Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I let one of my favorite "clients," go

As the great Popeye the sailor once said "that's all I can stands n me can't stands no more!"

I've heard "why aren't we training?" or "why aren't you training the kids?" probably 12x over the past two-three weeks.  In the beginning I simply said "time to make a change," but I've had a real strong desire to clarify recently, so I'll keep this short and sweet... Which probably means it'll be long and bitter. 

In the past, I've trained many groups of kids, many teams and even leagues.   So to guess at who I'm referring to, would be just that, a guess.  However, those who know, will know.   In this case of the "why I let one of my favorite clients go," I'm referring to a group of kids I trained, their coaches, parents and one decision by mgmt that I still disagree with. 

I cannot train kids effectively if coaches undermine my efforts.
How did they?
Example:  I ran a series of nutritional seminars, along w stretching classes that emphasized their particular needs for their sport.  The very day after the nutritional seminar where I stressed the importance of what to eat prior to competition, the coach brought in a birthday cake.  Just one example, but there are probably another 6 stories right along these lines. 
Aside from their complete disregard for teaching kids the importance of proper nutrition, and a nutritional base that'll help their play on the field, there was even a "coach," that would joke "out of energy?  Find some coke (as in cocaine)," and coaches that would pull their teams or particular players out of sessions claiming the athletes "didn't need it today."
So to summarize above:  I was being trumped by completely unqualified "coaches," who were making judgements and decisions that they had no business even discussing.

Parents today are very, very different.  Because of their need to be their kids best bud, they stopped being parents.  In doing so, they made it their mission to protect them from hard work.  The parents were (are) the number two reason why kids underperform.  
I'd say "what did you eat before you came?"  Chipotle
Ok... Go puke somewhere else please. 
"What time did you go to sleep?"
Ok... Why don't you go sit down and take a nap.
So much of this and it starts to turn from a training session to baby sitting. 

Two things to know, when we began our relationship, things weren't this way.  This group was tough.  From top to bottom, they were tough, worked hard, and wanted to be great.  There were kids coming through that just walked the walk and talked the talk.  They wanted to win, they wanted win in drills and constantly compete.  Now?  It's just not there.
(Number two, later)

Lastly, mgmt brought in a "specialist."
A sales specialist hidden as a trainer.  
It turned a corner and all the sudden numbers and profit were more important than facts, science and product. 
You'll hear from him "yes, the results of this training will fade quickly if you do not keep up with the program." No shit.  "So sign up for the next set of classes."
This has been my nemesis forever.  The clean, well packaged product.  Well packaged with little substance.  A very nice appearance and sales gimmick... But it's a trick.  
What the kids learned in these classes that advanced their numbers and became this trainers "proof," were a series of movements that imitated their sport movement.  Something that should have been taught in practice, for free.  But they sold it as a specialty.  This would be like me holding a special squatting class for my current clients... "Why aren't we already doing this?"
Because of this change and the hype and marketing they put into this, it reinforced my position as "group baby sitter."  The group began to see me as the evil sitter they were forced to spend time with throughout the week and everything I said or did became static.  
When this happens, me turning to static anywhere, I leave. 

To continue the thought from above, part two, which has been my hurdle for a long time but I'm no longer interested in hopping it.
I've worked with teams for over a decade and been training in the gyms for quite a few years.  
I've read the books and studied.  
I've trained myself hard (I consider myself a 6 but I've found very few better.  The 6 rating is how I feel there's so much more to learn and do).
When my clients are engaged and committed, which is often, all goals are met.  I can honestly count on one hand the number of clients I've had that did not make drastic transformations and change their entire lives.  
My programs, especially in terms of sports performance... Good luck finding someone better. 
(Damn... So unlike you)
Well, sometimes there's a time to talk a little shit. 
I meet a client and always think "is there someone better for this person than me?" and of there is, I make that reccomemdation.  I'm 1000% honest in what I can and can't do.  

"No, I'm not coming back... I think it's time to make a change."
But no one from mgmt asked why, no coaches asked why which also reinforced my feelings of how little they think of my programming and what I bring to the table, which has all the sudden lit a major fire under my ass.
They havent felt it yet and probably won't since the mindset of so many of their coaches, kids and parents have changed, but they lost one of their best assets when I walked away. 

One of my only regrets is that I feel it was such a wasted opportunity.   It became too much about money (for me) and not enough about results (for them).  
The potential was endless.  But I was tuned out and ignored by the great majority.  (In saying that, I also regret, deeply, not being able to work w that very small handful that I was able to connect with).

"Why aren't you training us?"
Because aside from maybe 10 out of 300 kids (I can literally name the 8-10 and these are the only ones I'd work with elsewhere), and aside from maybe, MAYBE 4 coaches, tops (I can definitely name them), no one here wants to be great and it's too depressing to watch.

I always hung onto that small group I was reaching and even when coaching football, I knew out of 20-30-50 kids, only 4-6 really "got it," but the scale can tip so far the other way (parents, coaches, and mgmt/school boards not caring along w 90% of the kids sleep walking), it's time to walk.

*Addition:  Since posting this, a little over 48 hours ago, I have heard from 5 different teacher/coaches who have expressed similar frustrations and feelings towards their athletic directors, fellow staff, and parents.  I'm not sure how this came off, but I do not directly hold the student-athletes directly responsible.  Kids imitate what they see and know what they're taught.  Yes, they (as well all are) are individuals BUT, lessons are learned, and habits are reinforced early in life, so I do point the finger at the leaders and teachers who consistently drop the ball.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

10/16 - thoughts from a rest stop

How about something quick and random...

This morning, my day started w random errand and then a funeral.
At the funeral, I sat in the back, alone.  I do so to control my emotions, not that I'll start sobbing uncontrollably or anything, but i also don't want eye contact to effect me.  This was actually the first full service and burial I've attended in almost exactly 20 years, the last was for my grandmother.
As I sat in the back, I didn't focus on the pastor.  I watched the family, my family.  His friends.

He was always a funny guy when I was a kid, always trying to stump us (the kids) with some clever riddles or trick questions.  I think he's one of the guys I got some of my sarcasm and humor from, along with my dad and other uncles.  I remember always enjoying time with the family, listening to the jokes they'd all tell or how they'd BS around a game, during a holiday function.   I remember looking up to a lot of them and how they'd talk, how they had their professions, (or maybe I imagined some of it... I was 10 or 12 when we stopped seeing everyone).  They had good, hard working jobs and a few served for the armed services.

Today, as I watched men fold the american flag over his casket, it hit me... We're very quickly losing a special generation that will never be duplicated  and with their death, dies class, work ethic and pride.
I felt this when Joe Paterno died.  I see their generation as a great men who worked hard, who stood for something, who worked for their families, who were noble and loyal.  Manners mattered.  How their kids behaved, mattered. Language mattered.  How they dressed, mattered.  I see this generation out for dinner and they wear shirts and ties.  I see them out in stores or running errands, and they are so, so out of place.

Technology and this society has rocketed off to another level that is accelerating faster and faster and more dangerous than ever.
We live in a world of instant gratification, where every answer to any question is at my finger tips.  I don't have to work for the answers.. I can Google it and its handed right to me.  I don't have to learn roads or highways, its right here on my phone.   We want 3 week diet plans and to be happy RIGHT NOW, so we pop pills to "fix it."

When I was younger, I found humor in Pete Townsend's line "I hope I die before I get old."  It was true then but I found it be a smart ass line against those older.  I thought "I don't want to turn into an old stuffy, dick, looking down and guys like me."  But now its true for another reason... I'm not enjoying the scenery here and there's nothing I can do and I don't see a light at the end of this.  I see technology and our government (the president is irrelevant) continuing to evolve into this carnivorous animal, consuming everything in its way.  Like a steam roller with shark teeth tearing apart anything that was "so yesterday."

I hate when people say "old school," as some sort of slight.  We need more old school.
(I think I live in the right community to hang onto some of this... we'll find out)


Right now, I'm sitting in a rest stop on the way to Detroit to see Pearl Jam.  When people asked where I was going, I should've said "headed to a self improvement seminar."  A) It would've been accurate, B) I wouldn't have heard any shit for going alone.
If you know me, you've already had the thought "Um a funeral and pearl jam in the same day?  That's dangerous."
This is the 12 city I've seen them and I tried to figure how many times but it's over 20 so... enough to not bother trying.

Every so often, we need moments that reset the brain a bit and give us some perspective.  I've often  found them in life milestones like the birth of my girls, deaths, and other events.  Days that make you step back and pay attention to who's who and where they stand.  Who you are, where you're going, what type of impact you're making.
I told a friend yesterday, I feel bad for people that think recreating a card board box is such a big deal to treat other people poorly, "My box is better you scum bag!" type shit.  
It makes me feel very alien.

I feel we need these resetting moments, these life challenges, these milestones to force us to look in the mirror and wonder, to look at our lives and wonder, to look at who we are and what are goals are.  How many people do you help?  How many people do you make happy?  And then never mind the quantity... hows the quality?  Maybe you have 2 awesome friends... be awesome back, who gives a F that theres only 2 and someone else has 12?
Be great
Be useful
Get the bullshit out of your head, that shit that you keep repeating, the anchor that slows your ass down.  Drop that shit and fly.

(Cont from row 20, seat 27, waiting for the band)
I parked and a guy jumped out of a car next to me, "hey bud, can we drink here?"  I look around and say "um, no cops." So he hands over a beer and three friends hop out of his car, 2 girls and another guy.
"You come alone?" They ask.
Haha from where?  
You must like these guys...
Oh, A little bit

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Just 1%

I forget which podcast I was listening to, but I heard a guy say "just trying to get 1% better today," and it's been ringing in my head since and has been an excellent driving thought.
I've been thinking about this blog all week... "What if we all worked to just improve one thing, 1%, every day?"  
We all know what 1% x 365 days equals, but really think about just that little baby step, that small percent, 1%, and how it can add up.
A couple blogs ago, I wrote about feelings of being overwhelmed when looking at the big picture of situations rather than breaking them down into more manageable moments and goals.  Had I had this 1% thought in my head, I may have been a little more calm and then less stress and anxiety. 

There have been a few of these 1% type thoughts that have helped me along the way and to continue working to improve.

1) Having a goal list - I don't understand how anyone could not have a goal list.  I strongly recommend getting a pen and a notebook w a binder and get to work on this immediately.  Start w just writing.  Anything and everything. 
Where do you want to vacation?
Where do you want to live?
How many kids would you like to have?
What kind of car do you want to drive?
What do you want to accomplish?
What kind of memories do you want?
Might not be about money or achievements.  Maybe you have a relationship in your life you'd like to "fix."  
Maybe there's something internal you'd like to improve.  
Do you want to handle stress better?  
Do you want to enjoy more time after work?  Write it down. 
Write them down, just write.  No order and nothing you wrote is a bad idea.
Shoot for 50. 
When you write a nice chunk of goals, go back through them and think, "is this a 1 year goal? A 5 year goal?  A 10 year goal?  Higher?" And write a little number with a time frameyou guess you might be able to obtain that goal within. 
Next, rewrite them in likeness of those numbers.  
Sounds like a lot of work?  
Good.  It should be a small project and one you'll always continue and improve, check off goals and modify.  This is a great tool, a great plan, for your future.
I went through this exercise about 4 years ago and before I knew it, I was checking off goals left and right. I didn't really notice it at first, I just headed out and continued to work hard and work towards a few goals and then I noticed how many of my goals were related to other goals.  Like dominoes, they started falling into place.  From moving to geauga county, to the yoga room, to real estate and many others, I was able to check off goals, continue my list and keep it moving. 
If you don't have goals to work towards, what are you working towards.  Sometimes as "adults," we allow ourselves to get distracted and let ourselves make up very convenient excuses as to why we've grown lazy.   Sometimes I'll say "I need a chill day," and then think do I? Or am I just being lazy?  Could go ether way, sometimes we do need a chill day.  But if we haven't accomplished... Not sure where that chill out time is deserved.  I also think sometimes were a little too quick to pat ourselves on the back and give ourselves a break, so even set a goal for the breaks.
"I'll take my chill day when I accomplish 5 of these 8 goals." 
Keep it moving and watch how fast things happen.

Another valuable tool that fit the 1% mindset was:
2) Time Management - given the busy goal list, life got hectic... Chaotic actually.  
One thing that greatly improved my productivity was to write out a schedule to keep everything in line and to help find more balance.   I'd schedule every job, every location I was scheduled to attend, every appt, and then I'd also schedule my school time, my own workout time, and everything else.  Id schedule and designate time for as much as I could.  By doing this, I greatly reduced those panicky moments of "where am I going?" and "am I prepared?"
So write a schedule to maximize your 24 hours. 

And random thoughts...
When you go into a store or going through the bank, use your 1% improvement mindset to pass that energy along to others.  Engaging with the cashier/teller, look to improve their energy and lift them up.  
Michael Jordan didn't win championships until he had a squad working to match his level.  Be that.  Create a positive environment where people are working to match your level and you're pushing together as a unit.  Just 1% everyday... That's it.  Positive momentum being built and gains strength like a wave, building and building.  
That could be your community, your company, your family. 
Goals are your road map and time management is crucial to keep them moving. 

So when you get a chance, check your surroundings.  Check out how you feel at work, at home, in the gym, at school, everywhere. How can you be more useful, more helpful, more giving?  
How can you improve 1% everyday and the  help others to do the same?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Yin and Yang of Blue Chip/This Yoga/Abby

Before I start rambling about yoga, I can't stress enough how good everything feels after an awesome session.  Next time you're in there, go hard, sweat your ass off, push through the uncomfortable moments, breathe heavy, focus and kick your own ass.


I was listening to an Onnit podcast where Aubrey Marcus was interviewing his S&C Coach/Trainer and how they fell upon their style of unconventional training methods.  Through their stories, they talked about having a base in body building building styles, which I think most people have some knowledge of if you were picking up muscle mags in the grocery stores.  Not saying its easy by any stretch, but most of the workouts posted in the mags throughout the 90's and early 2000's were all geared in that direction.  Then they talked about a variety kettle bell techniques, yoga, speed development, pre-ha and re-hab, trx, full body circuits, etc.
And as they went on and on, I listened and found the occasional goose bumps on my arm, for two reasons that support each other and give me more confidence (which is needed more often than shows).
I've always written honestly over the past years and those who have been around read about... well, all the above that Aubrey and his trainer listed.  My beginnings were also grounded in those workouts pulled from mags, then evolving into full body circuits, then speed and agility, then TRX, then yoga, then kettles, and as it moved along, we started combining things.  I remember early in my yoga experiences, I started tinkering w thoughts like "How can we add a DB to these yoga moves?"  and more importantly, "What am I learning in yoga that will transfer over the weight room?"
If an experienced coach sat and watched a more advanced session, they'd be able to pick apart the roots of where things come from.
Basically, I'm just proud I never had my head too far up my own ass to ignore all that's available to learn. I never arrogantly boxed myself into "I'M A _____ GUY!" and pissed on everything else.  As individuals we all like what we like, but as trainers/coaches, there's no room for that ignorant approach.
The yoga, kettles, speed work, power training, super sets, circuits, all the experiences training in the parks and in the stadiums... its combined for a pretty unique, unconventional, fun and functional method and I'm pretty happy with how things have developed.
(That was me patting myself on the back)
Just saying, I'm kind of alone in this, I dont really have trainer friends or people to bounce things off of so when I hear pros speak and I'm on their page, I feel good about what we do together.

Speaking of yoga... 
So sometime soon, we'll be starting a yoga class at Everybodies, which the more I think about it, the more I think its a pretty perfect arena for this class. I hear there's quite a bit of interest and we'll probably have a nice little group for the first class so most of my talking will be about form and safety and often it will always linger around those topics.  But once we're through that part, the actual class starts.  
(uh oh, is this where his yoga woo woo crap starts?)

I was just talking to someone 10 minutes ago about the class and she said that she was looking forward to it and listed several reasons why.  I felt the need to warn her "this isn't a toe touching humming class."  Obviously, I don't mean that as a shot at the lighter style of yoga class, but I don't want to mislead anyone either.  This isn't a slow flow.  

Physically, you're going to sweat your ass off.  You're going to challenge your body in ways you're not used and possibly not as intense as you're used to.  
You're going to feel your hamstrings, your triceps, your hips, your shoulders, your feet, your hands, your core, in ways you may never have. Literally.

Physically, yoga really helped shine a light on areas of my body that were out of balance, weak, and/or tight.  I remember my hip flexors cramping all the time and if it wasnt my flexors, it was my glutes, it was always something... but it was all good.  I found great pleasure in being exposed, to myself, as to where my training needs addressed.

But as much as I say "We wont be humming," there's the flip side.  We also wont be jamming hard, flying in and out of poses, just cruising through a bunch of movements, sweating and listening to sweet music.
(I've written and deleted 3 different paragraphs trying to describe what will happen... All I can say, and will say in class, forget whatever you thought was going to happen.)

Do you drive places and when you arrive, you'd fail the quiz titled "Name 3 things you noticed on the way here?"
Do you let work issues linger and effect your home life?
Are you hanging onto childhood issues?
Do you react certain ways, notice them and dislike that you do it?
Do you find yourself playing with your phone out of habit when you could be engaged in people around you?
Can you remember 3 meaningful things you did this week?

No training method has helped me more than this.. in the gym, in work, with everything.


My oldest, Abby, is enrolled with a local theater group which meets on Saturday mornings.  While she's there, Livi and I head over to Beans and play Connect 4, then head back 90 minutes later and meet her out front,
Abby recently tried out for one of the plays run out of the theater and was waiting to hear back if she made it.  As we stood across the street from each other, her badly language didn't look good and I thought for sure she didn't make it.
For those few moments, some new feelings and thoughts came in... this would be her first real experience with rejection... and my first as her dad, helping her through it.  Ive coached for around 10 years, lost plenty of games, dealt with players and clients and their losses or short comings, missing goals, etc.  And through those, I've been able to find the right words to help.  But here on the corner of the street waiting for her to cross... I was thinking "Oh $hit,"
Fortunately, there was no bad news yet, just a bad mood.... 10 or 16?  Sometimes its hard to tell.
A few days later, she did receive the call that she did not make it and when we spoke on the phone she sounded disappointed but ok, which was good to hear, but I wanted to know how much she cared.  We can fail or come up short, but we cant be ok with it... how to communicate that to a 10 year old?  To my daughter?
I asked "What do you think?"  She said "Well, I signed up w a singing coach."  I asked "Do you think that's what you need to do?"  She said "I think it will help, they didn't say what I should do but a coach would help me.  I'll call and ask them what I should do to make the next play."

Did I say she's 10?  Not sure why I was so worried, she apparently can handle rejections much better than her dad.

I was so unprepared but she did exactly the right thing.  Take it, learn from it, move on.


My new coffee cup

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I've always liked pictures of a loaded leg press machine.  Probably because I'm not an awesome squatter by any standards, but can load a leg press and push some decent weight. 

So I took this pic a while back and added a quote...
...for two reasons.

1) Resistance 
     It's relative.  We all feel it in some way.  What's easy to you, might be extremely challenging to another.  What's light for you, might be heavy for another.  It's all relative to the individual with many variables that can push or pull the lines in all directions.  
Like I've referenced in the past couple blogs, our roads/paths were on, they're similar but different.  We happen to be on the same planet, maybe in the same area of it, but with all very different childhoods, upbringing, development, etc.  We all have different skills and expertise, different strengths and areas where we strive just as we have the opposite.  A while back, I took my car in for troubles.  It was something super basic that I felt I should've or could've handled.  I apologized for wasting his time.  Mark, the excellent mechanic on the corner of Richmond Rd and Wilson Mills said "We all know what we know.  I know this, this is my profession, you have yours which I know nothing about.  You can teach me one day."
So it's important that we combine our knowledge and experiences and collect energy to create strong bonds and become a more helpful community.  
Be helpful.
Be useful.

2) Power
     (I'm about to write something pretty dicky but hang w me... I can clear it up.  You may be the exception to what I'm about to say so, settle down).
When hiring an employee, I would definitely give extra "points," towards someone who was once an athlete in a team sport, was a team leader of that sport or someone who was active in the weight room. 
Not because of work ethic exactly, and not because of some jockish machismo crap. 
Drive.  In my experiences, those who come from a team sport background, are driven by passion and pride, not money, and that's huge for me.  When you're driven by pride, a particular amount of dollars isn't going to change how hard you work or how you work.   
Now, obviously we all need to make money and spend money and all that, I'm not saying I'm anti-money.   But I am in the sense of motivational roots.  If money is the only thing in your head that will make you great, you're a flawed character.  If it's pride that fuels you, you'll be paid everyday. 
I've also found those in sports in general, not just team sports, have a greater tolerance for pain and are much harder to beat and again, these are the people that would make up my staff. How and why?  
When you grow up competing constantly, whether on a field, weight room, court, mat, ring, wherever... You are constantly being tested by others and testing yourself.  You grow and nurture (if done right) a need, a desire to always compete and win. So if we're talking about a sales position, that athlete is still  in there and wants to win big.  Whatever the position is, the athlete is still there, wants to win big, wants to dominate and stand out. 
Example:  I have a friend who heads up a department.  His had an employee on his staff that was an absolute standout.  I always asked "do you know why?"  He didn't.  I said "because she was a d1 athlete."  He resisted this idea... Until shelves and he had to replace her.  And now he's still searching for someone to step up into her role and do the job... Crickets.  I said "look for an athletic background and you'll find your diamond."
I know someone who doesn't consider themself an athlete may challenge this, but I attribute this mindset to runners, lifters, anywhere there are people pushing themselves physically and to an uncomfortable level.  
*Female athletes receive double points.  

Anyone can do something easy.  
Who pushes through the hard work?  
Who doesn't have a quit button?
Who doesn't mind the pain? (Tattoos anyone?)
Who can sit at half time down 3 scores and know deep down, "we'll come back," and believe it and then make it happen?
Who can lose?  Who can lose and let it hurt so bad all they want to do is get back out there, get back to the weight room, get back to practice and make it right, then go back and compete again w no fear?

Pressure and resistance mold us, it shapes us accordingly to take on the challenges we need.  Challenges we personally need to become who we are destined to be.   
When we were kids, we asked "what are you going to be?" And "what are you going to do?"  Then a phase of life comes around and we stopped asking and settled into the momentum of our childhood.  Maybe for better, maybe not, we let pressure and resistance mold away and we went along for the ride.  
Use it as a tool.  Your will.  
Examine how you personally challenge yourself in life.  Do you take the easy road?  Do you back out when in pain, challenged or pushed?
Do you road back like a lion and claw through the grind?

Never stop evolving.

This Is Blue Chip