Monday, September 29, 2014

A message to coaches and fitness trainers and the people they work with

If you work with a personal trainer, fitness instructor, physical therapist or sports coach, please take the time to read and then forward it over to your coach.   

If you are in the fitness industry, this one’s for you....

There are many ways to “skin a cat”.  Meaning, there are many varieties of fitness.  One size does not fit all.  I am not going to sit here and tell you that one program is better than the other.  But, here is an important point to consider: Coaching fitness goes so much deeper than supplying just some workout.  I do my best to educate my clients and athletes on real world training and nutrition principles.  Supplying these principles can aide me in individualizing the program to fit each unique person.  I understand that what may work for one person, might not work for another.   

Always coaching and caring for your students is key.

A good coach creates an environment that molds the training session around the unique abilities of the students.  Poor coaches are constantly “shoving square pegs into round holes”.  This design sets people up to be unsuccessful in the training plan.    

This atmosphere is about "getting work done" more so than quality work.  
As a coach, it is so critical to educate each individual on how his or her body works and responds to movement and exercise.  Understanding each individual’s unique physiology (body structure) is critical to be successful.  By recognizing these parameters, now you can start pushing their limits.  Having the aptitude to scale workouts to each individual is very important to allow proper progression and improvement to happen. 

The worse thing I can do is put a client into a dangerous situation that will increase the chance of injury.  My job is to first, build a safe environment.  Fitness training should not cause injury, or at least the chances are very minimal.  If you are constantly getting hurt in the gym, you are doing something wrong.  I am always asking this question, “What are the risks versus rewards of this specific exercise?”  I then make a smart decision as to what is implemented into my program.  

What are the risks versus rewards of this exercise?

Risk vs. Reward?  Is there a better option?

Secondly, fitness coaches and personal trainers are put into a position to guide and encourage smart fitness training.  Coaches need to understand that just because a specific workout makes someone sore and tired, doesn’t mean the workout was beneficial.  Vomiting, extreme soreness and passing out are not positive affects to training.   

Not a good workout affect.

Are we randomly choosing exercises?  Do we have a planned training system?  Do we just find exercises that crush people?  Are we teaching the exercises correctly?  Is every workout extremely hard?  These are just a few questions to ask yourself regarding programming.  

Once we have created a safe training atmosphere, now the fun part begins.  Adding in motivational strategies to the training session is icing on the cake.  If the individual you are coaching is not motivated, odds are they will end up leaving your program.  Supplying motivational tools should be ongoing and a major part of the job.  Motivation is what assists people reach their goals.  Without motivation, progress gets halted.  

Motivational talk at the end of EVERY workout!  Inspire them to be better!

All in all, the fitness coach is put into a pretty important position.  We are fortunate to have an avenue to truly help people find their ultimate self.  But we must look at a training session more thoroughly than just giving a good workout.  The workout is the “nuts and bolts” but without the right tools, the coach will not complete the job.  Create a high-energy environment.  Be passionate every workout.  Listen to your members.  Always communicate.  Supply motivation.  Work on yourself.  These skills and characteristics will truly help you change peoples’ lives.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Movement is the Cure

We sit more, we move less and we have become sedentary.  Yes, this is now the society norm.  Why is active living the minority?  Why is the fit individual looked upon as unusual or “weird”?  Why do people think they cannot perform basic human movements that at one time were completely natural actions?  Squatting, crawling, climbing, hanging, throwing, running, twisting, lunging, pulling, pushing and lifting are basic human movements that we have been doing since the beginning of time.  But yet, in our current state we have defaulted into inactivity, limiting our movement capabilities.  This in turn, creates movement dysfunction, injury, obesity, disease and unhealthy living.  Simply moving more can cure many of these unhealthy issues.  

Prolonged sitting, TV watching, computer usage, video gaming and texting has become more popular than simply playing.  Parks are vacant.  Playgrounds are desolate.  Black court basketball courts are empty.  Ask your co-employee if they can climb a rope or fluidly squat to the ground.  The statistics say they cannot perform these tasks.  Why are we migrating away from demonstrating basic human movements?  Why would people rather sit all day than get up and be active?  Movement is the cure and can help decrease pain, improve lifestyle habits, and create a more enjoyable life, which will develop overall personal performance. 

Many people do not have adequate mobility to squat to the ground.

The deep squat used to be a natural human movement.

But we need a complete paradigm shift in our way of thinking.  Many people are reactive in regards to movement.  They wait until pain arises or their doctor tells them they “need to exercise more” or they have trouble walking a flight of stairs.  Please do not wait till something happens to move.  It might be too late if you wait.  

Moving erratic, with poor quality and high repetition is not the answer either.  Considering your personal movement capacities is such a critical component when prescribing a dosage of activity. 

Just because an activity makes you sore and tired doesn't mean it was good for you.  Once you have created an understanding of your own individual guidelines, get out there and express your movement. 

Work your mobility, which will improve your total range of motion.  Mobility is the ultimate aspiration, as we grow older.  Work your strength.  Strength doesn’t necessarily mean how much can you bench press or squat.  Strength is the expression of how well you can control your range of motion.  Strength is bodyweight management.  Strength is power. Strength is having balance.  If you can bench press 225 pounds but can not perform one bodyweight pull-up, it’s a problem.  

So here is my challenge for you: Weekly, do your best to move as much as you can.  There is no specific recommendation like “3 days for 60 minutes”.  The more you move, the better you will feel.  Daily movement is essential to quality living.  Squat, crawl, climb, hang, throw, run, twist, lunge, push, pull and lift.  Do these things in a fluid and quality manner.  Do not bash your body into the ground.  Movement should make you feel good, not beaten up.  Push your limits but recognize how far you should stretch those limits.   Add recovery strategies to promote blood flow, flexibility and decrease inflammation.  Eat sensible.  Movement and nutrition enhancement can change your life. 

Let’s take personal responsibility to create a shift in thinking regarding movement and exercise.  It’s for all of us.  We just need to find the right dosage required to upgrade our lives.  Now, go move!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The new rules of Core Training

"The idea of core strengthening is to 
build a shield to protect our lower spine."

I had a team meeting with our fitness coaches and the main topic of conversation was “core training”.  I wanted to challenge the thought of how we work the core and what would be the best exercises to increase core function.  I first wanted to talk about the function of our entire torso region.  This area of the body basically connects our upper body to our lower body.  Everything from our shoulders to our hips can be associated to our “core”.  Don’t just think abdominals.  Many people view the “6-pack” as the core but true core anatomy is the deepest layer of the human body.  In fact, the major core musculature will never be seen in a mirror.  The diaphragm (breathing muscle), pelvic floor (all of the muscles associated with the pelvis), transverse abdominals (internal weight belt) and the small spinal muscles known as the multifidis represents the inner core. 

Once we were on the same page regarding anatomy, then it was time to talk function.  What is the role of the core?  I began answering this question with a concept known as “shield training”.  To me, the idea of core strengthening is to build a shield to protect our lower spine.   

Let me explain.  The 5 lumbar vertebrae are very susceptible to various injuries.  Stenosis, sciatica, bulging discs, herniated discs and disc degeneration can all derive from poor core function.  When the muscles that surround these 5 lumbar discs are weak, unstable and are in poor positions, the low back becomes the main culprit, which can cause pretty serious pain.  Individuals that sit most of their day are more susceptible to low back problems due to the poor posture they are reinforcing on a daily basis. 

Look what happens to the low spine when posture is compensated.

Probably the worse position we can be in during the day. 

Traditional exercises like crunches, sit-ups, Russian twists and leg raises may not be the best exercises to create true function at the core.  In fact, repetitive crunching and twisting has been shown to put tremendous stress on the lumbar spine. 

I then started talking about surrounding areas to the torso.  “Core” training is also about creating good function in our hips, glutes, mid-spine and shoulders.  We need mobility in our hips and mobility in our mid-spine so that we can stay stable in our low spine.  Think about a golfer who has poor shoulder and hip rotation.  The low spine becomes the prime mover for the golf swing and this quickly can cause injury and pain.  The golf swing can generate tremendous force.  If this individual is not functioning correctly, this can have the low back screaming.  This concept can relate to basically all human movements.  The hips should be the power source so that the low spine can remain stable.  

                                 The Joint by Joint approach is a system that creates joint function.  If the hips and thoracic                                                spine are not mobile, the low spine will take the movement, thus causing pain. 

Ok, so now that we understand a little more about this “shield” idea, what exercises are best to help us improve our core function?  Let’s start with the hips.  We need hip mobility drills to improve or maintain our hip range of motion.  Remember, if our hips are stiff, the low back is likely to take the unwanted movement.  Bodyweight deep squats, leg swings, bodyweight split squats, bodyweight single leg deadlifts, hip lifts and side lunges can all assist in hip mobility. 

To improve lumbar stability, in my opinion, stay away from those mentioned traditional exercises above.

Start implementing:
Farmer Walks: grab 2 dumbbells or kettlebells and walk for 25-40 yards.  Stay “tall and tight”.   

Suitcase walks: same as Farmer Walks but with just 1 dumbbell or kettlebell. 

Birddog: Go to your hands and knees on the ground.  Without any torso movement, push out and extend your right leg to the wall behind you and extend your left arm to the wall in front of your.  Perform 10 repetitions then switch sides.  Maintain good stability in your low spine area.  

Planks/Side planks: Most people have seen these movements but do not perform them correctly.  You should have good posture and portray a rigid body.  No need to hold more than 30 seconds. 

Correct form.  Notice the rigid and aligned body.

Incorrect form.

Shoulder Touches: Get into a perfect push-up position.  Widen your feet and have your left hand touch your right shoulder.  Do the opposite side and perform 20 total repetitions.  Do not let your hips move side to side.  This will teach rotational stability.  


Start adding these exercises to your workouts and you will see a change in your core strength.   Of course, there are many exercises to choose from.  But the idea is to rethink what we know about training the core and dive a little deeper (no pun intended) into the true function. 

Oh by the way, if you do want to see a “6-pack”, that is a nutrition thing.  You get strong in the gym and lean in the kitchen.  You can do all of the “core training” you want but if you are not eating the right foods, you will not change your waistline. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Perform Better 2014 Review

Perform Better 2014 in Long Beach was once again a game changer.  I first want to thank Chris Poirier and his staff at Perform Better for over delivering and supplying an extraordinary experience.  Speaking of that word, extraordinary, Todd Durkin’s presentation was the best way to finish this seminar.  Take a great workout that you have done before and add the massive “finisher” to that workout and you put the exclamation point on the training session, making it extraordinary.  We (I was fortunate to bring my staff of 5 Coaches) finished with Todd’s lecture and it basically took everything that we learned and put it together.  It put an exclamation point on the Summit.  We left with new levels of motivation and personal drive to supply our members at California Fitness Academy. 

Here are some key takeaways from this epic 3-day event:

Todd Durkin’s presentation titled “Extraordinary Self” resonated major energy to work on personal growth, life skills, motivation, positive living and straight up EPICNESS.  Take all of the training tools, education and information that we learned over the 3 days and it means nothing if you, as the coach, do not have personal drive and inspiration.  I advocate this message to my team constantly.  Relentlessly pursuing a better YOU should become an obsession.  “Work on you more than you work on your job. When you work on your job, you can make a living.  When you work on yourself, you make a fortune.”  This quote from Jim Rohn runs parallel to what Todd was describing.  We are in charge of our work ethic, our thoughts, our attitude, and the goals we want to achieve.  It’s in our control to reach massive levels.  And I am not just talking about our specific profession.  I am talking about our total self.  Reaching that extraordinary level depends on the work we are willing to do.  Are we willing to obsessively work on our craft?  Are we willing to get uncomfortable?  Are we willing to take risks?  Are we willing to read the positive material?  Are we willing to eliminate the negative people in our life?  Answering yes to these questions will push you to your limits and get you out of your comfort zone, which will expand your limits and make you a stronger person.  Todd has a way to engage and grip his audience.  Everyone, I mean everyone left his presentation with extraordinary energy.  Thanks Todd for giving us an extraordinary presentation!

The next highlight for me was Mark Verstegen.  The word of his presentation that was emphasized was “upgrade”.  As fitness professionals, our job is to upgrade our clients’ lives.  Sometimes our idea of what fitness looks like is not the same idea of what fitness should look like to the client.  We must find simple, realistic and healthy strategies for our clients to work on.  Maybe it’s to drink 40 ounces of water for the person just starting out.  Maybe it’s 3-4 servings of vegetables and fruit a day for another client.  Maybe it’s a detailed food log for the advanced athlete.  Whatever the strategy, we must be in constant pursuit to upgrade the lives we are managing.  “Every day is a game changer.”  This was the title of Mark’s presentation and it’s so true.  Every day can be epic, life changing and full of opportunities and fitness is our avenue to teach these principles to our clients.  Mark did talk about the training system they follow at EXOS.  I am always drawn to the simplicity of their program design.  Think about this concept, one of the best training facilities in the world and their training philosophies follow basic and sound principles.  The rest of the fitness world needs to learn and model off this simple approach.  Foam roll, pillar strength, movement prep., power, strength, and energy system work.  That’s it.  There’s your program.  No bells and whistles.  Just basic program design done with solid execution.  If the best in the world is doing it, why not follow the mold.  Add in major focus to recovery outside the gym, implement sound and healthy nutritional principles and be consistent over the long haul and you have yourself an UPGRADED life!  Thank you Mark for inspiring the industry.

Speaking of simple program design, Mike Boyle is a master at designing simple but very effective training programs.  I have known and followed Mike for over 10 years.  Mike is one of the most genuine people I know.  He goes out of his way to say hi, shake your hand and answer questions.  I saw Mike spend an extra 30 minutes after presenting for over 5 hours, answering questions for attendees.  I like Mike’s idea of a progression and regression model.  You find the baseline exercise and you have 3 regressions and 3 progressions for that exercise.  Depending on the individual (s) you are training will depend on your selection of regressions or progressions.  This is so simple but yet so brilliant.  You can basically train any level of client in a group setting. 
Here is an example:

Regression 3: assisted squat
Regression 2: Bodyweight squat
Regression 1: assisted split squat
Baseline: bodyweight split squat
Progression 1: Split squat holding DB’s
Progression 2: Split squat holding weight overhead
Progression 3: BW Foot elevated split squat

This set-up is very simple, easy to use as a coach and makes for an appropriate training session.  We must put the client in a successful and SAFE situation.  The idea is not to create a circus environment.  Mike’s #1 rule (and should be all trainer’s #1 rule) is to not injure people in the training session.  In fact, we should stay far away from this risk.  Mike is very adamant and will speak his mind regarding this topic.  Random, high-intensity and aggressive training increases chance of injury.  Injury SHOULD NOT happen in an exercise environment.  Especially when a coach is managing the session!  Mike gave us an easy assessment tool (actually quite funny) to evaluate our sessions.  It’s the “SHIT” test.  If exercise technique looks like shit, then simply regress the client to a more suitable movement.  Just because an exercise is hard and makes someone sore, doesn’t mean it was functional and will improve someone’s life.  Move well first then move more.  Mike you are a mentor to all of us in the fitness industry.  Thank you for supplying us solid, real world information to help us make our training programs better. 

As I look through the rest of my notes, I wanted to give a few short bullet points on some key ideas:

·       Lenny Parracino: “Stiffness you feel in the morning, that is dehydration.”  This was an interesting but valid point Lenny made.  I really feel many people walk around dehydrated which leads to pain, dysfunction and poor quality living.  Simply drink more water, do some tissue work during the week and move consistently and your muscles will start to love you. 
·       Gray Cook: Gray gave us his list of top “functional exercises”.  His first list of exercises were directed to Posture, Balance, Alignment and Coordination.  Here was his list: balance beam, bottom up kettlebell, farmers carry, Indian clubs, jump rope, bear crawl, Turkish get-up and overhead carry.  His second list of exercises was directed to Strength, Endurance, Power and Speed.  Here was his list: sprinting, deadlifts, squats, push-ups, pull-ups and push-press.  I like all of these exercises and utilize many of them in our training programs.  Simple movements but very effective when executed right.
·       Brandon Marcello: This presentation was funny, informative and kept our interest.  I have never met Brandon, but he seemed like a very genuine guy.  His topic was about recovery and regeneration.  This is the missing element for many people in their training programs.  He made a great comment that he “doesn’t necessarily believe in overtraining”, rather he believes people “underrecover”.  When athletes are in this “underrecovered” state, they limit their recovery and stress will occur.  More recovery is needed.  Sleep quality, nutrient foods, massage, meditation and light movement can all be regeneration techniques. 
·       Charlie Weingroff:  Charlie always delivers solid information.  Two things I take from his “I lift heavy things and put them down” presentation…1) Breathing and how important it is to do it correctly and also can aide in our absolute strength.  Practicing deep belly breathing is critical for not just athletes but all individuals.  “Get strong behind the brace.”  I will let you think about that one for a second.  2) The Lowest System Load idea. If we can use a lower weight and still achieve the strength we are looking for it’s a WIN!  I am a big fan of this approach. 

As I put the entire Summit into one key learning lesson, it’s “GET BETTER AT THE BASICS”.  I didn’t really learn some new revolutionary training idea or concept that blew my mind.  I didn’t learn any new exercises.  But my biggest take away was that to get our athletes and clients better, we must put them in a successful and motivating environment.  Many programs in the fitness industry have the “go to the extreme” approach.  Their idea is to do the most extreme workout program with the most extreme diet.  This is completely incorrect and will lead people the wrong way.  Individuals are at their own unique spot.  We as coaches must supply strategies, habits, or techniques to our clients to help them take the next step in their fitness journey.  Not five steps, one step!  Do not give them too much.  And do not let them get comfortable.  Give them just enough to stretch and challenge them.  Let them be successful.  Guide them through this process.  We are not drill sergeants.  We are fitness coaches.  We should be in relentless pursuit to help people UPGRADE their lives by supplying them smart, efficient and realistic fitness education. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Healthy living is the priority

Healthy living is the priority

“It’s not realistic to only eat raw food for healthy nutrition. 
Our society is not built this way anymore.”

I was having a conversation with two guys who are affiliated with Visalus.  Visalus is a company that markets weight management products, with the main product being the “Vi-shake”.  First of all, these two guys in particular are very passionate and love life.  I was definitely in the presence of positivity and life energy.  I enjoyed our conversation as we talked about personal growth, business development, healthy living, basically the things I love to talk about.  I think it was pretty cool that we both have our unique visions to help people change their lives.  So whether I advise Visalus or not, I liked these two guys.  I was asked my opinion on supplements and what I advise my clients.  I wanted to elaborate on my thoughts…

“I am a huge advocate of creating a healthy lifestyle first.  No supplement or vitamin is the end all be all to nutrition and health.  Understand this first.  When supplements are shoved in our face, we start to think the product is better than real food.  This is false.  It puts the wrong message out there for the community.  Nutrient packed foods are a far better solution than any multivitamin or Vitamin C supplement.  The actual definition of supplement states: Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.  So a supplement can complete the human diet when used appropriately.  If you eat fast food and drink soda during the week, a supplement will not give you better health.  I would rather someone make changes in their overall nutrition program first before supplementing their diet.  If you need more Vitamin C, eat Vitamin C rich foods.  If you need more protein, eat more lean meats and eggs.  If you do not know, the next step is to food log.  If you do not know what is coming into your body, you will have no clue where your deficiencies lie.  To take a Vitamin C tablet or other supplement without knowing your actual intake is negligent and can be harmful if consumption is too high.  Thinking a “protein shake” will be the magical cure to your weight problem is nonsense.  Nothing is better than a healthy nutrition plan, hard work in the gym and consistency to the overall program. It’s a mindset.  It takes determination and effort. It’s committing to the lifestyle.  Now if a supplement can assist you to become a healthier person and be a tool for you to make healthy changes in your life, I am all for it.  There can be a place for supplementation in the human diet.  Short on time?  Grab a protein shake.  Iron deficient?  Utilize an iron supplement.  Not eating enough fish and omega 3’s?  Use a fish oil product.  But the idea is to create a foundation of natural health first.  Pack your diet full of nutrient dense foods.  Drink water.  Workout.  And be consistent.  This is how I view the idea of supplements.”

After hearing me passionately speak my mind, one of the gentlemen responded by calmly saying, “You are 100% correct.  It’s all about creating a healthy lifestyle and getting your nutrition from real food should be the priority.  But it’s not realistic for most people to only eat raw food for healthy nutrition.  Our society is not built this way anymore.” 
It’s a sound point he made but this quote really stuck with me.  I really had to wrap my stubborn brain around this hypothesis.  Does our society really have a problem?  Are we at a point where the majority of the population does not get it?  Do most people need these supplements to create a healthier life? 

Let’s take a look at some alarming statistics…

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention,

·      69% of Adults age 20 years and over are considered overweight or obese. 
·      18.4% of adolescents age 12-19 are obese
·      18% of children age 6-11 are obese
·      12% of children age 2-5 are obese
·      26.6 million adults have been diagnosed with heart disease

What?!  These statistics are disturbing to say the least.  Our society does have a problem when it comes to lifestyle habits. 

Now, let’s take a look at a few statistics regarding the supplement industry…

·      The percentage of the U.S. population who used at least one dietary supplement increased from 42% in 1988–1994 to 53% in 2003–2006
·      The supplement industry has produced about $32 billion in revenue for just nutritional supplements alone in 2012.  It is projected to double that by topping $60 billion in 2021 according to the Nutritional Business Journal.
·      More than one-half of U.S adults take dietary supplements

Ok, so here is how I am looking at the overlap of these two areas.  Heart disease and obesity is rising.  Our children are getting heavier by the year.  Activity comes in the form of facebook and video games, not playing basketball and riding bikes.  The supplement industry is also on a steady incline.  Americans are using supplements more than ever.  If these supplements are meant to help us live healthier lives why are these heart disease and obesity statistics continuing to rise?  Our health as a country is declining.  But supplements are rising.  So where is the problem?!

The problem with our society is the overall mindset.  We need a shift in our consciousness.  We need to alter our definition of health.  We need to get our priorities straight.  We need more people to encourage this way of living.  NOT, prescribing “fast-acting” products.  We can live healthy without artificial products.  We can live healthy with the assistance of supplements.  The idea is build a solid foundation of health.

So can a supplement be of assistance to your healthy plan?  Absolutely.

Will it be the magic bullet to you achieving results?  Absolutely not. 

My answer…

Here we go... 

Are you ready for the next great thing?

I am not promising fast results.  This “product” will take a life-long commitment.  Something in your head will have to click on and say, “I can do this for the rest of my life.”  I will not force a protein drink down your throat.  I will not tell you to shove 10 vitamins down your mouth everyday.  I do not have the magical berry juice.  I will not advise any type of fasting (We need food for crying out loud).  What I want you to consider is the habit of health.  It’s having the dedication to yourself to workout consistently, eat sensible foods (doesn’t have to be perfect) and follow a healthy plan.  It’s long term.   The first step is to create a foundation. 

Start by drinking 72 ounces of water.  If you are not doing this, don’t take supplements.  Start with the basics. 

Start by getting to the gym 3 or 4 times a week.  When you are at the gym, don’t over do it.  Push yourself but do not hurt yourself.  You want to push your limits every once in awhile in your workouts.  If you do this every time, you will eventually get hurt. 

Start by buying some healthy groceries.  Eat more vegetables and fruits.  Get some good lean proteins.  Limit the processed sugars and simple carbohydrates (notice I did not say eliminate).  Use a specific diet plan to assist your lifestyle but do not let it take over your life. 

Find balance.  Be smart and do not feed your children Lucky Charms everyday.  Once or twice a week, I am ok with but everyday is careless.  Learn to make healthy choices most of the time.  Create a healthy balance that you can sustain. 

Use a supplement or aide when you are in a time constraint or you notice you have a nutritional deficiency.  Don’t haphazardly consume drinks, pills, juice or liquid vitamins just because your friend told you it’s healthier.  Research.  Know what you are putting in your body.  Ask yourself why you are putting “x” in your body. 

Recognize your lifestyle patterns.  If you do not have a habit of health, no supplement, no diet, no extreme workout plan, nothing will work and be sustainable until you build a long-standing habit. 

Do not kid yourself.  Do not buy an $80 vitamin pack because it promises weight loss.  Do not believe a “60-day” workout plan will completely transform your body. 

If you want a lean physique, if you want to see your abs, if you want muscles, if you want less fat…you must commit to a specific lifestyle.  If you are looking to drop a few pounds before your class reunion, tighten up your nutrition for a couple months.  But do not revert back to your old ways.  Continue your healthy journey.  It will take more than 60 days.  It will take more than just a drink or pill.  It will take dedication, perseverance, determination and constant effort. 

Can we debunk this “Society is not built this way anymore” statement?  I believe we can.  But it’s up to each individual to choose healthier living.  Each person is responsible.  Every parent is responsible for his or her children.  We can do this!  Set your mind!  Believe!  Your life depends on it!

**I do not have anything against weight loss products or nutritional companies.  What I do have a problem with is claiming a product is the “magical” formula to a healthy life.  Many people have done great without any supplements.  Vice versa, many people have used supplements to aide their healthy life.  As a community, let’s first encourage healthy living before we prescribe artificial supplements. 

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Single Best Strategy for Productive Living

"If it's important to you, you will find a way.  If not you'll find an excuse."

Nothing works without consistency. In our society, too many people are looking for quick fix formulas that promise results. If you really want to be successful, productive, build a strong business, attain high levels of fitness and truly take advantage of life, then I recommend starting with this one strategy below...But do not expect over night results with this task. You need to complete this tactic every week, for many weeks; really for many months. It needs to become a habit. This discipline sounds strict and rigid but this consistent habit will free up time to do other things in your life.
A habit of mine every Sunday is to build my week ahead. Whether I am out of town or at home, I find a quiet place, turn on some soothing music and I start building my week. I take out a blank weekly design template that I stole from Robin Sharma. If you do not know who Robin Sharma is, I recommend you reading his blog and watching his videos. He is a leadership coach and consults with some of the biggest companies in the world. He is the author of the best selling book, The Leader Who Had No Title. His strategies have tremendously helped me lead a more productive and fuller life.

I first start by writing in all of my fixed appointments. These are the meetings or activities that do not change week by week. I know this schedule by heart but I still write them in my template. Next on the schedule is my family time. I find pockets of time during my workweek when my priority is my wife and daughters (morning time, dinners, activities, dates, etc.). During the weekends, I do not write in "family time" because that is my focus on most weekends, unless I am traveling. I then write in my personal workouts. I have my own performance goals so my training is very important to me. I usually schedule these workouts around my work and family schedule. I either work out really early, before my family is awake or take an hour out of my workday to make it happen. Since I own my own fitness training facility, this makes things easier for me to get my workouts in.  But don't make the excuse of "I don't have time to workout".  Make time.  Find time.  We all have the time, it's just utilizing our time effectively.  Once my schedule is completed for the week, I move on to the back page.

On the back of these time management sheets are my "to dos" for the week. I write down everything that needs to be done. Things like articles I need to write, any business tasks like marketing/finances/or staff communication, and any emails/calls that are needed to make. Once I complete a task, I highlight it, which gives me a sense of esteem and accomplishment. On the top of these sheets, I write out a "weekly focus message". This week was "Be into others.  Relationships are key".  This gives me a laser focused mindset on a specific idea that I need to work on all week. If I feel I need to focus on that specific idea more, then it becomes the next week's focus message.

Over time, this strategy has enabled me to reduce stress, tremendously increase productivity, spend more time with my family, build a better and stronger business, train and compete in triathlons and other running races, improve my relationships, have laser focus on my priorities and overall live a more enthusiastic way of life!

If there is one strategy that I recommend for personal productivity and life development, this it! I am not a fan of the "I don't have time" excuse. If it's important, I make time and it gets scheduled. My goal is to have 52 weeks in a row of these sheets filled out!

Set Big Goals, Start small and Act now!

For more information regarding my programs, go to my brand new website,

If you are ready to reach for your ULTIMATE BEST or if you have any questions regarding this coaching program, please contact me at

No let up and keep striving, 

Justin Levine  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Keep reaching for your Ultimate Best


“If you are doing your best, you will not have any time to worry about failure.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

In life, you should always be pursuing your ultimate best.  Whether it is your business or family life, your health, your relationships, your communication, your personal growth or your faith, stretching yourself is an important component to living life to the fullest.  Stagnation is an evil sense.  It creates mediocrity.  This weakness can take you away from your dreams and goals.  You must be relentless in the pursuit of reaching your full potential.  It’s non-stop.  It takes work.  It is very difficult.  But the benefits are staggering and life altering. 

“Life and success is not about what you get.  Life and success is about the full expression of your talents and reaching your absolute best.”  Robin Sharma 

Living this way will give you the ability to do more with your life.  You will inspire more people.  You will use your life to create significance in the world.  You will become a better parent, or friend, or teacher.  You will use your talents to change the world.  So why not STRIVE FOR YOUR ULTIMATE BEST? 

Here are a few ideas to think about as you pursue world-class levels:

1.     Habits.  Everything we do in our day-to-day lives are habits.  They are simple routines that have been cemented into our way of life.  Whether they are strong and positive habits that assist your personal mastery or weak and mediocre habits that take you away from your goals, habits have been created due to the consistent formation of our daily routines.  Habits can be built and habits can be broken.  The longer you have practiced specific habits, the longer it will take you to reform and substantiate new and improved habits.  Here is the first activity: assess your daily habits.  Write them down.  Do they support your life goals?  Do they lead you to your ultimate best?  Will the habit lead you to mental clarity and physical strength?  Remember, this pursuit is to reach your ULTIMATE BEST.  This is not a race against someone else.  It’s an individual challenge to reach your full potential.  Always look at yourself and find ways to improve.  Find those mediocre habits that do not lead you to your aspirations.  Reform them into better and smarter habits.  And be patient.  On average, habits can take 66 days to instill.  This depends on the actual habit, the person, and the circumstances.  The first few weeks of working on a new habit will be uncomfortable.  Push through this uncomfortable feeling.  If you persist, if you desire to form positive and healthy habits, if you want your goals to happen, it all starts with your daily habits and practices. 

2.     Become a world-class thinker.  World-class thinking leads to world class action taking.  This starts with what you feed into your brain and body.  What music do you listen to?  What TV do you watch?  Who do you network with?  What books do you read?  What food do you eat?  How do you treat your body?  You cannot expect a car to run functionally when you load junk into the gas tank.  The car will simply breakdown and not perform at high levels.  The same goes for the human body.  What you put in the body, in the form of words, music, TV, people and nutrition all matters to what output you want to produce.  I truly believe that we must block out the negativity.  We must limit pessimistic things and people in our life.  Guard your bubble and be very cautious of what comes in.  Go back to the first idea above.  Your habits.  How do you wake up in the morning?  Do you read a positive or inspiring book?  Do you eat a nutrient dense breakfast that will energize the body?  Do you exercise to release endorphins so you can feel good about yourself? Do you spend time to recite positive affirmations in your head?  These strategies can be a game changer in regards to how you live your day-to-day life.  If you start your day on the right note, more than not, you will have better days.  You will be more successful in your thinking.  You will view each day as a stepping-stone to your complete life.  A new vitality will be unloaded and you will wake up ready to get from the day instead of just “get through the day.”  So become fully aware of every thought that enters the head.  Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.  Form positive habits.  Surround yourself with a supportive and motivating network of people.  Your thoughts will change your world.   

3.     “Determination is a stronger trait than weakness.”  This thought was cemented into my head at mile 265 of my 300-mile run.  I was tired.  My body was beat up.  My mind was weary.  It could have been easy to throw in the towel and be content with running 265 miles.  I mean think about it, I ran 265 miles ran in a 4-day period!  But that was not the goal.  The journey was not over.  The depths of my weakness and vulnerability were suffocated by my determination.  This determination pushed my limits and led me to achieving a monumental expedition.  The same determination that enabled me to run 300 miles is the same determination you have to achieve your goals.  We all have it.  The question is, “Are you willing to find that deep determination?”  Or will you allow weakness to win?  Weakness is the easy route.  Weakness is hitting the snooze button when you know you should be up for an early morning workout.  Weakness is giving in to pessimistic habits.  Determination will take constant drive.  Determination will be tough at times.  But this determination will guide you to your ULTIMATE BEST.  Use your determination to fulfill your potential so you can truly live life to the fullest. 

A few action steps:
  • Every week make a schedule.  What gets scheduled gets done.  If it’s important to you, add it to your schedule.  This is your weekly design plan.  It will keep you laser focused on your most important activities. 
  • Exercise every single day.  One hour a week is 4% of the week.  You have time to make this happen.  This short amount of time dedicated to your physical well-being will direct you to becoming and doing your best. 
  • Read and fill your mind with inspiring and motivating books and articles.  This should become a habit.
  • Top-notch nutrition will give you world-class health.  Your health is you wealth and if you are eating junk, you will not produce high-level output.  Most of the time you should be eating nutrient dense foods to saturate the body with vitamins and minerals that are needed for high-level performance. 
  • Rejuvenate.  You must make time to unwind, relax and rest the mind.  This ability to "empty your cup" will give you more energy and passion to focus on your major tasks. 
  • Cherish your relationships.  The people that support you need to be appreciated.  Let them know your gratefulness.  Invite them for a cup of coffee, send them a positive text or call them to say thank you.  Life is nothing without positive relationships. 
  • Believe!  Without a strong belief system, nothing happens.  Start to truly believe in your abilities.  You can do so much.  Be ambitious.  Go for the ultimate.  Believing is the first step!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT:, my personal growth coaching program's website has officially launched.  This new venture will enable me to assist people live fuller and more passionate lives.  If you are ready to reach for your ULTIMATE BEST or if you have any questions regarding this coaching program, please contact me at

Stay inspired and Keep pushing! 

Past writings