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Ten Thoughts On Ten Subjects In Ten Words Or Less

I really enjoyed the challenge of getting as much across in as little writing as possible with my first version of Ten Thoughts. After some long winded blog posts over the weeks I figured there is no better time to give it another shot. So here we go and I thought I would start with an unofficial thought regarding this post.

Conjunctions
Make ten words or less very difficult.

Had to get that off my chest.

1. Self Myofascial Release
    Melt your tissue don't just smash it. No heroics necessary.

2. On Being A Trainer
    Married to my job but a great marriage it is.

3. Breathing
    Core and thoracic control have me rethinking stretching. A lot.

4. The Internet
    Don't let Facebook posts define your decision making.

5. Politics
    Too much politics in politics these days.

6. Work
    You get paid for done. Paid more for done well.

7. Workouts
    Can't all be gems. Accept it and redeem it.

8. Materialism
    What you do defines you. Not just what you have.

9. Willpower
    Overrated. Nothing without clarity, passion, and enjoyment.

10. Results
      Live and love the process. Results take care of themselves.

Another one down and I don't think I broke the rules. However, I believe that number 9 may be open for discussion. What do you think? Is willpower something that has gotten you to where you want to be or was it something deeper? I am in the middle of one of the most thought altering books that I have ever read. Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence is a book written by sports psychologist Garret Kramer and all I can say is that it is a must read. 

To my fellow Canadians have a great Thanksgiving long weekend and I also wanted to give a big congratulations to my sister Jana for slugging it out and graduating yesterday with her Masters in Marine Biology. No easy feat by any means so enjoy it! You earned it.

All the best

Jeff

Oct 4, 2012
What Bodybuilding Has Taught Me

It is around this time of year every year that I become fascinated with what is going on in the world of professional bodybuilding as Mr Olympia is going down this weekend in Vegas.

As a kid, bodybuilding was the first taste of the iron that I had seen as my 90s childhood. Like many others it consisted of watching Arnold movies and Monday Night Wrestling. The end goal of possessing one of these superhero physiques is what eventually drove me into the gym when I was finally of age to do so. At the time the answer to every high school problem from being better on the football field to winning over the ladies was to get in the gym and get jacked.

After a couple of years in the gym a lot had changed as I believe it was a big component of my life that re invented my confidence in myself both physically and emotionally. However, at the same time I felt like I wanted more and wanted to train for a higher purpose and not just train for Friday night.

Where I grew up there was a small group of bodybuilders who would get ready for a provincial competition every year and I decided that this was going to be something that I wanted to take on. It became a pursuit, but more importantly it became my first formal training modality and I became fixated on it as reading and researching hypertrophy training and contest preparation overtook my last semester of university.

Getting ready to compete was one of the most difficult tasks that I had ever taken on. Unfortunately this is the part of the process that few get the opportunity to see but it consumed me.  Training was not an option as it had to be done, nutrition felt like a full time job and this was no gourmet cooking, and if you ask anyone what the final two weeks leading up to the big day felt like you will be entertained by the answer. The most difficult thing for me was the social component of the whole thing as the agenda I had at age twenty one was a lot different from the one that my friends had.

It was all worth it as there was no better feeling than getting through it all and showcasing it. I was able to get through it twice and I think that was enough. My own training as well as my training style has branched out beyond strictly physique training. However I do get to train a handful of figure competitors who are some of the most driven people I have ever encountered. Most importantly it was this time in and outside of the gym that ignited my passion for fitness and propelled me to act on it.
 

The modality of bodybuilding has taken a lot of heat over the past number of years and I cant argue with the heat as I believe that it does get misrepresented just like some of the other modalities that have followed it. However, I have also learned that it is far more effective to learn and implement the positives of a concept rather than sit back and rip the negatives. Bodybuilding has taught me a lot of positives when it comes to lifting, training, and most importantly getting things done. Although it is no longer at the forefront of my way of thinking I can say that it is certainly something that I do appreciate so in honor of the biggest event in bodybuilding I thought I would share what I have learned from the sport.

(If skeet shooting is in The Olympics there is no doubt in my mind that this is a sport)

The Evolution Of Adherence

My athletic background was in team sports so accountability was never an issue. This was a major transition as this is a one man show when it comes to holding yourself accountable. It certainly provided its challenges but the one cool thing that I can say about this experienceas going through with my intentions. As easy as it is to say that you are going to do something, getting it done is what matters. Just like starting any major project the early stages are always a test as it is easy to become distracted. Then it is as if something just clicks and you are dialed into the task. The thought process of the outcome gets pushed aside and your attention gets redirected toward getting down to business. Soon enough what started out as thoughts, actions, and habits evolves into a belief in getting it done. Bodybuilding gave me my first true taste of this and I am grateful for it because it is a thought process that has definitely carried over into my professional life.

Bodybuilding Works In Opposites

A simple concept that I had learned from an old Bob Cicherillo video to build a set of guns. Nothing scientific but to hit the inside of the bicep use an outside barbell grip and to build the outside of the bicep use an inside grip. I had no idea how valuable that concept was for me when it came to training people. Bicep curls are by no means a staple of my training but being able to roll with Bob's concept when it comes to hand and foot positioning to create a desired training response within any population has been an indispensable part of my own training as well as my programming. Maybe these guys aren't so dumb afterall. 

Posing. The Yoga Of The Iron Game?

Arguably the component of bodybuilding that I had taken for granted the most. Of course when I talk about posing I am not alluding to the cats flaring their traps in front of the mirror at the health club. Remember the misrepresentations that I was mentioning? When talking posing there is a certain criteria of mandatory poses to go through in a competition that are meant to bring the best out of your physique. This is something that is absolutely essential for a physique athlete to polish in order to progress with their craft. What can also be said about it is that it is exhausting both physically and neurologically. It is also a unique art that consists joint mobility, kinetic awareness, muscle activation, energy system testing in a low impact environment. With all of this happening it is also requires an ability to make it look effortless and fluid. Sounds like a solid workout to me. If you are looking for a day of active recovery or even something comparable to a yoga like experience that requires the body in flow without contorting yourself in a hot studio then I would say strinking a pose may be your answer. Kai Greene is one of my faorite bodybuilders and his ability to master the art of posing tells us that maybe some of these guys are a little more functional than we've recently given them credit for.

High Concept Hypertrophy

A simple four syllable word to describe making muscle. However the methods of making muscle have taken this single word to a whole new level based on the concepts derived from it. Bodybuilders have always been at the forefront for it and we can thank the bodybuilding community for a lot of it. A lot of the leading experts in strength and hypertrophy training have derived their methods from learning from traditional bodybuilding methods. Not so much on what machines to hit, but the ability to understand altering joint angles, volume, time under tension, velocity, rest intervals, and training load in order to make the most of making muscle. Not everyone is going to be a bodybuilder but it is safe to say that anyone can benefit from adding muscle. Athletic performance, body composition, strength, body awareness, and tissue quality can all be enhanced by integrating varying levels of hypertrophy training. Not to mention, who doesn't want to look like a rockstar naked. 

Beyond The Muscle

It is something that takes its criticism and there are some ugly sides of the sport of you choose to let it happen. But what I can say about the people within the physique community that I have gotten to know is that they are driven. They are some of the most dedicated people that I have ever encountered. I don't believe that looking at a physique athlete status is a great measure of accountability as I believe it is more important to get from point A to point B before you choose to climb higher in the goal based alphabet. However, if you get a chance to understand how it all started with these people they will be the first to tell you that it is a process. This journey doesn't happen over night. I have had the chance to experience this first hand and it has taught me a lot about embracing the small steps, having patience, and creating a culture of exercise vs. forcing an outcome of it. 

More importantly it was an indispensable lesson in getting off of my ass and going something with myself at an age where it can be very easy to veer off in the other direction. To go beyond that, I believe that it was this experience that evolved my frame of mind from doing something with myself to putting the work toward making something of myself. The idea that success and luck are bi products of sweat not just in the gym, but in all facets of my professional and personal life and for that I am grateful. 

Sep 28, 2012
Just Breathe Baby

If you were to tell me a few years back that breathing was an exercise topic of interest for me I would have told you that you were nuts. Fast forward a little and it is a topic that I presented on ChangeLink TV  in order to express the importance of breathing from an overall wellness standpoint. Today as a result of absorbing the genius of minds like Bill Hartman as well as the lack of genius with my own self experimentation I have to say that from an overall performance standpoint that this breathing business is the real deal.

My outlook on breathing is that it really is the missing link for trunk control in your big movements. Having the ability to mindfully breathe by way of control over your trunk is what links rigidity as well as fluidity together when it comes to resisted movement. Trust me when I say that you want both happening.

The reason being is that a lot of people fall under the categories of either lacking basic core control with compound movement, or their idea of core engagement is locking up like they are bracing for a head on collision. My idea of proper trunk function would have to be placed somewhere between the two. You want to be rigid enough that you have everything in your power to effectively engage in resistance, but at the same time you want to be relaxed enough that you are able to maintain fluid movement throughout your exercise.

For a lot of us this may mean re thinking the way that we look at ''core'' training and come to terms  with the idea that we are looking to build a chain link fence and not a brick wall. For that reason, breathing has been a centerpiece of my current fascinations, self experimentation, as well as implementation for both myself and the people that I work with.

I have spent the past three weeks using different breathing tech work in warm ups, cool downs, as well as accessory work. Wouldn't you know it my big lifts have felt a lot more efficient, my posture has been feeling great, and I have been able to put up some solid numbers without feeling beat up. As a skinny guy trying to lift not so skinny weight I will take any effective technical strategy I can get.

These movements have been my bread and butter of my experimentation. They are a result of my own playing around in the gym, some of them are re fabrications of other people's ideas, and some are stolen. Fact of the matter is that they have worked well for me as well as a number of people that I work with for a number of reasons and I want to share my observations as to why they do just that.

Rack Position Breathing

The front squat is one of my favorite lifts but t-spine stability has always been my Achilles heel when it comes to attacking bigger numbers or bigger volumes. Loaded breathing has become one of my favorites in the sense of accessory work for a number of reasons.

-Effectively loading the trunk
-Identifying the difference between lumbar extension and thoracic extension
-Mindful positioning of the head and neck
-Joint friendly
-Surprisingly difficult

When it comes to volume and load I chose to start with about 90% of my 1RM and have been using sets of 8. No real science behind those numbers it has just worked well for me. It is enough load for me to feel challenged but in control of my breathing and based on my experiences it is usually that 4-8 rep range where the going gets tough for me with the front squat.

Isometric Partial Get Up

The Turkish Get Up to me is a true benchmark in my eyes when it comes to gauging strength, coordination, mobility, and rotational stability. I do however take my time when instructing it because there is a lot that is required to get it done and make it pretty. I also like this approach because it allows you to uncover the hidden gems that make up this movement. The get up is the perfect example of rigidity and fluidity as you are required to stay loose enough to move in various vectors but at the same time you cannot forget that there is a large bell that you do not want crashing down on you. The partial position provides you with the ability to think about both as you are able to establish core control through your breathing and do it through some unique angles. More importantly it gives you the chance to feel out ideal shoulder positioning for stabilization. A common occurrence I do see with the get up is the shoulder wanting to shrug and internally rotate which generally forces the rest of the body to lock up. The partial get up combined with well controlled breathing will address both and not to mention leave you with a rocked core and cuff.

My dose: 3-5 sets 8 breaths each side

New Age Hip Stretching

I really do believe that guys like Bill Hartman and Dean Somerset are onto something when they preach on cutting out hip flexor stretching. First of all, if your hip flexors have been tight and you have been unsuccessfully stretching them for an extended period of time I suggest that you rethink your call to action on that issue.

Second, when lengthening the hip are you meant to move forward or are you meant to move upward? Analyze your current posture when you are reading this article and all signs generally point to upward. More importantly what happens when you drive your hip forward without thinking upward? Breathing patterning and upright thinking has become my go to when it comes to stretching the hip flexor without stretching the hip flexor as they have the ability to address everything associated with hip flexor tightness. Core control, breathing, posture, and appropriate hip extension, and head and neck positioning are all covered with the breathing strategy and your femoral head isn't shaving away at your anterior hip capsule like late night schwarma meat.

Osteofascial Work

I think this will be a future hot topic but in the meantime it is something that I have been using and loving. Generally fascial work in the gym points fingers directly to foam rolling muscle tissue but I think it does overshadow the fact that fascia is everywhere. I have become a big fan of moving the stuff around that lies between skin and structure. When it comes to helping expansion a little osteofascial work at the bottom of my rib cage, around my serratus, as well as my sternoclavicular joint on either side has helped me a lot. No foam rolling heroics necessary, just some mild manipulation on each spot for about fifteen seconds a piece will be all you need.

I am lucky to have the chance to converse with a lot of people who get to read my blog. There aren't many of you out there so I like to think there is a personal touch associated with it. What I can say about this intimate readership is that it is also a diverse one. Fitness levels and interests go in many directions but in this case I can say that we are all in this one together. Whether your ambitions are baseline, badass or anywhere in between, your ability to bring greater kinetic understanding will play a profound role in your self improvement whether it is in lifting or living. 
Just another weapon in your arsenal. Lift well, move well, eat well, sleep well, and of course just breathe baby.

Jeff

Sep 23, 2012
Fitness Revelations From The Blues Joint Vol. 3

I think it really is a great outlet to be able to step out of your normal conversations and take in something a little different. After a busy summer of training, teaching, and travelling all in the name of fitness it felt great just to sit back and take in some music this past weekend. It is something that I enjoy a lot as you get the chance just to sit back and listen. It's a laid back environment and whether you're at the top of the white collar or at the bottom of the blue there is no judgement. It's all about the music.

 

Oddly enough when I seek out something different like live music, training often jumps back into my head. Hence the reason for having aVolume 1 and Volume 2 this concept. The beauty of it however is that it is an unforced thought process. I am not thinking about my schedule, what I should be reading, what I should be writing, or what I should be doing next. Instead it is a thought process that just sort of happens organically as a result of two of my favorite things jamming together and bringing an outside of the box thought process that I can't help but put on paper. 

So here we go with Volume 3. 

 

Don't Go Out Like Bleeding Gums Murphy

 

As fitness becomes a wellness endeavor as much as an appearance endeavor you are always seeking out ways of doing things better. It could be related to your workouts or your diet but as I mentioned in my Hierarchy of Fat Loss post, you eventually seek out other external factors that could be worked on. 

 

My oral hygiene is something that I could say prior to knowing what I now know I could have done a better job at. However this one is a big one as it goes beyond bad breath and cavities. Bad oral hygiene has been linked to diabetes, heart and kidney disease, pancreatic cancer, oral cancers and digestion problems. Big problems considering the time that it takes to maintain a healthy mouth.

Thankfully I was made aware of this and thanks to this new found awareness as well as training my dentist for the past four years I have made a conscious effort to brush a lot, floss daily, eat well, and visit my dentist. 

 

Doc I am sure you will enjoy this one.

 

An Unnecessary Loss Of Musical Talent

 

 

 

Miles Davis Would Have Been A Beast Of A Client

 

Call this a bit of training voodoo but I have to say that some of the people that I have trained with the most kinetic awareness play wind instruments. I too played a trumpet for many years and have to say that it has done a lot for me when it comes to developing relative strength. 

 

The reason being that two key factors that were drilled home by my music teachers throughout the years were posture and diaphragmatic breathing. Two things that the average training population I would say is lacking. While playing, not only are you tapping keys, but you are changing force output by way of the diaphragm, rib cage, esophagus,  and abdomen. As speeds and duration of music progresses, so does your breathing and postural demand. Core control? I certainly think so. 

 

You Do It Because You Like It

 

What's really special about a blues jam is every weekend it is the same group of guys more than willing to get on stage and rip and they don't get paid a cent. They show up every Saturday because they love it. 

 

I really think this is the pursuit that needs to be approached with fitness. If it is not something that you are looking forward to when it is time to get moving then I would say its time to change directions. I think we can learn a lot from these guys because they aren't doing what they do for extrinsic incentives. They do it because they like it, they want to get good at it, and at the same time they are stepping out of their comfort zones, as well as identifying and working on their inefficiencies within their labor of love. I really think that training has to follow a similar path 

as there are numerous genres that can be explored and I think it is possible for anyone to find their ideal groove. 

 

That's it for volume 3 and time to get back in the gym. I also wanted to share a resource by a good friend of mine and fellow co founder of The ChangeLink as well as The Move Improve App. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about external factors over the past week and Josh Stryde's blog is chalk full of these. The guy has a real passion for wellness as a whole unit and spends a lot of time absorbing as well as sharing his knowledge. Well worth a look.

 

Move Improve,

 

Jeff

Sep 10, 2012
Paying Homage To The Fat Loss Hierarchy

I am not sure if I call this the best business move but I have to admit that the last thing that I would ever proclaim myself as is a fat loss specialist. It is not something that I put a considerable amount of time in when it comes to participating in fat loss challenges or developing fat loss protocols. I do my best to not over think or over discuss fat loss. Most of all I am not one to take a client of mine who may be self conscious about their current weight, strip them down to their underwear, have them hold today's paper, snap them at multiple unflattering angles, give them the riot act, and hope the after photo works out for the best (unless they want to.......to date.....0).

The funny thing is I have seen some remarkable fat loss success stories over the years. Enough for me to discuss my fat loss strategies with other trainers and obviously enough for me to decide to write this piece.

My take on fat loss is that we have saturated our market with products, systems, diets, and supplements all geared toward fat loss and all geared to be competitive in this growing fitness marketplace. Where things tend to go wrong in my eyes is the tendency to over think and over complicate fat loss. I have seen, read, and listened to a lot of fat loss systems out there and for the most part, if you follow certain systems I can assure you that you will get results for a certain period of time and I am all for that. Where I see confusion set in time after time is the fixation on what system works better, which one is faster, which one is safer. My problem with competitive fat loss systems is that one key point is often overlooked.

YOU ARE YOUR OWN SYSTEM!

I too can say that I have made the mistake of forgetting this in my early days of training where I had my own generalizations of what my clients needed for effective fat loss. The problem was that it lacked culture. Once the initial training response began to wear off I had to start digging deep into my programming and soon after I realized that it was not just my programming that I needed to revamp. I needed to completely revamp my outlook and understand that while systems are good, it really comes down to the culture that I can create with the people that I work with.

I now look at good fat loss in the same way that I look at good business. A good company creates a good mission statement based on the culture they create in their environment. They don't sit in a boardroom and manufacture one that sounds good and hope that they can live by it. Good fat loss follows a similar model. The mission is identified, progress is straight line and well thought out, habits become beliefs, a culture is created and the once overwhelming goals that we had set ourselves up for are smashed before we even realize it.

For that reason, I no longer look at fat loss as a system. I believe that it is an outcome that follows a certain hierarchy of events that occur over time depending on the individual. When I answer fat loss questions, this is the "system" that I have used and believed in for a number of years now and it has yet to fail me. Not because of what it is made of but because of what YOU make of it.

1. Movement

Fat loss is nothing without good nutrition, but in my opinion good nutrition is nothing without exercise preceding good decision making. My movement protocol consists of movement that tests inefficiencies but can be performed so it looks pretty. It consists of full body, mobilizing and engaging exercise with the mission being that someone walks out feeling better than they did walking in. The result?

Outcome: Fat Loss

2. Physical and Emotional Response to Movement

All of a sudden you're feeling better. Energy levels are up, prior aches and pains are far more uncommon, you're feeling stronger, you're feeling better. Damn, you're looking better! Starting to warm up to this exercise business.......

Outcome: Fat Loss

3. Consistency With Movement

It becomes more unnatural to not move than it is to move. Getting in the gym is no longer the task it once was. In fact you feel lost without it. You catch yourself slouching and begin to correct it without thinking about it. The stairs become a more reasonable option than they once were. Then it dawns on you....

4. Increasing Fascination In Nutrition

Your movement is dialed in so how do you keep this going? I know that my workouts are effective when the people I work with have a growing reexamination of their dietary habits. You begin to ask the right questions and accumulate appropriate answers when it comes to what you should and should not eat and become to take action on them.

Outcome: Fat Loss

5. Physical and Emotional Response to Nutrition

You continue to look and feel better as your growing fascination evolves into growing implementation when it comes to what you eat. Each item pulled off of a grocery store shelf goes through a process of critical thinking and ingredient scanning before it goes into your basket and your body is thanking you for it.

Outcome: Fat Loss

6. Consistency With Good Nutrition

You're dialed in. You are lost without movement and lost without a solid meal. Much like exercise,
poor nutrition becomes more unnatural than good nutrition once was. You're eating with performance in mind not just aesthetics and you feel no guilt about loosening the belt on the weekend. But you know that come Monday it is time to get after it.

Outcome: A lot of fat loss

7. Recognition of Other External Factors

Your workouts and nutrition are full steam ahead. But you're not done yet you want to take this above and beyond anything you would have initially imagined. This is where recognition of other external factors steps in. I am talking factors such as stress, sleep, work, and lifestyle and their dramatic influence on your fat loss goals. You're hungry for more and your wellness iq is now evolved enough to take action on improving external factors. Getting better sleep becomes a greater priority, work/life balance is reexamined, stress levels are monitored with care and your body once again begins to thank you for it.

Outcome: Fat loss that was once perceived as difficult

This is how I would best observe the fat loss success stories I have witnessed. It seems to start out one step at a time to make continuing progress. The aftermath of it all is that it becomes a much more integrative process as these factors become hard wired and play a big role in your daily decision making. They work individually to build your culture of fat loss and work together to maintain and evolve into a culture of wellness and performance.

As for systems, I do believe in them. There really are some great ones out there and if you are able to adhere to them it is more than likely that you will see success. They will provide you with the directions that you need regarding training and food planning. However, no matter how elaborate the fat loss program you are investing in, it really comes down to making your own decisions, improving your own mindset, and being the designer of your own outcome.

Jeff
 

Sep 7, 2012
Exercise Thievery and How To Commit The Perfect Crime

I had the pleasure of spending some time with the iconic Dan John this past weekend and had the chance to talk about a lot of very cool topics related to training, sports, and life. Needless to say my mind was blown and I think anyone who has the opportunity to listen to Dan speak would say the same thing. There was certainly no shortage of conversation pieces as that is usually the case when discussing training but one of my favorites when hearing Dan speak was accumulating, processing, and applying new information. As a trainer, this is a natural part of evolving and becoming a better practitioner over time. It can come from reading, observing, or it can come from continuing education but the one word that gets passed around that I notice people have a hard time admitting is theft.

From a young age we are told not to steal and we do make the world a better place by following this principle. However, there are exceptions to the rule and I believe that a little bit of thievery isn't such a bad thing. In fact I believe that in order to evolve in this business you're better off coming clean and admitting that you've been stealing. I will be the first to admit that I have done a lot of it lately and looking back at the first paragraph I can say that I robbed Dan John blind. This isn't exclusive to training either. Musicians make music by drawing out inspiration from their favorite artists and innovation is a result of drawing inspiration from already existing platforms and finding ways of making them better.

In training I have to say that if it wasn't for drawing inspiration from others and of course stealing their ideas that they had previously stolen from their own inspirations I wouldn't have the identity that I posses and continue to polish day in and day out.

Here is the catch. You don't want to get caught stealing. Smart criminals know how use their loot in a way that does not expose them and we need to follow a similar principle. For anyone with the ability to observe what goes on in a training environment can tell a good criminal from a bad one by the way information is put to practice. It looks copy and pasted and it just doesn't look pretty and you can easily find them guilty of theft. Unfortunately in some training environments there may even be a case for attempted murder. A major characteristic of solid training is the ability to be a smooth criminal. Good trainers have the ability to not only steal quality information, but follow a protocol that allows them to put it into practice with safety, efficiency, and originality. This is how they do it.

The question is do you want to go to jail or do you want to go home?

Commit The Crime

First of all if you're not committing theft on a daily basis I suggest you do so. Training is a profession where you can never know too much in my eyes and if you're not learning daily you're falling behind. Whether it be books, articles, seminars, or observing and speaking with colleagues you admire be sure that you take what you can from them.

Don't Get Greedy

Thieves get busted when they get greedy. I've seen it happen and I can say that I have been guilty of it in the past where you cash in in some good information and all of a sudden you're sidetracking your programming and your progress to showcase your loot. I look at putting information into practice as having to go through a process of critical thinking vs. flooding your programming with it.
Remember to have faith in your decision making and remember that the goal for you and your client is to keep the goal the goal (I stole that from Dan John).
 

Very Smooth Criminals

Be A Jewel Thief

When looking back at my history as a thief some of the biggest game changers for me didn't come from staling exercises, periodization models, or programming concepts. They came from words and I call these words jewels. Stealing jewels may not give you immediate gratification but what they will do is stick with you and reshape the way that you think about your training. I have a number of jewels that I have stolen over the years and they continue to transform the way that I train and the way that I think. Here are some of them.

''Don't let school get in the way of your education" - JC Santana
"Learn how to train for the electronic era" - Thomas Myers
"Every exercise is an assessment and every assessment is an exercise" - Eric Cressey
"The goal is to keep the goal the goal" - Dan John
"Functional training is training specific to a desired outcome" - Chris Hodgins
"Change is the law of life. Those who focus only on the past or present are certain to miss the future" - John F. Kennedy

(Hodgins if you read this don't let it get to your head that I've put you in there with Kennedy)

Steal It, Feel It, Deal It

Arguably the most important component of any good fitness thief. A good coach has the ability to acquire new skills, to train and understand them to a point of proficiency, and then be able to integrate them into their coaching models. I can't stress enough the importance of knowing the movements you are prescribing inside and out.This will provide you with the arsenal of cues, progressions, and regressions in order to successfully coach it and this is one characteristic that will define whether or not your coaching truly is effective.

Once again I want to say thanks to all of the presenters that I had the pleasure of learning from in Indianapolis this past weekend as once again I am back in the gym with a clear head and some fresh knowledge. I am proud to say I am a law abiding citizen but sorry fellas I robbed you all blind and I am grateful for you giving me the opportunity to do so.

Also wanted to express my excitement to be starting with the University of Calgary this week and being a part of the Dinos Baseball program. Means a lot knowing that my work is appreciated to a point where I am asked to be a part of the coaching staff. It could have been anyone in that position but you selected me and that means a lot. Looking forward to being a part of it for the year  and I'm beyond excited to get after it.

All the best

Jeff

Aug 29, 2012
Big Brother Is Watching You

Training has taught me a lot when it comes to understanding the art, science, and business of what I do. Enough that evolving into mentoring and educating is fueled by a lot of lessons, insights, and for some of the trainers that I work with on a more personal level...rants. I have mentioned this in previous writings and I do not hide from it like I used to but I do train out of a big box facility. What I can say about it is that it is big enough and systemized like a big box concept but at the same time very personal trainer oriented and small enough that you can get your voice heard if you have something to say.

For that reason, one of the big take home points that I try to nail down with the trainers that I do work with is professionalism and more importantly the idea that as long as you are in the gym you are always and always will be under the microscope.

I had recently asked some of my clients if they were willing to share their experiences that they have had working with me and as you can see I have started to post them onto my blog. One that I have yet to share but feel compelled to do so after spending the weekend with some of the best professionals in the business. This one came from someone that I have spent the past number of years working with. Great client, great friend, and great professional. Not to mention someone who has taught me more about being a fitness professional than I could ever express. He was kind enough to share his experiences but gave me something more off the record that has really hit home for me.

Hey Jeff,

Thanks for asking me to compose this. It is important for people to hear how they impact others. It is a testimonial as well as a "Jeff is a real professional" blurb. Hope that is OK.

Things I did not say in the testimonial, but need to be said:

a) thanks for not chewing gum (at least that I ever noticed!)
b) thanks for always coming to work on time
c) thanks for not checking your phone and/or texting while I worked out
d) thanks for not wandering off to talk to other trainers and or clients while I worked out (this is why I will rarely interrupt you when you are with someone)
e) thanks for not going to the front desk or taking the phone call when you're called over the PA system
f) thanks for being uber flexible with times of when you would work
g) thanks for having the where-with-all to read me by the greeting handshake and question
h) thanks for not yawning at 6:00 in the morning so I could actually see it (although we ALL yawn at that time of day)
i) thanks for not playing with your lacrosse ball or some other thing while I worked out
j) thanks for not looking at yourself in the mirror and/or the TV's more than at what I was doing
k) thanks for not cheaping out and giving me a circuit of 4 or 5 things to rotate through for the majority of a workout (OK for groups or boot camp but not for 1 on 1 or with a partner) while you just stand around giving zero feedback.
l) thanks for not spending untold workout time just standing and talking - I appreciate you trust I can lift a weight and listen/talk at the same time.

Yup my good man, you and perhaps one or two others meet the "##### standard" of trainer professional excellence as outlined in the testimonial and the 12 points above. Get your sorry ass into the education and professional standard end of the business so ######## trainers (or wherever you end up working) gets the reputation of being heads and shoulders above the plethora of gyms out there. The market is crowded, trainers by nature are all super nice guys (at least in my experience), but excellence is a requirement if quality of service and profit are to increase.

Cheers! 

I didn't want to share this as a stroke of my professionalism (although it does pat me on the back nicely so why not) but more importantly than that it taught me how observed we really are while in the trenches. More importantly in my eyes is the last sentence of this letter as it affects myself and every single one of my colleagues.

I do have my frustrations working under the big box stigma because I see big box behavior day in and day out. At the same time however I really do like where I work, I do work with people who truly care about what they are doing and as long as I am under this platform I will do my best to change this stigma.

For the colleagues of mine that I do work with who may be reading this whether it be trainers or even management I think that we're in a position to collectively change the personal training model that we are under. One of our people just showed us this in the letter above exactly how important this really is and it goes well beyond the gym floor.
 

Let's Grab The Bull By The Horns

Big brother is watching in all aspects of our business so we best give him something worth tuning into.

Jeff

Aug 27, 2012
Striking Style

I catch myself answering questions regarding my training style more and more these days whether it be trainers or gym goers. It is something that I definitely welcome and will gladly explain my rationale behind any particular movement that I implement. However explaining how my style as a whole came to fruition poses a bit more of a challenge.

Style to me is where the art of personal training is meant to work in harmony with the science and it truly is the foundation of your identity as a personal trainer. It represents your individuality and beliefs as a trainer and ultimately reflects the population that you work with.

When I first started, this was a difficult concept to grasp as I was surrounded by numerous trainers each with their own methods. Not to mention this isn't exactly something that really can be taught in a classroom setting of a certifying body. Your style is not a part of your hard wiring the moment you step on the gym floor and begin training. It is something that you need to establish on your own.
 

Be The Stylish One Of The Group

For me, I can say that I have spent a fair bit of time in the gym over the past number of years and feel that it is something that I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin when it comes to what I implement. However, it took some time and it is something that I will continue to polish for a long time to come.

What I can say about training style is that should come about as a result of a lot of self discovery and self revelation before being practiced as a result of self proclamation. In order for that to happen I have to look at a number of factors that have influenced me and the direction that I have taken with the way that I train.

Train

Education is beyond important, but when it comes to developing your skill set when it comes to observation, listening, and judgement. Tough to get these out of a text book so get in the gym and do what you can do to just start training people. Not to mention if you want to be busy it would be in your best interest to make your presence felt on the gym floor.

Take In As Much Education As Possible

I have a lot of pride in what I do and my education means a lot (I am currently writing this from Indianapolis as a result of continuing ed). The more information that you can accumulate through reading, listening, watching, and feeling the more tools that you have in your toolbox. I believe in the pursuit of being a specialist vs. being a generalist but at the same time I believe that learning from a large platform of methods will certainly help you immensely when it comes to finding what it is that you believe in as a trainer.

Observe And Address Common Itches That Need to Be Scratched

I can say that my style doesn't suit everyone but I can also say that there are some profound commonalities found within some profound differences in desired outcomes. A story of mine that I often allude to is an NHL linesman that I have trained over the past number of years. The guy is 6'10 and travels a lot during the season so of course he falls victim to something that we are all guilty of. We are on our asses too much. It has been a pleasure training him and he has seen success as a result of my style. Not just from training him to keep up with NHL players but training him like a 6'10 man who flies economy and drives mid size rentals for six to eight months of the year.

Listen To Your People

This should be at the top of your list when it comes to style. No matter how much you study and no matter how much time that you spend in the trenches nothing will build your style like listening to the people that you work with. They are the judge and jury when it comes to what works and what doesn't. The happier you can keep them, the more validity you accumulate in what you are doing and nothing portrays style better than people other than you appreciating what you are doing.

That's it for me as it is back to the classroom for the day. Once again I am beyond grateful to be here in Indianapolis to take in some great information from the minds of guys like Mike Robertson, Lee Taft, Dan John, Bill Hartman, Pat Rigsby, and Chris Mohr. A brilliant group of guys and each masters of their own style.

Move Improve,

Jeff

Aug 25, 2012
Thoughts From San Diego

A crazy summer it has been as there has been a lot of time spent in the gym and unfortunately the writing has been put aside to an extent. Fortunately the summer experience is leaving me with lots on my mind and lots to put on paper. The big experience being spending time in San Diego with the PTA Global team as it was one of the most thought provoking experiences that I have ever been a part of. Thought provoking enough that now that I have had a few days to unwind from it all I feel the need to get it written down.

The PTA Global experience was able to provide me with a friendly reminder of their systems that were applied throughout the certification experience but being in the presence of the people behind it all brought it to a whole new level. While I have always appreciated what the certification has provided to my training game, it was witnessing it all first hand that has made me appreciate the underlying brilliance of it all.

What I can say about training and I will be the first to admit that I have been guilty of in the past is an over reliance on systems in order to bring what we sometimes perceive as the best possible answer. The idea that in order for a person to get to where they need to be it is going to be a well periodized program consisting of macrocycles of strength, hypertrophy, speed, power, and conditioning. Not to take away from the validity of these vital training cycles for specific training environments. However I really do believe that thinking only in this fashion is overlooking a lot of characteristics of fitness programming for the general fitness population.

There is and will always be certain programming components for this population and it was certainly covered by these guys, but where it all really hit home for me was that it was not a lesson systemizing your training. The brilliance behind it all for me came from understanding the client and not the training. The idea that programming not only comes from expected outcomes, but from the ability to adapt your programming to any given client on any given day around any given circumstances. This is a much more elusive concept than I ever would have thought as it is quite often something that gets overlooked in degree and certification learning. For me it was more or less a skill acquired by learning as I went and when talking with newer trainers, it is a lesson that I try and drill home more than anything out there.
 

The healthiest trainer client relationships I have ever encountered come from the ability to listen, respond to feedback accordingly, treat every exercise as an assessment and every assessment as an exercise, and designing programs around clients and not clients around programs. If you are able to grasp those concepts as a trainer then everything else within your skill set will become relevant and you can say that you are making a difference in the people you are working with.

Once again big thanks to the PTA Global crew as well as the incredible attendees for such a thought provoking experience as well as the sleepless nights upon my return to Calgary as a result of it. The forward thinking that you guys are providing is exactly what we need in this evolving game of training.

Aug 9, 2012
Ten Thoughts On Ten Subjects At About Ten Words A Piece

 

In this world of quick information it is a challenge to maintain an attention span for too long. I am also guilty of it as I often catch myself gravitating away from a task to learn about something that may benefit me, but more often than not it really is irrelevant. Even getting captivated by a video or a record is often told within about the first thirty seconds. For that reason, I decided to take a kick at the can at packing as much insight into topics I often discuss with as few words as possible. Short blog? Yes. Easy? It took more thinking than I expected.

 

Here goes nothing.

 

Education

Learn by living your topic, not just memorizing it.

 

Strength 

Train for strength and you'll be stronger in every sense of the term.

 

Nutrition

Do your homework. Power it by your feedback and self preference.

 

Conformity

Labeling is for organization. Not for humanity.

 

Training

You are your own methodology. Nobody else's

 

Money

Money is sexy. Know how to handle sexy. We all know it can lead to trouble.

 

The Electronic Era

Technology is a tool. Not a manifestation.

 

Making Time For Yourself

It doesn't grow on trees. This one is on you.

 

Life

Live it to the fullest and live it a lot.

 

The Age Of Information

Your judgement and values are who you are. Don't let your smart phone take them away.

 

Happy Friday everyone! Things are action packed this weekend as I will be taking in Joe Rogan (a master of judgement and values), Calgary's first UFC event with the Champions Creed crew, not to mention very excited tomorrow to be taking part in good friend and great trainer Barret Donovan's strength training seminar. 

 

Move Improve,

 

Jeff

Jul 20, 2012