Sunday, November 23, 2014

"It's a mystery to me..."

-We have a greed, in which we have agreed.
You think you have to want more than you need.
Til you have it all, you won't be free.
Society, you're a crazy breed, hope you're not angry, if we disagree.
Society, crazy indeed, hope you're not lonely, without me."
Eddie Vedder (Society, from Into The Wild)


I went through, and actually still dealing with, some issues of greed, ego, power and money.... And this song has been humming along in the background.

We agreed to use paper with numbers on them as a means of bartering or trading (our money used to be based on gold, now it's based on an imaginary system that's controlled by someone else's imagination - want to debate this?  tell me how the stock market works?  tell what actually controls interest rates).
Someone or something decides our worth, our value and we agree or disagree to accept for our hours or services.  We perform whatever it is we do and collect on the agreement.
Then as we collect more paper, we place it in a bank and it's then basically points we see on the screen, like a video game.  We then trade those points for something we want or need.  "I have 2,581 points... another 7,000 or so and I'm trading those points for a new car."
All seems fair and makes sense to me.

But somehow, maybe through some type of ego driven evolution... or maybe human nature... we decided to place nearly ALL of our value, around the value/worth that we trade our time and services for, with thoughts of "I am _____," (insert job title).
And then somehow, those with more points in their game think they're worth more as people... Since "they are ____," (insert job title).
And then we even placed our value on things we trade our credits for...
We buy "things," and then defined by those items.
And who has the most "things," is the best. The winner!!
Then whoever has more of the best, is even better and then there's power.
And the more power, the more control and goes on and on.


All these metaphors I'm trying to dance around... What I'm trying to draw a picture of is the insane value we placed on money and titles.  We think WE ARE_____ based on money and objects.

I just traded my beat up 2004 Cavalier.  It was basically two tone navy blue and faded blue, rust around the gas door, and manual everything.  All the sudden with a better car... there's a different perception... "this car is more successful," someone said and I looked at him like he was crazy... It's steel and rubber and plastic just like the other w the same guy driving... I'm not _____ (insert whatever object or job title you choose).


I think it's a line in the Christmas Story, something about being in the "people business."  Businesses in general, have lost their way and its created a massive trickle down effect on society and the psyche of the great majority of the working population.   Too often, we're numbers to the machine.  Employers don't value employees, they value profit.  They don't value right or wrong, they value dollars and cents.  Businesses aren't concerned with creating atmospheres of personal growth, just financial.  And what's lost in the shuffle, is human worth and identity. 
You may find my opinion jaded.  Or you may look around at the sea of cubicles or coworkers, you don't really know.  People will come and go, and you won't notice and your job may not be effected... 
But this little ride we're on is such a small blip on the radar of time and very few of us will accomplish things that'll outlast our own breath.  
So why aren't we better to each other?

"Society, you're a crazy breed

I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy indeed
I hope you're not lonely without me 
Society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
Society, you're crazy indeed
I hope you're not lonely without me"

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'm An Old Fart and Everything Was Better In The 90's!

And by everything, I mean music and sports.

Sports were better.

1) We had baseball games and dynasties people cared about.  You either loved the Yankees or you loved hating them.  Then you loved the Red Sox just because they weren't the Yankees.  Plus the Tribe was a realistic contender in the late 90's and there was pretty much nothing better than seeing Albert Belle flex at the Red Sox dug out after they requested his bat to be checked for corking... do young guys even know what that means?  Corking is something guys did to cheat that didn't involve jamming a needle into their ass or rubbing a cream on their teammates backs.
Heres Albert...
This was so awesome!  I remember watching this game.  He smashes a homer and the manager comes out to claim the bat to be investigated and he was livid!  You just saw him yelling from the dug out then busted this pose.  Epic.

2) We had Michael Freaking Jordan first and foremost.  Now, we have a superstar complaining that the season is too long.
Funny, I just finished watching a documentary on my favorite sports team of all time, the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, and if you have any interest in seeing why todays NBA is pathetic, watch this program.  The Lakers and Celtics winning titles all through the 80's then this team of fun, wild guys comes along, starts punching superstars in the face and flips the league upside down.  And When it's over, Michael Jordan says "We never become the best team ever with having the Pistons to overcome."

Back then, teams didn't like each other.  They show Magic giving Isiah a little smooch before the game, then elbows him in the face 10 minutes later.  Now, guys have to be buddies for endorsement deals and they want to play together (we all had a good taste of that crap a few years ago).  Michael and Magic never wanted to play together, they wanted to beat each other.  The Sunday match ups between the Knicks and Bulls or the Supersonics and Rockets, would feel like playoff basketball every week.  Even when the Dream Team was created, the stories that came out of the camps were legendary.  "The most intense games I've ever played," players would say after.  And this was just practice.

Back then, the NBA was like the NFL, yes there were favorites and yes the Bulls dominated the 90's but it was always exciting, competitive, heartfelt basketball.  We had David Robinson, Hakeem the Dream, Barkley, Bird and Magic, Kemp and Payton, Ewing, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, Spud Webb and Dominique, Malone and Stockton, Michael, Scottie, and Dennis.  So many more likeable guys, very few pretty boys.   You saw the work being put in, you saw guys overcoming obstacles and breaking through.  Now?  You see new rules being written to help the points go up so they can sell more corporate level tickets while pricing out real fans.  Check the entire bottom section of Cavs games.  Are those real fans or people with a crap load of money who want to be at an "event?"  Anyone in those front seats should have to pass a Cavs exam before entering.  Who was Ron Harper traded for?  Who did MJ hit the shot over?  Name all 5 starters from the 1990 Cavs.

See the hand?  Who's is it?

I heard a guy say "LeBron is right, 82 games is too long."  Why?  Because its hard and everyone wants easy now.  It's hard for a reason.  Just like all challenges and great obstacles and once you overcome, you're better for it.
I seriously blame the NBA for helping produce a weak generation.  Kids see twitter and sprite commercials and flash, they dont see the work anymore.  Seeing MJ fail for 7 years then seeing him hurt in 1994 and 1995 and THEN come back and win 3 more... we'll never see anything like that again.  You learned something from watching him.

3)  Was the NFL better?
I dont think so.  I think the NFL is so good and so real and true, the only thing that can sink the NFL would be, or will be, when theres further concussion testing and Goodell hiding criminals.  Other than that, this is the golden sport in America.
But look out, because the UFC is gaining ground really fast and Dana White seems to be setting a great example.  AND if theres one sport I encourage young people to dive into, its this.  I dont want to see my daughters boxing or anything, but I think theres a tremendous amount of value in the training involved and then the functional use of Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling sports.

Music was better.
Did it all die when Kurt died?  No, but it changed.  Music now is... who?  Taylor Swift?  Lil Wayne?  I'm so out of touch, I cant even figure out a name to ask.  I see iTunes and names like OneDirection and I sample them to see if its a song I'd use in a yoga class... awful.  Searching and sampling through iTunes is the only thing I see so maybe my opinion here sucks, but... I havent cared about a new artist since... well, the 90's.
Like my list above of great 90's players, now, there's no Radiohead, no REM, and U2 isnt U2 anymore.   Pearl Jam is obviously still doing what they do and the Chili Peppers are hanging around, but other than that, you have to pay attention to college radio to find anything with value and substance.

and like my last post, I blame money and greed.
I was watching the Pearl Jam documentary a few weeks ago and one of the members (Stone) was talking about when they almost broke up because Eddie was being such a dick, control freak and wanted to pull back and rejected being a star.  The band wanted to be bigger and Eddie was stopping it.  Stone smiled and said "And we're still here... he was right."  Eddie's reluctance to push forward and make more money, saved them.

i still listen to a pearl jam bootleg from 1994 nearly every single time i workout and i watch Rodman yotube videos every week.

Maybe all the thoughts I wrote above are about my desire to feel more, experience more by doing less.  Seeing as though winter seems to be here, it makes me already think "We'll work through this, then enjoy the summer again," as in we pay dues, but in a good way.  Sometimes I wonder what people feel in Southern Cali, having never felt a blizzard.  I wonder if it makes them complacent.

Here, now, myself... I want to be great at 2-3 things and let those "things," create and grow.  I want to be 80 and look back at a laundry list of awesome experiences, to look at back at old photos from 2015 and think "What a fantastic year that was!"
I see the training will be one of those tools... coaching will be another... the 3rd is up for grabs, but I know I have room for it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where'd You Come From?

In class the other night, someone mentioned the pics in my office.  As usual, when anyone asks me anything somewhat personal, I turn into a weirdo, mumble and change the topic.  She said something like, you should tell people more about your training past, so I thought about it and decided that writing about some of the pics in the office would be a cool way to do just that.

Before I get into, I want to write about the actual decision to hang pics at all.  Truth is, I actually thought about quitting.  When I decided to end the Blue Room in Mentor, I didn't know if I wanted to continue training at all.  I let most of my contracts expire and kind of went into hiding.  When Dan let me in to train and began picking up clients, I could feel the momentum coming back.  Meeting the people I have met there, pretty much did what I needed it to do.
Which was...?
I actually dont know yet.  I think in Mentor, I felt a little like a machine, a juke box.
But in hanging these pics... what really good times they were.  Such neat experiences, some great, memorable sessions and some awesome, amazing people.
I've trained clients and teams in Aurora, Lakewood, Solon, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland, Wickliffe, Richmond Heights, Beachwood, Willoughby, Mentor, Eastlake... I dont even know where else.  I've trained in homes, parks, stadiums, the muni lot, running down E 9th, in front of the Rock Hall, the metor parks, the beaches, all over.
Being a trainer... you wear many hats.  You're the fitness guy, the ear, the advice, the big brother, the release, the punching bag, the entertainment, the _________.  And it's all awesome and I wouldn't trade it. I've trained thousands 1 on 1's and groups of 100+, kids as young as 8 and little Martha at a young 81.  I've run yoga classes and humbled football teams and coached a 17 year old girl into a 205 hang clean that helped improve her vertical 7" and work her way into a D1 scholarship.
I've helped countless people think about goals, write goals and then reach goals.
Here we go...
(SOB... now I'm pumped up to train someone)
One of my favs... This was a decent action shot during one of the last classes in the Blue Room.

 A nice shot of the weight room set up just outside the Blue Room.  Nice spot, decent for the circuits we'd run.  

This is one of my favorites as well.  This workout was pretty tough, Todd Field sessions usually were.  I think the group fed off the energy of having a bunch of people in the park too and everyone pushed really hard.  

 Nice group shot from the last session at Todd Field.  
 Just a cool action shot

 Definitely one of my favorite pics.  I always felt like a tool hopping off my mat to snap a pic but this one was worth it.  
Despite the financial short comings that prompted me to end things, I still think this room had something special.  A lot of great sessions happened here, a lot of great people came through the doors and we all poured a lot of sweat on the floors.  

I think Lindsay snapped this one... clearly I didnt, you can kinda see my oafy pose on the far right.  Always good to see people smiling in a yoga class! 

Ahhhh... the Titan days.  These boots were pretty sweet.  The lay out of the building was definitely helpful.  Having the cardio on one floor and that stair case separating it from the weight room helped create some challenging and memorable sessions.  
Here, the group is starting with a classic warm up:  1/4 mile sprint, 25 push ups, 25 squats, 25 push ups, 4 rounds. 

 The Power Program
I had an idea and I think we accomplished what we all set out for.  My goal was to help other people reach their goals, and they werent all physical, most were mental and emotional. A lot had to do with breaking through thoughts of "I cant," which were actually "I havent yet," in disguise.  
This class had nearly all beginners in it.  People lost weight, gained confidence, and realized things about themselves that they had blocked away... it was always there.  The class didnt add or give them anything, it removed the blinders.
Link to a blog I wrote leading up to the program here.

I had this idea for a BOGA class, half boocamp, half yoga... this was kind of it, I'm still working on it.  I'm pretty confident that I'll need some more equipment (strategically placed wooden horses, like the kind gymnasts use) to really capture what I'm going for.  Either way, this was still a very unique and memorable session, led by fellow April Fool baby and my buddy, Jen.  

 This is about 1/8 of the Monster behind squires castle. I spent a summer here, dropping 40 lbs or so and improving my speed up this hill.   So many laps, so many songs on the ipod.  This hill feels like a tunnel, tress all around, no room left or right and if you fall, it wont feel good.  Parts of this are so steep, you need your hands free to be ready to grab a root, this was yoga before I found yoga.  
To this day, I've never met anyone who can sprint the entire thing without stopping.

If Blue Chip had a Mount Rushmore, Elaine would be the first face on it.
Throughout the years, pretty much everyone that came through said something along the lines of "I want to train like her."

 Portable TRX straps in a MetroParks pavillion (thanks Dad for making these).  

 This team was a blast to train.  Eager everyday, brought great attitudes and truly got it.  I threw out so many physical, emotional and mental challenges and they responded perfectly, every single time.  They understood that training wasn't about just getting through to make the coach happy or to shut me up, it was about the journey and their own personal growth.  
Probably one of my top 3 favorite teams I've ever trained (despite getting stiffed on payment).

Just a really cool pic snapped on a really hard session.  Kerry always brought her A game and on this day in particular, I felt she dug a little deeper and pushed harder than ever.  One of those sessions were it didnt matter what I said or what challenges I tossed out, she was going to kill it.  This pic encapsulated her effort for the day and the group in general, sprinting up those 110 or so steps, probably 10-12 rounds.

The first bootcamp group... back in 2010?  

Kristin working her Turkish Get Up... in my driveway.  We used to run sessions in my garage and driveway back in South Euclid.  I had a pretty decent set up w squat rack, sand bags, kettle bells and such.  Again, a really cool pic for me.  You can also see a few people in the background w kettle high.  Along w Elaine, Kristin definitely represented everything I feel this company I'm trying to create is about - intensity, drive, goal oriented, just that skies the limit, anything can happen and nothing's impossible attitude.

This one is funny... for me.  I had this clever little idea of using the TRX straps and tying them to old tires... then take it to the beach and drag them for resisted sprints and other drills, all using the tires as their resistance.  Well, in this pic... they're pretty much protesting.  And this was the only time, EVER, where I thought "Maybe I went too far with this one."  Problem was, as they ran, the tires filled with sand.  So we set out to sprint 30 yards or so, but after 10, these 15lb tires were loaded with 30lbs of sand.  Then I said "Ok liets pick them up and throw them back and do it again!"  And as they picked them up to throw, sand would spill into their face.... you get the point, this one didnt go well.  But the pic is still good :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What (most of) Our Mother's Taught Us and other thoughts from a student lounge

Whether you're going through a grocery store or casually talking to people you encounter during the day, this thought may enter your head: "Who raised you??"  Believe me, I have a laundry list of people that make me wonder that.  One thing I do know, is who didn't raise them, my mom.  A lot of my stories and analagies are grounded in lessons learned on the field or in a yoga room... Just hit me that the roots of it all were founded much earlier.

Treat people as you want to be treated.
 - The granddaddy of them all.  if we all did (treat people as we want to be treated) we wouldn't have issues w respect and decency.  There would be far less "drama," and issues would be resolved much faster, and again, w more respect.

Do your chores.
 - aka, handle your business.  Be responsible and do what needs to be done, as well as it can be done.

If you cant say something nice...
 - ...don't say it at all.  Again, grounded in kindness, decency and respect.  

Be nice to your brother and sister.
 - literally and figuratively.  

"P" before you leave the house.
 - Be Prepared.


In sharing some thoughts and feelings, I wondered "sometimes I feel like Russell Crowe from a Beautiful Mind... Like I believe in this crazy idea of a world that doesn't really exist here."
They said "that's true, you do."
But it didn't help me feel better, it actually hurt my faith in our childhood belief that the right and good will always win vs the wrong and evil.
Troubled by the distinct lines of separation.
All we can do is create our own atmosphere and hope others enjoy their time in it while it lasts.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Yoga starts 11/6 - FAQ

Where is it and when is it?
Starting this Thursday, every Thursday at Everybodies Gym in Chardon.  Unlike the other classes I run, this one will be in the group fitness room.  Try to be there a few minutes early to get situated and get comfy.

What do I need to bring?
I recommend bringing a water for sure, then you'll need a mat and clothes that you can move in uncomfortably. People have worn umbro shorts and those were a little stiff, but the typical yoga pants and some running pants are fine or just a pair of shorts will work perfect too.  Guys, mesh shorts work fine.
A towel if you think needed.
Don't worry about shoes, you'll be kicking those off at the door.
I'll have a couple mats with but it's first come, first served so probably best to bring one just to be safe.
If you're not a member, you'll need $6 (members are free).

Am I ready for this class?
In my opinion, a plank is the best way to measure if you can take this class.  If you can currently hold a 20-30 second high plank, you'll be ok.  It will be challenging, but that's why you're coming anyway!   Dont worry if you cant touch your toes, you'll be getting there much faster than you think.
If you have any low back issues, take it slow and stay within your limits.  Good news, given the nature of this class, we wont be transitioning through very many "up-dogs," and once you see why, it'll make sense.
At the beginning of every class, I'll ask "Does anyone have any injuries I need to know about?"  Speak up.  Areas of concern are always shoulders, knees, back and hips.  I'll keep an eye out and make sure you're safe.
If you're pregnant and new to yoga, I do not recommend this class.

Who should take this class?
I'd say... everyone.
If you're trying to drop weight, if you're interested in improving flexibility, increase overall body strength, loosen up the hips and shoulders, improve core strength and endurance, correct muscular imbalances, breathe better, if you're looking to improve your overall balance... in and out, if you need to improve your mindset and mental focus, have more control of your emotions, have an improved outlook, be a better communicator and leader, reach life goals,
No joke... dive in and find out.

Is this a boring, slow, stretch class?
Someone asked me this the other day and a kinda cocky answer accidentally flew out, "Do you know who's teaching it?"
Beginners, don't be scared.  I have an excellent base in proper mechanics and body movement, so we will not be putting ourselves in any positions I feel are unsafe or often performed incorrectly.  Safety is always #1.

For those concerned if this a boring waste of time... I get it.  When I dove in a few years back, I had no clue what to expect.  I kinda thought it would be a little hard but thought "I'm strong, I'll be fine, I'll get a good stretch in."  All that was true... plus all those attributes I listed in the last question.  At the time, I was playing a lot of basketball and working out.  So I went in with the intention of stretching my low back and hamstrings.   Then in that first class my hips and glutes were cramping up so bad, it triggered a smarter way of training because the imbalance was so clear to me.  So for lifters, this class is going to show you some of these same things.

Because of all the balance work and focus "exercises," that I found in yoga, my basketball greatly improved.  My focus was better, my balance increased very, very quickly, my movement improved dramatically and my endurance increased.  I've always good feet and coordination and was in decent shape, but yoga helped fine tune and move more fluidly.

Like I tell everyone, whatever it is you do, this class will help you do it better.  Doesnt matter what is, this class will improve ___(fill in the blank)    .

btw... no fluffy music.  You'll hear Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Doors, some country, some rap, some Explosions in the Sky, Modest Mouse, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, 80's, 90's, 2000's, John Mayer, Angels & Airwaves, Mogwai, Bright Eyes, Chili Peppers, and ummm maye some Pearl Jam.
Also, I take requests so shoot them over... trust me, you're going to want to rock in here.

This Is Blue Chip