Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What We Can Learn From the Cheshire Cat

I've never been a cat person, so it's difficult for me to admit that we could all learn something from a cat. Although in this case I'm talking about the Cheshire Cat. When you take some of the Cheshire Cat's bits of wisdom and apply it within the context of health and wellness, you'd be surprised how applicable it is. Take a look at this exchange between Alice and the Cat.
Alice: I was just wondering if you could help me find my way. 
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to. 
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as... 
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go. 
Alice: long as I get somewhere!
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if you only walk long enough

This could be the beginning of about 90% of the conversations I have with people when they first come through the door of Dynamic, although I try to be less sarcastic than the cat, and certainly less purple. Most people who want to get in shape need help getting there, but they don't really know where it is they want to get to. It's the not knowing where you want to get to that causes the failure to achieve results. You simply can't get a result, if you don't know what it is you want to achieve. "I want to get in shape and lose about 10 pounds" is no less ambiguous than Alice claiming that she doesn't care where she goes as long as she gets somewhere. Conversely, "I want to get to 15% bodyfat and be able to run my first 10k in 6 months" is a specific, measurable goal that you can wrap your head around and track progress towards. In my own experience, and in my experiences coaching others, the success rate of people with specific goals is an order of magnitude better than those without.

Cheshire Cat: What is sought is most often found, if it is truly sought.
This comes down to how bad do you really want it. Everybody wants to be fit and healthy. Everybody wants to be strong and sexy. Then why isn't everybody? Ever look around yourself at the business travelers in an airport? How about a food court at the mall? You see many fit, healthy, strong, sexy people? I'm pretty sure you don't, and I'm also pretty sure it's not because they don't want to be. I think it may be that they just don't truly want it, because it would mean making a bunch of sacrifices that they don't really want to make. Getting fit and healthy is simple, but it's not easy. It's exercising at least 5 hours a week. It's eating right at least 90% of the time. It's getting to bed as early as you can so that you can get the right amount of sleep. That's really about it, folks. 3 things. Problem is that a lot of stuff has to happen to be able to achieve them. You might have to give up beers and nachos after work every Friday night. You might need to get up an hour earlier so you can workout 3x a week. This, by the way, means going to bed an hour earlier and not staying up to watch TV. Fast food? Pizza? Seriously? 

It can't be found at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

Cheshire Cat: The uninformed must improve their deficit, or die.
Sounds harsh, but I didn't say it. The cat did. So let's look into the meaning a bit. Let's say that you are, what we in the field call de-conditioned, which is our technical term for really out of shape. I have had people with as much as 100 extra pounds of de-conditioning come to me and, with a straight face, say, "I know what to do. I eat really clean. sdfhserertlkhsdfsdgfsdflkg...." That last part isn't a typo. That last part is my brain short-circuiting when somebody who has 100lbs of de-conditioning to lose, starts our conversation with "I know what to do, I eat really clean...". Doesn't really matter what they say next, my left eye started twitching as my mind tried processing the strange sounds coming out of the person's mouth. If they are eating really clean, then I can only assume that to mean they haven't been dropping their food on the floor or eating out of garbage cans. They are clearly uninformed about what "eating clean" is and they must improve their deficit, or they will die of one of many preventable diseases brought on by poor lifestyle choices. 
"If I ordered this without the bun, then it would be a "clean" meal. Right?.... Right?"

Cheshire Cat: Every adventure requires a first step.
I think the Cat stole this from Confucius, but whatever, it's valid. You have to take the first step, and THE FIRST STEP HAS TO BE SETTING THE GOAL! Yes, I was yelling, because it's really, really crucial. The goal has to be specific and it has to be measurable. If you want it, and I mean truly want it, then do not be vague with what it is that you want. Define it. Own it. That's the first step. There is no other step, there is no progress towards anything, until the goal has been set.

You do not get to pass GO until the goal has been set.

Cheshire Cat: Steps to enlightenment brighten the way; but the steps are steep. Take them one at a time.
I alluded to this in a previous post, but you can't overwhelm yourself with trying to do too much too soon. I know how hard it is. Everybody just wants things to be good... RIGHT.... FREAKIN... NOW! I know the feeling, I've lived it. I'm old enough and have experienced enough bad stuff to understand the desire to want things to be fixed immediately. Having overcome most of the craters I created over time I also know that it doesn't work that way. It's a process, it takes time. It takes planning, commitment, dedication, and perseverance. In this article, we are talking about getting healthy and fit, and within that context, making progress is largely habit based. Getting more exercise, eating healthy, getting the right amount of sleep. These are behavioral goals. You achieve these goals by affecting your behavior and adopting new habits. But it is very important to only adopt one new habit at a time. In "The Power of Less", Leo Babauta shares this data:
  • Adopting one new habit at a time results in an 85% chance of success
  • Adopting two new habits at once: a 35% chance of success
  • Adopting three or more new habits at once: less than 10% chance of success
If you're interested in achieving your goals, then not only do you need to adopt one habit at a time, but it has to be easy. On a scale of 0 to 10, if you were asked what is the probability of being able to perform the task required of the new habit, with 0 being "no way" and 10 being "that's so easy you're an idiot for even asking me", it has to be a 9 or a 10. If you currently believe that candy corn is a vegetable, then trying to adopt a new habit of eating 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day is probably going to be about a 1 on our 0-10 scale. Don't bother. You're just setting yourself up for failure. If your current diet has the nutrient density of a kettlebell, then let's start with something like taking a tablespoon of fish oil a day and a multivitamin. It's simple (should be a 9 or 10) and you get high impact with little effort. Be successful with this one every day for 2-4 weeks and let's move on to the next habit. Over time you will absolutely make progress and it will be lasting. For what it's worth, I have a nutrition coaching certification and this is exactly the process that I can help coach you through. We set realistic, measurable goals, identify limiting factors, and adopt habits that will stick until the goal is achieved.
When you find yourself at the bottom, the surest way out is one step at a time.

Cheshire Cat: And you've picked up a bit of an attitude, still curious and willing to learn, I hope.
You will get frustrated along the way. You will try some things that won't work. You may have those "screw it" moments that derail you for days or weeks. But you have to recover. This is the rest of your life you're talking about. You can be 67 years old with a counter full of medications and a calendar full of doctor appointments, or you can be making plans to be taking your grandchildren on vacation to Disney World. It's up to you and it happens now. Get yourself back on track and fix it. You can't give up, ever. 
How do you want your grandkids to remember you?

So there you have it. You will never be able to watch Alice in Wonderland the same way again. With 2013 around the corner and much of the population looking to better themselves, I highly recommend the Cheshire Cat's advice.

Next time we will have a look at how the Mad Hatter's quotes apply to those who have been successful losing a lot of weight.
Mad Hatter: You used to be much more... muchier. You've lost your muchness.

Until then, Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crush Your Limiting Factors, Achieve Your Goals in 2013

Like most of the people on the planet at this time of the year, when not humming the 12 Days of Christmas and eating figgy pudding, I spend some time reflecting on the past year's goals and setting new goals for the coming year. Last year I had set various professional and personal goals. I was successful in some of them, not as successful in others. 2013 will be no different, I will set goals and make resolutions and I will give an honest effort at achieving them all.

I know 99% of the people reading this are going to set some kind of goal or make some kind of resolution within the next week. I think that's awesome because it means you are looking to better yourself and maybe even the world around you. That's admirable. The other 1% is already perfect in every way, has the world revolving around them just so, and doesn't need to make any resolutions or set any goals to better themselves. 

With this blog entry I want to give you a key piece of advice to help you achieve your goals and be successful with your resolutions. Know your limiting factor and set the goal/resolution accordingly. If you find that your resolution 3 years ago to lose 20 pounds is now a resolution to lose 35 pounds, then there is some limiting factor that is stopping you from achieving that goal. Find out what it is and crush it. Chances are there are more than one limiting factor. Rather than trying to eliminate them all at once, start with the one that will give you the most bang for your buck and eliminate it. Then move on to the next one. As an example, let's say your goal is to lose weight, but you currently don't exercise, you don't eat vegetables (unless you count the lime in your drink), and your boss is mean and really makes you stressed out which messes up your hormone profile and causes you to store more fat. One solution would be to knock all those limiting factors out with one fell swoop by quitting your job and becoming an organic vegan farmer (lots of exercise, lots of veggies, you are your own boss, lots of morality). 
Sigh, if only....

While that may work for most, some of you may need a more conservative approach. So let's start with adding in 3-5 hours of exercise per week. But make it meaningful. Get into a training program with like-minded individuals and a coach that is going to design the program for you. You get accountability, you have fun, you get results. Limiting factor eliminated. But you're just getting going. Now let's attack the nutrition. Start out by adding one healthy habit at a time and let it sink in for a couple weeks before adding another one. For weeks 1 and 2 start taking fish oil and a multivitamin. In weeks 3 and 4, make sure you always stop eating at 80% full. Weeks 5 and 6, make sure you're getting 2-3 servings of vegetables a day. In weeks 7 and 8, eliminate processed carbs from 90% of the meals you eat. Slowly but surely you will start making progress that will stick. Can anybody sit there and tell me that if you identify and eliminate one limiting factor at a time that this won't work for you? 

An anonymous smart person once quoted, "The size of the steps are not important, as long as they are going in the right direction.". I say right on! I also say, if you want the steps to be in the right direction, you could start with taking your first steps through the door here. We can certainly help you :) 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Healthy, Prosperous New Year to all!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is....

Even though we've been doing this for 4 years now, I sometimes forget that we are still a relatively small gym in Southern NH and, just maybe, not everybody out there knows who we are and what we're all about. I'm writing this because one of the biggest issues we run into with 90% of the public is an initial misconception of what it is we do. Once a person comes in to check us out and talks to one of our coaches, or comes in for their initial consultation and movement screen, it becomes very clear what it is that we do. But before that happens a lot of people don't really understand what it is that we do. 

First, let me just say what we're not. We are not P90X, Insanity, Boot Camp, Crossfit, Aerobics Class, Cardio Kickboxing, Body Pump. All of those are different varieties of conditioning-based group sessions that rely on non-structured, aerobic capacity workouts of varying intensities. Some of them are focused on doing as much "work" in as little time as possible regardless of form and without any clear purpose other than trying to ensure that the client is left in a heap on the floor, and is sore for the better part of the week, if not outright injured. This is the opposite of the goals and training philosophy at Dynamic. We strive to make people stronger, help to improve body composition, increase energy levels and metabolism, in a structured, progressive strength and conditioning program while ensuring that our clients can move through a full range of motion pain free.

Let's start with the first thing that makes Dynamic unique. Every incoming client into our small group or semi-private training programs, as well as any athlete into our athletic development program will go through a comprehensive movement screen to identify any mobility or flexibility issues as well as any asymmetries that may need corrective exercise built into their training program. As I mentioned, our goal is to have every client moving through a full range of motion, pain free so if there are any existing limitations we will address that straight away before trying to add strength onto dysfunction.

Then the client enters a training program. This could be a small group, semi-private, or private program based on the goals and needs of the individual. These are not "fitness classes". These are coaching-based personal training programs in groups of anywhere from 1 to 8 people to a coach depending on the program. In a "Small Group Program" there could be as many as 8 people training with a coach. The program is a performance-based strength and conditioning program that includes dynamic movement prep, linear and lateral movement training, plyometrics, progressive-resistance based strength and power programming, and high intensity energy system development. Each client receives a program that they use to track and monitor progress, and a new progression is written every 4 weeks to avoid plateaus. Every client is brought into a program at the exact level that they are capable of with the necessary amount of customization to ensure success.

Promo Video for our Small Group Training Programs

In our athletic development program we deal with athletes from every sport from middle school through professional levels. We even do some customized programming for kids as young as 7. In addition to being different ages, genders, and playing different sports, every athlete also has different needs, goal, and levels of training experience. For that reason, every athlete receives their very own, customized program to address their exact needs and goals, balanced with the requirements of their individual sport. You will never see a group of athletes of different ages, genders, and playing different sports come into Dynamic and all do the same "Workout of the Day" on a white board. We won't even do that with athletes on the same team because on any given team there are going to be athletes that play different positions, have different levels of training experience, different injury histories, and different needs and therefore require different programming. As an example, we worked with the North Middlesex High School Football team over the Summer. There were seniors who could perform a perfect back squat with over 300lbs, and there were incoming freshman who couldn't touch their toes. Needless to say, these athletes had different needs and we programmed them accordingly. We can condition teams together as a mental toughness and team camaraderie builder, but if an individual athlete is going to reach their greatest potential they need the level of programming that is appropriate for them. That's what we give them at Dynamic.

Promo Video for Athletic Development Program

If you want to train in a performance-based, progressive strength and conditioning program, or if you are a competitive athlete looking to achieve your maximum potential and take your game to the next level, Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is THE place to train.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Something to Read While Hunting and Gathering Your Next Meal...

Let's start with a quiz. 
Q. How do you know when somebody is on the Paleo Diet?
A. They won't shut up about it. 

So I've been asked, "how do you feel about the Paleo Diet?", enough times now that I feel I have to say something about it.

What is it about dieting that brings out the overzealous fanaticism in people? Dieters adopt a cult mentality and have a black and white answer to what's right and what's wrong. They shave their heads and inscribe the name of the diet on their forearms. At the head of every "diet" is the Jim Jones-ian leader handing out the kool-aid with the type of charisma that could talk a dog off a chuck wagon. 

To sum up the Paleo Diet, it's based on the idea that since the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago, mankind has started to eat too many unnatural foods which our bodies have not been able to properly adapt to (because evolution takes, like, millions of years). This causes us to die of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

First of all, the Paleo Diet is based on false pretenses and wild-ass speculation without any scientific evidence to back it up. Considering the geographical variability of where our pre-historic ancestors may have evolved from there is no way that anybody can say with any degree of certainty what the cavemen ate and apply a set of rules that Paleo cultists must follow. If this is wrong, show me the study that doesn't include the words "probably" and "likely". What is "likely" is that our pre-historic ancestors just ate whatever they were able to kill or gather that day and didn't even bother with protein shakes or fish oil pills.

Second, do you really want to base your diet on a population that had a life expectancy of 27yrs old? "Oh, but that's because they got killed by dinosaurs and other nasty animals while they were out hunting and gathering". Or maybe it was because their diet sucked and they were constantly sick and unable to outrun or outsmart predators. 

Despite the lack of credibility, my biggest issue with the Paleo Diet, and any other "diet" for that matter, is the militant rejection of certain food groups. In the Paleo Diet, it's no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol and no meat that wasn't raised on a pasture. Presumably hunted down and killed within the confines of its pen. Of course, for people who care about performance, Dr. Cordain was good enough to release the "Paleo Diet for Athletes" which allowed us more carbs. It also allowed him to sell another million books once people stopped buying the original Paleo Diet book. I'm still waiting for the "Paleo Diet When Convenient" book for 95% of the current hypocritical, "bro, I'm so freaking paleo I have a sloped forehead", crowd who eat supplements, drink alcohol, and secretly eat a turkey wrap (no cheese) for lunch when it's too difficult to find a salad (no dressing).
You can tell this is really Paleo because the "C" couldn't actually make the "K" sound until about 500 years ago, so all the Kavemen had available to them in Paleo days was the "K".

As you are aware by now, I am not "Paleo". In fact, I am so non-Paleo that I completely lack back hair (or even chest hair). I eat peanuts, I eat beans, rice, and potatoes, Once or twice a week I eat ice cream which not only has dairy, but sugar. I eat loads of fruit, which as everybody knows contains FRUCTOSE (gasp!). While we're on the issue of fructose, if you are one of the carbophobic lemmings that avoids fruit because of it's fructose content I would like you to call your mother and apologize for wasting the brain that she gave you at birth. According to most of the heavily marketed diets out there right now, I should be over 30% bodyfat, type 2 Diabetic with my sclerotic arteries slamming shut at such an alarming rate that I will probably be dead by the time you're reading this. Assuming I can even get it posted. Hell, I just had bread with my dinner.


Look, diets are stupid. They are based on an inherent desire to avoid accountability. It is so much easier to believe that we are victims of our own environment than to admit that we spend too much time in front of the computer or TV eating crap. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are overfat then it's because you have spent too long eating too much and not moving around enough. Too many calories in, not enough calories out, the rest get stored. It's the First Law of Thermodynamics and it applies to everything. It even applied to cavemen, though they were hardly aware of it. If you're one of the ones that believe a calorie is not a calorie, and this universal law does not apply to you, well, I'm sorry. You're not that special. You probably also believe that rhinos are just fat unicorns. How the calories get burned and stored is largely dependent on how your hormones regulate your bodily functions, the nutrient density of your food, your activity levels, etc. But at the end of the day, if you're over-eating and under-active you will end up with a positive energy balance which means you will become overweight. Once you become overweight your hormones get all screwed up, your metabolism stops working properly, and it becomes difficult and frustrating to undue the damage. Especially since most people take about 10-30 years to do the damage and want it to be undone in 30 days.

Luckily for all I have decided to jump on the "Diet" bandwagon and start my own diet. I am going to give this to all for free!! I am calling it the NRD, which stands for Non-Retarded Diet and it goes like this. If it's natural, and you're not allergic to it, then eat it. Every time you eat, make sure there is a protein source along with the carb. If you want to gain weight, eat more of the NRD. If you want to lose weight, eat less. If you want to maintain your weight, then eat just the right amount. "But that sounds hard, Kevin, how will I know what the right amount is?". Easy, see how it goes for a couple weeks, it will become fairly obvious if you're going in the right direction and you can adjust accordingly. Other common questions that come with the NRD:
Q. What if I increase my activity?
A. Eat more (unless you want to lose weight, then eat less)

Q. What if I decrease my activity?
A. Eat less

Q. What if I'm sedentary?
A. Get at least 5 hours of activity per week, 3 of it with high intensity strength and/or interval work.

Q. What about cheat meals?
A. Great question! Go by the 90% rule. If you adhere to the NRD for 90% of your intake, you can have what you want for the other 10%. I'm good for one or two bowls of ice cream a week, and a Thursday night feast at Tacos Colima. This accounts for less than 10% of my intake. The rest of the time I adhere to the NRD. I haven't been above single digit bodyfat in 6 years. I exercise between 7 and 10 hours a week, most of that on the weekend. I haven't been sick since well before I started Dynamic 4 years ago, in light of the fact that I am regularly around people that come in when they have all kinds of nasty ailments so they can "sweat it out" at the gym.

It sounds simple and it really is once you've developed the right habits. But it's not easy, because it actually takes some effort and commitment. Look, if this were easy then everybody would be fit. But if you're not willing to commit to being healthy and put in the necessary effort then don't blame the DiGiorno's pizza you just jammed down your throat while you're watching people move around on TV. Blame the brain controlling the body attached to the hand that did the jamming. Maybe the Paleo Diet is the answer for you, but I'm assuming that it won't be the answer any more than the South Beach Diet was before that, or the Atkins Diet was before that, or the Zone Diet was before that. Once you get the right habits in place, the NRD is all you'll ever need. And you didn't even have to buy a book for that!
But apparently you can buy a t-shirt?

Coming soon. A 30 Day Challenge with a complete NRD intervention for 2 lucky Dynamic members.... Stay tuned :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Get 168. Choose Wisely...

I don't have time to eat right. I don't have time to workout. I don't have time to help you with that. I'm soooo busy......

I was in the mall the other day finding a store that could upgrade a computer a friend gave me because I didn't want to take the time to do it myself. I can't even put into words how much I hate the mall. But spending 2 or 3 hours on upgrading the computer myself was not on my list of "ways I am willing to spend my time". Notice here that I didn't say, "I don't have time to do it.", I could have made the time. This is the point of this entry and I will come back to it, but I have a short tangent I need to go off on..... I end up in a mall once or twice a year and I always make it a point to walk through the Food Court, mostly out of morbid curiosity, partially because that's where the bathrooms are. The Food Court is a microcosm of the obesity epidemic in America. Old, young, male, female, entire families, if you don't give a shit about what you're putting in your body then the Food Court is for you. At this time of year it is easy to imagine failed New Year's resolutions embodied by Burger King wrappers, 32oz soda cups and Chinese food containers scattered around tables. One look around at the people eating there should be enough to make you think, "If I don't want to look like that, then I shouldn't eat here.". Similar to the thought process that tell you that you shouldn't smoke if you don't want to get lung cancer. For some reason, though, many people don't think like that. It's the same logic I use when I shop for food. When I go to grocery stores I look at what's in fat people's carts and I make sure I don't buy the stuff that's in their carts. I don't buy English Muffins, Cap'n Crunch, or Doritos. I also don't buy 2 liter bottles of diet soda, Low-Fat Columbo Yogurt, or Weight Watchers Frozen Dinners. Ironically, the most out of shape people in the supermarket always have carts loaded with "low-fat" and "diet" products. (pssst, shouldn't this send up a red flag?). I was at the supermarket recently and an obese woman in front of me has 2 loaves of Wonder Bread, a bag of Fritos and a bag of potato chips, boxes of spaghetti, jars of Ragu, 4x 2 liter bottles of soda, boxes of Kraft Mac-n-cheese, English Muffins, and 3 bananas. Think about that for a second. She actually ripped 3 bananas from a full bunch and placed them in her cart amongst the rest of the garbage that she considered food. I felt so bad for the bananas that I immediately started to plot a way to rescue them before they made it to her car. If you're keeping score at home, the final score of this shopping cart was: Processed Crap - 99,  Bananas - 3. But this isn't about nutrition, it's about time, so in the interest of time, I'll leave the nutrition rant with one final comment. If you're in a supermarket reading a package, thinking about whether it's healthy or not, just put it down and go buy something that doesn't come in a package. Oh, and don't eat in Food Courts...
If the one on the right actually served panda, seared in olive oil and sprinkled with some fresh pepper, then you may have a healthy option here.. Otherwise, sorry, keep moving....

Time. We are each allotted 168 hours per week. Tom Brady is allotted 168 hours per week and he has become one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, while at the same time fertilizing supermodels and shilling for furry boots and manly fragrances. Steve Jobs was allotted 168 hours per week and built the most successful company in iHistory while battling iCancer following an iLiver transplant. Though I would argue that the way he chose to use his 168 probably had a hand in him contracting the iDisease in the first place, regardless, he got a lot done with his time. We all get the same 168 hours, and make no mistake about it, what we do with them is our choice. I don't believe I've used the phrase "I don't have time to......." in quite a while because it's not accurate. If I don't have time to do something it's because I've placed a higher priority on something else. I've made a choice. If it's important enough to me, then I find the time. My health is important to me so I find the time to eat right and exercise. My time with my daughter is important to me so I find the time to coach her soccer team. Providing the best gym and training experience to people that I possibly can is important to me so I find the time to study, read, research, and experiment to make myself the most knowledgeable coach I can possibly be. "I don't have time" is one of the most popular excuses I hear from people who are out of shape, don't eat right, and don't exercise, yet they have favorite TV shows, active facebook accounts, and spend hours a month at bars and restaurants. If posting pictures of your pub crawl on facebook is more important to you than keeping yourself in shape, then please don't tell me you don't have time to train. I'd much rather you tell the truth and say "partying and social networking is currently a higher priority to me than taking care of myself, and I have to know what happens on the next episode of Jersey Shore".
I've never seen Jersey Shore so it's hard to say what's going on here. My guess is the cameraman said "OK, try to look like the biggest douchebag possible.". I think the 2nd in from the left nailed it the best.

Old time strongman George Hackenshmidt once said, "Find the time to be healthy, or you will be obliged to find the time to be ill.". What you do with your 168 hours is your choice. I don't really think any of us is any busier than the next person who is successful, happy, and in really good shape. We all just choose different ways to spend our 168 hours. To really be healthy and fit you need to be active at least 5 or 6 hours a week. You need to spend 4 hours per week, planning, purchasing, and preparing the right foods to eat. Sleep 8 hours a day, and you still have over 100 hours left. 

I think in many cases the priorities get screwed up and people put lower priorities on health, activity, and sleep then they do on the other things. People take their health for granted right up until it's gone. You want to watch your time disappear, get incapacitated by injury or illness and watch your hours build up on the couch, in the doctor's office, and in line at CVS. At least you'll have more time for facebook and tv. Without your health it doesn't matter what you want to do with your 168, they will be dictated for you. 
One of the things that made my priority list for 2012 is to do some rock climbing.

I can tell you one thing for certain, I haven't missed a day to sickness in as long as I can remember. People are dropping like flies around me with stomach bugs, flu viruses, colds and debilitating injuries. I've placed top priority on eating right, getting my workouts in, and sleeping 8 hours at least 5 nights a week (even if it means getting in bed at 8pm). Because I've made these my top priorities, I honestly believe that everything else falls in place. Especially since I get to determine exactly what I'm going to do with my other 100 hours. If you don't have that freedom, if you find yourself getting sick sometimes, if you're fatigued and not at the fitness level you want, take a quick look at what ranks highest on your priority list. Maybe a simple re-ordering of your 168 will fix a lot of issues for you. I highly recommend doing it now, rather than letting a doctor dictate it for you later.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You Training, or Just Exercising?

Training is a results-based process. It all starts with a goal. What is it that you are looking to achieve? Do you want to run a 5k trail race or a marathon? Do you want to complete a century on your bicycle or maybe become a competitive racer? Do you want to play Division 1 college hockey or football? Maybe you're not interested in competition and your goal is simply to be strong, lean, fit, and energetic. Once the goal is in place, achieving that goal comes down to planning and execution. This is true for anything in life. Without planning and execution any "goal" simply becomes a "wish" and like a friend of mine used to say, "Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.".

Most of the people, if not all them, that come to Dynamic or read my blogs, know that I race cyclocross. My goal is to be one of the top masters racers in the country. I have a singular, year round focus on achieving that goal. I do off-season strength training when the cross season ends. I work with a coach year round who designs a program for me. I have a race schedule that starts with road races in the Spring, mountain bike and road races through the Summer, and the cyclocross season starts in September. Everything that I do from January through August is in preparation for my cx season from September through December. This is my 4th season of cross and I have improved each year to the point where I am now challenging for top 10 spots in the most competitive series in New England, arguably the most competitive in the country. This is not a fluke and it is not because I exercise and eat well. It's because I have a goal, I have a plan, and I execute.
planning and execution has led to my best season yet

So what does this mean to the average person who has no competitive aspirations, rather, their goal is a bit more ambiguous? For many, the goal is "I want to be strong, lean, fit, and energetic.". This goal can mean many things, but in all honesty, if it's important enough to you then it should mean that you want to get in the best shape possible. To get in the best shape possible requires being involved in a comprehensive, well designed, strength and conditioning program that allows you to consistently continue to get stronger, more powerful, and better conditioned. Whether you are training in a program at Dynamic with our professional coaches, or if you are sweating over a barbell in your basement with a program from a trainer, or strength coach that you diligently follow on your own. If you are not in a program, then you are not training, you are merely exercising. Training is the proper path to excellence, exercising is the proper path to mediocrity.

This isn't meant to sound harsh, it's more of a reality check. Look at it this way.. The human body was designed for activity. Most people today are slightly active at best, sedentary and morbidly obese at worst. To even achieve an average level of fitness, which could be considered the fitness level of the modern day manual laborer who is using the body in a way it was designed to be used, most people need to significantly increase their level of activity from what has become the norm. For many, the path to this level of fitness is through conditioning based, bootcamp-style workouts with lots of variety, no progression, no structure, and no programming. That is not training, it's exercising. This will get you fit, sure, but you will only ever achieve a level of fitness that is average at best. To the sedentary or morbidly obese person, this level of fitness would be an astounding, even life saving achievement. Regardless, it's only gotten you to "average". So now what?

Now you have to decide if average is good enough for you. Let's take a quick test. At your job, do you strive to get "met expectations" on your review? When your son comes home with a report card that has all C's on it, do you run out and buy that bumper sticker that says "My son is an average student at Union Middle School!"? When you head out to climb that 4000'er in the Whites, do you get halfway up and say, "This is good enough, I'm heading back."? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then please stop reading this and get your fat ass down to McDonalds before the McRib sells out. If you're still reading, then obviously you are not one who strives for mediocrity, so why should something as important as your health and fitness be different?

With respect to your health and fitness, here's what I feel is the most important thing about having a specific training goal and being involved in a training program to achieve that goal. Simply, it puts a much higher priority on it when you deeply invest yourself in it. When that happens, it becomes so much more than just training for a goal, it becomes a lifestyle. Almost everything you do and the choices you make are weighed in a different context as you start to look at things from the perspective of how it will affect your ability to achieve your goals. You adopt a lifestyle that is conducive to achieving the goals that are important to you. You eat better, you try to get more sleep, you watch less tv, you don't waste a second of time or energy on things that are going to take away from your ability to achieve your goals. If you're just exercising, then it's really just part of a routine. You get up, you workout, you go to work, you eat like crap, you go home, you watch tv, you go to bed. You get up and do it again. Your swinging the same kettlebell today as you did two years ago. You run 30 minutes in the treadmill at 6.0 pace and you can't remember when it wasn't that way... When you don't feel good or things get a little tight, you blow off your workout because, "what's the difference, it's not like I'm training for anything...".

When you're training, you keep track of your progress towards your goal. You continue to get stronger and faster. You plan your meals for the week, especially when you know your schedule is going to be crazy because you know that eating like crap is not an option, (I've been eating dinner out of tupperware for 3 years now and I am in better shape, faster, stronger than I have ever been at any point in my life.). You haven't a clue who is on "Dancing with the Stars" because you're in bed getting the proper amount of sleep so you can recover properly and continue to make progress towards your goals. You are not satisfied by mediocrity, you are achieving excellence, and when you're 75 people will be shocked that you're a day over 60.

So yeah, that's the difference between training and exercising. If it's not important to you, then keep renting space on that treadmill or doing your "muscle confusion" bullshit with the latest greatest Shaun T dvd set from that late night infomercial. Enjoy average. If it is important to you then TRAIN for it and achieve EXCELLENCE!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


We're coming up on our 3rd Anniversary from the day we opened up in a small space in an old mill building at 100 Factory St. We had about 1600 sf of workout space in the mill and I would say we made the best use of it that we could. As our training programs evolved it became very apparent how limited we were in a space that small which prompted our move into our current facility with over 7000sf of workout area. In business, just like in life, if you don't evolve you die. Dynamic is in a constant state of evolution, consistently improving our offerings and really dialing in the things that we specialize in.
Jake has been at the gym every day since Day 1!

Looking back at when we first opened we were completely focused on high intensity interval training. Circuit based, metabolic conditioning workouts with a focus on bodyweight exercise and kettlebells. Nobody else in the area was doing it like we were at the time. Sure there were a couple "bootcamps" out there, but nobody had a facility dedicated to the type of training we were doing, and to this day, nobody has the level of kettlebell training expertise that we provide.  The workouts had high energy, people were getting in great shape, and they were having fun working out. Finally there was a gym that provided another option to the globo gym where every member is merely a number and you rent their outdated machines for as little as $9.99 a month. People that came to us worked their asses off, got results, and had fun doing it. Even more importantly, most of our members would adopt a new healthy lifestyle that made an impact on their quality of life that went far beyond just the workouts at Dynamic. 

As time went on, the inherent limitations of our programming, or lack thereof, started to show. The underlying problem was the lack of structure in the training. People loved the variety of the workouts and the fact that they never did the same workout twice, but the problem with this is that eventually everybody hits a plateau that is very difficult to break through without added structure to the program. Additionally, if all you ever do is conditioning work, then all you will ever get is conditioned. This may be the goal for some people, but in most cases people want to get stronger, more powerful, and increase their lean body mass. If you want to get stronger, more powerful, and increase your lean body mass, then you need to do progressive resistance-based strength and power work. So we added the Dynamic Performance program which added progressive strength and power training, primarily using kettlebells and bodyweight exercise. Due to the space limitations of the old mill space we were in we were pretty much limited to these modalities. These programs were a step in the right direction and people definitely increased their strength, power, power endurance, and lean body mass much more than they did in the old format of the drop-in based interval training. But once again, there were limitations to our programs. The primary problem was that we were trying to do everything with kettlebells and bodyweight. The fact is, while both have their advantages for certain aspects of performance enhancements, there are better ways to solve some problems. To paraphrase Maslow's Hammer, "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". So it was time to expand our toolbox.

In January of this year we opened our current facility. With 3000 sf of artificial turf we were now able to add sprinting, plyometrics, agility, and sled work. With another 4000 sf of open workout area we were able to add dumbells, barbells, squat racks, and power racks. We still had plenty of room to do all of the kettlebell and bodyweight exercise that we had been doing. Now, we are a premier strength and conditioning facility that is better equipped than most colleges in the country. The best part about the move was that the new space really allowed us to put our expertise to use with comprehensive strength and conditioning programs for athletes of all ages and levels, the weekend warrior, and the general population.

In addition to the comprehensive strength and conditioning programs we offer, we are now integrating a Functional Movement Screen into our clients programs as a way to detect asymmetries, imbalances, and weaknesses that need to be addressed with some form of corrective exercise. We feel strongly that it is wrong to try to build strength onto dysfunction. In order to maximize performance, the whole body must be functioning properly. The FMS gives us the means to identify and resolve any weak links in our clients' fundamental movement patterns. This is just another example of the level of service that sets Dynamic apart from the competition

Far and away the most popular programs that we started this year were the small group training programs and the athlete programs. The small group training programs allowed people with similar goals to receive a comprehensive strength and conditioning program that includes speed and agility, strength, power, power endurance, and high intensity anaerobic conditioning, effectively training them just like an elite level athlete would train. Members of these programs are in a structured program with progressive resistance strength and power training that enable everybody to continue to make gains on a consistent basis. The results have been outstanding. People sometimes question, "why would I need to train like an athlete?". The answer is because our bodies are built for performance and should be trained that way. And face it, when you step into the gym you have an ideal in mind that you are trying to achieve. That ideal is not the fat dude stuffing Big Macs down his throat at McDonald's, it's the person that is strong, lean, and powerful with an athletic build. If that's what your ideal is, then you need to train like an athlete. 

Just recently we started to evolve our programs again based on what we've seen with our athlete programs. When we started our athlete programs earlier this year we found that most of the kids coming to us had never had any structured strength and conditioning program in the past. I wrote about this here. Due to our athletes relatively young "training age", (the length of time the athlete has spent strength training), we found that they all responded well to a general strength and conditioning program with a relatively broad focus, regardless of the sport they were in. In fact, this is exactly what they needed. As time went on and our athletes got stronger and faster, we were able to start customizing programs for the athletes on an individual basis depending on their needs, goals, and the requirements of their sport. Now, there is a wide range of athletes coming to us, all at different training levels, playing a multitude of sports. No longer are we putting a workout up on the white board for all the athletes to do when they come in because, in most cases, they are no longer in a position where they will get the best results from the same program that another athlete is doing. Now, every athlete that comes to us gets a Functional Movement Screen and a customized strength and conditioning program focused specifically on their goals, needs, and the requirements of their sport.
Armond McRae spent his offseason with us and has gone on to post amazing numbers this season for Nashua South. Armond is currently the 2nd ranked football player in the state by ESPN!

This has had a direct carryover into our programs for the general population. We are now offering semi-private personal training programs where you receive a Functional Movement Screen and a complete custom strength and conditioning program based specifically on your goals and needs. We can offer this at a much lower price point than 1 on 1 personal training because we can effectively coach up to 3 people per coach in this setting where everybody has a custom program and still gets all the attention and motivation they could ever need from the coach.

We still feel that the small group training programs of 8 people or less to a coach with a general strength and conditioning program is an excellent option, and the most cost effective means of getting a true personal training program. I am always improving upon these programs as well, and in the next 8 week block which starts in a couple weeks I am adding new programming to allow for people at different strength levels to get a more targeted routine based on the level they are at. These levels will also serve as benchmarks for others to aspire to. I know of no other training facility that provides anything close to the level of structured strength and conditioning programming that we offer in a small group setting, and we continue to make it better on a regular basis.
One of our new athletes last week asked me "How bad can it be, it's just an exercise bike?". She won't ask that again....

We have also recently introduced the Dynamic Foundations program which is a low cost, 30 day trial period for new members to check out the small group training with absolutely no commitment. And for those in the small group program who have a specific goal they would like to train for, but enjoy the camaraderie of the small group, we are offering a semi-customization option. Basically, we'll slightly modify your workouts to work on your specific goal within the framework of the general strength and conditioning program that the small group receives. For a higher level of customization you would want to do the semi-private training. Of course we still offer 1 on 1 personal training as well. 

Our strength lies in our ability to design and provide a premium level of comprehensive, customized, strength and conditioning program for everybody from the general population to the elite professional athlete. On a daily basis we are expanding our knowledge base and skillset, looking to improve our services and programs with the singular goal of developing into the top strength and conditioning facility in the country. 

To all of our members who have been with us over the years I can't thank you enough. My promise to you going forward is that when you train at Dynamic you are guaranteed to get the best we have to offer with a commitment that we will continue to evolve so that you may continue to evolve.