On Reflection…

You tell me that I make no difference… at least I’m fucking trying… what the fuck have you done? It’s in my eyes… and it doesn’t look that way to me in my eyes.

–– Minor Threat

I move to connect. Life is engagement with environment. Choice. Do not expect an outcome. No expectation, no judgment. Time is a mere reflection of passing. Abandon past associations. Connect with presence.

Possessions distract from that which gives life. Creativity, the elixir of experience, thrives on simplicity.

The less I feel the need to do the more life becomes spontaneous. Structure heightens productivity, yet smothers the creative force of the instant.

In motion, I am free to be. Moving rhythmically, I commune with free-space, absent any labels (sex, status, age, race, etc.) my expression is pure. In this moment I am free to follow my thoughts, set an intention, initiate action, and live out my expectations.

Upon completion, I am at peace. Stillness arrives in the space created by exertion. Here I sit with coffee, pencil, and paper. Warmth and elevated heart rate replaced with a clear mind and present thought. To communicate thought through writing is to live life twice.

Clarity may not always arrive, but when it does, so too follows flow.

Initiate. Experience. Reflect.

2018 Bighorn 100

Strength:

Preparation is More Profitable than Reparation

Lifting – Calisthenics – Repetition – Resistance – Tension

When done right, controlled, quality movements alter our physique. Moving through a full range of motion properly flexes each muscle and strengthens the body. When done incorrectly, mindlessly, injury, imbalance, and poor biomechanics develop.

Refrain from chasing fatigue. Elevated HR should be momentary in the realm of strength as it is not sustainable, and its effects on performance are profound. Learn to breathe and maximize your repetitions. Build on the finishing rep, stopping at a pre-determined number, or when form, ROM, or mental fatigue dictates.

  1. Quality > Quantity
  2. Repetition = Practice… perfect practice is the way
  3. Avoid training a fatigued movement or body part
  4. Master bodyweight exercise, learn to flex the working muscles
  5. Understand tension. Apply it from the ground up. Contact points force tension
  6. Analyze effort in the present moment. One focused rep > many poor reps
  7. Mind (logic). Body (tool). Will (desire, belief). Heart (passion, purpose, potential).

Source: heart space. To satisfy the heart is a basic human desire. The body is your vessel. It feeds and stimulates the mind. Carefully assess desire by logically analyzing feelings.

The mind sees an image or an ideal and forms purpose around that concept. At times, the heart is hard to hear. But, if you give it a voice, it will promote what feels purposeful.

Passion + Purpose + Potential = YOU

  • Passion: Enjoyment + Positivity
  • Purpose: Improvement + Health + Ability
  • Potential: Effort + Commitment + Genetics

Purpose. Act with intention. Feel better more often. Create positivity. Participate in your health with knowledge that you are addressing a need. Honor the mental benefit of completion. Confidence. Feed a need: to sweat, get fresh air, get outside, get sunshine, loosen up, exert, socialize, practice a movement, address an injury, gain a skill, prepare for an event, activity, sport or vacation. Increase self-esteem and body satisfaction. Cultivate your self-image to experience your best life.

Your will to engage and participate is dependent on the purpose. Define it… tattoo it to your soul. Lifestyle. Feel it, think it, absorb it and eventually you will become it. Things take time. My belief is that we arrive at our destination regardless of time. The connection of mind + body + soul is not one that can be rushed/forced. Get passionate about it. Explore your potential. Commit to learning, practicing, and engaging with effort. You can’t fake passion. It’s not coming from your mind. Logic rationalizes. Passion comes from the heart and soul, creating a desire to do the thing, to have the experience. Desire leads to repetition, which exposes and fosters potential.

Live purposefully in this moment. Create a passion in your life that enhances and allows you to experience the visceral rewards of an active, athletic lifestyle. Blend the intellectual with the physical. Recognize that convenience of our modern lifestyles has removed the natural act of movement and the stimulation of the senses that comes from a physical activity.

If any part of your uncertainty is a conflict between your heart and your mind – follow your mind. — John Galt

The mind is rational. It assesses the choice… the fork in the road… using past experience to guide your decision. Past forms present, creating future. If your mind is clear and honest it may open a new door, restore dormant confidence, or expose a hidden truth. Listen. The heart connects you to the spiritual, earthly, and celestial. Aliveness and sense of passion flow from the heart.

If you don’t agree with something don’t do it. But don’t do it because that’s what people do. – Ian Mackaye

The purpose of strength training is to place you (mind/thought/self) in direct confrontation with your body. Explore, express, then learn. What makes sense to you, as you are, at this moment? Presence matters more than progression. Your success is dependent on attitude, not situation. The observational point of view removes emotion from the analysis. Step back.

ORIGINALITY AND INTENSITY > FORMAL TRAINING AND STRUCTURE

The strength to break bonds to the past is in the braking of present habits of mind and body. Others may inspire us, but it is through our own struggles that we live the heroic journey. From this point on refuse to shy from (the potential of) fatigue, failure, and disappointment. Action creates whereas stagnation destroys. For our lives have the potential to be the stories that inspire those whom we know well, and those we may never meet. It is through action that we may rewrite the human story. To create something meaningful you must love the expression of your heart more than you love yourself.

Stay the Course…

We grow when challenged. Now, more than ever, it is easy to avoid uncomfortable situations. Social, physical, mental, environmental… they can all become non-existent in our lives. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years, they hurry by you. Recognizing a challenge and engaging whole-heartedly without fear of failure, or expectation of success is a trainable skill. Approaching your challenge with a personal, meaningful mantra and reason is paramount. I can’t create your why or reason for you. Spend time in your own head each morning. Rise a little early. Break the routine just a little. Journal. Think. Grow. Be accountable.

Epithets for the self: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative.

Marcus Aurelius

Pick your two words. You know you’re going into a tough assignment—say to yourself over and over again, “strength and courage.” You’re about to have a tough conversation with a significant other: “patience and kindness.” You’re about to lead a team of people, and you’re uncertain of your own ability: “calm and composed.” via Daily Stoic

-Let a man not be corrupted by external things

-Let him be unconquerable and admire only himself

-Let him be courageous in spirit and ready for any fate

-Let him be the molder of his own life

-Let not his confidence be without knowledge, nor his knowledge without firmness

-Let his decisions once made abide

-Let not his decrees be altered by any alteration

-Let him be poised and well-ordered

-Let him show majesty mingled with courtesy in all his actions

Seneca

Be honest. Follow through. Recognize that we often quit at 40% … think about that… you’ve got 60% left to give, it’s there, just waiting to be exposed. Whether training or competing you need to wire your mind to dig deep into the well of effort. This is why you do the uncomfortable, repeatedly. Training is just that. It’s practice. Don’t judge practice. You are your toughest critic. Running 100+ miles in 24 hours is a practice of commitment and self-care. Over and over again you are asking yourself to keep moving for no other reason than a personal commitment. No fame, no glory, no money, nothing but completion of the short journey that is endurance sports.

Value your time and you can create an existence for yourself that will bring you pride and joy. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your soul. Don’t do it for the selfies and likes you may receive. It’s not a reliable source of validation. Accept how much personal power you have. Once realized it may overwhelm you. Move forward and look ahead. The future is now and the path is in front of you.

I applaud your decision to use the sharp knife and make a clean cut on a new future.

Onward and Upward.

On Reflection, Time, and Decisions

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Giovanni Paolo Cimerlini’s etching “The Aviary of Death

I have made myself what I am.

-Tecumseh, Shawnee 1768-1813

Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not let others make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Accept yourself and your actions. Own your thoughts. Speak up when wrong, and apologize. Know your path at all times. To do this you must know yourself inside and out, accept your gifts as well as your shortcomings, and grow each day with honesty, integrity, compassion, faith, and brotherhood.

-Terri Jean

Each morning I reflect on the passing of time. Not in a nostalgic manner, but one of acknowledgment. What actions were pointless, frivolous, or simply self-indulgent? What choices did I make that I’m proud of? The second question is harder to answer as those choices, for the most part, have become automatic. Habitual, if you may. Nevertheless, my goal is to quantify the positives and negatives, assess the behaviors that led to the decisions I made, and move forward, progressively as well as correctively. The analysis is not judgment.

Categories of Decisions (choices):

  1. Mental / Psychological / Emotional / Spiritual. This is broad for good reason. Each of these areas come together to quantify the self.
  2. Nutrition / Health. How much self-respect do you have? As human beings, we are physical clones of one another. We differ, mainly, because of the decisions we make in this category. Simple. Re-read the quote above from Tecumseh. 80% of the time think about food as it relates to health, wellness, and respect. 20% of the time associate food with an enjoyable, flavorful, entertaining activity. Would you attempt an extended endurance activity after eating “that” meal? Choose wisely.
  3. Physical / Fitness. Here you choose whether to seek the feeling and participate in change or not. Simple. Movement practice. Repeatable actions that accumulate and force adaptation. Improvement is felt and seen. The strength of your character. Prioritization of your time. How accessible is my chosen form of exercise? Do you know enough about, or have you mastered the movement to obtain full effectiveness from it?

Prioritize. Repeat. Learn.

It’s cliche, but true. Your most valuable resource is time. We can only hope to waste as little as possible. The expiration date is usually too distant to fully comprehend it’s magnitude. But you must. Your life is a gift. Your health is a choice.

  1. Create and assign values to every aspect of your life: physical / social / mental / spiritual / work / family
  2. Make sure your decisions align with your values.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Reflect, but don’t judge.
  5. Learn.

Onward and Upward.

 

Simple is Sophisticated

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Da Vinci

Simple is key, but simple isn’t easy.

Exercise, for most, is a small part of our lives. A means to an end. Keeping it simple and efficient requires a skill of practice that is not instantly obtained. In order to excel with this concept: repetition, discipline, and desire must be harnessed consistently.

  • Coaching is an accelerator.
    • Accountability ensures.
    • Progress comes quicker.
    • Results are seen sooner.
  • With trust and commitment change is possible.
  • Our species thrives on forward/upward movement.
    • Feeling the momentum of progress is addicting.
    • Chasing the idol of physicality is never-ending. Mastery is an illusion applicable to no physical endeavor.

Endurance is repetition / Movement molds / Breath is fluidity & connection

The effective minimum dosage of the physical permits frequency.

  • Continuation.
  • Progression.
  • Evolution.

Where does this lead us?

Guided, online coaching requires you to be heavily engaged in the workout. Focused and attentive. Understanding the stimulus. Adjusting resistance or rep count to elicit the proper feeling. There is no “plug and play” concept to exercise. Questioning if the movement warrants the response. You will never skip this step. Avoiding failure is smart for most. Quality repetition leads to increased frequency via efficient recovery.

Desired results. Efficiently delivered. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Smart Training = Avoiding Fatigue

Have you ever experienced the feeling of decreased self-control, or willpower due to simply being tired? I know I have. Finishing a long run, depleted, I’m susceptible to cravings and impulses I simply do not normally have. Sweets, carbs, bread, beer, etc. Following the “positive” comes a negative.

What do you think this is telling your body?

The same can be seen in the effects of excessive high-intensity interval training. Crushing workouts followed by fatigue, lead to diminished discipline and heightened reward signals.


  1. Know the purpose of your training:
    1. Why are you exercising? Body composition change? Image enhancement? Mental and physical performance? Hobby?
    2. Your purpose should direct the type of exercise you employ, as well as your nutritional needs.
  2. Avoid the extremes:
    1. Injuries happen when you ignore the signals your body is giving you. Excessive fatigue before, during or after exercise is a “Red Flag” to be respected. Stop and reassess.
    2. Only use a training weight that you can manage effectively. Ignore rep counts that you can’t mentally stay engaged long enough to handle.
    3. Where the mind goes the body follows. If 100% focus is not happening, then stop the exercise. More harm than benefit may be had on this day.
  3. Leave a little in the tank:
    1. Learn to leave something in the tank for the other events of your day, or tomorrows workout. Consistency and repetition are where your results will come from, not the temporary beat down of too much too soon and subsequent delayed recovery.
  4. Exercise in a 1:1 environment or alone:
    1. Distractions help pass the time, but it is not passing the time that we are after.
    2. Mind/Body is not a byproduct. Manifest the desired outcome and picture it happening.
  5. Less is More:
    1. Simply put. Learning to engage a muscle, what it feels like to achieve a proper contraction and seeking that feeling each repetition will give you amazing results.
    2. Eating less frees your body up to focus on aspects other than digestion and recovery.
    3. Less time spent exercising means more time spent living with your fitness.

Remember that your fitness and health are positive enhancers to your lifestyle. Engage in the learning process. Mastering a few key aspects of movement will do more for your health than any amount of variety can muster.

Onward and Upward!

Does your training lift you up, or beat you down?

Assessing how you feel before, during, and after a training session is essential.

Some things to consider while training:

  1. Stress comes when you don’t feel in control. After you’ve done the movement in a few training sessions there should be no stress associated. If it stresses you out or requires too much effort to complete, move on to an exercise you can safely complete.
  2. Rep count does not matter. This is exercise not a prescription or competition. A few good, quality repetitions are better than many partial or cheated ones.
  3. Modifications are good. Have trouble with walking lunges? Use trekking poles, or do them in place, next to something you can use for balance (couch, bench, etc.).
  4. Weight. Start light. Take your time. If you can move it easily, work your way up. When it challenges you, stay there for a few sessions to build confidence in the exercise, set or workout. Repetition trumps variety.

How do you feel after a set? Stressed, exhausted, out of control? Those feelings are to be, mostly, avoided. Anxiety, fear, and worry don’t lend themselves to repetitive behavior. On the other hand, elation, positive energy, and enthusiasm build confidence and pleasure, which lead to increased repetition.

  1. Find out what you enjoy and repeat it.
  2. Build skills in 5 or so exercises you can go back to on a daily basis. Developing skill leads to the ability to increase resistance and difficulty. Variety is not necessary.
  3. Remember why you are exercising: to progress, maintain, become more able/capable, increase energy, increase outlook, enhance performance in all areas, and improve both health and quality of life.

Forced oxygenation and deep breathing change your bodies chemistry. This is a bonus to strength training in a circuit format. Transitioning and actively recovering while training is a skill that once possessed, powerfully changes your approach to movement.

Until you have the skillset you shouldn’t seek out the pain and strain of hard training. Shortcuts lead nowhere worth going. Time spent in foundation building is never wasted.

Think of your fitness training as building skillsets to last a lifetime. Moving well throughout your life is more important than momentary glory obtained in youth.

The Absolute Minimum

Life, it happens. Work and family demands often interrupt our personal time for health and exercise. When this compounds from a single training session to multiple days or heaven forbid weeks, you have a problem. Time stops for nothing. Thus, the prioritization of self is truly not a choice. It’s a habit. Learning to say “no” is a skill that needs to be trained. When you respect yourself, others, in turn, show you more respect and understand your value.

Here are some tips to make things happen when you’re forced to modify.

  1. Have a list of “go-to” exercises you can quickly engage with. Ideally, these create a large oxygen demand, lending themselves to higher repetition training, via one continuous set, or multiple sets linked with short rest.
    1. Kettlebell Swings
    2. DB Cleans
    3. Squat Thrusts or Burpees
    4. Walking or Standing Reverse Lunges
    5. Step-Ups: weighted or unweighted
    6. Plank Mobility Complexes
  2. Short cardio bouts are good to implement as well.
    1. Warm-up for 5 minutes easy.
    2. Intervals: 10 x (:15 hard / :45 easy) or (:30 hard / :30 easy)
    3. Cooldown with 5 minutes easy.

Remind yourself to ask the question “how can I,” instead of stating “I can’t.” You can do it. Send me an email, give me a call, I’m here to help you implement, strategize and succeed.

Onward and Upward!

Mindfulness and Movement

Your mindfulness practice should begin and end each day. Mastering your first conscious thoughts is a skill, necessitating practice and repetition. Calming nerves and heightening focus, we can sort through the clutter and clear a path for our mind to focus. The truth of our existence is so simple it can seem unbelievable. Hopefully, your surroundings help draw your attention to this matter.

Movement is natural. Spontaneity can direct the when, where, and how, but action needs to be taken. Similarly to mindfulness, it must be engaged in at certain points of your day to make it concrete. You should begin to create a few minutes for movement flow. Inflexibility and the inability to support your body weight in various positions is a weakness that can easily be eliminated. Persistent practice opens windows. How did I learn to do anything? Practice.

Modern life is filled with barriers to the learning process. The main culprit is the service industry. Anything you need to be done you can pay someone to do it for you. Thus, they take you to the end point, or simply put, they let you skip the process and give you the product. The ability to see things through from beginning to end is lost… for now.

Practicing mindfulness and directing focus place you on a path. Beginning movement connects you with your body and breathe. This experience is an exploration of how your mind and body engage with the world. You learn by doing. Being clear and alert to what you are feeling and thinking. Slowing down to breathe and process.

Calm. Focus. Examine.

Checking In: Connecting Trainer with Client

“If you are prepared, have confidence and persevere, you will always have the edge.” Howard Ferguson

As a personal trainer, I find the most difficulty and dissatisfaction in those days in between my training sessions with my clients. On the way to meet the trainee I’m pondering how their week went. Did they workout? Eat well? How are they sleeping and recovering? Days always turn into weeks, turn into months, and eventually years. Time is always of the essence, so for me, finding a program that allows me to be connected and locked in with my clients in the virtual world is essential, but until now, it wasn’t a reality.

Trainerize, an online personal training software has changed the game for me. My plan is to fully integrate all clients into it’s usage moving forward. The ability to see how each week is structured, and how those week’s lead and build into a 4-6 week block of training, is a game changer for clients. It shows them where the process is going. As much as it is about the daily workout, the focus is more on the long-game. Are you building or are you dabbling? Are you hoping it gets easier, or are you planning to get stronger?

I won’t wax philosophical too much, but I will challenge your involvement with the success process. It’s as simple as checking-in. Once that becomes automatic, a connection is established that gets strengthened on a daily basis. For the client, knowing that I’m not judging what they did or didn’t do is crucial as well. I want to know and understand they “why” so we can implement some strategies and find other paths to success. It’s there, but we need engagement in the process in order to unlock your/our potential.

Check in. Utilize. Implement. Engage. Discover. Succeed.

Onward and Upward,

Jake

PS- I’ll leave you to ponder all of the crucial moments of your life where you were required to check in. Listed below are just a few examples.

  • Your first days of college. Checking in at the dorm, registering for classes, exploring options of engagement with the university and your peers.
  • Medical/dental/legal appointments.
  • Sports practices.
  • Job interviews and admissions interviews.
  • etc

The list can flow on and on. Give the process a certain importance and your actions will follow.