Why don’t people come to the gym? I know, we as trainers know, that perhaps the biggest reason potential gym goers do not start is that they are scared. Scared of failure perhaps, but more so scared of embarrassment.

I see it all the time, people come in to our Fitwall gym, see our clients exercising doing things like pull-ups, speed skaters, pushups, crawling, etc and the onlooker immediately says “oh that’s too hard for me”.

Bullshit…..is what I think internally, because I don’t understand the intimidation factor with exercise. But perhaps, I think I know exactly what it feels like….my fiance loves to dance, I however do not. Partially it is because I’ve never actually had any fun dancing without some liquid encouragement, but mostly it is because I don’t wanna make an ass of my self on accident. So I don’t dance. If I substitute workout for dance, I understand exactly what’s going on-only it has much more serious implications on health and self confidence.

Our Fitwall workouts are quite athletic in nature, and people are scared that they will look goofy/silly/uncoordinated/etc, so we try to coddle and nurture and encourage as much as humanly possible without actually having a cry together feel better session during the workout-because the most important thing for someone to feel when starting a new program is safe and successful. Nobody gets their form ‘perfect’ right away, and I don’t think that matters as much as the scare mongering training crowd makes it seem to matter. Nobody gets real results in 2 weeks, despite all the 2 week drop 10lb silliness out there. We make sure to let our clients know that because we have 2 coaches in each group session, they will be safe and they will improve every time they come in.

Take a looksy at this article where brain activity is markedly different between normal body sized people and overweight/obese people. Basically, the gym looks like a fun or good idea to normal/fit people and looks like a scary or waste of time to a fat person. So it is up to us, to be a safe haven or at least as not scary as possible to help them come in to our gyms where we are doing “better” exercise than what they will get at Planet Fitness.  Now, while I think that planet fitness is largely a bullshit excuse for a gym that encourages non impactful training principles and basically is just a predator that wants to grab millions of people at $10/month who actually will never go but will never cancel their $10/month charge and doesn’t actually care at all about the people it is marketing to, they do have a very effective and pretty funny marketing campaign. (each of those words is a link to a really funny video). Seriously, planet fitness is fine if that gets someone working out, and I have lots of posts and every workshop I say “do whatever you enjoy, because that is the only thing you will consistently do long term.”

I personally believe that many many people have no interest in putting forth actual effort in their attempts to lose weight/get fitter. I see lots of people emerge from pilates and yoga studios with zero sweat on them. When they try one of my workouts it is hard by comparison. I believe that many people don’t want to do hard because 1. they are scared if they actually try they may still actually fail 2. they have been lied to that easy can get things done. The $10/month crowd or 1x/week crowd or don’t want to sweat crowd is NOT serious about making changes in their life, generally speaking.

The gym as a scapegoat? My perhaps cynical view is that some people just want to blame their workout. I’ve seen people who sign up for a membership who go 4 times in a month and complain they aren’t getting results. I see people who go 10 times a month but party every weekend and drink wine every night and have bagels and cereal every day (despite attempted food interventions) who complain they aren’t getting results. People often times just want to say that their exercise of choice didn’t work, and take zero ownership for why their own lifestyle choices is what is actually not working. I believe this plays a large role in why many people bounce from method to method-because they get to say “i tried everything”….except not eating like an asshole and getting some sleep! There are lots of success stories that end with “i decided to make a change, and committed to xyz” none say “ i decided to go to the gym a few times each month”. Here is how one of my first time client meetings went last year, and is definitely not the beginning of a success story…

Me “what’s your main goal?”

her “fat loss”

me while looking at self diet report “are you willing to give up Dr. Pepper and reese’s pieces?”

her “no.”

me “then your main goal is dr. pepper and reese’s pieces, not fat loss. I will get you stronger, and fitter, maybe leaner, but I guarantee nothing in terms of fat loss based on your diet”

I can tell you with confidence, she would’ve blamed me for her inability to lose fat if I didn’t say that….because she was blaming her previous trainer. We can be scapegoats. She wasn’t scared of failure, she wanted something to blame for failure other than herself.

furtherly meandering in a hard to follow blog…perhaps another way to decrease the gym intimidation is to focus on making it fun. I talked about it here. And the best example in the USA has gotta be Mark Fisher Fitness.  Make it more fun, it becomes less scary, you get more people, then they do good exercise, and they get better! oh ya

So who’s to blame? The gym staff or the potential clients? Nobody is to blame…some people just don’t want to be different than how they are. For every person who wants to have fun, and make changes, come see me and most coaches out there who really do want to make differences in peoples’ lives.

So what do you think? How do you get more people to come into your gym? How do you break down walls?

*If anyone misconstrues this as fat shaming, calm down. Fat is not meant to be a negative term here, it is a descriptor. also, I apologize how this got jumbled, my 30 minutes of edits somehow got lost, and my frustration with that made me decide to just post it up or else I’d risk going another 6months without a blog post.

I like to think of myself as a realist, and not an idealist. In my reality, not everyone can, and certainly not everyone should, squat ass to grass while exercising. 

I bolded exercising because my argument here is dependent on one caveat, which is this:


EXAMPLE: The lunge as an exercise vs the lunge as a movement.

It’s ridiculous to say that the knee should never go past the foot when lunging into the the bottom back corner of your closet to find that badass tie with skulls on it; sometimes your knee will go past your foot when moving around in life and THAT IS FINE. It’s different when you load it. If I put additional load, or perform a ton of repetitions, or change the pace at which I perform a movement in order to make it challenging and turn it into exercise, I need to make sure that I put my body in the best bio-mechanical positions in order to produce power safely, for the amount of time I am doing it, in order to keep the exercise safe, as many of the “suboptimal” positions for creating power rely on structural support vs muscular support. (think, a lunge where you have your knee pass your front foot relies more on the back of the ankle and on the knee structure for support relative to a lunge position where your front leg is 90 degrees bent) In exercise, if you continue to go to these suboptimal positions the demand on the structural bits of the body will continue to increase because the muscular contribution will lessen as fatigue sets in. This is why when exercising, form which places less relative load on structure, and more on muscular, is a better option.

Back to the squat…

Squatting as a movement and squatting as an exercise are two different things.

  • Butt wink! Beware the dreaded butt wink…it’s the plague of our generation and many strength coaches would have you believe that you shouldn’t have this happening…EVER. Well, the problem is, it is natural for every person at some depth, and even babies have the butt wink! Seriously, look at all the annoying pictures of “perfect” deep squat babies, and you’ll see most of them in a butt wink. But(t) it’s okay! The spine is made to flex, it’s made to allow for this to happen in movement…it only is a problem if you turn it into an exercise-by loading it, by doing it for lots and lots of reps, or by doing it explosively. Unweighted, and assuming no existing bulges or disc issues, a deep squat can be a goal, and can be improved by some smart mobilizations and more often by just practicing getting stronger at available ranges of motion. However, we need to be realistic and understand that sometimes structural, and not muscular limitations is why the butt wink exists, and because of this we shouldn’t spend ages trying to “fix” something that is just natural anyway. Exercise the squat under load, with reps, and explosively in the available ranges of motion where the muscular system is prioritized over the structural system-this means that many, aka most, will not be squatting ass to grass and that is ok. We can work those ranges in different exercises where the hips are taken out of the equation (single leg, split stances). Please watch this video with Stu McGill discussing anatomical reasoning as to why you shouldn’t squat past the butt wink, and then only apply his advice to exercise which is different than unloaded movement! Also check out this article which also discussing structural differences and how they can be the limiting factor for depth/position and that no matter how many lacrosse balls you own, you aren’t changing the shape of your skeleton. Some people are just not going to ever be able to squat ass to grass with feet close, or hip width, or ever. Those that can, will have a butt wink at some point, and probably are safer and better off not doing it under load
  • Bilateral limitations. I don’t think anyone has ever argued with me, maybe anyone, that if someone lacks the mobility to press a barbell over head in good position, that perhaps they should press a dumbbell or kettlebell so that the shoulder girdle/elbow/back doesn’t get jacked up as a result of compensation. Why can’t we understand that a bilateral squat is asking of the ankles/knees/hips/back the same thing, to move in certain ways while the feet are stuck in a certain position on the floor the same as hands on a barbell in an overhead press. Perhaps the answer isn’t to hammer that screw into the ground with a hammer, perhaps the answer is to grab a freaking screwdriver instead. Aka, take Ben Bruno/Mike Boyle/others’ advice and do more single leg stuff and still get really strong. If you aren’t planning competing in bilateral squatting competitions, doing more and more weight in that position grants you no special powers, doesn’t make you taller, and won’t get you laid. So maybe take the safer route with less limitations and just maybe get more athletic as a result by taking stances which allow you to place more stress on muscles and less on structure.
  • Ankles-most people really need soft tissue work on the lower leg, ankles, and feet, and will likely be able to get a little big lower based on this. However, some, will have that ankle impingement issue and they won’t get that better with voodoo floss, the stick, or anything else. Bone into bone..that shit doesn’t change.

Now…you should want to improve your existing mobility, just understand that you can’t all become gumby. We also probably want to increase our structural (tendon/ligament) capacity to resist injury-and that means challenging it. This is why Andreo Spina, Dewey Nielson, Ido Portal and others talk about and teach that we should explore our movement capacities, our ranges of motion-and how it is a journey not a race. Those structural bits take a long ass time to change, and it’s ongoing—truly “use it or lose it”. An example is in high school my 80 year old coach had us walk on the outside of our ankles every single day to strengthen and familiarize our bodies with that potential in the hopes that it would somewhat prepare us for that possibility. I think that this has merit, Gary Gray is another person who champions this type of approach.  Just be smart about how far you take it! Standing up from crossed legged floor sitting position is a great drill to practice challenging the body, but you probably shouldn’t 1RM that drill! In life you will pick stuff up that is a little too far in front of you and you can’t keep your back perfectly neutral-but let’s not train that possibility just because it’s a possibility.

The body is made to be resilient, but it must be challenged to be that way. This creates the opportunity for some truly stupid attempts at preparing the body to be resilient, so be careful while trying new movements and earning new ranges of motion.

My approach is…

  • Do bodyweight stuff as best as you can and in as many ways as you can
  • aggressively load your available and owned ranges of motion.
  • add specific attacks at improving your limitations with foam roller, lacrosse, scientific stretching etc.
  • Do weighted romanian deadlifts and pull overs (aka the RDL of the upper body) because the loaded eccentrics will probably improve your flexibility more than the yoga class your are doing.
  • Be smart

In summary: don’t think you can get everyone to squat ass to grass, don’t think you suck if you can’t, don’t think that it’s a good idea to load limitations, don’t think that bilateral squatting is an exercise that cures cancer, and above all…exercise is not the same as movement! Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it should be loaded, repeated, or done explosively.

Long time no post…

November 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Stuff has just been too busy for me to worry about blogging, plus i’m not selling workshops or online training anymore due to the time commitment to Fitwall….but I thought I’d put this up for the couple of people who get auto notices of what little ol’ clifton puts up on the webz. facebook converstaion

  • i had my first basketball game in 3 years last week….only been doing fitwall….felt like i had been playing ball 3-4x each week.  even when i was playing ball, if i took a month off and played again, while running/lifting, I never had such a good carry over from conditioning to the court. I can’t even write about it because it seems too good for me, as the program writer, to write about

  • Clifton Harski
    Clifton Harski

    athlete carryover is enormous

    pumped for you to try it since yo’ve worked with so many athletes

  • Ryan 'Bird' Burgess
    Ryan ‘Bird’ Burgess

    yeah, i just did a presentation today on GPP, SPP, and Dynamic Correspondance

    I’d put myself in the category though of people with low GPP, so just doing it and getting in better shape will def help

  • Clifton Harski
    Clifton Harski

    the conundrum i’m in is that i have to be aware that i’m inherently biased with regards to fitwall, even while trying not to be, that the really good results we see across the board through different sports and activities with people improving in performance, that i gotta be super critical of whether its what we are doing, or if i could’ve had the same results in my bootycamp classes.

  • Clifton Harski
    Clifton Harski

    i’m largely doing the same stuff…push, pull, rotate, hinge, single leg, . but half of the stuff we do is with the wall which really does have some very unique and cool transfer to stability and ‘what the hell effect’ on other movements. it’s a very dynamic and athletic program.

    the answer may be, “who gives a shit.” so long as people are running races faster, feeling stronger in their yoga and lacrosse games, stepping into sporting events and feeling more athletic than they ahve in years…..i guess thats a win enough


    just ask men’s fitness….

    Future of Fitness Feature in December issue of Men's Fitnesss

    Future of Fitness Feature in December issue of Men’s Fitnesss

Fitwall. Say what?

June 17, 2013 — 9 Comments

Want to hear something weird?

I haven’t worked out with kettlebells for 5 weeks.

I haven’t touched a barbell in longer. 

Bootycamp has been canceled. (at least until July)

I am leaner than I had been, my knee is not as pissed as it had been, and my shoulders feel great.

So what the shit am I doing? I have been training myself, and clients in the new studio I’m running: Fitwall.

I was introduced to Fitwall in March-and my first thought and response to it and some of the claims being made about it was: “bullshit. another ridiculously silly fitness contraption. you could super set it with the shake weight and max effort thigh master sets.”

The claims were:

1. Significantly higher amounts of muscular activation throughout the body…which leads to better function, due to reestablishing connections/relationships between muscles.

2. That increased muscular activity leads to better balance of relative muscular effort in movements.

3. That increased muscular activity leads to higher oxygen consumption by the body, and in turn that means burn more calories. Both during and post workout.

4. That the workout itself is decompressive on the body.

5. And finally, efficiency-the workouts are 7-30 minutes in length. And that’s all that is needed.

Sounded pretty infomercially to me.

However, my friends Franz and Yoana of kettlebell glory and fame were super geeked out by it, and so I thought I’d give it a shot. (I also watched some of the movements being performed on it, and being that I like movement, I could see that the wall imposed some very unique demands on the body requiring the practitioner to display simultaneous stability and mobility. We’ve heard that before….hmmm)

So I played on the wall, got my ass kicked a little bit in some very unique ways, did more research on the system, grilled the inventor about some claims, and then became the head coach at the first studio of the new Fitwall brand.

Before I say more, check out the video I have below, and see one of the workouts that I recently did on the wall. The first 11 reps are the 11 essentials of Fitwall training-which when performed as a group in a row as I do, challenge each muscle in the body-and the idea is that between them all, we are helping to activate all of them and have them up and running for the rest of the workout.

So…how did I come around to being stoked enough on this wall thingy to pause my normal training? I put it through the movement book test.

It is a rich sensory environment. It requires simultaneous stability and mobility. The exercises themselves are all self limiting. They are all safe enough to be able to push hard, without risk of hurting one’s self. They require precision of movement, and are not just some isolated drills”

I saw it as this:

enhanced muscular activation claim = reflexive stability. When on the wall, you are basically in some sort of a crawl pattern, just vertical-which places a climbing demand on the body as well. The hands and toes are VERY engaged and the body recognizes that without up regulating muscular (and brain) resources, that it will fall off of the wall. So basically, it’s like DEFCON 5 where all systems are turned on, to be able to deal with this physical danger of falling off. In the video, notice my toes gripping, my hands and fingers gripping, and the active scapular/armpit muscles driving downward on the wall to keep me stable.

better balance claim = less compensation. In the idea that we may have movers trying to act as stabilizers, we may rob ourselves of movement potential. Well, when on the wall, those movers may have to provide stability for a long time, and they don’t do that very well (based on what I’ve seen) and the actual stabilizers get called up and help out (finally). throughout all the moves you have to have at least 3 points of contact, and each time from one hand to opposite or same side hip you very acutely FEEL every muscle along that muscular sling/relationship/line up and working together. Anterior oblique sling? yeah, super engaged – same for posterior.

higher caloric burn claim = This I actually didn’t have a comparison. However, Fitwall hired one of the smarty pants from Polar to run tests on the wall and give out average numbers for what people could expect in terms of caloric burn on each of the main 14 drills. The highest average was 16.4 cals/minute on the targeting (running up and down the wall). That is really damn high. And 5 other drills burn over 14/minute. It’s actually really impressive, even though I’m not the biggest fan of calories in vs calories out….I know that it matters. However, in the sessions we do everything interval based. So we are getting the interval based EPOC in addition to the high caloric demands during the workout. In fact, our researcher in NM is showing that the EPOC from Fitwall workouts is higher than similar interval training in other modalities.

decompressive claim = Better co-contraction around joints, and less compression. We are relying on muscular stabilization around joints vs structural loading and compression. In terms of exercising, it can be a relative term where you just aren’t axial loading onto the spine/hips/knees and instead are challenging the body predominately from muscular loading. In terms of general decompression-it’s very much similar to Pavel’s suggestions to “hang on a pull-up bar a few times after and during workouts”. The inventor also talks about creating extra space in the joints as they are not compressed and how that may improve blood flow to tissues which are not generally very flow-y. And while anecdotal evidence is not always the best-everyone who gets on, just feels “better” and “elongated”. I could punch myself for saying that, but I’m just repeating what I’ve heard hundreds of people say already.

efficiency claim = duh. We know workouts can be short and sweet as long as they are intense. The nice part is, the movements are very very safe without the risk of injury from form degrading as you push yourself hard. (unlike barbell lifts for reps and time, or dumbbell or kettlebell)

 You can also perform really fun burpees.

But back to serious….when looking at the wall, what is it imposing?

1. Serious cooperation between shoulders and hips. AKA a wicked core challenge. My side abs are looking really sweet. But more seriously, I haven’t been specifically training the human flag, and each week I’ll try it a couple times…and it is getting close to happening foreals. Which in my flag tights is quite the awesomeness.

2. Upper body posterior chain pulling in a unique crawling/climbing fashion. Also, from a postural standpoint, I wonder if having to hold the body statically in a good position such as on the wall, is “better” than 3 sets of 10 Is, Ys, and Ts. I said I wonder, not that I know. I do know I am seeing some postures looking better, and people getting noticeably leaner and stronger in upper body pulling.

3. Safer plyometrics. I have had 10 seniors in a class jumping, and performing explosive one leg launches on a step and switching feet in mid air. Now, they aren’t getting Michael Jordan air….but they are certainly training more powerfully than they used to. How? Because they hold on to the wall which helps them decelerate on the landing, making the part they are scared of less scary. They get to work the concentric part they can do well, then gradually improve their ability to decelerate themselves.

4. Grip demands. We are all training crush grip with kb/bb/db…but the wall is pinch grip. And that is radical. Especially for elderly, but also especially for everyone else. Why is it radical? Because grip is soooo important for everything.

5. Movement awareness. When moving up and down on the wall, you have to navigate your limbs without banging them on the stainless steel. This is awesome. It helps create awareness in your movement. The itty-bitty steps help create precision of jumps, steps, and also the movement of hands does the same.

6. Midline crossing allover the damn place.

Then, we come off the wall. And from there you can be sure that we are doing sweet ass stuff. Rotation, anti rotation, unilateral, glute dom etc etc etc. I have had 4 clients so far tell me they were worried about trying exercise because it “looked intense” (due to the efforts being given) but that during the session they were shocked/happy to notice that we were having them do drills that their physical therapists had them doing. (single leg deadlift, glute bridges, side bridges, etc)

 Oh, and strapping someone to resistance and making them crawl almost ensures correct crawling patterns by the way. It’s pretty sweet.

The craziest, and maybe the most interesting part, is what the wall does to your brain. 

Basically, when on the wall, due to the short step and necessity of holding on with hands and feet to stay vertical, the body up regulates not just muscle activity but also brain activity. It’s akin to the fight or flight response, but only physically–meaning there isn’t the corresponding emotional freak out. This has been vindicated by Polar trying to disprove the claim, and in front of a group of people being very confused when in fact, brain activity does sharply increase. What does this mean? Well, we don’t really know. But you maybe will learn stuff more better (like my english), and what we are seeing is people learning movement skills better. For instance, while I was still just testing this stuff out-I would super set handstands with each Fitwall drill, and my handstands got sharply better within 5 sessions (about 10 days). I had been training handstands consistently for a long time with slow gradual improvement-and suddenly I was able to stick them, spread the legs, close the legs, walk….now I’m totally fine with saying maybe just maybe all my work over the past year finally clicked or something-but the timing was just very intriguing, and also it aligned with what the other people training with Fitwalls were noticing. That their sport/activity of choice seems to get easier/better with Fitwall training thrown into the mix.

The “What the Hell” Effect

We all love KB swings because of their what the hell effect. You do swings and you do pull-ups, deadlifts, run, jump, look, and feel better. What the hell?! Well, this is happening with the Fitwall as well.  The body just sorta feels ‘more connected’, and it makes sense once you have tried it. On the wall you feel the connections needed to move correctly and efficiently.  The what the hell effect is massive in training. Because sport specific training is sometimes a laughable situation, we know we want to impose general demands on athletes and people which yield results that improve what they do, without risking injury and/or interfering with their activity/sport. Well, this Fitwall apparatus is doing that…and it’s pretty neat.

Why the what the hell effect happens…

We in the industry are largely all geeking out on crawling and how it improves relationships and movements in the body. Some of the more progressive or fringe trainings are also seeing huge benefits from climbing (Dewey Nielson, Jason Brown, Brandon Hetzler, Charlie Weingroff, Gray Cook, MovNat) but the problem with climbing is that many just can’t climb (rocks, trees, monkey bars…) well enough to drive any type of response. They just fall. Well, the Fitwall allows a version of climbing where the feet are still connected and allows Grandma Betty to be able to do some sort of climbing. And it just happens to be a blend of climbing and crawling together…which is why I think it is giving this What The Hell effect.

I’ll be blogging even less (how is that possible!) as I enter in this exciting startup Fitwall company. So there is your full disclosure, I am running a Fitwall gym. I don’t own anything in Fitwall, but I did give up a lot to work their because of how intriguing the Fitwall is. Stay tuned for more as we continue to grow and see more awesome stuff.

Fun (random) stuff

May 2, 2013 — 1 Comment

I’m not one to brag*, but my new ad is the best ad for a fitness product I’ve seen in a long time.  Image

*I actually like to brag

2. Bros looking to get big, order this pancake mix. The calorie density is amazing. Here is the recipe that I kinda stick to. 2 eggs, 1.5 cups(ish) of super flour, 1 can of pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, 2tbsp melted butter, liquid coconut oil (some), salt sprinkle, water until it’s fairly thin. Cook it on medium heat, flip when there are bubbles. Cook it in ample butter, then put on maple syrup. Foreals…this is the awesome. You can substitute apple sauce for the pumpkin, or smushed bananas also. Calorie of this meal = around 2,500-3,000 depending on how much butter and syrup you use. #PAF

3. Krista Scott Dixon is more awesome than those pancakes.Read this article about paleo-ing harder. AKA, why long term low/no carbing is BAD news. She writes like I hope I sound when I talk…smart, sassy, funny.

3.5 Riding the coat tails of the above: I would like to reiterate that going low/no carb is effective for people in a short term weight loss goal, or to perhaps shift fuel sourcing in the body to a more balanced fat/carb mix. I guess I don’t really know if that’s true, but I think so based on what I’ve read. But, as I’ve said before: everything should be cyclic. If you eat low carb for a month or three, then you should start adding back in carbohydrate sometimes. Here’s a crazzzeee idea, match your carb consumption with your workout intensities! Low carb=strength cycle. Higher Carb = higher intensitie stuff. Oh yeah, that means you cycle your training too, which is probably smarter. EVERYTHING CYCLIC. Protein eating should even be cyclic once you have gotten close to the point aesthetic/well being feeling that you wanna be—what I mean is: high protein eating is great for weight loss-protein displaces carbs/fat in your intake, and protein tends to be much harder to store as fat compared to fat or carbs, it also ‘costs’ more to utilize and fills you up longer. However, if you are always high protein, your efficiency at utilizing that high intake is probably diminished, because of the abundance of it in your diet. Soooo, go a period of lower protein (we know that you don’t have to be HIGH protein to conserve or even build muscle mass, and when you are lower protein intakes it seems that your body becomes more protein ‘thrifty’ and utilizes your protein you do eat more efficiently). After you go low(er) protein for a while, doing sporadic super high protein days may prove to be extra beneficial, as your body is now ‘primed’ to utilize more of what you consume.  This of course should have citations attached, but I don’t wanna since I’m not a Peer Journal, and even if tracked down the studies for this ‘theory’ it is unproven. It sorta ties into the idea that having 3 larger protein meals in the day is better than 6 smaller ones, because more spaced out bigger protein intakes seems to be utilized better as there are less free floating amino acids (which may basically tell your ‘utilization’ processes that “it’s cool baby, we got free floating aminos, no need to utilize that protein right now”.  None the less….I’d still recommend everyone first and foremost to focus on food quality, getting protein at each meal-and worry little about other calorie concerns. “we are just eating, so eat fucking food not food stuffs”

4. Stoked to be getting Animal Flow certified next week. That’d be a fun thing to be teaching 😉

5. Trader Joe’s gluten free cookies are delicious. They taste like crunchy butter/chocolate heaven. In fact, next post will be a trip to trader joes, and what amazing foods for my bros and carb backloaders are there that you should be buying and enjoying.

6. I have a couple goals right now: 1 arm chin, 30 fat grip pullups**, 100 unbroken KB beast swings (106lbs), and 100 unbroken pushups.

peace out suckaz

**pullups=strict. obviously, as I’m not a tick ass sucka

7. workshops coming up:

Wednesday June 12, at Fitness on the Run in Alexandria, VA from 630p-830p

Thursday June 13, at CF Silver Spring in Silver Spring, MX from 6p-8p.

Saturday, June 15th at Mark Fisher Fitness (link is coming)

Also, in June, I am teaching a kettlebell Athletics certification in St Louis on June 8/9.

8. Online coaching to badassify your bitch ass.

Traveling workshops…

April 18, 2013 — 3 Comments

Ok-San Diego-I love you, but the rest of the country loves me more than you do-and so I must travel as to pay for my habitual ice cream and macaroon habits.

So in June I’m taking the turkish get up workshop on the road. To Washington DC area and NYC. Here are those links:

Wednesday June 12, at Fitness on the Run in Alexandria, VA from 630p-830p

Thursday June 13, at CF Silver Spring in Silver Spring, MX from 6p-8p.

Saturday, June 15th at Mark Fisher Fitness (link is coming)

Also, in June, I am teaching a kettlebell Athletics certification in St Louis on June 8/9.

Additionally-next weekend here in San Diego I am teaching a KB Athletics certification. 

In the works: Chicago, Dallas & Austin, and Salt Lake city (with the whole 9 gang!)

Required reading:

1. this post from yesterday 

2. Becoming A supple Leopard and Engineering the Alpha. Man, 2.0.

3. This post from Dave Thomas

4. This thought: All the hoopla about chronic cardio really gets some people’s panties in a bunch. Look-all the cardio “bashers” are saying is that doing it as your primary method for losing fat and getting more awesome is not as effective as strength training and some interval training. The way they say it is purposefully aggressive/attacking because that gets more attention-but let’s put on our “read in between the lines glasses” and take away that indeed, if you are trying to lose fat-be more awesome-and kick more ass then doing 1 hour plus of moderately hard monotonous exercise is whack. Doing it 2 times a week as recovery and aerobic system development is the opposite of whack, and in fact is actually the bomb. An attack on cardio is not an attack on you if you happen to like running/elliptical/etc-I sorta think that you skinny runners are just mad that all the buff people are making fun of you.*

Go read some Pat Ward, Soc Doc and Joel Jameson for more detail.

*just kidding

Ok-in other news: if you are in San Diego, and you wanna get some fun and effective training in-why the shit aren’t you training with me? I mean, check this out!

trial booty Cupecoy-Beach-Background

You can even try a week free if you aren’t convinced by these sexy ass ads, and the video over on the Bootycamp page.

Land of the weak

April 17, 2013 — 3 Comments

Oh America….

Why must you be so out of shape? So unhealthy? We have so damn much, yet act like such assholes with our health.

Those of you who join me in trying to make our people better by respecting themselves and living a healthy lifestyle-you are American heros-because right now this unhealthy diabesity war needs us. Plus it’s cool to look like a superhero.

BA Training is starting a new campaign:

Don't be unamerican. LIft.

Don’t be unamerican. LIft.

To support this campaign, please share this picture and encourage your country men and women to stop being lazy slobs…and to start kicking more ass.


If you are in need of some help on your path to Patriotism via badassery, contact me for online coaching.

If you take issue with me jokingly mocking communism-then stop reading my blog…and go be a dumbass somewhere else.

Leopard suppleness

April 11, 2013 — 1 Comment

I’d like to share with you my thoughts of the new book by Kelly Starrett, Becoming a Supple Leopard.

The original supple leopard challenge: Mobility WOD youtube daily videos for MORE THAN A YEAR was a hell of a resource. But a pretty daunting resource, because of the sheer volume of stuff available. If you entered into the anti douchebag posture youtube tunnel you might get stuck watching an hour of pain faces…while, ironically, sitting.

Well…the book solves that predicament by placing everything into easy to use body part sections. Which will make your tissue work more targeted, and get you going into the workout faster. The layout is quite nice, easily read, and doesn’t include too many up short shots. I would suggest the following: pick one or two of the drills in the book, try it, then move on with the workout. Don’t try to fix your entire body in one day….it didn’t get wonky in one day.

As a bonus, which I didn’t really expect: was the large amount of info that covers Kelly’s thoughts on torque, positioning, and generally creating better movement through organization of the body. I’ve been to a couple of his workshops and heard him at Perform Better, so I was familiar with the material already-for those of you who aren’t, it’s an excellent read.

There are gonna be people who will say that the methods aren’t proven, or maybe aren’t safe. Well, I can’t argue with that too much. There probably aren’t peer reviewed studies of “hulk smashing” tspine….and there are definitely knuckledheads out there who will drive a truck over someone’s thigh to ‘affect change’. But…doing what we can while avoiding the ‘pain face’ is probably gonna be ok!

I’ve had some smashing success with a number of the options presented in the book. I do X, I move more freely, then I train in that ‘better’ ROM. This makes sense to me as a good thing.

I particularly like the silly language and encouragement of fun throughout the material. It makes is more accessible.


Which leads me to something awesomely fun….

I have had the pleasure of teaching a friend, Geoffrey Hemmingway, a couple times now: at Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC, and taking him through a KB Athletics certification in west hollywood. Geoffrey’s bio: Mark Fisher Fitness Ninja, Dan John’s brother-in-law, Harski certified, Kettlebell Badass in training. Geoffrey is apparently a Big Lebowski genius, and has shared with me an amazing piece of work: (if you haven’t seen lebowski…shame on you)

48 kg–Jackie Treehorn. He’ll knock your ass out. Hell of a Caucasian Jackie.

40 kg–The Big Lebowski. He rolls around, abusing everyone. Not even Walter can hold him for long.

32Kg–The Walter. Ultimate badass. You are entering a world of pain, but he’ll get you a toe Dude, he’ll get you a toe by three o’clock this afternoon, with polish. Not for fucking amateurs, unless you want to see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass.

28Kg–The Stranger. I like your style Dude. But be warned, If you’re tossing this around, you might find yourself using a lot a’cuss words.

24 Kg–THE DUDE!!! The 24 Kg is the Dude because it is the test bell, and the Dude is tested so much. He’s the man for his time and place. Pair him with the Walter (32k) for an amazing Loaded Carry. I call it the handoff. Bring your dirty undies. The whites. The ringer cannot look empty. Dude’s car will get a little banged up.

20 Kg–Donny. Donny is the guy that gets tossed around and then eventually lost while we try to get to the Dude. We kind of take him for granted, but we need him. He is the Walrus. He’s throwing rocks tonight. You’re dead in the water.

16kg–The Jesus. Fucking Quintana. Creep can roll man. Great for beginner single arm pressing, just like the Jesus’ opening move during the Spanish Hotel California.

12kg–The Maude. Where the ladies want to be. Delicate, yet strong. Tangle with her, and see what condition your condition is in. Use her with the Dude for a double loaded windmill, or what I call, “coitus” or “Jeffery, love me.”

10kg–The Bunny. Easy to Snatch. She probably kidnapped herself. I’ll just go find a cash machine.

8kg–Smokey!! Mark it eight Dude. These are for pacifists, for the fragile, the very fragile.

6kg–The Brandt. This is our concern Dude. Can be viewed as unnecessary, but under-rated.


April 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Exercise makes you smart. Well smart exercise does anyway!

“And in this study, after six months, the women in the toning group scored worse on the memory tests than they had at the start of the study. Their cognitive impairment had grown.”

Here is the study showing that people get smarter with exercise.

I find it funny, and sad, because Toning is what all the ladies wanna do, when its not as effective as lifting weights and running at producing body/health changes AND it makes you dumb!

Ok, I’m overstating it, but it was just too good to not share!!

PaleoFX 13

April 3, 2013 — 4 Comments

I’m gonna ramble like a mofo in this post, as I slept less than optimally last night.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be able to go to Austin, TX and attend PaleoFX13. By attend I mean sit through as many speakers/lectures as possible while also sitting on the Mastermind for Training and Nutrition for women, as well as teaching a bootycamp and TGU workshop. Oh you want pictures of that? Sure….


We can learn two things from this: 1. I am a dork. Or awesome. Or hilarious. Or all of those things. 2. Amy and I might actually have a career in superherodom.

PaleoFX does a really good job of giving USEFUL information to the uninitiated, and also to the paleo war veterans. What I mean is: if you are paying attention you can pick up new tidbits of awesome from the presenters, even though for the most part it is a huge rehash of what most of us “know”. Now, that is not a bad thing because IMO we all need validation/verification that what we are doing is the right thing to do, or at least maybe…which leads me into


The term that you should “find what works for you” is largely bullshit. That’s an excuse to NOT do what you might need to do.

Example: client-“I can’t lose weight” me-“have you ditched the wheat/liquid calories/sugar/dairy?” client-“no, that doesn’t work for me.” me (internally) – “you don’t know that. You just won’t commit to actually trying something, because you’re scared it won’t work/you’re physchologically attached/addicted to it/you don’t actually want to try.” (externally) – “well, perhaps we should try it for a whole month. Like legit removal. You know, where you actually remove it. And don’t eat it. For that 30 days. At all.”

Example: client-“I tried lifting weights, and it didn’t work for me. I was skinniest when I was running a lot in my early 20’s.” me – “yep, getting older makes things harder, you can’t get away with as much from diet/lack of sleep/exercise choices. Also, machines don’t count in my world, you probably did really not optimal training”

Look, things work until they stop working. When you are a sedentary POS, if you start anything you will see improvements. This is why when you are a beginner the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is find an exercise/activity that you like, and do it as often as possible while maintaining safety (read, NOT CROSSFIT/SUPER HARD WORKOUTS 5-6X/WEEK!). As you gain fitness, continued progress becomes harder and harder, and so you must be more selective with the exercise/diet/lifestyle choices that you employ if you really desire to continue progress. This is really hard because you become emotionally attached to what worked for you: kettlebells, barbell, pilates, zumba, walking, whatever. You lost 20lbs and felt better doing what you did, and you LOVE it because of that, and you have a hard time switching gears to something else. All that happened is what you were doing stopped working for you, so find something else…there is one most important thing that you need to do from a health/performance/longevity standpoint: strength train.

But that doesn’t mean you only strength train. I’d like to see you lift relatively heavy (for your experience/strength level) 2x a week and then do lots and lots of easy fun stuff the other 4 days. Seriously, workout 6 days a week if you want to and the activities are enjoyable. Just pay attention to how you feel. One thing that we don’t get in the paleo crowd (which really means crossfit crowd) is that outside of crossfit, and other extreme/high intensity exercise programs is that most people don’t train that hard. I know that most of us have blinders on and don’t really look outside of our own community, so we only see the constant beatdowns and underfeeding of exercisers in our community-and we mock all other modalities/systems because we are so elite, but, there is tons to be learned outside of our community. This is why having Kiefer, & Joel Jameson at the PaleoFX was so important-hearing some “outsider” voices.

**I hesitate writing that last paragraph because of course it doesn’t cover job demands/diet/lifestyle, but I’m just gonna say that if you manage your stress levels with those things, you can exercise more and harder which will in turn make you more resilient to everything. If you can’t manage that other stuff…then yep, you’re gonna have to take it easy with the training most of the time.

Ok, that was a tangent and a half…back to PaleoFX

My favorite new-to-me tidbit came from Dr. Layne Sebring. The weston price folks/pottenger cats experiments have talked a lot about how poor nutritional choices affects the dental, jaw and facial structure development of offspring: generally being smaller and more frail. Now, this is easy to see with the high prevalence of people needing their wisdom teeth removed, and the large amount of orthodontics which I guess weren’t needed much before our shitty diets started. BUUUUUT…..the fascinating part to me was this: the nasal passage way, and nose itself has become smaller for most of us-which makes it much harder to breathe diaphragmatically. This is important because a hot hot “trend” in fitness/performance right now is addressing the diaphragm and how it functions. Well, bad news, if you got itty bitty shitty nasal passages, you might be mostly out of luck and be doomed to being an open mouth breather….which negatively affects posture, diaphragm and thus core function, and then that affects stability negatively, which then affects mobility negatively. So say thank you to your previous 3 generations for eating nutritionally poor food stuffs and leaving you with shitty small facial structure (not to mention indented chest and thoracic cavity as well which also negatively affects posture and then that leads to poor breathing as well). **Posture and breathing is sort of a chicken or egg type situation…we can argue which causes each but the right answer is they both affect each other. Now…since we can look at our diaphragm function and still improve it, be it through DNS/PRI/whatever we should do that. An interesting thing that many in the “gluten isn’t bad” camp would do well to listen to is this: both Charlie Weingroff and Dean Somerset have talked about how wheat/gluten can cause enough intestinal discomfort/bloating to negatively affect proper breathing patters. This is interesting because they are pointing out ANOTHER negative attribute of wheat/gluten/any food that causes distended belly-which may include beans/dairy/soy or anything that personally makes you “farty and bloated”. So basically I’m saying eating shitty foods like wheat/other nutrient poor yet gas/bloat inducing foods fuck up your breathing patterns now, and also through epigenetics probably predispose your kids to sucking wind through a dry open mouth as well. Seriously…just stop eating wheat. It has zero redeeming qualities except being yummy. I choose ice cream instead.

Also from the weekend I learned that PaleoFX presenters really love ice cream.

Notes from the training and nutrition for women talk: it is really really important that ladies strength train. But also really important that you find something you like to do, so that you have a positive association with exercise instead of viewing it as another ‘chore or job’. Women can handle more volume, generally speaking-of course this is with the caveat that proper form is maintained, and that the volume and intensity have been worked up to. My personal opinion is that beginners (to any new program) should do high frequency training at lower intensity/volume to get really good at what they are doing….then layer in the volume and intensity. If you must start heavy and hard, then go less frequently. Just don’t do both. I think learning the form and NOT beating the shit out of yourself is really important when starting out. Get good, then occasionally beat your ass down (again, read my ramble above).

I think an important piece that isn’t tackled much, because it is a very sensitive subject is the encouragement of leanness but not super leanness for women, as a little bit of extra bodyfat seems to be appropriate for proper hormonal function. I know that female body image is a very challenging subject, as is basically any talk about women’s health/fitness etc-but it’s still an important subject to discuss. I really dig the female centered websites that encourage to “lift like a man” “strong is sexy” “I’m woman hear me roar type thing” because they ARE/CAN BE very empowering for women-and I’m being sincere when I say that women seem to have it harder than men. Sometimes that’s because women don’t/can’t employ the “don’t give a shit” attitude that we men seem to be good at, and sometimes it is because we truly do live in a male dominated world-in the former, that perception that you have it really bad matters, and I/we men need to try and recognize/understand that perception is reality-even if/when we don’t understand how that seemingly small thing that happened sends a lady over the edge. Back to the “be strong” woman movement (and this can pertain to in the gym/workplace/anywhere): I think it sucks that it often times becomes an “anti girly” movement at the same time. Look, it is awesome when a woman lifts heavy, shucks girly stereotypes, and kicks ass, takes names and is a stud(dette). But…that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing when a girl/woman wants to put on a pretty dress, make up, heels, play with glitter and do stereotypical “girly” things. You CAN DO BOTH! It’s not one or the other. You shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting to do certain things. And any person who looks down/talks shit about that type of thing is being a bully, and can kiss the ass of every nailpolish wearing deadlifting #BA lady out there. I feel bad for you if you are constantly thinking about the image you are putting out there…that’s not someone else’s problem, that’s your own thing. I think that there is a serious lack of fun in much of the fitness industry, and that is horse shit. If you are so serious about your training that you don’t really enjoy it, or actually get mad at what other people are doing then you seriously suck at doing fitness. I dress up in short shorts and tights to try and relax people and get them to enjoy the experience rather than focus on the outcome. I only get mad when bad advice is thrown out about things like lifting weights will make girls bulky.

PaleoFX note: nobody agrees on carbohydrates and how many are a good idea. My thoughts: eat real food. You can’t overeat vegetables. You’ll shit on yourself if you eat too much fruit. And it’s really hard to overeat MOST animal products. Just don’t be an asshole. I’m pretty well firmly believing that carbohydrate timing can be optimized by placing it into the post workout window, or at the end of the day so long as you worked out that day. Broadly speaking, the leaner you are and the more muscle mass you have the more carbohydrates you get to have. At this point, after a certain small amount (in a range a state later) I basically see carbohydrates as a supplement for performance, not something you need for health. If you are looking to kick ass in the gym or in a sport, you need more of them. I’m not saying always be in ketosis-I’m saying have metabolic flexibilty where you can go no carb days, low carb days, and occasionally have more some days. Having to rely on gluconeogenisis all the time is probably too stressful for the body-for brief periods it probably provides some sort of benefit, as is the case with most things I think. Simple as that. If you are looking to lean out, you probably would do well to have less of them, at least for a while. I don’t see

534083_10151824738428098_1644194696_nthe debate ever ending, but I would be shocked if within the next 5 years we don’t start seeing sweeping recommendations across all fitness/health communities that involve LESS carbohydrates. Just understand that we probably don’t need to “optimize” our carb intake, and that a range of 25% of your BW in grams of carbs to 50% of your BW in grams per day is plenty for feeling awesome and staying lean in the absence of high intensity workouts. Carb up more on high intensity days. I basically just made those numbers up…but they make sense to me.

PaleoErs are (mostly) well to do anglo saxon americans. That’s not being discriminatory, its just an observation. It has some stuff to do with the fact that the diet/lifestyle can cost more-but I think mostly it comes down to the fact that for the people there, health and fitness are worth the $$. This is in contrast to anyone who thinks that $100/month for expert instruction in fitness/nutrition/lifestyle is not worth it, yet complains about their weight/health/energy and stress-but still manages to spend much more than that on self medication via booze/drugs/food. My opinion is that most people who won’t spend the money on improving their health could do a better job of not spending money on negative health inputs, and that would have exponential positive effects on their lives. We humans are exceptionally good at self sabotage and coming up with excuses for why things WON’T work. I’m not much for inspirationy quotes/talks, but please focus on the things you can control, and let go of those things that you can’t.

PaleoFX/AHS crowds are HAWT. Simple as that. I Haven’t seen that many fit and healthy people at any other gathering of people ever. Fitness conventions are visual proof that lean/fit/high performance does not = healthy. Those things have people who are wafer thin skinned freaky looking folks who are freaking out every 2 hours that they need a powerbar because they are hypoglycemic and going catabolic. Pretty funny. At this event we gots super smarty physchiatrist Emily Deans doing 1 handed stands, and the only Physician and athlete presenter I’ve ever heard of, Dr. Jacob Egbert.

Keith and Michelle Norris should be applauded and celebrated for working tirelessly to assemble the who’s who of the paleo crowd and putting on an awesome weekend. I wouldn’t want to take on the task of organizing that event, but I’m sure glad I got to be a part of it.

If you are interested in hosting a Turkish Get Up/KB workshop, or online coaching, email me.