Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Last 2 weeks before your big running race

Odds are that you have put in a tremendous amount of work to prepare for this epic race. Early mornings, long runs, speed work, strength training, food preps...this is not including the previous years it took to qualify for the race... the amount of work to prepare for a race of this magnitude is maniacal.

The worse thing you can do is over-train the last 2 weeks before the race. The work has been put in, the fitness has been built, it's now time to soak up all of the training that has been completed over the past few months (even years). Allowing the body to fully recover while keeping the legs sharp and tuned up is a tricky concept. Here are a few points to consider...

*I recommend decreasing mileage the last 2 weeks 30-50%. This range is broad and depends on the fitness level and experience of the athlete. Some athletes can get away with and still perform with a small decrease in miles, while others respond to minimum (but focused) miles and more recovery leading into a big race. But both individuals will still drop miles. Find what works for you. As you are completing a workout, just remember, more is not better. This is the time for pure quality training. All miles should be focused and specific to your goal pace. Miles should be low enough to instill adaptation but not too low where your legs become flat. If you topped off at 16x400s, then 8-12 days out from the race, drop it to 8x400s right at the recommended pace. Still do a warm up and cool down like normal. Just decrease the main set volume. You want to be leaving these last few main workouts feeling sharp, fast and in peak form. Don't go to pure exhaustion. Also recognize when your body may be extra fatigued, stressed and overtrained. On this day, I recommend a DAY OFF or a very light shake out. Listen to your body and be a smart athlete.

*Sticking to your core routine is critical to having a successful race. 2-3 days per week should be the guideline. 10-15 minute sessions keeping the core engaged and activated will help your body stay primed and feeling strong. Planks, side planks, deadbugs, birddogs and farmer carries can be done all the way leading up to the race. Stay away from loaded lower body work and stick to bodyweight exercises. Upper body strength can be moderate but move to bodyweight movements the week of the race. Blood flow is blood flow and creating this throughout the entire body makes for a better race lead up.

*Nutrition is where many athletes screw up. First of all, this is not the time to go on some calorie restrictive diet. Be wise here. You definitely need a nutrient dense intake. Lots of dark leafy greens, fish, lean meats, fruits and other vegetables and whole grains/complex carbohydrates according to your specific guidelines. Everyone is different. Starting on Friday before the race, increase your carbohydrate intake 10%. So if you normally are consuming 350 grams of carbohydrates, aim to hit 385 grams. Do this again on Saturday and Sunday. This will help top off your glycogen tank to make sure your muscles are full and prepared to work. YOU SHOULD NOT RANDOMLY CARBO the night before. That will just lead to an overactive gut the night before your race. You can consume a carbohydrate dense breakfast the day before, but from lunch onward, eat just enough to fill your stomach, not so much you get bloated.

*Water and electrolytes should be the focus on liquids. Balancing in electrolytes throughout the week leading up to your race will keep your sodium levels adequate. DON'T JUST DRINK A TREMENDOUS amount of water the days leading up to your race, as you could flush out your sodium, which creates a very low blood sodium level, called hyponatremia, which can be detrimental to performance. Stick to your normal fluid intake, just be a bit more cognizant of what you are doing.

*Lastly, visualize your race. All the physical work has been done. But many athletes lose it mentally the last few days before a race. Set realistic goals based on your training times. Mentally put yourself through the race. I have athletes write out a detailed race report 2 weeks from a race so they can then "run" through the race periodically as race day approaches.  Write out what time you will wake up, what you plan to eat at what time, when you will arrive to the race, what will your warm up be like and when, what pace you plan to go out in, what nutrition will you eat and when, what you will stay focused on, and how you will finish.  Sticking to this blueprint as best as you can makes for a better race.

Be confident in what you can do. Believe in yourself.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Always Be Marketing

Congratulations, you have opened your doors and started a fitness business.  The easy part is over and now the hard part begins; it’s now time to build your business.  According to www.statista.com, there are 36,180 gyms in America.  You will have competition and must find a way to stand out if you want to succeed in a populated industry.  Another crazy statistic is that 8 out of 10 small businesses shut down within 18 months of start up.  The odds are against you to build a thriving business.  Many fitness professionals cross their fingers and hope new members flock to their facility.  You may have all the fancy certifications and education but without a solid marketing plan, no one will know you exist.  You must ALWAYS BE MARKETING (ABM).  From here on out, marketing should be a priority.  Below I have laid out several ideas for you to choose from.  Select the options that work best for your business. 

1.     Social Media.  I started using Facebook my first year as a business owner (2006).  I had less than 200 followers and would only get 3 or 4 likes per post.  It was nothing big at the beginning.  But I stayed consistent and continued to use this outlet to market my business.  I can honestly say that Facebook has been and is still my #1 marketing outlet over the past decade.  You can also use Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Linkedn as social media marketing tools for your business.  Use the outlets that will be the biggest assistance in building your business.   It’s quite easy to take pictures of clients working out, post client testimonials or showcase one of your coaches in a training session and post to your social media pages.  By doing this type of organic marketing you are building your brand.  The thing about social media is that people are always on it and marketing and showcasing your business is a must now a days.  It is very critical to build an organic following one follower at a time.  You do this by expressing your passion in fitness, being genuinely interested in other people and by relentlessly putting out quality content on a weekly basis (see below).  Hence, ABM.   

·      Facebook ideas:
o   Live FB videos.  Once you have built a solid following, going “live” throughout the week will build a relationship with your followers.  Live             video is the purest organic content one can do because it’s just you and the             viewers.  It’s an intimate setting and can be a “behind the scenes” look into your life and/or business.  Your followers want to see you in your purest form.  This is how you build trust with them as they see you in action.  Be patient, it takes time to build an organic following.  
o   Live FB ideas: Q and A’s where you answer questions from your followers, nutrition education/strategies, workout descriptions/exercise explanations, mindset talks, live workouts of actual training sessions, etc.
·      Once you have built a foundation of organic followers, you can then start to build paid advertising campaigns.  This is a whole article in itself but I will hit on a few of the major points.  Targeting your campaigns to your specific demographic is the key.  If you train 30-45 year old women, you can geo-target this niche market in your ads.  You can get as detailed as targeting individuals with specific interests and/or people that live within a certain mile radius of your location.  This all depends on what you are marketing and the goal of the plan.  You do not need to spend a ton of money on Facebook marketing.  Start with $200/month and let that money work for you.  As your business grows, you can increase your marketing budget.  You can also increase your budget when you are promoting specific programs or special deals.  Boosted posts where you are spending $1-$2 a day can be very successful if built efficiently and targeting the right demographic.  
·      A few key things to remember regarding advertising on Facebook: quality pictures will attract the person scrolling through their Facebook so make sure to take your time to shoot good pictures.  Edit the pictures just enough to upgrade the initial photo.  The wording of the post should stand out to the consumer; don’t be too pushy because this will turn off your perspective customer.  Showcasing your clients is a great way to highlight your program without saying much about it.  Ask a few members to do a video testimonial about your program and you can then build a campaign around this video.  Nothing better than peer reviews when marketing. 

2.     Increase and improve your video marketing.  Your face is the center of the business and needs to be everywhere.  Videos help the consumer get to know you and your systems.  Video engagement allows the consumers to see you and/or your company in action.  Building your YouTube subscriptions, making Facebook and Instagram videos and putting together daily stories on your SnapChat and Instagram are options to utilize.  Find the ones that will ultimately help your business grow.  And use them to the maximum effort.  Just know none of them will work if you do not consistently use them. Most of your videos can be made with your smart phone.  You can get high quality content with your phone.  You can also improve the production of your videos with some simple tools and video production knowledge.

            Simple tools: tripod to hold phone, lighting and lavaliere microphone.

            Apps to help with this aspect: Pic Collage, Imovie, PicPlayPost.  Simple and shorter videos can be made with Pic Collage and PicPlayPost.  More detailed edited videos you can use Imovie right on your phone. 

3.     Public Speaking.  When I first opened my business, I started public speaking.  I didn’t look at this as some “marketing strategy”.  I value my community and my passion is to inspire others to be healthy and fit.  It was something that came with the territory.  Most of the top personal trainers and fitness coaches also public speak.  It’s an avenue to express your philosophies, inspire larger groups, and highlight your business.  I would say my first 25 speaking engagements were for free.  I said yes to everything.  Not only was I able to motivate people, but also I began to build my reputation throughout the community as a “public speaker”.  Today, I still give free talks to various schools, non-profit organizations and company meetings.  But there are also paid speaking engagements for keynote type of presentations.  Just like anything, speaking is a talent that can be built.  It takes practice and the more you are up in front of people, the smoother you will get.  Just remember, know your topic, be passionate, talk slow and deliberate, look people in their eyes and have fun. 

            Start with contacting: local schools or teachers you may already know, local service clubs (Rotary or Kiwanis), sports teams, local businesses or business owners you may know.

4.     Form business relationships.  In business, it is critical to have a few strong business relationships.  This is not a “can you market my business” type of relationship.  This is a “how can we help each other out” type of friendship.  I have had other local businesses walk into my business asking me to market their product.  For me, this is a turn off.  They are just trying to sell stuff.  Not me, my business is my passion and I do not just sell stuff.  Instead, let’s go grab a coffee and chat about how we can help each other be more successful.  Make sure you are connecting with like-minded professionals who can relate to you and your business and you do the same.  For me, a good relationship with another business owner is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur.

“Always be marketing” is not some gimmicky marketing campaign aimed at baiting people to come into your business.  It’s a genuine approach to spreading your passion and inspiring people to gain health and fitness.  And you are willing to do what it takes to spread this positive message to the world.  In turn, you will increase the traffic into your facility. 

Peace, Justin

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fitness business success strategies

Growing your fitness business is not easy.  You need to be hands on, in the trenches and focused on your entire business.  I honestly think its crap when people say, “work harder on your business than always in your business.”  I get it, you need to market and promote your brand, you need to build a social media following, you need website development, member payment systems, bookkeeping, program design, the list goes on and on.  You are continually working on your business as you are in the trenches of your business.  There is really no let up.  Its years (at least 5) of consistent work on the business that creates the foundation and systems needed to be successful.  Listen, I am not here to bull shit you into thinking that all you have to do is implement these strategies and your business will quickly accelerate.  Yes, you should execute on the below business building tactics but you need to continue to do them for a long time.  Not only will you get some great results early on, long-term consistency will lay the groundwork for years to come. 

1.     Content.  Most fitness business owners are passionate about fitness.  Kind of common sense.  But besides just being passionate, you need to become an expert within a tribe.  You need to really make it a goal to build a solid following of people that care about what you have to say.  Let people know you are all about serving them in any way possible.  Be the best.  Be the most passionate.  And express these traits through your content.  Write articles, make videos, hold live Q and A sessions on your Facebook and Instagram accounts, build your blog following, and post regularly on all social media accounts.  Stay relevant and current to your network.  Creating good content for your network of people is such a key element to building your fitness business.  I recommend you list out all of the various tasks that you want to complete throughout the week. 

            For example:
            blog about calories posted
            2 Live FB (facebook) videos (Q and A/exercise technique)
            1 post a day on Instagram (personal brand, positive quote, exercise vid)
            Facebook post directing readers to my blog

Once this list is written out on Sunday, start knocking out as much as possible during the week.  You will build a tight knit community of people that enjoy your knowledge and expertise over time with consistent content.  The key word here is CONSISTENT.  This does not work if you do not get content out there on a weekly basis. 

2.     Build a positive and encouraging community.  I can’t stress how important this is.  Really in any business, customer service is vital to the success of the company.  The energy your facility produces will keep people coming consistently.  This is what you want.  Statistics say that you need to keep a member coming at least 2 times per week.  Once they drop below that, the chances of losing them as a customer will increase.  Your community has a lot to do with long-term retention of your customers.  As a business owner you need to be the leader here and express this atmosphere all the time.  Be intuitive with the energy of your facility and know when it’s time to redirect or change it up.  Here are a few things that can improve your environment: new workout programs, new music stations, monthly challenges, member socials, new equipment, educational workshops or new clothing and merchandise.  This is always a work in progress as you are continually keeping the atmosphere of your facility high energy and positive.   Do not let up.

3.     Be ready for the unforeseen.  Listen, no matter what you do or how great your systems are, unexpected situations will arise in your business.  Learning how to deal with these circumstances in a smart and calming way is critical to keeping the environment of your business unaffected.  An unhappy customer, unexpected building expenses, an employee quits, your website crashes; whatever the unforeseen will bring, as a leader it’s important to handle these types of situations with a calm demeanor so it does not affect the spirit of your business.  Shit happens, but you can mitigate further repercussions by turning into proactive problem solver instead of angry dictator.  Take a deep breath, figure out the game plan and make a smart decision.

If you have any specific questions about your fitness business, please do not hesitate to ask.  I have owned and operated California Fitness Academy for over 10 years and if I can help you make fewer mistakes than I did, I would be thrilled.  Please get in touch through email (justinlevine03@hotmail.com) or you can look me up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1575159726117233/

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What does Happiness mean to you?

What does Happiness mean to you? 

I was surprised, (in a good way) when I posted this question to my Facebook page, at the answers I received. 

Happiness is very specific and exclusive to each individual.  Not once did I receive the same answer.  Similar responses yes, but no two exact definitions. 

I think this is intriguing. 

According to Wikipedia:

“Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being.”

So in other words, Happiness comes from within (well at least that’s how I perceived the definition).

I am reading The Book of Joy and here are a few passages from the Dalai Lama about happiness: 

“I believe that the purpose of life is to find happiness.  It does not matter whether one is a Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop, or any other religion, or no religion at all.  From the moment of birth, every human being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering.”

“The ultimate source of happiness is within us.  Not money, not power, not status.  Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people.  Power and money fail to bring inner peace.  Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.”

“We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy.  It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people.  When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”

The above passages and the answers I received on my Facebook post gave me an inner look at what drives people.  Because according to the Dalai Lama, Happiness is something we set out to attain from the first day we are alive.  So much of our life, we aspire to be happy.  And not this fake bravado we can express outwardly or with materialistic objects; this is an inner peace and joy that only each individual can choose to experience.  

Here are a few good answers I received on my post:
(I will leave names off for privacy purposes)

“Happiness is not an emotion you feel.  It’s a decision you make.  You can choose to be happy in life no matter what is going on, or you can choose not to.  The choice is yours.”

“Joy is an outward expression of an inward state of being, whereas happiness is a temporary and fleeting emotional experience.  I believe that you can fool someone into thinking you are happy, but you can’t fool people about your joy.”

“Happiness to me means being content with what you have and where you are in life.  Not constantly wanting more material things, cooler car, etc.  Happiness is living in the current moment and appreciating today for the good or accepting that the bad could be something to learn and grow from.”

“Happiness, or joy, is not from something you get.  Not from attaining a goal or how others view you.  It is a choice.  You can be happy and find joy in every second, or moment or event just in a thought.”

“Happiness is the pathway to discovering that we are all perfectly imperfect which provides us with the gift to understand lasting joy.  Joy will look different for everyone but remain unaffected by temporary circumstances.”

“Happiness is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.  It’s basically freedom or a state of euphoria.”

“Happiness is a state of mind.  It can be an “in the moment” type feeling such as joy.  But it can be an overall feeling that lasts longer as well.”

“Feeling a balance with the emotions of life equals happiness.  Although everyday will not be happy and jubilous, the same holds true for sadness and tribulations.  If we have the patience and balance, nothing can rock us one way or the other.  Balance, that’s where happiness lives.”

I have a good friend and client; his name is Bob.  Bob is 85 years young.  I started discussing this topic with him because I really wanted his perspective as he has been through 8 ½ decades of life. 

Here is his answer:

“Happiness to me is a philosophy.  We are all going to feel sad and have tough times in life, but when your personal philosophy is happiness, you will slide back into a happy state.  Some people build themselves into unhappy people.  And some people decide to be happy no matter what they face.  It’s a philosophy.” 

The answer makes sense and one I agree with.  Bob is a wise man who continues to learn and grow as an individual and I learn from him everyday I am with him.  

With that said, here is my answer…

Happiness can come from achievement, from accomplishing a goal or doing well in a particular subject or activity.  Happiness is being healthy and vibrant.   Happiness is being surrounded with positive and encouraging people.  The type of people you can trust and totally be yourself around.  Happiness is having positive relationships.  Happiness is being with my family.  Happiness is having fun, being spontaneous and taking advantage of the day.  Happiness is less worry and more smiling.  Happiness is nurturing your soul and believing in oneself.  Without faith, I’m not sure you can be happy.  Happiness to me, is living an optimistic life; to see the good; to pick yourself up when times are tough; to really be grateful for the life we get to live. 

Now I believe the above things need to be consistent.  Action is required to sustain this happy state.  I don’t think you can just cross your fingers and hope to be happy.  Just like the Dalai Lama said above, “When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.” 

We can make it a point to exercise.  We can get around the positive people.  We can read the positive books.  We can pray or go to church or meditate, whatever works for you.  We can build our relationships.  We can continue to put ourselves in a happy state.  To me, this will create this “happy philosophy”, which then turns into a habitual state of being, which then turns into internal happiness. 


Friday, February 17, 2017

How much strength training and cardio should I be doing?

I was asked a question recently regarding how much strength training and cardio someone should be doing. 
Here is my answer:
This all depends on the goal someone is aiming for.  I think we need to look at this beyond the dogmatic information that we see on the Internet.  Let's look at the facts.  

First of all, it's all good.  Low intensity workouts like walking, hiking, swimming, and biking are all great for cardiovascular (heart) health.  This is where you are exercising at a "conversational" pace. This is tremendous for heart health, blood flow, stress release and aerobic fitness and I think is needed for all demographics.  This is where we get the term "cardio".  But in the fitness world, cardio has been given a bad rap in the past 15 years because of the popularity of interval training.  There are many benefits to low intensity exercise, so let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater with this one.

Strength training supports the muscular system. We need total body strength and lack thereof can cause many problems like osteoporosis, joint pain, inadequate energy and a weak skeletal structure. All demographics need strength work in their program.

Interval training has been around for at least 70 years.  It's nothing new.  But has hit a massive popularity over the past 15 years.  This method is great for time efficient workouts where you can get in a quality workout and have a high calorie burn in a small amount of time.  You can do bodyweight intervals, conditioning circuits, high intensity intervals, sprints on a bike or treadmill or strength circuits.  These types of workouts will tap into your aerobic and anaerobic systems but can also put a lot of stress on the body so it's important to not overdo.

Strength training and higher intensity workouts will increase EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), or "afterburn". Following these strenuous bouts of exercise, you will continue to rebuild broken down muscle tissue thus increasing your caloric burn post-exercise.  That is why these types of workouts are recommended as a more efficient method for fat loss, especially if time is limited.

With that said, here are some guidelines to follow:
(Again depends on the goal)

If you were only working out 2-3 times a week, I recommend 1-2 full body strength workouts and 1-2 interval type workouts.
Workout out 4-5 days a week: 2-3 full body strength routines, 1-2 interval type workouts and 1 "cardio" workout.
Workout 5-7 days a week: 3-4 full body strength routines (or body part splits), 2 interval type workouts and 2 low intensity cardio days.

These guidelines are more for the general fitness enthusiast looking to stay healthy, burn some fat and build total body strength and stability.  The more specific the goal you are aiming for, the more detailed schedule you need to build. 

If you have any specific questions, please email me at justinlevine03@hotmail.com and I will answer in a timely manner. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Limits are made to be broken

My last "personal best" half marathon was December 2013.  I ran 1:22:30 (6:17 pace) at the Oxnard half marathon.  Since then, I have ran around 10 half marathons.  Different course logistics and terrain equates to different times but all of the times have been between 1:22 - 1:30.  I think that is my first point of this blog, MAINTENANCE has MERIT.  See once you reach a specific fitness level, your increments of improvement slows down.  In fact, there will be races where you just didn't run your fastest times.  But what I am most proud of over the past 12 years of training and racing is not my fastest times or best races, it's my consistency to keep going after my goals.  It's a no brainer that I always want to get faster and run PR's but I just know that's not how it works.  What's key for me is being obsessed with the process.  I love the journey and the growth I gain from the process.  I always want to be fit and I always want to challenge my physical limits.  To me, it's a lifestyle. 

Yesterday I ran in a local half marathon.  My time of 1:21:03 (6:11 pace) was by far my personal best half marathon.  I was able to shave 90 seconds off my former personal best.  Two years ago, I wrote down the goal to run a sub 1 hour 20 minute half marathon.  I have not yet achieved this goal.  But I am getting closer.  It doesn't just magically happen.  It’s a hard goal!  I set a goal that I knew would challenge my limits.  

See everyone has limits. I had a limit on my half-marathon that was hard to break.  I have been working on it for a few years.  And I finally did it.  I finally pushed into a new realm.  Not just physically, but mentally I have broken limits.  This gives me confidence to keep pushing my current physical and mental limitations.  But now I have a new limit.  Am I willing to dig deep and keep going after that outer edge?  HELL YES is my answer.  See for me, I truly get to know myself when I am challenging my limits.  When I get to my edge, how do I respond?  Do I give up?  Do I find a way to keep going?  Do I stay motivated?  Do I do the work?  How will I handle set backs and obstacles?

Internally it's a war.  Some days I will feel tired, drained and mentally and physically weak.  How will I respond?  My response: "GET THE FUCK UP, don't be lazy, go do what you need to do."   Yes I have said that to myself many times.  This internal dialogue happens.  And 99% of the time, I get up, I train, I do what’s needed to achieve my athletic goals.  It’s not sexy; it’s not fancy, just plain ol’ hard and consistent work. 

You may have goals.  You definitely have physical and mental limits.  Will you go after those individual limitations?  John C. Maxwell said it best, “If we are growing, we will always be out of our comfort zone.”  So life really happens when we are challenging our preconceived limits.  If you want to live a full and abundant life, you will not accept the status quo.  You will constantly be pushing yourself.  You will live life on the outer edge.  And you will do this till the day you die.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stay injury free so you can keep training

Just remember, more is not better. In fact, more can lead you to injury, and guess what happens when you are injured, training will suffer. Yes, you do need a training stimulus to get results, but too much stress and the body will breakdown, which can lead to injury and disrupted training. This is a tricky concept to grasp as an athlete. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Do the little stuff: tissue work, mobility, flexibility, daily mini band walks/hip work. This work I consider "hygiene" and needs daily attention.
2. If you are training more than 5 sessions in a week, you should not make all of those sessions massively hard. Again, this could lead to breakdown and injury. Just like I said in yesterday's post, build and plan your training schedule to be successful.
3. Sleep is key to recovery and regeneration. Pretty simple here, try your best to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night. This is where your body fully recovers. Take a 20 minute nap if needed during the day.
4. Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when its mentally and physically fatigued, but you must listen and pay attention. Do a light training session or take the day (or 2 or 3 days) off. Your body will thank you, and you will keep moving in a positive direction. 
5. Nutrition and hydration matters.  Yes, what and how you eat is a critical component to staying injury free and assisting the body recover from hard bouts of training.  Keep to a minimum: processed foods, sugar dense foods, high amounts of alcohol, white flower products.  Add to your plan: All vegetables and fruits especially dark greens, broccoli, blueberries, cherries and bananas, lean proteins (chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs), healthy fats (fish, nut butters, avocados, healthy oils) and slow releasing carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain breads).  Your water intake should be approximately half your weight in ounces of water.  Make this a habit.    
6. Active recovery weeks. I add these in my training every 4-8 weeks. I basically take a full week and do lighter, lower volume workouts. I keep some intensity in these weeks to stay sharp but instead of an hour workout, I may just do 30-45 minutes. Or instead of 5 rounds of strength work, I may just do 3. These are the weeks where your body responds and adapts to all of your hard work and comes back stronger and better!

Results ultimately happen to the individuals who stay injury free and who can keep training in a smart and effective manner.

**If you have specific questions, please let me know. 

Join my FREE Facebook coaching group.... looking for positive people who want to take their fitness to the next level... https://www.facebook.com/groups/1575159726117233/

Monday, January 9, 2017

Smart Planning will lead you to your fitness goals

Getting results in your fitness program (or with anything for that matter) does not just happen. The individuals who are dedicated to a lifestyle change will reap the long-term benefits. It’s not just about the workouts and eating healthy. As these two components are needed to achieve the goal, creating a smart overall plan and lifestyle will set you up to be successful. Take the time to go through the steps discussed below to improve the efficiency of your day-to-day life.

  • Get out your calendar: In this calendar, write in all of your appointments, family gatherings, social events, workouts and work related activities. Don’t forget your workouts! If it’s important to you and if you are looking for a result, you must schedule them in your week. Schedule all of your priorities (fitness should be one). Stick to your schedule every week. On Sunday night, look at the week ahead and repeat the process of scheduling in your priorities. Make this a habit! 

  • Schedule rest and recovery days: Life consumes us. We are constantly on the go and without attention to rest and recovery, we end up burnt out, injured and/or lacking motivation. So, as you schedule your workouts and other important activities, schedule in at least one complete day off where you can allow the body (and mind) to recoup and regenerate. This sets you up to have more energy to push the rest of the week. 

  • Train with a plan: Some people perform workouts. Some people follow a training system. Performing random workouts will build general fitness and give you more energy. But following a training system will lead you to a specific goal and your training will be progressive and more efficient. You will get better results by following a training system. Find a training program that supports your goal. Then simply be consistent and make it happen! 

  • Sunday night food preparation. Eating healthy takes planning. Without planning you end up making poor choices. Every Sunday, head to the grocery store to pick up healthy foods for the week. Also, take the time to cook up some food in bulk. Examples: chicken breasts, hardboiled eggs, chop up your vegetables, steam up brown rice, etc. This will save time during the week and give you a better chance at following through on your healthy plan. 

  • Time management: This is a component that tends to be forgotten about. Time is valuable and if you spend time wasting it but complain about not having any, you need to change around your strategies. How do you spend your time during the week? TV? Reading? Working out? Sleep? Social events? Work? For 1-week log how you spend your time. Clean up areas where you might be wasting time so you can add more time for the important things in your life.

  • Limit non-important activities: Once you are aware of your time managing, you need to limit the non-important activities. These are the things that will redirect your efforts of achieving your goals. Ask yourself a simple question, “Is what I am doing getting me closer or farther away from my goals?” If you set your mind to achieve a specific goal, do not let non-important activities derail your journey. 

If you need individual guidance, consider joining my personal coaching program where I will help you build your ideal lifestyle.  Email me at justinlevine03@hotmail.com.  

Peace, Justin 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

5 Questions to ask in regards to your fitness program

  1. Do I focus on movement quality and exercise technique? Fluid and proper movement will set you up for improved performance, reduced injury and a stronger overall body. You can run through an exercise routine with poor form and still burn calories and still lose some weight but in the end you create a dysfunctional body. Own the movement. Decrease the repetitions and master every movement you do in the gym. In the end, your body will thank you because you will have less pain, more mobility and increased athleticism.
  2. Am I pushing myself too much or not enough? To get results you must produce a training stimulus on the body. Progressively adding stress to the body is needed for constant growth and improvement. If you do the same thing every week, eventually that training stimulus will taper off and your body will no longer produce the results you are looking for. Finding the necessary training loads needed for continued strength is critical. Too much work and you end up in an overtraining state. Too little and your body doesn’t get better. This is an important question to ask yourself periodically to make sure you are pushing yourself with adequate loads to get your desired results. 
  3. Does my food intake support my goals? Are you looking for weight loss? Muscle gain? Improved performance? If you are looking for weight loss or fat loss, are you eating low glycemic foods, limiting processed foods and sticking to more whole and fresh foods? If you are looking for muscle gain, are eating enough calories to support the goal? You may get very frustrated because you are working out consistently and pushing in the gym and not getting the desired results. Something may be off with your nutrition plan. Take a detailed look at what you are eating and assess if it supports your specific goals. 
  4. Am I recovering properly? Recovery and regeneration are critical components to an overall fitness program. As completing workouts is needed, if you are never allowing the body to fully recover, you risk injury and burnout. When you get hurt, you cannot train. When you cannot train, you cannot get better. Sleep is the single most important strategy in regards to recovery. You must make sure that you are consistently sleeping 6-8 hours every night. How and what you eat will also help you recover properly outside of your workouts. Sticking to anti-inflammatory foods like dark green vegetables, fruits like blueberries and cherries and healthy fats like fish, avocado and walnuts will assist in this recovery process outside of training. Lastly, recovery protocols like soft tissue work, active movement drills and light aerobic work will assist in keeping the body tuned up and keep you consistently training at high levels. 
  5. Is this becoming part of my life? This to me is a big one! Sustainability and consistency matters. You must create realistic healthy habits that will fit into your individual lifestyle. Every”body” is different. Find the habits that will mold into your life and that you can consistently accomplish all the time. Extreme quick fix diets might work in the short term but you will end up frustrated because they are not sustainable. Living a healthy lifestyle gives you flexibility and does not put restrictions on the plan. The idea is to consistently workout, eat healthy foods and learn to make these strategies part of your life.

If I can answer any questions for you, please PM me on Facebook.  


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