Influence People" Dale Carnegie, "A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court" by John Wooden, and "Goals" by Brian Tracy

EXTRA: Go for Greatness. Do not settle for what "everyone else is doing". Be unique, be true to yourself and strive to be high level. Without challenges, Life would be boring. SO when a challenge enters your life, take it head on and do everything you need to do to conquer that challenge. Make it a great week!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Your Fitness Program Balanced

Is Your Fitness Program Balanced
Part 1

When you go to the gym, how do you choose what exercises to perform? Most people do not plan their workout ahead of time. Most likely you are not creating balance in your body. When we look in a mirror we see our front side: chest, biceps, quadriceps and abdominals so these are the areas we are going to hit more often. If we do this, we will have an anterior (front side) dominant body and this imbalance will lead to bad posture, poor movement, aches and pains, and ultimately injury. Below are the movements that need to be implemented when going to the gym. Like I have talked about before, you need to start thinking about training specific movements not specific muscles.

Knee Dominant: These are exercises that get more quadricep recruitment. Squats, lunge variations, split squats and step-ups are examples of this movement.

Hip Dominant: These are exercises that are more hip and glute dominant. In my opinion we lack strength and stability in this area. Most of us are “quad” dominant because of the way we move and workout so we need to focus on hip dominant exercises. Deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, hip lift variations and stability ball leg curls are just a few examples of this category.

Pulling: You will be working the muscles of your upper and middle back when performing these movements. Chin-ups, pull-ups, pulldowns, inverted rows, dumbbell rowing and 1-arm cable pulls are examples. Performing these movements will enhance your posture, your shoulder stability and your upper back strength.

Pressing: These are exercises that will recruit more of your chest and shoulders. Bench pressing variations, push-ups, shoulder pressing and incline bench pressing are examples.

Core Stability: Remember, our “core” is not just our abdominals. Our core integrates our hips, glutes, abdominals, obliques, multifidis, pelvic floor, transverse abdominals and lower back. We should not perform movements that put stress on the lower back from repetitive flexion and extension. We need stability in this region. Planks, side planks, core rollouts and cable holds are examples.

When you plan your workout, make sure you are choosing one exercise per category to create balance and symmetry through the body. Get out of performing body part splits (i.e. chest/back, biceps/triceps, legs) and get into performing full body routines. You will see the results and make your time at the gym much more efficient. Next week I will show you how to design a program using the categories above.

(Please go to or call 334-8990 to learn more about these movements.)

Part 2:
You do not want more knee dominant movements than hip dominant movements or more pressing movements than pulling movements. This will lead to an imbalanced hip or shoulder structure which can ultimately lead to injury. Learn to create balance and you will feel better, reduce injury and get results.

Today I will give you two examples of how to design your workout to get the most bang for your buck. I will use the movements that were introduced last week. Make sure to start all your workouts with a proper dynamic warm-up. This warm-up should increase flexibility, open up your joints, elevate your heart rate and prepare the nervous system for the workout ahead. It is mandatory.

Workout #1
Set #1
1a) Split Squat x6/leg – Knee dominant
1b) Front Plank x 20 seconds – Core stability
1c) Inverted Rows x 12 – Pulling

Set #2
2a) Stability Ball Leg Curls x8 – Hip dominant
2b) Core Holds x10 seconds/side – Core Stability
2c) Push-ups x12 - Pressing

Workout #2
Set #1
1a) Squat (holding Dumbbell) x12 - Knee Dominant
1b) Side Plank x10 seconds/side – Core Stability
1c) Cable Pulls (lawnmower pull) x 10/arm – Pulling

Set #2
2a) Deadlift x8 – Hip Dominant
2b) Core Rollouts x8 – Core Stability
2c) DB Bench Press x12 - Pressing

Both of these examples have balance and structure. The idea is to go from one exercise right into the next. Once you have completed each set one time through, take a short break, grab some water and continue. Depending on your fitness level will determine how many sets you will complete. Start off by completing 1 set, see how you feel and then go from there. You can perform up to 4 rounds of each set of exercises.

Please, if you have any questions regarding exercise technique, give us a call at 334-8990 and we will assist you to understand them better.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Make the Decision to be Your Best

3 Decisions – Have You Made Them
by: Justin Levine

1. Positive Attitude: This decision might be the most important. Whether you want to lose weight, improve your performance or compete in a triathlon you must have a positive attitude and determined mindset to accomplish your goals. When you wake up do you immediately tell yourself “I can’t wait to go to bed again?” Or do you wake up with a motivation to Live Life. If you learn to start your day on a high note and think about how good the day will go then you are more likely to have good days. Instead of watching the news or reading the newspaper as the first thing you do, read something positive and motivating to start your day, then go to the news and newspaper. You have the opportunity to have a fresh start each day. Focus on the day ahead. You can’t do anything about yesterday and tomorrow but today can affect the future. So think and breathe positive thoughts each day.

2. Healthy Lifestyle: If you do not have your health it is very hard to take full advantage of everything around you. Your health is so important for mental and physical wellbeing. Decide to make health, fitness and good nutrition part of your life. Do not fall into the trap of following specific diets and trendy fitness programs and products. Learn to make fitness part of your life. If you do not do something about it now you will eventually have to worry about it later. And unfortunately when it is later, it gets harder. If you make it a lifestyle habit now you are more likely to have a fit and healthy life later. Living healthy is a journey and when it is a habit you feel good, look good and you will take advantage of everyday. Schedule your workouts just like you would schedule a work meeting. When you are more organized and manage time more efficiently you will not be the one that makes the excuse of “I don’t have time.”

3. Be Your Best: Too many people settle for being average and just do what they need to do to get by. We need to strive to reach our full potential. This takes a consistent approach and hard work. When you are working out do you push through a few extra repetitions or do you quite when it gets tough? If you want to get results and Be Your Best you must challenge yourself physically and mentally. Do not settle. Go for the top, conquer your goals and be ready to push through. When you accomplish a specific goal, reassess and set new and higher goals. Believe that you can and strive for excellence.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Random Thoughts - November 1st

To stir up some brain waves this morning I decided to devise a blog dedicated to some random thinking. There has been a ton on my mind lately, from program design to business stuff to Brett Favre. And it is time to put some of these thoughts down on paper. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to stir up some conversation.

1. I have been reading a ton lately on strength and conditioning and fitness business. Along with my normal blogs of Alwyn Cosgrove, Thom Plummer, Pat Rigsby, Mike Boyle and Mark Verstegen, my newest blogs I have surfed through are Todd Durkin, Bret Contreras, Eric Cressey and Jason Ferruggia. When I read these different blogs I realize how different but yet similar our industry is. Every name I just mentioned are successful fitness entrepreneurs and coaches. Their training styles and philosophies are very different. Instead of picking each program apart and looking for errors, I try and find pieces of each program that could be a positive influence to mine. There is so much out there. So many coaches doing their thing, getting their clients in shape and figuring a way out to be successful. It's not about whose programs better or "I can't believe Trainer A is doing that still". It is all good and as long as you, as a coach or trainer have reasons and understand why you do certain things, that is what matters. Don't be the guy or gal who watches youtube and then for your next training session take your client or yourself through the workout you just saw. That's ridiculous. Have your system and program built and then tweak, add and subtract accordingly. What is best for your clients might be different to another trainer or coach. So moral of the story is keep reading, learning and bettering yourself.

2. Persistency is the word of the year for me. Being persistent in anything you do is key to getting long term results. From business, to fat loss, to triathlon training to relationships, if you continue to have persistency and put in the work you will continue to reap the benefits. First business. There is no such thing as a short term success plan for business. I am in my 5th year of business and hustling my ass off everyday. It is a constant work load each week. The minute I rest, I realize that someone else is working just a little harder so I get my butt back in gear and keep going. Five years ago I was a great fitness coach with not much of a business vision. Today I am a better fitness coach and business owner with goals. In five years you can learn so much if you put in the work. In fact you can have a totally different understanding of something when you read and educate yourself. Reading everyday for 1 hour for 1 year can make you an expert at something. SO imagine reading everyday for 1 hour for 5, 10, 20 years. WOW! I am excited for the years to come. Next, is fitness results. Too many people buy into the quick remedy approach to fitness. Too many infer-commercials, too many trainers giving 8-week transformation programs and too many "fat burning" supplements on the market. There is no such thing as fast results in fitness. I have been working out for over 18 years. I started out with the bodybuilding phase in the 90's and the education I learned from that was priceless. Learning 15 different isolation exercises for each body part is how I began my fitness career. Yes, it was old school but it started my foundation. I slowly progressed into the functional training era in the early 2000's. But to me this was cool and crazy exercise prescription. It was standing on bosu balls or doing bicep curls on 1-leg, this is how I trained and how I started training my clients. It worked back then. I was doing dynamic warm-up drills before I even understood the actual reasons why. I just knew that it was a better warm-up than walking on the treadmill. I now understand function and the joint my joint method to training. I believe sport, performance, fitness and life is about how well you can move and control your body. Absolute strength only matters on your movement efficiency. If you can squat 500 pounds but can not do a 1-leg bodyweight squat then what is the purpose of lifting that 500 pounds. But vice versa take an athlete who can bust out 1-leg squats with 25 pound dumbbells, you have a "functional" athlete. His strength has a purpose. You need function, stability, mobility, flexibility, power, balanced strength and specific conditioning to be an elite athlete and to be an elite person. If you leave one of those concepts out you will not be well rounded. Back to the point, it takes weeks, months, and years of solid dedication and consistency with your workouts and your nutrition to reach high levels of fitness and performance. When you try a new exercise, master that exercise and then move to the next level. It is a constant process of learning, getting better and moving on.

3. California Fitness Academy has built a name for itself in Visalia and surrounding area. We are now on top of the fitness industry in our area. But just like maintaining a lead in football, the key is staying strong and not backing down. People need to know that our place is results oriented. Our clients are not perfect and our coaches are not perfect as well. WE are all trying to live a healthy lifestyle one day at a time. It's not like everyone at CFA is walking around with ripped and lean bodies. That is not what it is about. No gym is like that. But everyday our coaches come with motivation, inspiration and dedication to get their clients excited to live. We are always trying to give our clients the best and most efficient fitness programs out there. If that means changing things up a bit or adding a new exercise then that's what we do. The key is keeping people inspired to reach new levels of performance. Being able to help someone improve their health and life is unbelievable and we will continue to offer the BEST service and fitness education in the area.

4. I was at a BBQ this last weekend with some great friends. It was a potluck style BBQ. Anytime I go to a BBQ, you never know how healthy or unhealthy the food will be. Remember, you can choose the food and the portion size that goes into your mouth. Well I decided to stop off at the grocery store on the way and pick up some red and green bell peppers, a pineapple and some fuji apples. I decided to give this BBQ a slice of healthy and delicious food. I first sliced the apples and threw them on the grill. I lightly flavored them with cinnamon. They cooked on each side for about 5 minutes, getting a little soft and charcoaled. Those were a great healthy appetizer to get the party started. Then I threw the whole bell peppers on the grill. I had pre-seasoned them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Those would cook for about 15-20 minutes. When the peppers were about done, I sliced the pineapple into halves and threw them on the grill. The pineapples only need about 4-5 minutes on each side. I took the peppers and pineapples off the grill and let them cool. I then diced the peppers and pineapple, threw it all together and created a healthy salad mix. I still enjoyed the other dishes but in moderation. But these are the things you need to do if you want to get results. Yes, it takes a little effort but in the end you eat healthy and feel great.

5. Are you a Brett Favre fan? When Brett is on the field, to me, he resembles what sport is all about. Hard work, dedication, comaraderie with teammates and not making any excuses. He has portrayed these traits for many years. In fact he has been doing this for 292 straight games. But lately, his drama is getting annoying. Let's see how this "soap opera" ends. I hope he can find a way to win some games and finish the season on a positive note.

6. I have talked about stretching before. In fact, I had a random thought blog where I brought it up. And I am going to bring it up again. Flexibility is so important for long term benefit and performance. Lack of flexibility is the reason so many people have dysfunction, pain and injury. When you go to the gym, the first thing that is ignored is stretching. Maybe because it is uncomfortable or it is just boring but usually this is what people leave out of their program. When our muscles are tight they resist movement and are more susceptible to injury. We can do something about that. Ignore all the articles about how its not good to stretch before a workout or game. I have been stretching for years. And most of my stretching is done before I do anything active. Add in some foam rolling before you stretch, even better. It's what you do after you stretch is the important part. After you stretch you should perform a thorough dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow, elasticity and prepare the body for the work ahead.

7. It's time for a change when....
-You have been doing the same workout routine for more than 1 year and you just methodically run through your workout each day.
-You are unmotivated to workout and go to the gym. Change your workout, hire a coach, get a workout partner or join a club. These things will spark that motivation and get you inspired to train again.
-You needed to go buy new pants, a size bigger. Take a look at your nutrition plan, your fridge and your cupboards. Change your food, change your workouts and change your mindset. The bigger your pants size the higher the odds of you getting a chronic disease like diabetes, stroke or cancer. Do something about it.
-When all of your closest friends are always drunk. I will be the first one to admit that I enjoy a few beers. Drinking a beer is relaxing and destressing (is that a word?) But it's when you start drinking many drinks during the week. Did you know that 2 light beers a day add up to over 110,000 calories in a year. These are wasted calories that will add inches to your waist line. Be smart and start hanging out with people that will support you in a positive way.
-You wake up everyday with a negative outlook on life. Change your job, change the people you hang out with or change your attitude. Life is a good thing. Yes it is hard and grueling but when you appreciate and live each day to the fullest, Life becomes awesome! And once you have this positive mindset you can spread the wealth and inspire others!

8. Can you believe it is November already?? Man, time flies. We have 2 months left of 2010. We will never get these two months back so we must create an experience to remember these last 60 days. How we finish the year off will dictate the start of yet another year. So decide now to finish strong with momentum. Stick to your goals, stick to your game plan and drive everyday to better yourself. Each day is crucial to move a little forward in the right direction. So let's BE ELITE! Let's BE BIG! And let's GO GET EM'. Time to make it happen....

Past writings