Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I Train Hard

Written by Alex

I was hunched over, hands on knees, stomach in my throat, panting. Hard.


“This is so dumb—who does this to themselves?” I thought.


I was in the middle of a “Primal Boot Camp” –a fitness class designed to ‘tap into our primal selves’ and to ‘get off the treadmill like lab rats.’  The class was held on the beach and involved lots of sprints to and from the water to a nearby picnic table, along with lots of other high intensity activities. Don’t get me wrong—I know what I signed up for. I knew it would be hard and I knew I would most likely struggle. But I thought, “Hey, it’s only an hour, right?” I know that a good, realworkout does not just mean hopping on an elliptical for 40 minutes with a PEOPLE magazine in tow. So dripping sweat and covered in sand, I came back to the question, “Why am I doing this? Why do I care so much about being fit and healthy?” The people I passed lounging in their beach chairs, soaking up the last of the hot summer sun, certainly seemed to pose the same question as well. It’s not the first time the question has come up for me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, after a conversation with my friend Holly later that evening, my answer became a little clearer.


I do it because sure, it helps how I look on the outside and I’m vain enough to admit that I like looking toned and fit. But more importantly, I do it because of how it makes me feel on the inside. If I could bottle up the feelings I have after a tough workout or yoga class, I would. The feelings of confidence, accomplishment and sometimes even a little surprise are unparalleled. The, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that!” To be able to recognize that at one point in life, that type of workout was not even an option, and to realize how far I’ve come, is another reason. Yes, my heart sometimes feels like it’s beating out of my chest, but its pumping empowerment through my blood and veins. I leave feeling exhausted, but knowing that I can do anything I work really hard at. I am filled with gratitude for feeling strong in my own body AND mind. And with each workout, I get to know myself a little better—“How far can I go? Do I need to pull back a little bit tonight?” Putting myself through a physical workout forces me to live in the present moment—tuning into the nuances of my body and connecting my movement with my breath.


And in case you’re wondering, I have bad days too. I have ‘lazy days’ where peeling myself off the couch seems like a horrendous idea. I have days where mac and cheese AND pizza seem like great dinner options. But I also know that usually, there’s something else bothering me behind these cravings. Sometimes I’m just tired, and that’s okay. I have learned the difference between allowing myself rest and finding refuge in food or self-pity—and it’s a constant practice to overcome these low points.  On these days, I know that the feelings I mentioned above are waiting for me, if I trust the process and push through by heading to the gym or studio, even when I don’t feel like it.


So the short answer to my question of why I do this really boils down to one thing:


Because it makes me feel alive…and isn’t that why we’re all here?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

She asked "What is this Primal thing?"

I recently heard someone say "Our bodies were not designed to sit on our asses in cubicles for 40 hours per week," and that kind of stuck and hit home with some things I've been going through lately.  

If you check in with this blog, you know I was a pretty strict vegetarian for quite a while.  For a long time, it worked.  I felt great, my energy was high, and my cardio was strong so I stayed with it.  And to be 100% honest, I wasn't a vegetarian for the health factors.  The health factors were just a nice bonus on the side, the main reason was to "alleviate pain and suffering," as Thich Nhat Hanh would say.  I found a lot of comfort and peace in my nutrition and I still do.  However, as I'm getting older, I noticed things changing a bit.  I no longer had that gear I once did and it hit me like a brick wall.  For a long, long time I measured my strength the exact same way and for a long, long time, it never dropped.  My bench was always in a certain range, regardless of how often I trained.  I was just kind of lucky with that.  Then one day, I went in and it was cut by 50%... I thought "Bad day."  I came back two days later... same thing.

Time to reexamine whats going on.  So that was my first "push," towards upping my protein.  Its very hard, and probably not 100% healthy to take in 130-160+ grams of protein powder everyday, which was what I required to maintain where I was.  

I then heard a lyric  "Self-realized and metaphysically redeemed, May not live another life, May not solve a mystery," and I thought "maybe I'm a little uptight... maybe I'm taking things a bit too serious... maybe I need to relax... maybe I need to just accept that this ride could be it and all that karma work is great but c'mon... settle down here."  (Yes, I actually talk like that to myself  "Hey dummy, settle down here..." 

So all the sudden, "The Law of Attraction?"  Everywhere I go, I'm hearing the same messages... "Calm down.  Stop being so uptight with all these beliefs.  You can still be a good person and eat chicken!"  does that read as crazy on your screen as it does mine?  :)  

That lyric above and the entire song pretty much says that to me... calm down, relax, have fun, treat people great and finally learn to play that guitar completely!  Stop holding back the urges and finally own who you are.
Someone said "Isn't it hypocritical to go back on all that now?" referring to the veggie thing, and I really, really struggled with it.  I still am a bit.  My ultimate deciding factor is my body.  I'm kind of a large guy who likes to do things.  I like to be physical, I like to run and jump and climb and flip tires and swing kettle bells and push weight and yoga and all that.  I truly love moving my body.  If I sit for too long, I get real grumpy.  If I'm not doing something physical, I kind of get angry. I'm basically a boy trapped in a mans body :) 
Remember a few blogs ago where I referenced an urge I had to find some weekend time to go camping and get lost for a while?  I think that feeling/urge was just the beak starting to peck out of that shell.  I'm just feeling pretty much done w all this nonessential bullshit, and I'm hunting for real in every moment... That's my air.  That real is the guitar, it's yoga, it's running, it's climbing, its power, its freedom, it's full expression... It's like being held under water and dammit I want to rocket to the surface and feel that sun!

Then she asked "Whats with the Primal thing?"
For one, its probably an outcome of everything above and everything I'm tinkering with.  That top quote stuck with me, "We weren't designed to sit in cubicles..."
We're built to move.  We're built to learn to use our bodies to our maximum, whatever that may be.  This "Primal mindset," fulfills a true need.
I think all the time "They could be so much more if they weren't trapped in that shell..." I know that reads judgy but it comes from a truly empathetic place. I don't want to see you trapped... I don't want to be trapped.  I want us to be awesome!  I want to see us able to express our insides with our outsides... does that make sense?   Its like an electric guitar (especially a sweet, sweet Johnny Mayer blues solo)... the insides are being expressed.  Same with our bodies and our movement, our achievements, our goals, our appearances, let it be your expression... that would be an amazing feeling.

Whats this primal thing?  We're turning back the clock... We're stepping forward by stepping backwards and turning in a new direction.  Its going to be safe but its also going to be harder.  We're removing the mental hurdles and all those bullshit voices saying "Eh, I cant... Eh, I'm too old... Eh, I'm too weak..."  No more.  We were made to move and feel and sweat and run and lift and go off... 

Imagine all these securities and comforts were taken away... who would you be?  What could you get done with no car, no computer, no electronics, no fancy little gym machines :)  If the only thing you had was exactly what you have when you wake up in the morning... just yourself.  

This isn't a change... its evolution.  
It feels exciting and refreshing.  


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Number 1 FAQ (what is blue chip?)

"What is Blue Chip?"
A fitness and training company that offers personal training, power yoga, bootcamps and other services...

"Yeah, I get that... but what is Blue Chip? What does it mean?  Whats it all about?"

I hear this question often and I usually create a distraction to not answer... I do that often with personal things.
We had dinner with my good friend and his wife last night and he shared a story about when someone asked him that question and he probably answered it best, but still not fully... but still better than I've ever bothered to.  "Its training at a certain level of intensity."
As I wrote that, I guess that is the best definition.

I've been using the phrase "That was Blue Chip," in the training aspect for as long as I could remember.   When I used to train in corporate gyms, my sessions were at another level and my client would do something awesome and I'd say "that was a Blue Chip session right there," or "that was one serious Blue Chip set, awesome."  It just started popping out.

In my head, it represents training with a plan, limited thinking outside of form, no outside thoughts to distract, yet fully aware.  Its about finding the zone.  When we're in the zone and training how I just described, special things happen.
I train athletes, I work with teams, I train regular people like us, I train beginners, I train advanced, I train people who are looking for another level.   For me, when you train with a bunch of commotion or talking or things going on around you, its very hard to move freely and train the way you want to.  Getting the space to move and being comfortable enough to let loose a little, that's important.
Somehow, some way, I don't train average people... or maybe the training and environment bring something out.  I think when people train with me, they know I don't care about the BS (aka excuses.)  Everyone learns that pretty much on day 1.  Its not a harsh thing, I think I actually make it kind of entertaining (or annoying depending on your view).
"I dont think I can do it."
Oh no?  Thats ok, your body thinks you can so go right ahead.
Then it happens and wallah... trust is formed.

annnnnnd.. I'm already losing my thoughts :)

"What goes on there?"
Which was a question I actually just answered (sort of) earlier today.  A few people asked me last week to post the workouts and I kind of responded in a dicky way.  I left it bland with very little detail.
Because I could write it all out (maybe) but you wouldn't feel it.  On paper, it probably doesn't look like much.  But on that particular night, I knew we were training for 60 minutes with no equipment.  Had I written that, people may have thought "ummmm that sucks, I'm going to the gym," and I cant really blame them.  I always post a pic of notes spread out across the... i don't know what its called :)  I thought it would come to me.  Notes.  I Google the notes the Jimmy Hendrix "Little Wing," which for me is just the most amazing guitar I've ever heard.  And my point is on paper, you have no idea what it is, how it sounds, how it feels, anything.... Its just paper.  You have to feel it and experience it to "get it."  That probably reads super ego, but its just an analogy.

Side-note:  I hate the ME stuff.  I've said it so many times, I never wanted to run a class.  I wanted to be invisible and just help steer things from the scenes.  But now, I see where its needed.  I see where people need to know what this Bootcamp/Power Plus guy is about... maybe thatll help draw the picture and answer the question.

The advantage Blue Chip has vs competitors is in the personal training, and yet has nothing to do with personal training.
I've told this story before... I was "auditioning," for a job in Beachwood and the owner new I was a coach and worked with athletes but felt I was down playing things when working with the general public.  A client was coming in for an appt and he said "This next client is trying to get a D1 scholarship... he's a wide receiver."  So I'm think "HELL YES!"  20 minutes later, in walks Carol...
Not a D1 athletes but a 45 yr old stay at home mom trying to lose 20 lbs.  The owner says "D1 athlete, no difference."  From that day fwd, things changed for me.  I stopped trying to keep people at 6's and 7's and shot for 9's and 10's.  No more keeping one foot on the throttle, it was time to go go go go go.
But he didn't hire me and I've since thanked him for it.
I've trained along side and learned from some of the absolute best people in the business, or at least the branch of the industry I've chosen.  I've worked with coaches and trainers who are or were top professional and college trainers.  Penn State had the top in the nation up until recently (they may still, but I don't go anymore to know).  I used to go up there and ask question after question after question.  Eventually, they just started emailing me their workouts and manuals, probably just to get me to go away :)  I was like a little kid who just wouldn't stop saying "why?"  Between the National Personal Training Institute, the experiences at Penn State, all the countless shadowing I went through... with no ego at all... I thought I sucked and needed to learn and soak up everything I could.  Id ask trainers all the time "can I hang with you?  Can I watch you next session?" just to learn how they put things together.  And this wasn't in some rinky gym, this was w a guy who was recognized as a top 20 trainer in the entire nation.

So how or why does the above statement make any sense, the advantage vs competitors.  The boots, the classes, the work with the teams, its personal.  If I had a class of 50, how could I possibly know everyone names and know how to lock you in?  How could I know enough about to motivate you?  The people who train in my boots, its basically a 1 on 1 session in a group format.  

Why Blue Chip?
Because its personal.  You're not a client here, you're a member.  A real member.  You're on a team.    Your results are my results.  Your experience is my experience.  My mission is to do everything I can, any way I can, to help you become as absolutely healthy as possible.  150%.
If you need me to come to your house to talk to your family, I'm coming over.
If you need to me help you grocery shop, lets set up a time.
If your team is acting like a bunch of babies with no work ethic, what time do you want me there?
This is my life, its not a job.  I will go anywhere and do anything to make it happen.

So Andy was right... There's a certain level of intensity here... and its kind of addicting.

This Is Blue Chip