Use What You Got

My daughter Hartley pushing an ab wheel while wearing a mini band as a belt

My daughter Hartley pushing an ab wheel while wearing a mini band as a belt

 

If you are remotely into fitness, which assuming most of you who read this blog are, then chances are you have some old exercise equipment lying around your house.  It may be buried in the basement, in the back of your closet, somewhere in your garage or perhaps it is used as the world’s most expensive clothes hanger.   Whatever the case may be, take inventory of what you have and what you have available to you and chances are you do not have to go very far to get in a great workout.  Maybe you have an old jump rope somewhere, a pull up bar, a few sets of old dumbbells, a mini trampoline, a pogo stick, an ab cruncher, an old treadmill or Aerodyne bike(like my dad has) or even a thigh master, whatever it is gather it together and see what you can use to get some work done.  Sometimes the biggest limit to our workouts is imagination.  If we could find ways to use what we have then we would all get great workouts in all the time and would not be stressed for time.  My workouts consist of about 20 minutes in my back yard using the limited amount of equipment I have.

Now, I am a trainer and I have collected a few items over the years but mostly the things I believe are extremely valuable, universal and ideal.  My list of equipment consists of:

  • 35lb Kettlebell
  • 53lb Kettlebell
  • 5 lb dumbbells
  • 8lb dumbbells
  • Green, Red and Blue Mini Bands
  • Orange JC Band
  • Yellow JC Band
  • Ab Wheel
  • Ab Wheel for your feet
  • Jump Rope
  • TRX
  • Rings
  • 12lb Body Bar
  • Push Up Bars

Like I said before, we should also use whatever we have in our surrounding areas and environments.  You live close to a park or big hill? Great, think about ways to incorporate those into your workouts.  Parks are great for monkey bars, pull ups, swings and even just a bench or picnic table.  And don’t even get me started on the benefits of hill sprints, yes they are hard and yes they punishing but my God are they good for you and worth it.  Have stairs at home?  What about some step ups or push ups or bear crawls up and down your steps.  I am fortunate enough to live right around the corner from a park and I am always messing around at it when playing with my kids.  I probably bang out at least 30 or so pull ups every time I am there.  Fitness and exercise can be right under your nose if we just open our eyes to see what is available.  Don’t be afraid of looking foolish or silly or what others may think of you.  Just move your body the best you can because our body is by far the best machine ever created.

Here is a list of things around me I use in my workouts as well:

  • 2 foot high log stumps
  • Mini tramp
  • Pogo Stick
  • Golf Club
  • Grass
  • Longboard Skateboard

My workouts currently are in a maintenance phase.  I am trying to maintain what I have and continue being as fit and active as I can.  I do not have access to a gym and I do not like to do heavy lifting in the summer time anyways, so my workouts are mostly body weight, circuit style training.  My circuits consists of:

  • Jumps on the log, step ups on the log, squat rows with the band, push ups off the push up bars and recover with jumps on the mini trampoline for about a minute
  • Kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats, squat push with the band, lunge stance alternating pulls with band, side lunges, band rotations and recover with chipping 10 golf balls
  • 1 leg jumps on the logs, 1 arm band punch, 1 arm band row, alternating hand kettlebell swings, lunge jumps, burpees and finish with mountain climbers

Generally I try to never repeat the same circuit or exercise and always keep my body moving.  If I did push ups last time, I may do push ups with rotation the next time.  If I did double arm row one time, I will do alternating the next, if I did squat push then I will do lunge push.  Variety makes a world of difference on even the simplest exercises.  Finding ways to mix it up and keep it fresh makes the workout go by faster and is more enjoyable because you are not dreading the same circuit again and again.

Take inventory of what you have around and find creative ways to incorporate them into a workout, chances are you have more than you need right at your disposal.

“If you give a half assed effort, half the time, you end with a quarter of the results.”

 

 

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Career Change

After over 10 years in the fitness industry, I have recently decided to switch careers from a personal trainer to a firefighter.  Please let me explain.  I have been passionately devoted to fitness ever since I got turned onto it back when I was a teenager around 13 or 14.  Fitness has played a key role in my life, my journey, my athletics and my career and I owe a lot to the health and fitness world.  It has been quite a journey of 10 plus years and I have evolved quite a bit since my first personal training job.  I enjoy helping others and caring for others and watching them succeed and achieve their goals with my help in their exercise program.  There is no greater feeling then knowing you helped someone, somehow and in someway whether it being losing weight, moving better, feeling better, having more energy or being out of pain.  Helping others is the biggest reward there is with this job.  However, working as a personal trainer is and can be a grind.  We are constantly battling hours, switching clients around and watching our paychecks take big hits when several of our clients decide to go vacation at the same time, which is usually the case.  As much as I love this industry, it dawned on me one day: Do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 plus year?  Do I want to be grinding it out and helping others workout in the gym when I am 55- 60 years of age?  Always worrying about clients, hours and a steady paycheck, I think not.  I am not fulling giving up on fitness either, I do believe I will always be training and finding those special clients to train as well.

When I moved here to South Carolina, I started talking to a lot of the firefighters at the gym I worked at, gathering as much information as I could and asking as much questions that I could think of.  I never really planned in my life to become a firefighter but quite honestly I think it is extremely fitting for me.  I am extremely into fitness and health, I was a lifeguard for 3 years, I have been doing high diving shows climbing ladders 80 feet in the air, I love helping other people and I want to be able to give back to my community.  I have been filling out applications, talking to Captains and getting information on the fire academy and what are my best steps to take to start on this journey.  I know the journey is not going to be easy and it is going to be tough at times but I am a true warrior and will not stop until I accomplish my goal.  At first I was hesitant to even post this and tell this story to all of you but I am firm believer in the law of attraction and making your goals known to all in order to help you achieve your destiny.  If you throw it out to the universe, the universe make things happen, open up doors for you and throw it back to you.  I am being as patient as I can for I know good things will come to those who wait.

I am aware it is a higher risk job and I am aware it has life threatening capabilities but you know what, so does driving your car down the highway.  I look into the positives more of what the job has to offer like helping others, caring for others, a steady paycheck and flexible hours.  The way the shift works as a firefighter (as in 24 hours on and 48 hours off) gives me more time to spend with my precious little girls before they get older and start school.  I am excited to start this new chapter in my life and will keep you all posted and updated as I continue on this journey.  Wish me the best of luck.

My Favorite Maxims Continued

Continuing the list from coach John Wooden:

 

Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.

Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation.  Character is what you really are; reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.

Love is the greatest of all words in our language.

Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit.

Never make excuses.  Your friends don’t need them and you foes won’t believe them.

Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.

Be slow to criticize and quick to commend.

Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you.  You’ll be surprised at the results.

The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.

Don’t permit fear of failure to prevent effort.  We are all imperfect and will fail on occasions, but fear of failure is the greatest failure of all.

Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.

The time to make friends is before you need them.

We are many, but are we much?

Nothing can give you greater joy than doing something for another.

Material things are not gifts but apologies for gifts.  The only true gift is a portion of thyself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for another without thought of something in return.

Do not mistake activity for achievement.

You can do more good by being good than any other way.

Forget favors given; remember those received.

Make each day your masterpiece.

Make friendship a fine art.

Treat all people with dignity and respect.

Acquire peace of mind by making the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

My Favorite Maxims

From the legendary coach Mr. John Wooden, here are his favorite principles or maxims:

 

Happiness begins where selfishness ends.

Earn the right to be proud and confident.

The best way to improve the team is to improve ourself.

Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.

Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.

Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

I will get ready and then, perhaps, my chance will come.

If I am through learning, I am through.

If you do not have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?

The smallest good deed is better than the best intention.

The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead.

It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

There is nothing stronger than gentleness.

You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, to improve – not to punish.

Goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or lasting.

Make sure the team members know they’re working with you, not for you.

Be most interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.

What is right is more important than who is right.

You handle things.  You work with people.

As long as you try your best, you are never a failure.  That is, unless you blame others.

Tell the truth.  That way you don’t have to remember a story.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.

If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.

Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress.

If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.

The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

The worst thing you can do for those who you love is the things they could and should do for themselves. (Abraham Lincoln).

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Exercise vs. Movement

We all know moving our bodies and exercising are important and vital for our health and longevity.  We know it is great for weight loss, weight maintenance, bone health, heart health and reduces the risk of diabetes and all of the other problems which can occur from lack of exercise.  We all have heard from several different sources whether it be a friend, TV, media or a fitness expert on which form of exercise is best.  Some may say weight training is ideal or cardio is better or yoga is best or maybe even exercise classes is the best form to choose from.  However, what do all these modalities have as the common denominator?  Movement.  Movement is the key factor for almost all of your general fitness needs.  We need to move, we need to twist, bend, jump, run, skip, dance, squat, leap, climb, carry, push, pull, lunge, throw and crawl.  We need to learn to incorporate more movement into our everyday lives and not just get enough of it when we go to the gym.  I am not talking about movement which may be involuntary like walking from your car to work or from your desk to the water cooler but movement in which you are fully engaged, aware and present.  Do not get me wrong, I love exercise and I love lifting weights and getting stronger and seeing the results but what I love even more is being able to move my body well in all different planes of motion without limitation or struggle.  I love being able to perform almost any activity or sport without ever thinking twice about injury, struggle or not being strong enough.  If you are able to move well then you should able to do most other things well.  There is a huge difference between movement and exercise and I would like to share these things with you so hopefully we can all get more movement into our lives daily.

  • Exercise is about repetition of known patterns while play(movement) is about discovery and exploration
  • Exercise is about enduring unpleasant sensation: play is about finding delight in diverse movement forms
  • Exercise is about repeating the known; play is about extending into the unknown
  • Exercise requires external motivation to maintain participation; play is inherently rewarding and self-reinforcing
  • Exercise tends to be single plane; functional movement is multi-joint and multi-plane
  • Exercise is monotonous; movement is engaging
  • Exercise is specialized; movement is diverse
  • Exercise is scripted; movement is spontaneous and opportunistic
  • Exercise feels mechanized and forced; movement feels expressive and creative
  • Exercise is a means towards an end; movement is an end in itself
  • Exercise is generally done in the gym; movement can be done anywhere

Movement is better because it offers more options for physical creativity and expression.  There’s more possibility and more room for the imagination.  Be a movement opportunist; look for movement at home, in the workplace, in parks, airports and in the parking lot.  Look for ways to add spice and extra movement into you daily life, jump up on that ledge you pass by everyday, balance on the parking curbs, do some pull ups on a stairway or tree you pass, skip across the parking lot or empty field, run up and down the stairs a few times, anything that will be different and new to your ordinary routine.  Dance is also another great way to incorporate movement into your day.  Dance is fun, pulsating and hip gyrating and is always fun to do by yourself or with your friends.  Dancing gets the body moving in all planes of motion and works all of the major muscles without you even thinking about it.  Learn to dance with other things like the terrain, gravity, water, bushes, the ground, boulders, rocks, stairs and sidewalks.  Learn to make the world your playground and let the movement begin.  I have transitioned to this way of working out and absolutely love it.  I no longer care or think about sets, reps or numbers but I concentrate more so on the feeling of the exercise, how engaging it is and how much enjoyment I am getting out of it.  I am often at the playground with my kids and am constantly playing around with them and I am always fascinated by their movements.  If you want a great workout, try following around a young kid on the playground and copying everything they do, I guarantee you will get a great workout without even thinking about it.  Move your body and play as much as you can but also know that you still have to exert yourself a little bit.  Not too much but just enough to get your heart rate and ventilatory rate up.  If we want to reap the health and performance rewards, sweat and exertion are still necessary.  We still need to challenge our tissue and push our physical comfort zones.

And remember, if it feels monotonous and boring, it probably is!  If this is the case, stop doing it.  Find something else that is not boring and is more engaging.  I find my best workout are the ones which are unplanned, outside, shoes and shirt off, going with flow and not worrying about the outcome.  Try it sometime and I bet you will be amazed on how much better you feel.  Movement is best and movement trumps exercise every time.  Have a fun and movement filled day.

An hour of basketball feels like 15 minutes.  An hour on a treadmill feels like a weekend in traffic school. ~ David Walters

 

 

Happiness Is

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and this last book I read as changed me and opened up my eyes to see the world differently.  I read Way of the Peaceful Warrior written by Dan Millman and it has enlightened me and brought some insight into my world.  We all search for joy and happiness in our life and go to great lengths to acquire what we are after.  Some may think that by getting multiple achievements or degrees will make them happy, while others may think an abundance amount of money will be the way to total bliss.  I believe happiness and total enlightenment comes from within, you have to be happy with who you are, what you have, what you have become, where you have come from and where you are headed.  There is no need to worry about what others think, what achievements you feel you need to achieve or the amount of money you think you need to make.  Happiness starts on the inside with you and you have the power to radiate that happiness to others.  Go with the flow with everything life has to offer you, throw away your concerns, your doubts, your fears and your anger and you will find yourself to be more at peace and life will work itself out.  For those of you who do not know me on a personal level, I have a tendency to  be impatient, slightly uptight and always want to be in control.  I have completely let go everything that is out of my control and just enjoy life and everything around.  I am more aware of the little things surrounding me like the clouds in the sky, the leaves on the trees, how the wind moves the trees, the animals surrounding me and I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and peace.   I am at peace with the world, with myself and with everything around me and feel as I am embarking on the righteous path to happiness.  I know this path is just beginning for me but it feels great to have the insight and new look on the world like I do now.  Happiness is a state of mind.  My happiness is spending quality time with my daughters and watching them grow up, a good hug and kiss from my wife, a good laugh with a friend, any movement, the sun on my back, swimming in a pool, a morning walk, a round of golf, a great meal and an ice cold beer.  Don’t take your life too seriously, laugh more, work less, enjoy the outside and surround yourself with love.  Be happy, be kind, be grateful and be thankful.

Here is the passage from the book which I am quite fond of and I find myself reading everyday to remind myself to stay with the positive mental attitude.

 

There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere.  It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now!  Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see.  And the only laws are paradox, humor and change.  There is no problem, never was, and never will be.  Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away you concerns, and relax into the world.  No need to resist life; just do your best.  Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine.  You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too!  It’s all the marvelous Play of God.  Wake up, regain your humor.  Don’t worry, you are already free!

24 Healthy Weekly Habits of Mine

My list of 24 Healthy(ish?) Weekly Habits I perform 

  1. I slam a glass of lemon water after waking up
  2. I drink bullet proof coffee
  3. I floss daily
  4. I listen to motivational and inspirational podcasts
  5. I get outside often
  6. I go barefoot as much as possible
  7. I play with my kids everyday
  8. I roll out my arches with a golf ball
  9. I love reading and try to read for at least 20 minutes everyday
  10. I look for ways to incorporate exercise into my day
  11. I always take the stairs
  12. I take a shot of apple cider vinegar several times a week
  13. I eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and eggs everyday
  14. I don’t do long, slow cardio
  15. I love full body, multi-joint workouts
  16. I really only exercise 2-3 days a week
  17. I love golf and walk the course every time I can
  18. I hate stretching and doing crunches
  19. I say out loud everything I am grateful for everyday
  20. I take time out everyday and focus on my breathing
  21. I fast for 15-18 hours a couple of days a week
  22. I realize how blessed I am and how wonderful life is
  23. I say ‘I love you’ often to my wife and my daughters
  24. I give my family kisses and hugs for hello and goodbye