Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gym Review: Bullitt County YMCA

As a personal trainer and strength coach, I have been privy to visiting a lot of gyms.  I have worked in many and have been a member of others.  In a previous life, I have even sold equipment to most of the gyms in the Louisville area.  I have a generally good idea of what makes a good gym, what makes a bad gym, and what makes everything in between.  So I wanted to make a periodic post on what I think of ALL of the local gyms in the greater Louisville area and wherever else I may workout in my travels.  You can use it as a guide or you can use it to tell me that I'm full of crap.  Whatever.  

A little about how my ratings are going to be.  I am going to have 6 categories: equipment, staff, cleanliness, amenities, members, and miscellaneous.  I'm sure there are other variables that can go into this but I'm a pretty simple person and these are the most important to me.  I could easily get into group class schedule, pricing, parking, location, whatever.  And those might go into the miscellaneous pile.  Who knows.  Since this is the first post of this type, I'm kind of winging it here.  So, without further ado, my fist gym I'm reviewing is the one I go to the most.  It's the Bullitt County YMCA

I have been a member of the Bullitt County YMCA for about 5 years.  I went there because I was a member of a nasty gym, Hester's, which I will review at another time.  That one will not get good reviews, I can say that already.  Not only have I been a member of the B.C. YMCA, I have also sold them a lot of their equipment.  I know the staff very well and they even allowed me to teach a crosstraining type class there once.  The B.C. YMCA is located in Shepherdsville, KY right off of I-65.  For the location I guess it serves it's purpose.  Bullitt County doesn't require or need that much.  The population there is not high maintenance so neither is the gym.  

Equipment:  This facility has a full line of Paramount strength machines with some Cybex thrown in.  I'm not a fan of machines but for the money, I guess the Paramount line isn't too bad.  Not too many plate loaded, it's all weight stacks.  They have 2 racks of dumbells,  2 power racks, 1 smith machine, 2 bench presses, 1 incline, 1 decline, and a cable cross multi-gym.  Throw in a bunch of misc. benches and it pretty much has everything that's needed for the strength world.  The plates are great but if you are looking for bumper plates, this is not the place.  For cardio, they have a full line of Precor ellipticals and treads and AMT's and a few Star Trac treads with cardiotheater.  A couple of Cybex Arc Trainers and 1 Concept II rower fills out the cardio line.  I would prefer one more rower and for more of the treads to have entertainment systems with them but I guess this line of equipment fits the crowd that goes there.   The quantity of equipment is good for 8 months out of the year but from January to April it can be tough getting a treadmill or getting into the free weight area with the increased crowd.  
Rating:  3.5 dumbbells out of 5

Staff:  I know the staff here well.  The Fitness Director, Chris, is a good guy and seems to know how to implement programs to try and get everyone involved.  The front desk staff is very friendly and I never have any problems with Justin or anyone else from that area.  I know a few of the group instructors and they are all very good at what they do.  They seem to have a very loyal following for the group classes, of which I do not partake any, but I see the crowds that go.  One area I think could be improved is the personal training staff.  Chris has told me that there simply isn't much personal training that goes on there, so maybe that is why I haven't been impressed with it.  The fitness staff seem fairly knowledgeable on basic fitness program design but I think they need to work on continuing education in order to stay abreast of the latest trends (not fads) in the fitness world and keep up with the latest research.  
Rating:  3.5 Ex. Phys degrees out of 5

Cleanliness:  For the most part, this facility is very clean.  It should be.  The standards the YMCA of America sets for all of their facilities is pretty high.  I rarely see nasty sweat stains on the benches or treadmills.  The locker room is pretty clean and I don't feel like I have to fear to tough anything in there or the rest of the facility for fear of MRSA, although I can never say enough about the importance of shower shoes regardless of where you go.  
Rating 4.5 bottles Hibiclens out of 5

Ammenities:  This facility has a full gym, 2 racquetball courts, 2 group rooms, 1 spin room, a kids room with games, and a whirlpool and dry sauna in each locker room.  Oh, and a child watch for kids under 7.  The one thing lacking that I desperately wish they had was a basketball court.  They do have a hoop in one of the racquetball courts but it's not very good and it's taken away when their are racquetball players on it.  I'd love to be able to take my kids there to play basketball but that doesn't happen.  
Rating:  3 basketballs out of 5

Members:  This is the fun part.  Rating the members at a facility could be hazardous to my health.  It's possible they could read this blog and if I knock them, they may be waiting for me in the parking lot.  That said, the members for this facility are definitely from the country.  They are very blue collar, working class citizens and generally good people that are very polite.  During the day, there is a huge population of active aging adults (old).  After working hours, there is a huge population of meatheads that congregate in the free weight area and generally just take up space.  If they spent their time working out rather than talking and standing around, I'd be able to get through my workout a little easier.  90 percent of the members at this facility are great.  It's that 10 percent that congregate in the free weight area and stand around and do nothing or stay at the bench press for their entire workout that drive me nuts.  
Rating:  3 sleeveless Affliction shirts out of 5

Miscellaneous:  One thing I love about this YMCA, that can be said about all of the other Louisville Y's, is they stay current with the latest equipment.  Every year they make a big capital purchase, rather a lease I should say, and bring in new equipment.  I like that.  A lot of gyms are still running on Trotter treadmills and ancient Nautilus equipment.  But these guys are pretty good about staying current.  And the equipment is rarely broken, which is a huge plus.  They recently re-did the locker rooms and I like them.  The one thing I would knock is that they do not provide gym towels.  I realize that can be a pretty large expense, especially when people are always mistakenly taking them home, but I'd still like to see them.  The music leaves some to be desired, but that's why I bring an ipod.  
Rating:  4.5 gym towels out of 5

Overall rating:  22 out of 30.  

Great job Bullitt County Y.  You guys do enough to keep me coming back.  While some of the crowd that hangs out there isn't particularly my type and I wish you had a real basketball court, you do a great job with what you have.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

The problem with meatheads

I have a love hate relationship with the CrossFit community.  I hate it because a majority of the board shorts wearing, shaved head, nov8 shoes wearing, kipping pullup sheep shun their nose at you any time you question anything that Greg Glassman has every said because you do not question the messiah of CrossFit.  But I love it because whenever you walk into a CF affiliate, everyone there is there to work.  They are there to work their tails off and lift a bunch of weight a bunch of times.  They are there to jump on boxes, run 1/4 mile sprints, throw around kettlebells like they are nothing, and simply work.  That is an awesome environment to be in.

Similarly, I have a love hate relationship with globo gyms.  You know what they are, YMCA's, JCC's, Urban Active, Gold's, whatever.  I love it because I can go in there, not worry about anyone chastising me because I'm not perfectly paleo or that I forgot my board shorts or that I might not feel like doing pullups for the 18th day in a row.  I hate them though, because they are absolutely filled with meatheads.  And you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The big muscle bound arseholes that congregate in one area and take up all of the weights in that area for at least the whole time you are there.  God forbid you come in and ask them "Are you done doing wrist curls at that squat rack?".  They walk around with whatever free supplement t-shirt or Affliction shirt they could find with their milk gallon jugs of water, gloves, weight belts, and talk about the latest issue of Muscle and Fitness like it was some kind of tabloid. DID I MENTION THEY DON'T F'ING MOVE OUT OF THE WAY?!?!?!  Look, one of the single biggest rules I have in a gym, besides putting you equipment away (which they don't do that either), is using the right weight for whatever you need to be doing.  I swear if I see another sleeveless DB on the squat rack doing wrist/arm curls, I'm going to throw my 2 pood kettlebell up his flipping anus.

JEEZ!!!!!  Sorry for the rant, just had to get that off of my chest.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Getting ready for the Triple Crown

Yes, yes, I know.  It's only December and the first leg of the Triple Crown in Louisville isn't until the first weekend of March.  I know this.  But the Triple Crown is a 5k, 10k, and a 10 miler.  They are all separated by 2 weeks only.  If you have ever run this event, you know that when the 5k comes around, you need to be able to do the 10k.  And when the 10k comes around, you better be able to do the 10 miler.  2 weeks in between events isn't that long of a time in between to ramp up for the next race.  I haven't been doing much cardio in the past 6 weeks due to my shoulder surgery.  30 minutes on an elliptical 3 times per week doesn't really cut it.  So now is the time to get things started.  

I was given clearance by my surgeon last Friday to start running, lightly, again.  THANKS DR. SALAMON!!!  He gave me this clearance with much hesitation but he knows I'm a beast and can take it (kidding!).  I may have ran a marathon earlier this year, but I am starting from absolute scratch on this one.  Day 1 of my running will be on Thursday morning.  I am starting with some light running, just like Dr. Salamon told me to.  5 minute intervals at a slow pace just to get things going.  

I'm doing all of this to get things geared up for the Triple Crown Training Team starting in January.  No, this isn't just another shameless plug for me team (starting January 14, informational meeting January 7, more information found on Facebook).  The type of training we will be doing with that is very similar to what I'll be doing over the next month just to get back into shape.  High intensity interval training is the key to success with the Triple Crown.  I was challenged today why this type of training was better than long slow distance training.  Going against the grain regarding fitness training often ruffles the feathers of those that have always done what everyone else is doing (see CrossFit).  I guarantee that with HIIT training, you will be the most prepared you have ever been for these races.  If you want any information regarding interval training, shoot me an email and I'd love to get you going.  There are a ton of resources on the internet, just do a simple Google search and you will see.   

Most of all, you are training for a challenging course of events.  Make the most of it and have fun.  I know I will!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life is Fragile

Last Friday, there was a fatal accident right outside of my wife's work.  She said she saw the entire thing happen.  Driver A had a seizure while driving and crossed the lane and ran head on into Driver B.  Driver B died.  Driver B was simply crossing the bridge, probably on his way back from lunch or something.  He had absolutely no idea that morning would be the last morning he would brush his teeth, possibly kiss his wife goodbye, take his kids to school.  listen to ESPN radio, or whatever else he liked to do.  It's truly an accident that he never even saw coming.  It's something that could happen to ANYONE and ANYTIME.  He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My point in this is to ensure that you seize every single day of our life.  You may hate your job.   But you are alive and have a job.  You may have little aches and pains that are associated with getting older.  Be thankful you are getting older.  Your children may be annoying.  Make sure you cherish every day with them.  You didn't run your last 5k in the time you wanted.  Make sure you train hard today because you can.

My intention is not meant to be overdramatic.   I just wanted to say that I am glad to be alive and will continue to thank God for every day he gives me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Triple Crown Training Team

Shameless plug time for my business, Voltage Strength & Performance.

Yes, yes, yes, I know.  It's the beginning of December this week.  The Triple Crown seems like an event that is very far away.  But that perception is wrong.  The first event for this running series is the first Saturday of March.  Two weeks after that is the 10k, and two weeks after that is the 10 miler.  So really you will need to start training sometime in January.  Now THAT isn't that far away.  That is why I am forming the Voltage Triple Crown Training Team.

Beginning on January 14, we will meet at one of three local parks; Seneca, Cherokee, or Iroquois.  This program is designed to get your in the absolute best shape possible to do your very best in the Triple Crown.  This training will go all the way through the Derby Mini Marathon at the end of April.

There are 3 options of enrollment: 
Option 1 - Meet
 every Saturday at one of the three designated parks at 9:00 for a great training session that will include interval runs, sprints, long slow distance, time trials, and of course some strength training. Cost for this option is $50.

Option 2 - You get to meet every Saturday for training PLUS you will get daily workout emails every day from the time of enrollment until the day of the Mini. Pre/post workout nutrition will also be addressed in these emails. Cost for this option is $80

Option 3 - You can receive the same daily emails that Option 2 receives but you will not participate in the Saturday runs. This is perfect for those that cannot attend the training session at 9:00 Saturday mornings. Cost for this option is $50.

I absolutely cannot wait to get started with this program.  I have already started writing the program for the weekly runs and it's looking great!  I should have that completely done in a week or so, then I will begin writing the daily program.  This will be extremely challenging to me as coach but I feel up to the challenge.  I only hope that you are too!  

If you have any questions on this program or how to get ready for the Triple Crown, please call me or email me.  I'd love to get you involved!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A brief note on being honest with yourself

My regular day job is being a Health Educator.  Most of my day consists of talking to people who are obese, very deconditioned, stressed, and/or eat like crap.  More often then not when I ask people what they eat, I get something along the lines of "oh I eat a lot of salads", or "I don't really eat any junk food", or "I exercise all day long with my job".  Most of those that say these things have a BMI of 35 or above, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood glucose.  These people would not have all of these issues with their health if they really did eat right and exercise regularly.

This entry is not going to be a big one.  All I want to say today is that you need honest with yourself.  If you are exhibiting any or all of these health problems and morbidities, you need to look at yourself and realize what you are doing wrong.  If you are 30+ pounds overweight and suffer from high blood pressure, you desperately need diet modification and more exercise.  Walking at work and going from regular Coke to Diet Coke isn't going to make those problems go away.  Monitoring your sodium intake and getting a minimum of 30 minutes of structured exercise with a sustained elevated heart rate is what you need.

Be honest with yourself and your situation.  Please don't lie to yourself.  Drop your ego, seek help from those that are experts at weight loss, and do something about it.  There are a lot of people that would love to help you.  You just have to ask and realize that you can do something to help your situation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Forever an Athlete celebrates Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is almost over and I thought I would provide a list of some of the things I am most thankful for.

  • I'm thankful for my wonderful wife who is the clinical manager of a surgical center and they provided me incredible care for my rotator cuff surgery 5 weeks ago.  
  • I'm thankful for my surgeon, Dr. Mike Salamon, who fixed my shoulder. 
  • I'm thankful for my physical therapist, Joey, who is helping me get through this frustrating period.  
  • I'm thankful for the 10 lb smoked turkey breast I was able to buy from Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot.  It was the best turkey I've ever had.  
  • I'm thankful for the excitement the Iowa State football team has given me this season.
  • I'm thankful the Bears don't suck as bad as I thought they would.  
  • I'm thankful my sister Maureen sent me a really good book on the first three presidential assassinations. 
  • I'm thankful for those that have already shown interest in my Triple Crown Training Team beginning in January.  
  • I'm thankful for being the youngest of 10 children.  
  • I'm thankful for making fun of my oldest (living) sister Sharna for turning 50 two days ago.  
  • I'm thankful for having a job where I get to hear people's problems every single day and a lot of them make my own problems seem pretty insignificant.  
  • I'm thankful that Clay finally got shot on Son's of Anarchy.  
  • Finally, I'm extremely thankful for my loving and caring wife who makes me the man I am today and for my 2 loving boys who continue to drive me absolutely insane every day but I wouldn't miss it for the world.  
Happy Thanksgiving to all.  I hope you all have your own list of things you are thankful for this and every year.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

36 reasons to forever be an athlete

Today, November 9, was my 36th birthday.  I celebrated it with my arm in a sling from a rotator cuff surgery performed almost 3 weeks ago.  I'm not exactly the happiest person in the world right now but I know it's a means to an end.  I know that I will be good as new in no time as long as I rest it, let it heal, and do my PT exercises as rx'd.  Last year for my 35th birthday I did 5 rounds of 35 burpees and 35 kb swings with a 2 pood kb.  I was pretty spent at the end of it.  I wanted to do the same for this year except make it 36 reps.  Obviously that can't happen so I'm going to do 5 rounds of 36 lunges each leg and 36 flutter kicks each leg.  I know, not too crazy but I'm kind of limited right now.  But I have to do something.  I will always stay true to the way I am programmed and the way all humans have been bred, active.

Sometimes we lose track of why we move, exercise, compete, or simply play.  Sure, we always remember  that we enjoy it.  But there are so many other reasons why we NEED to be this way.  That brings me to my point for today.  I'm going to list 36 reasons why everyone should forever be an athlete.

  1. The need for competition
  2. The release of endorphins
  3. Muscles are sexy
  4. Camaraderie in the gym
  5. Healthy bones
  6. Mobility is good
  7. Stability is good
  8. Age gracefully
  9. Strong heart
  10. Increase testosterone production...
  11. ...leading to increased sexual drive
  12. Lower risk of cancer
  13. Lower risk of heart disease
  14. Lower risk of diabetes
  15. Lower risk of osteoporosis
  16. It's cool to say you've run a marathon
  17. It's even cooler to say you've done an Ironman
  18. Being able to deadlift 2x my bodyweight is fun
  19. Increases confidence
  20. Increases attention to detail
  21. Increases mental strength
  22. Teaches goal setting
  23. Feeling young is good
  24. Teenagers misjudge you on the basketball court
  25. Set a good example for your own kids
  26. Increased energy
  27. Lower body fat
  28. Increases mental focus
  29. Reduces depression and anxiety
  30. Helps with insomnia
  31. Lowers blood pressure
  32. Helps control blood glucose
  33. Your strong muscles will help you move the furniture in your house
  34. Improves lung capacity
  35. Strengthens your heart
  36. You simply feel better

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trail races, bootcamps, and more!

It's been a while since I have written and updated my happenings.  I know that my purpose for starting this blog was to chronicle my quest to never stop being an athlete and to write about my new activities I have taken up in order to prevent that crappy thought of old age set in.  Unfortunately I really haven't had a lot of events going on lately.  I did complete my first trail race and have finished up this season's Guerrilla Bootcamp.  I am also set up for shoulder surgery (again) this coming Friday so that will put a few things on the back burner.  Booooooo.  Oh well, I guess that'll allow me to rest up and get ready for some new trail runs for next year.  That's right, I plan on doing quite a few more. 
My Trail Race -- At the end of September I ran in a 5 mile trail race here in Louisville.  I say I have never run an official trail race before but I have done several mud runs.  While not exactly the same because the terrain is a bit different, I figured since I did the mud runs with varying distances of 5k to 5 miles, I figured mentally I'd be up for the challange and physically I'd just have to build a bit of stamina and hope my shoes wouldn't fall apart.  This particular race is part of the Trail Race Series in Louisville sponsored by The Trail Store.  They capped the number of entrants at ~100 so I knew that this would be something quite different than what I'm used to because most of my other races have any where from 500 (per wave with a mud run) and 19,000 (Bix 7).  For this race only 30 people registered.  While running the race I quickly discovered there were 3 groups of runners: those that run trails like I drink water (fast), those that were there simply to have fun and not really worry about how they finished (slow) and then myself.  I had to have been the only person within 100 meters in front or behind me.  That doesn't happen in other races.  But it was great though because the scenery of the trail and the terrain are very mind engaging and you don't need a whole lot of people around to provide encouragement.  About half way through the race the weather began to turn and it started to rain.  Not expecting this.  Slick terrain with old crappy shoes does not provide good traction.  But I made the full 5 miles in just under 48 minutes.  I learned 2 lessons on this day.  1: Trail shoes are very important.  2: Trails have big hills with slippery terrain that is very hard to prepare for.  All in all it was a lot of fun and I plan on participating in a lot more trail runs next year.  I even went out and bought a new pair of Brooks Cascadia 6 trail shoes.  Love 'em!
Guerrilla Bootcamp -- I absolutely loved providing an outlet to teach some bootcamp over the summer.  This was technically my first foray into the land of bootcamps and while I didn't grow a huge audience, I have a few loyal followers that came every week that allowed me to teach, train, and torture.  We went to Cherokee and Seneca parks, Shelbyville Community Park, Yum! Center, The Great Lawn, Waggener High School, and Fern Creek High School.  I loved it and will probably do it again.  This experience has inspired me to start a training group for the Louisville Triple Crown.  This consists of a 5k, 10k, and 10 miler.  There is an unofficial fourth race to the Triple Crown that includes the Louisville Mini Marathon, or full if you choose to go that route.  I'm thinking I might start a group for this in January.  This will get me ready to run the Oz Marathon in Kansas with my wife and my niece, Dani, who lives in Wichita.  So be on the lookout for updates on that running club.  I hope to see you there. 
Finally, I am having another shoulder surgery this week and I will be out of commission for a while.  That should give me plenty of time to blog and brainstorm how I want to attack new events for the upcoming year.  The surgery is nothing too major, just a little rotator cuff cleaning on my supraspinatus and possibly biceps.  After its done I will be officially the bionic man with 3 shoulder surgeries.  I was scheduled to do the Tap N Run 4k the day after my surgery but my wife won't let me (boooooooo).  This is a "race" in which there are 4 beer stops throughout the way and you have to chug some beer and move on with the race.  Oh well, that would've been a great experience and I really wanted to do it but my boss says no.  She knows best.  I tried to convince her to let me walk the race.  Heck I paid for the beer already I might as well drink it!  I guess when you couple that with the incredible pain meds I'll be on that is probably a recipe for danger. 
Thanks for reading with me today and I will get to updating this more often in the future. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trail Race Initiation & 9/11

If you recall, the purpose of this little journal/log/blog/babble is to document my quest to forever be the athlete that I thought I once was.  I documented my marathon training, my first time going snowboarding, some golf, and my overall training.  In my effort to continuously try new things, I have signed up for a trail race on Sept. 17.  It's the Morgan Conservation 5 mile race in Oldham Co.  I have never run a trail race before.  I have run a few mud runs so I am hoping these runs are similar, minus the nasty mud pits and crazy obstacles.

Because I have never run one of these things before, I reached out to a friend of mine, Suzy Goodwin, who I'm pretty sure ran her first 1/2 marathon the day she was born.  She gave me a few tips like to not wear my ipod and wear a good set of trail shoes.  While I will definitely heed her words for the ipod, I might have to simply wear my regular shoes.  I am not going out to buy a new pair of shoes for this, although I know I should.  If I like it and want to do more, then I'll head out and get some.  Those puppies are expensive (birthday/Christmas present Katie!)  I'm pretty excited to be doing something new and I will definitely report how it went.

I would be remiss if I didn't say at least something about the ten year anniversary of 9/11.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember every minute of that day.  I remember watching the news after the first plane hit in the ET shop on my ship.  Everyone kind of thought it was crazy that a plane hit one of the twin towers but we didn't think too much else about it.  Then a few minutes later I watched as the 2nd plane hit when I was in another shop on the ship.  Then we knew something was awry.  About 10 minutes later, my Weapons Officer called a meeting of the ship's security team and I was part of the first group to be sent out as extra watch while we tried to figure out what the heck was going on.  I made a call to my wife Katie, told her I was OK and that it was time for me to do my job.  Even though I was in charge of the ship's training division at the time, I was still a part of the Weapons Division on the ship and that is where my obligations and duties would come first.

We had know idea what had happened that day and we had no idea of the severity of what was going one.  As more news came throughout the day we started to get more and more intel.  We started to understand the magnitude of what was going on.  My ship was on high alert, the base was shut down, the airport was grounded, and while this may sound hyperbolic, our world would never be the same again.  It wasn't until the next day that I fully realized that we were in a different world.  It was a feeling that I will remember for the rest of my life.  I walked outside on my ship the morning of September 12 and the base was completely silent.  No troops doing PT on the pier or elsewhere on base.  No cars driving.  No planes from the Norfolk Airport.  Nothing.  Complete silence.  Extremely surreal.  It was at that very moment I knew the severity of what was going on.  Again, I don't mean to sound hyperbolic, but that's just how I felt at that moment.

A lot has happened in 10 years.  We got Bin Laden, which I touched on in an earlier post.  What i do with this blog is very insignificant.  It's one goofball's ramblings of how I try to stay fit.  There are still countless men and women who give their lives every single day to make sure 9/11 never happens again.  People like Carrie Tripp, Josh Wadsworth, Matt German, Trey Goodwin, and Kyle Baker.  Seal Team 6 is currently in the wake of it's biggest loss ever.  One of my first division officers, Lt. Mike McGreevey gave his life as a SEAL in Afghanistan a few years ago.  These men and women are true heroes and I thank them every single day for carrying out the challenge I was a part of 10 years ago.  If you see a soldier anywhere, be sure to thank them.  And after you thank them, thank them again.  They deserve it.  To my soldiers still in, continue fighting the good fight.  I'm proud of you.  I will continue to do my best to forever honor the fallen men and women from that day and the soldiers who have gone since then.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Corrections Officer

I was working out at a globo-gym the other day and I am very used to seeing plenty of meatheads.  You got the grunters that sound like they are having an orgasm.  You have Super Benchman who only does 16 sets of 3 on the bench press and nothing else.  And you have the conversationalist who spends at least 90 minutes at the gym but 80 of those minutes are spent talking to his buddies about how hard he's hitting the weights recently.  You know exactly who I am talking about and you have seen these guys at every YMCA, Urban Active, Gold's, whatever.  Well this past week I ran into a guy I knew that is a corrections officer.  This dainty fellow is about 6'6" or more and right at about 400 lbs.  He's not a big fatty, although he does have quite a bit on him, he's just a double-extra large man.  While I was completing my 4th set at the squat rack for front squats I saw him get on the bench press.  I figured it was typical of people like him.  But then I saw him do something completely out of left field that made me make a double take.  He was doing single arm bench presses with the 45 lb bar.  To say my jaw hit the floor is a bit of an understatement.

If you have never done single arm bench press with a bar, or with dumbbells for that matter, then you probably don't know how much stability is involved with this.  This exercise takes tremendous wrist strength to simply hold the bar.  Again, it's 45 lbs.  This guy didn't even load the bar at all, he was simply doing the bar for sets of 12.  I walked over to him, being the nosy mobility/stability fiend I am, and asked him why he was doing that and where he learned it.  He said his department was trying to incorporate more mobility and stability training so that they could better handle their job.  Corrections officers frequently are in very tough situations, are often off balance when detaining an inmate, and have to move in many different directions.  He said since he started doing exercises like this he was able to do his job much much better.  He was still doing some basic power lifting exercises but he was throwing these type of movements in also.  He said he had done some research on movement based training and found he was able to carry himself so much better.  Keep in mind this guy is a flippin' mountain.

My point in all of this is that mobility and stability training is moving into more than just your college and professional strength programs.  It's hitting police departments, departments of corrections, fire departments, recreational athletes, and soccer moms that simply want to move better and thwart off that impending arthritis they think is genetic.  I've already hyped MobilityWod, Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey so I'm not going to beat that horse.  But the word on this training is spreading.  I am still new to the mobility/stability world and after attending a seminar a couple of weeks ago, I feel I have a ton more to learn still.  If you aren't familiar with it, research those individuals and learn.  Or contact me and I'd love to fill you in on what I know.  The bottom line is I was very proud of this monster for incorporating this type of training and am very excited that the word is getting out on this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CrossFit vs. Strength & Conditioning

Over the last few years, I have been involved in the CrossFit world.  I first heard about CF in 2006 and it immediately grabbed my attention as something different.  The workouts were unlike anything I had ever done before and was immediately hooked.  I started reading more about it and even helped a couple of local guys start a CF affiliate.  There are a lot of cool things about the CF world but perhaps the biggest thing that makes it strong is the sense of community and how everyone helps everyone.  The CF world is all about community.  It's great because there is an absolutely TON of positivity at all times.  They have gone back to the basics regarding Olympic lifting and have stressed total fitness.  That being said, there are limitations to the CF world.  Specificity, overtraining (or as they say, under-resting...tomato, tomato), and the "coaches" don't always have the best background in exercise physiology.  They may simply have a CF level I certification that they obtained from attending a weekend seminar and passing the CF test.  While those are negatives, there are countless positives, the most of which is their emphasis on mobility (what's up K-Star?).

The strength & conditioning world is a little different.  There is a lot more emphasis placed on research, specificity, and rest.  I spent last Sunday with a bunch of S&C coaches and trainers.  I was a little intimidated by the amount of knowledge surrounding me.  I have my M.S. in Exercise Phys. but the people I was around last weekend made me look very elementary.  The S&C world focuses a lot more on planned, specific, organized training in which there is a specific goal of every workout leading to a long term goal down the road.

Now, I like both worlds.  I consider them to be separate tools in my toolbox.  When I open my own place (soon, I promise), I will be taking methods from both of these worlds.  After all, they both have the same goal, they just take different ways to get there.  No program is a one size fits all where it's good for everyone that does it.  Individuality is extremely important in S&C.  My shoulder is not the same as your shoulder.  My hips do not move the same as yours.  If you have had an ACL replacement, I'm not going to load up the bar on you without putting your through some kind of assessment.  Once you have been assessed however, I am going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at you to get you to be the very best YOU that you can be.  I will take some methodologies from CF, and some from NSCA, and some from Gray Cook, and some from Mike Boyle, and some from Brian MacKenzie.  It's like the chiropractor vs. physical therapist.  Both of them are right.  Both of them have their place place.   So I will not apologize to my S&C coaches for following CrossFit.  I will not apologize to the CrossFit community for retaining my CSCS certification or seeking my FMS cert.  As many tools in the toolbox as I can get to turn you into a monster (thanks for that one Charlie Weingroff).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ironman and some learning

Today the Louisville Ironman was held.  Ever since I was a little kid I have always looked marvelously at the participants of the Ironman.  I would watch the people on TV do it in Kona and just watch in awe.  I have always considered myself a fairly decent athlete but these people are ridiculous.  This, along with those that qualify for the CrossFit Games, are easily the fittest people on the planet.  Sorry CrossFit, you have to share that title.

Yesterday I was riding my bike downtown with my son and I was able to see the athletes setting up their bikes getting ready for today's race.  I looked at these great athletes with great envy because they are doing something I can't.  Sure, if I committed myself to it, I MIGHT be able to complete one.  The thing is, I'm a horrible swimmer.  Absolutely terrible.  Plus, seeing the bikes these athletes were bringing into this thing, I don't have that kind of money to throw down just on a bike.  These were $5000 - 10,000 easily.  For now, I will just stick to my running races and mud runs.  Hopefully they will provide the thrill I'm constantly seeking in sports but I still want to do an Ironman someday.  If anybody wants to teach me how to swim 2.5 miles, give me a holler.  By the way, Monica Murphy, I was cheering you on in spirit today.  I'm sure you did great and I'm very proud of you.

On an completely different note, today I had the extreme pleasure of going to Indianapolis and attended the Midwest Strength Enhancement Seminar.  To say I obtained some knowledge is quite the understatement.  I was able to meet some of the finest minds in the strength and conditioning world.   The topics discussed were:

  • Trying to Define the Core by Charlie Weingroff
  • The ACL Athlete from Rehab to Performance Training by Robert Panariello
  • Fundamental Movement Patterns to Challenge the Core by Phil Plisky
  • Movement Based Rehab: The Hips are Everything by Perry Nickelston
While all of the speakers were absolutely amazing and mindblowing and thought provoking, the one who made the biggest impression on me was Charlie Weingroff.  Granted he was hopped up on a little too much Redline, after listening to him I felt like running through a wall.  He was extremely energetic, knowledgeable, and practical.  I hope to see him talk again soon.  I know I will be purchasing his video Training = Rehab -- Rehab = Training very soon.  

I originally wanted to recap all of the lectures today but I need to soak in some of it before I do that.  I also recorded the lectures so I am going to listen to them again so I can soak even more in.  Very good stuff and I feel much smarter today than yesterday.  

One final note, if you are in the Louisville area, make sure you sign up for the Rugged Maniac coming up in a few weeks and the Tap N Run coming up in October.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time...I just never have time

In my day job, I am a Health Educator.  It's an extremely non-glamorous, socially isolating gig.  The office and cubicle environment is not exactly what I went to graduate school for.  That being said, I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of different types of personalities every day with a range of different motivations to practice weight management with exercise, nutrition, or both.  I hear a lot of different reasons as to why one of my members don't get enough exercise.  Some of them are legit, some are crap.  Perhaps the biggest reason I get is time, more specifically, the lack of time.

I used to believe that time was a legitimate reason for not exercising.  In today's world, one thing we lack is time.  Especially as parents.  Between a 40 hour / week job, getting the kids from after school care, taking them to whatever extracurricular activity they have going on, making dinner, helping them with their homework, getting them to bed, and finally having some down time before you put yourself to bed, that's a full day.  And if you are a single parent, it makes it even harder.  I completely realize this crazy schedule is not conducive to your exercise goals.  But what I've learned is that if you really commit to your goals and your health, you can find the time.

Recently I have begun working out in the evenings after dinner.  I have the privilege of having a wife help me out with my 2 children after dinner, which helps a lot.  We generally eat dinner about 6 - 6:30.  I have found that if I allow myself to digest for about 90 minutes, I can go out and get a quick 30-40 minute workout around 8.  It's not the most intense workout by any means but I am getting my workout in.  It's amazing how much more energetic I feel and how much more work I am able to get done now.  Again, if you want to achieve your goals bad enough, you will find time.  I have found the time at 8:00 at night.  I used to only get exercise on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday because of my time constraints with work on the other three days of the week.  Now I'm getting some kind of activity every day.  I feel amazing.

I realize this type of schedule doesn't work for everyone.  Again, I have the privilege of having a wife help with the kids and allow me to have time to myself for a bit.  For those without the luxury of this, you can still find time.  Whether it's in your living room, before you get the kids, before your kids wake in the morning, whenever.  You can find time.  I no longer believe this to be a reason.  If you want to achieve your health and fitness goals, you will find the time.  You just have to start today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why do I train

I have been exercising for as long as I can remember.  I have a picture from when I must've been about 3 or 4 years old with my old(er) sister next to me doing situps.  That was just the beginning.  I remember my parents having a weight set in the basement of our house growing up and I was lifting weights when I was about 12 years old.  I've always been fascinated with exercise, fitness, and movement.  Probably because I am so ADHD that I simply HAD to move.  When I got to Jr. high school and high school, I lived in the weight room.  I generally didn't know what the heck I was doing and the extent of strength coaching in those days was for your head football coach to tell you to simply hit the squats and bench press.

The point is that I love exercise.  I've been told that I can be a little narrow minded with exercise and that it's too much a part of my life.  I've been told that I should cut back on it and invest my time into other things to make me more well rounded.  I'm sorry, that's not me.  Don't get me wrong, I should learn more about how the economy effects my 401k.  I should learn more about how to fully utilize my new MacBook (I have no idea what to do with this thing).  Maybe I should learn more about the Muslim religion.

In all of my training and exercise, I have suffered a torn labrum, tendonitis in my biceps tendon, bulging disc in my lower back, numerous strained muscles and sprained joints, and pain in my knee that I never really did find out what it was.  So why do I do this, other than to still look great for my wonderful wife?  Because I can.  Not sure if you heard me...BECAUSE I CAN!  Our bodies were designed to move.  They weren't designed to sit in a chair all day and then come home and plop down in front of the TV and just sit some more.  They weren't designed that way.  We are designed to move.  We are designed for participation in activities.  The cavemen didn't sit around waiting for food to come to them, they went out and got it.  Native Americans didn't sit around and wait for food to plant themselves, the planted it.  The Spartans didn't sit back and let their land defend itself, they worked their assess off and fought for it. Why am I so active?  Because I can be.  And you know what, there are a lot of people out there that can't be active due to physical and mental handicaps.  I thank God every single day that I am able to be active and I am able to exercise.  It is not something I will ever take for granted.  It is something I will offer up as a prayer to God every time I workout.  He deserves that because I am so grateful for the ability to move, play, exercise, run, lift, and be active.

Because I can.  That is why I do what I do.  I will never quit.  Maybe I will find some time to be more of a rounded out individual at some point and maybe I will learn what the hell influences my 401k.  But until then, I will continue to move.  I will continue to play.  And I will continue to be grateful every single day that I am able to be that way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Professional Wrestling Has Taught Me

Growing up I was a huge fan of WWF wrestling.  I remember my dad taking me to see Wrestlemania II on Closed Circuit TV (this was before pay per view) broadcast at the Palmer Auditorium in Davenport.  I loved the WWF, AWA, and NWA organizations all equally.  Back in those days, professional wrestling told a story.  Each individual match was either a chapter in a story or an entire story within itself.  There was an introduction, where the wrestlers gave a promo where they talked about how much they hated their opponent and what they were going to do to them.  Then there were chapters written in the ring or wherever else they might fight.  Some matches would take a while, some would be quick, some involved outside interference, but they all told a story if you really watched.  Then there was a conclusion that either consisted of another promo after their match or one of wrestlers would simply move on to another feud.

In fitness, there is a similar story.  There is an introduction, chapters to the story, and a conclusion.  The introduction usually consists of your motivation to start exercise.  It could be to lose weight, to increase your performance, to look better naked, whatever.  Similar to the wrestling promo, this is where you identify what it is you are fighting.

Then the story begins.  Whether it's at the gym, park, bike path, pool, or field, you start your fitness regimen.  But just like in wrestling where two wrestlers can't just jump into a ring and expect to have a great match with no planning, you must have a plan, a script so to speak.  Whether it's your periodization cycle, a workout log, or simply just mapping out what parts of the body you want to focus on, you must have a plan.  If you don't, you will wind up wondering through your workouts with no success.  This is the fight.  Wrestlers plan out there fights.  Sure, some of it can be improvised but for the most part the moves are planned so that the wrestlers don't kill themselves.  And if you don't plan your workouts correctly, you too will risk the possibility of hurting yourself.

Next comes the conclusion, the finale.  In wrestling it's when the wrestler hits his finishing move or cuts a great promo after the match is over.  Then he moves onto another feud.  In fitness it's the goal you are training for.  Whether it's a 5k race, a triathlon, Warrior Dash, trying out for a team, whatever.  That's your conclusion.  You have to have a goal.  Just like every wrestling match has a purpose, so must your fitness routines.  If you don't have a specific goal in mind or an end result you are training for, you have no way of knowing how successful you are in your efforts.  And once you complete your feud, you will move on to the next opponent.  One goal has been met, another goal will be set.

So go out this weekend and tap into your inner Macho Man Randy Savage (RIP) or team up with your own version of The Four Horsemen and write your own story.  I know I will be at my bootcamp on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guerrilla Bootcamp recap

In my shameless effort of plugging my business venture, I felt it might be appropriate to give you an idea of what exactly we have been doing at Guerrilla Bootcamp.

Week 1:  We showed up at The Great Lawn in downtown Louisville.  If you've never been here, it's a great big giant open area located right on the Ohio River.  We had good attendance especially considering it was my first week.  Granted it was mostly my coworkers at SHPS but hey, you have to have start somewhere.  I brought my big tractor tire and needless to say my guerrillas were a little worried at what that had in store for them.  We started with basic instruction on squat and pushup technique.  This is something we always do at the beginning.  I think this is something that sets me apart from others, my attention to detail with exercise form and mobility.  We did 4 rounds of 20 squats, 10 pushups, and 30 yard sprints.  Then we did 4 rounds of 10 burpees and 10 toe touches on the tire.  Then came a little friendly competition where it was guys vs. girls on the tire flip.  There were twice as many girls as guys so I figured it would be fair.  The guys still won by a full minute.  All in all I think it was a very successful week and we had a lot of fun.

Week 2:  My guerrillas attacked my favorite spot in all of Louisville.  Dog Hill at Cherokee Park is LEGENDARY!  I had a few different faces show up this week which was great.  We started with a warm up of 3 rounds of 10 squats, 5 pushups, 10 shoulder press with PVC pipe.  We then took advantage of some small steps and did some bounding up the steps both double leg and single leg.  Then it was off to the hill...THE HILL.  Now I'm not sure if you've ever seen this hill but it's about 400 meters in length and I have no idea what the incline is but I'm pretty sure "steep as hell" serves as a great barometer.   With this we did 3 rounds of 10 medicine ball slams and hill runs.  Ugh.  Pure nasty.  Then we played a little game with the medicine ball.  I would toss the ball down the hill and they had to get it before it got away.  2 of my guerrillas weren't as fortunate as the rest of the band.  They had to run all of the way down the hill.  All of my other guerrillas got to it within about 10 feet.  They were the lucky ones.  Needless to say, a fun time was had by all.

Week 3:  We attacked Fern Creek High School track this past week.  I brought a full arsenal of weapons that included kettlebells and my trusty medicine ball.  We started with a basic ROM warmup.  Then we moved to KB swings so that everyone could get the range of motion down with this as it would be part of the big workout later.  Once I felt everyone was comfortable with that we started our chipper.  We did a chipper consisting of 50 squats, 50 pushups, 20 KB swings, 20 ball slams, 50 shoulder presses with PVC pipe, and finishing with a 400 meter sprint while lunging between each of those stations.  You initially have 3 minutes to complete as much as possible, then rest 1 minute.  Then you have 6 minutes to complete as much as possible with 2 minutes rest.  Then you run through the whole circuit.  Now this was great training for my band of guerrillas.  I think they liked it.

This week we are attacking the Yum! Center in downtown Louisville.  I have a ton of good stuff planned at a monumental landmark.  This is going to be absolutely epic and I implore you to be there if you are in the Louisville area.  It is definitely a training session you will not want to miss.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guerrilla Bootcamp has taken over Louisville

For as long as I've been out of the Navy, I have wanted to open my own fitness center.  No, I don't want to start a gym filled with nothing but meat heads posing in front of mirrors and only doing bench presses and arm curls.  No, I've wanted to own a fitness center geared towards promoting education and strength training for all populations from women, men, kids, and the wonderfully active aging crowd.  As time grew on my ideas started to shape themselves a little bit more and I decided I wanted to go more towards sports performance.  Then after I graduated with my Master's, I decided that I wanted to go more in the direction of functional mobility and stability and injury prevention for all, not just athletes.  After all, weekend warriors get injured a lot more then those that train every day simply because they don't know how to train.

Starting a place is hard work and it costs quite a bit of money.  I thought I had something going a few months ago with a up and coming franchise but there were several things that didn't add up properly and I backed out.  Rather than incur quite a bit of debt for something I wasn't completely sold on, I passed.  Now I'm back at square one and I'm starting small.  In starting small I can focus on perfecting my craft and establish bit of a following.  Enter Guerrilla Bootcamp.

Guerrilla Bootcamp is now being presented by my business Voltage Strength & Performance.  I am now on the 4th week of classes, which are held every Saturday morning at 0900 at various locations across the Louisville and things are going smoothly.  I have a steady group of 5 or 6 "guerrillas" every week.  So far our training grounds have included the Great Lawn downtown, dog hill at Cherokee Park, and most recently the Fern Creek High School track.  I like to think my bootcamp is a little different than most bootcamps.  For one, I say "bootcamp", whereas most others say "boot camp".  That totally set me apart from the rest.  Kidding.  I start every class with a simple mobility education.  Last week I had a baseball and showed something you can do to help loosen up the pec minor to keep it from pulling on the shoulder girdle.  A very simple way increase the knowledge of my participants.  It's a very simple way of distinguishing my bootcamp from all of the others that simply want to take your money.  I want to educate every one of my guerrillas.

If you are reading this and are living in the Louisville area, I ask you to come and try the class.  You will not leave disappointed.  The mobility training isn't the only thing that sets me apart.  Come to one class and you will find out first hand just how different this class is.  And since your first class is free, you got nothing to lose.

BTW, you can now check me out on Twitter.  I'm @voltagestrength and I frequently update my future locations and different types of mobility and stability exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CrossFit Games

While I am in the middle of my in-training for Guerrilla Bootcamp, I need to point out that the CrossFit Games are this weekend.  The GrossFit Games are held in California every year at this time and just seem to be getting bigger and bigger with each passing year.  Yes, they are getting a lot more commercialized but I don't see much wrong with that.  The games will be shown online at www.games.crossfit.com.

Guerrilla Bootcamp's first week was wildly successful.  Even with having 6 potential guerrillas canceling the morning of, I still had quite a showing.  We are starting the class on block 0, meaning that I am introducing basic skills and movements so that everyone can be on the same page when we do more advanced exercises.  I introduced pushups and squats then we threw some fun tire flipping in at the end.  I will end every week's class with a fun little competition.  Last week we had a guys vs. girls tire flipping contest.  Even though the guys had exactly have the number of guerrillas the girls had, they won by a full minute.  But a fun time was had by all and that's what matters the most.  

This week's glass will be held at Dog Hill at Cherokee Park.  This hill, for me, is one of the landmark locations in all of Louisville.  It's about 300 meters hill madness.  I got some great stuff planned so if you are in the Louisville area this Saturday at 0900, make sure you and your friends stop by.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guerrilla Bootcamp is almost here

Anytime you start a new business, you have to find a way to make it unique.  You have to find a way to make yours stand out from the crowd and draw people to your business rather than someone else's that might be like yours.  Rarely does someone have a brand new idea for a business.  So when decided to start my bootcamp this year, I had to come up with a new concept.

See, Louisville has a number of bootcamps.  There is one that is for females only, there is one taught by a couple of meat-heads that has multiple different locations, there is one that uses kettlebells only, there is one taught on top of a building downtown that oversees everything, and there are a few others I'm forgetting about.  So I had to get creative.  I've taught bootcamp before and am very familiar with the layout, exercises, and means to market it.  But I just needed that extra niche to get people to come to mine.  

I spent 6 years in the U.S. Navy and while I was in, I was the PRT coordinator and in charge of my ship's gym.  Those were great experiences that allowed me to learn the fundamentals of fitness.  These fundamentals are often lost when it comes to exercising in the civilian world.  Kettlebells, medicine balls, tires, weights, machines, treadmills.  Those things are all nice and all make exercise seem like a fun experience, but you move further away from the fundamentals when you start incorporating that equipment.  When I speak of fundamentals, I'm talking about basic bodyweight exercises.  Squats, pushups, lunges, mountain climbers, bear crawls, crab crawls, frog jumps (no more animals I promise), fireman carry, situps, flutter kicks, pullups, planks, and bridges just to name a few.  When you incorporate your own bodyweight into your exercise, you gain so much more than just simple strength.  You learn proprioception (self awareness in space), balance, body control, strength (duh!), endurance, flexibility, power, and mental toughness.  These are the types of exercises we will be doing at my bootcamp.  Back to basics.  This will be a true military style bootcamp.  Now there will be the obligatory appearance of a tractor tire, or a medicine ball, or kettlebell, but those will be used as accessories to the class rather than the main course.  This is what will make my class stand out.  It will be a bootcamp in the truest sense of the word.  

The other thing that will make my bootcamp unique is that it will be popping up all of the greater Metro Louisville area.  I use the term Guerrilla Bootcamp to describe it and this is how I define it:

Guerrilla -- a member of an irregular, usually indigenous military unit operating in small bands in occupied territory to harass and undermine the enemy, as by surprise raids. 
Bootcamp -- a training session with hard physical exercise designed to bring your physical fitness beyond what you thought was possible.  

We are going to be popping up by surprise all over this town.  Parks, streets, parking lots, houses, downtown, wherever.  My little band of guerrillas will be bringing fitness to a whole new level.  My favorite line of that whole definition is "as by surprise raids".  Love it!  That's exactly what we will be doing.  Every Wednesday is when I will announce to the guerrillas where that week's class will be held.  It's going to be exciting, eventful, and most of all, fun!  I can't wait to get this thing started.  Information for the class is listed below.  Be sure to stop by and join my band of guerrillas each and every week.  

What:  Guerrilla Bootcamp
Where: TBD
When: Saturdays at 0900 - 1000
Cost: First week free, $10 every week after.  $5 if you bring a friend.  
What to bring: Yourself, water, and a lot of energy
Website: www.facebook.com/voltagestrength

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My calendar of events

This is the year of running apparently because most of the Forever an Athlete events I have lined up are races.  But they aren't just simple 5k's and 10k's.  They are mud runs and obstacle races.  Below is a list of races and events I will be dominating in the next few months.  Below that will be a few that I WISH I could do.

July 23:  Guerrilla Bootcamp presented by Voltage Strength and Performance begins
Aug 13:  Mudathlon in Cincinnati OR Warrior Dash in Crawfordsville (I haven't decided)
Aug 28:  Performance Enhancement Seminar at IFAST in Indianapolis (continuing education)
Sept 4:  Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach (possibly with my brother)
Sept 10:  Rugged Maniac at Paoli Peaks in Paoli, IN
Oct 15:  Spartan Race in Marseilles, IL OR Urbanathlon in Chicago (I haven't decided)
Nov 19:  Tough Mudder in Attica, IN  (The granddaddy of them all!!!)

My wish list:
Mud Rush
Thunder Doom
Central Coast Clash
Metro Dash (this looks amazing)
Primal Mud Run

If you have any other events you'd like to add or see me compete in, let me know.  I'm all about the new events these days.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hey parents, get your kids assessed

Over the course of my wonderful (sarcasm intended) marathon training, I encountered quite a bit of knee pain.  To this day I am not sure exactly what that pain stemmed from.  I was guessing it was from over striding and that the damage was too much when I changed my stride 4 weeks out from the race.  I the weeks after the race it was still a little bothersome so I decided to give it more time.  With that in mind, I decided to sign up for the Warrior Dash, Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Va Beach, and Tough Mudder.  Yea, not exactly rest.  The Warrior Dash has come and gone and that was only 3.5 miles.  Not too bad of a run.  I ran it with a buddy of mine who is in fantastic shape but he isn't what you would classify as a "runner".  So I got to run a little slower than my usual pace which made the race more fun for me than competitive.  Up next is the Rock & Roll Half in Va Beach during Labor Day weekend.  I am very much looking forward to that since that is said to be simply a great experience with bands at every mile.  This run will be used as a training run for the ultimate prize, Tough Mudder in November.  I can't begin to tell you how stoked I am to run this. 
Through all of this, I am battling a few nicks and pains.  The knee is well documented but I have also incurred some stupid hip/groin issue.  I think it has something to do with my adductor longus, iliopsosas, or pectineus.  I used to think it was my inguinal ligament but upon further investigation I have deduced that it's not.  Has a Dr. checked this out yet?  Nope.  My wife, the nurse, keeps trying to get me to get a professional opinion but I'm going to try and see if I can take care of it.  Then last week my back decided to give me fits.  My chiro says it's a bulging disc.  Needless to say I have been laid up for the last few days with this.  I'm not even going to go into the issue I have with my right shoulder and bicep. 
I talk about all of this because the purpose of this blog is to showcase how I refuse to be sedentary and stop being an athlete.  But it's kind of hard to do that when I keep incurring little issues like this.  I guess that's what happens as we get older.  Those little dings and pains that went away once we rubbed some dirt on it are a thing of the past once we get past the fine age of 30 (or 35 in my case).  Those little dings turn in traffic stopping crashes that take control of your training and basically stop it altogether.  That is why it is so important to be able to perform basic maintenance on yourself through the use of mobility and stability training, stretching, foam rollers, balls, rolling sticks, bands, and whatever medieval instrument I can get my hands on to push my body through all of the ranges of motion it should be doing. 
You see, I'm not exactly a big guy.  I'm what you would consider perfectly average; 5'10, 175 lbs.  Most of my life was spent with me thinking that I was much bigger.  When I played high school football (and briefly D-1 college), I was always the smallest guy out there.  I was a 155 lb running back on a team that ran the ball roughly 99% of the time.  I switched to receiver in college and even the kickers were bigger than me.  I wrestled and have trained a bit in MMA and always went after the bigger guys.  When I played basketball, I always posted up even though EVERYONE down low was bigger.  All of this has led me to get the holy hell kicked out of me on a regular basis.  I never had anyone telling me I couldn't do it (thanks Dad), so I did it.  And while that is a great trait to have, the strength & conditioning world isn't nearly what it is today.  So all of those little bumps, bruises, strains, sprains, and overall owies grew into much bigger problems as I got older.  Now that I am a strength & conditioning professional, I see how vitally important it is for our athletic youth to begin mobility and stability exercises as soon as they start playing sports. 
Mobility and stability does not equal getting on the bench press or squat rack.  It involves teaching the athlete simply how to move properly.  It teaches them how to land properly.  It teaches them how to engage all of the muscles necessary in order to fully support the movement that is required by the sport.  If you are a parent reading this, please ensure that if you have children participating in sports, you speak to a strength coach who knows about mobility and stability training.  Listed below are a couple of websites that you can check out from some people a heck of a lot smarter than me that have dedicated their lives to this.  Please check them out.  Also, if you have any questions on how you can better assess some of the problems you have going on, please feel free to drop me a line or simply come to my Guerrilla Bootcamp starting on July 23. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Guerilla Bootcamp

Get ready Louisville Metro!  My business, Voltage Strength and Performance, is presenting something that will completely take the greater metro area by storm.  Guerilla Bootcamp!

There are a lot of bootcamps around.  Some are pretty bad, some are actually really good.  Generally, a bootcamp takes place at a local park and the organizer brings some equipment and a fun time is had by all.  An hour later, the participants are sweating and may or may not have had a great experience.  Guerilla Bootcamp is breaking out of that mold.  Cherokee Park?  Sure.  Waterfront?  Definitely.  Downtown?  Yes.  Oxmoor shopping mall parking lot?  Oh yeah!  We are going to take bootcamp to the next level and going to take it all over this great area.  

I was inspired last week when I was walking around the waterfront and downtown area.  I kept seeing areas that would make for great workout spots.  I jokingly told my wife I'd love to do plyometrics under the 2nd street bridge next to the arena and I'd love to do sprints on the great lawn on the waterfront.   That was my "aha moment".  

So beginning on Saturday, July 23 at 0900 (it is bootcamp so we will be talking military time),  we will be embarking on the city of Louisville.  Each session will cost $10 and t-shirts will be available for $20.  Voltage Strength and Performance will show Louisville the true meaning of Guerilla Bootcamp.  If you are interested, please email me at rbarnold@hotmail.com, see my Voltage Strength and Performance page on Facebook, or call me at 502-645-0324.  I am absolutely stoked to be bringing this to Louisville.   

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Golf and Track

So last week I had some fun with some stuff I hadn't done in a while.  I went golfing for the first time this year.  Sure, I'd spent a lot of time practicing.  I spent 3 hours one day at the chipping green and a couple of more at the putting green.  But this was the first time I did the whole 18 holes.  I went with a buddy of mine whose pretty good.  He's great to go with because I know he is good for one good meltdown throughout the round.  And by meltdown, I don't mean shooting an 8 or a 9.  I mean where he strings together 2 or 3 bad shots in a row and cusses, swears, throws a club, and finally stops talking for a good 10 minutes altogether.  See, he goes golfing about 3 times per week.  He's a teacher so he has the summers off.  His expectations are that of someone that is an avid golfer and someone that should shoot in the upper 70's or lower 80's.  He isn't like me where I go out there about 5 to 6 times per year and hope to break 90.  Expectations can be both hindering and motivating.  They can motivate you to succeed in that you know exactly what's expected of you and you go out and do it.  They can hinder you because when you fail, you start to snowball a bit and things can get out of control real fast.  I have often wanted to be a great golfer but with greatness comes the great expectations.  I enjoy going out, hitting around 90, getting that one-putt, hitting that drive 280 yards down the fairway (once), and chipping from 25 yards to within 2 feet of the cup (once).  Those are the shots that keep you coming back.  But I also love the 3-5 hours spent with buddies, talking sports/girls/music/whatever else comes to mind.  I enjoy the pursuit of improvement and knowing that if I can improve by just one or two strokes from my previous score that is was all worthwhile.  I enjoy knowing that no matter how bad I am,  I'm better than Charles Barkley at an athletic event (better at CrossFit too).  I enjoy remembering every single time I go how my dad used to take me to Duck Creek Golf Course when I was a teenager and I had no idea what I was doing.  Thanks Dad for all of those times.  For all of these reasons, I love golf.  I love knowing that  the game presents a different challenge for me every time I play regardless of what course I am on.  It's the endless pursuit of improvement that keeps me coming back for more punishment.  Great game, great times.

The other thing I did last week is I ran in a track meet.  The Clarksville Parks and Rec. in Indiana has a summer running series in which they have open meets at the high school for both kids and adults.  Of course I took my kid, Abe, there and he ran the 400.  He's getting better every time at that event.  They had a 300 for adults there so I jumped in.  In my race was a kid that appeared to be fresh out of the U.S. Olympic trials with his spikes and USATF singlet.  There was another guy in my race that was a 55 year old man preparing to run in the Master's World Championships this week.  Well USATF guy blew everyone out of the water and smoked the race.  I finished in third about half a second behind a guy that I know I'll beat next time.  But at least I beat the 55 year old.  Hey, I'm proud I beat a guy competing in the World Championships, I don't care if he is 55.

These events are the reasons why I write this blog.  To show that at no matter what age or ability you are, you can always compete.  In the course of 2 days I raced a young guy at the prime of his abilities and a 55 year old holding on to that last thing that keeps him young, and I golfed with a guy much better than me and our difference in abilities didn't matter at all because the point was to have fun.  Yeah, I want to win every time I compete and I want to show everyone I am the best.  But I also want to have fun, make friends, tell stories, and hold on to that kid inside of me for just a little bit longer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tough Mudder

I have decided that I am going to participate in the Tough Mudder in Indiana in November.  It's a 12 mile race with lots of mud, obstacles, a bit of swimming, and all kinds of madness.  I am absolutely stoked to be doing it because from the way it looks on its website, it will definitely be the toughest race I have ever done   

In preparation for it, I am going to enter the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend.  This is something I have always wanted to do so I'm pretty excited about that also.  I'm also going to incorporate a lot of trail running.  Cherokee Park, Bernhiem Forest, and Iroquois Park are all on my agenda.  

I was even thinking of getting in on the Urbanathlon in October but haven't decided.  If you are interested in doing that, let me know and I'll head up.  If I can't get anyone to run it with me, I'll just stick around here with my trails and strength training.  

Speaking of strength training, I had a great workout today and one that I will build upon in preparation for the Tough Mudder.  I went 1/2 mile, 30 pushups, 1/2 mile, 30 squats, 1/2 mile, 30 situps, 1/2 mile, 30 inverted rows.  I was absolutely spent.  Good stuff.  

So if you have done a Tough Mudder, Urbanathlon, or anything like that in the past, let me know.  I'd love to hear how you trained for it.  I have an idea of how I'm going to train, but I'm definitely open to suggestions on how you did.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warrior Dash

Since I have completed the marathon, I really haven't trained a whole lot.  For the 3-4 weeks after I really didn't do much.  I realized I was simply burned out both mentally and physically from training.  That marathon certainly took a lot out of this old sprinter. 
I started hitting the workouts pretty hard again about 2 weeks ago.  Even though my hip and shoulder are bothering me, I'm doing as much as I can with obvious modifications.  I started doing banded deadlifts, which is a nice way to add some intensity into a deadlift workout.  It's definitely a different feel and you definitely cannot do nearly as much weight as you are used to but it's a hell of a way to fry your back and hammies.  In addition to this, I have gotten reacquainted with my love for mud runs. 
Last year I participated in my first Warrior Dash with my friend Liza.  This race, not so much of a race but more of run with a lot of dirt involved, is roughly a 5k and they throw in obstacles such as a rope climb, cargo nets, running through a creek, jumping over fire, running through tires, and final jaunt in a giant mud bath that's about 100 feet long.  It's a lot of fun and it's generally not very competitive.  Most of the people running it wear costumes and there's a lot of camaraderie going on.  I guess you could make it competitive if you ran up near the front in the first wave of the day. 
Then later in the year I took a trip to Virginia Beach and ran the Mud Run there.  That was 5 miles, mostly on sand, with about 3 or 4 mud pits.  This was an insanely hard run due to the introduction of sand.  This land lubber from Kentucky really doesn't get a whole lot of running in sand.  Needless to say, my 22 year old nephew made me eat my words when we beat me by 4 minutes (I hate you Brandon!).  But the run was extremely challenging and even more fun. 
Last weekend I headed back up to Chicago and did the Warrior Dash again, this time with my buddy Justin and his roommate Linda.  Once again, this race proved to be not so much of a race but a run with an absolute ton of fun thrown in.  This year the run didn't have as much mud thrown in but it seemed like it was a little bit longer and had a couple of more obstacles.  The worst of which for me was the stupid horizontal cargo nets.  I felt like a 2 legged monkey trying to get through this thing.  I kept overextending myself and almost fell threw a few times.  Justin flew right threw like the ninja he is.  Fortunately for me he's a slow runner so we made a good team.  Most of the obstacles are fairly tame with the exception of that.  While it's not crazy difficult, it is a whole lot of fun as they also have music littered throughout the course so you aren't bored with your own thoughts very often.  The final obstacle is a 100 foot mud pit.  This year's was a whole lot deeper at the beginning than last year.  I jumped in feet first this year and got absolutely stuck.  For the life of me I could not get my feet removed.  I had to have Justin pull me out so I could finish up the rest of the 100 feet.  So after completing this, I went to the "shower".  I remembered this as a horrible experience from last year and this year was no different.  It's basically a guy standing on a platform about 15 feet in the air spraying a fire hose on everyone.  This really doesn't accomplish a whole lot.  Needless to say I did not get all that clean and wound up driving the 5 hours home with caked on mud from my knees down and from my elbow to my shoulders.  Nice. 
This run solidified my desire to run the Tough Mudder in Indiana in November.  I am absolutely stoked to do that.  That consists of 12 miles with even more intense miles.  Now this one will be all about survival.  I can't wait.  For more information on either of these runs, be sure to check out www.warriordash.com and www.toughmudder.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Theft, injuries, and races

It feels like forever since I have written in my blog.  For those that follow this, I'm sorry, I missed you too.  For those that are stumbling on this for the first time, I give you a big hearty WELCOME!

About a month ago I got my computer stolen.  My house was broken into and the bastard thieves stole my computer, the kids Wii, and my wife's jewelry.  Violation and anger were the feelings I had for a few days.  So I had to wait for the insurance to send me the insurance money to get a new computer.  I couldn't get on this site at my work because the fascist pigs there seem to think they are paying me to do a job and not post silly blogs about me thinking I am still that 18 year old athlete I once thought I was.  Long story short, I now have a computer.  Got myself a shiny new Mac.  I still don't know how to use it but I figured out how to get on Safari (Internet Explorer for you PC peeps) and post a quick update to this.

Over the last few weeks I have been battling a slew of nicks and pains.  My right shoulder and biceps tendon have been bothering me off and on for about 1.5 years.  I got a shot in my bursa hoping that would make it feel better but it didn't.  Thanks Doc.  I'm still not positive how the problem occurred but I'm pretty sure it's from my lack of mobility in my t-spine while performing pullups and overhead presses.  See kids, that is why it is extremely important to ensure you look at your total functional capacity, including mobility and stability while training.  My lack of mobility in my t-spine caused my shoulders to take a brunt of the forces from that and they weren't prepared to do so.  So, they got injured.  No I spend about 20 minutes on the foam roller and other various mobility exercises found on www.mobilitywod.com.  Another thing bothering me lately is my left leg.  Obviously you already know a bit about the knee but my hip is causing great discomfort whenever I squat or jump.  Odd.

Anyway, enough about my theft and little pains.  I just wanted to get something out there to keep you interested and know that I didn't forget you.  Tomorrow I'm going to talk about the Warrior Dash in Chicago I did last weekend.  I also talk about some other upcoming events going on.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 6, 2011

To be continued shortly

Sorry for the inability to post recently.  My computer was stolen and I have been unable to post anything in a while.  But don't you worry, I am currently collecting all kinds of thoughts regarding mobility/stability, Warrior Dash, shoulder bursitis, biceps tendonitis, failed business ventures, future business ventures, and much much more.  So stay tuned and be ready because it's all coming back once my insurance company sends me some moolah! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Exercise & Music

If you read my entry on my marathon and how music was a major factor on me completing it, you will realize that I am very driven by music.  I think music can be soothing, sensual, uplifting, inspirational, motivating, and downright nasty.  Today, I wanted to give a brief snippet into what I currently have on my playlist and what motivates me in my workouts.  

Eminem.  Easily Eminem is my biggest motivator when I'm working out and I need something to get me over the edge.  I wrote about that for my marathon and it's true for any of my workouts.  Once I hear an Eminem song come on the old Ipod, it's on like Donkey Kong!  And his new stuff is ridiculous.  

Metallica is an obvious choice.  Anytime they come on it usually sets the mood right.  What really gets me when they come on is their instrumentals.  They usually last about 8 minutes long and they tell amazing stories without having to say any words.  If they can't get you in the mood to throw some weights around the room, there's something wrong with you.  

Dr. Dre is another choice.  Whenever his bass beat drops, things are about to get hectic.  Love it!  And his new song with Eminem is off the charts!  The flow he has and the beats he brings get me going every single time.  

Those are just a couple of the artists that whenever I hear them I get pumped.  Below are a few of the random songs that are on my list right now that absolutely get me jacked!  Hopefully you get the same from some of these.  If you got anything that I don't have, I'd love to hear it.  

  • Make Some Noise - Beastie Boys  (new song from new CD kicks ASS!)
  • Welcome to Atlanta - Jermaine Dupri, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Murphy Lee, Diddy
  • Remember the Name - Fort Minor
  • Metalingus - Alter Bridge
  • I Will Not Bow - Breaking Benjamin
  • Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit
  • Hell Yeah - Rev Theory 
  • Street Fighter - Sick Puppies
  • I Came To Play - Downstait (yeah, I know it's a wrestler's entrance song but it's absolutely badass!)
Anyway, that's what I'm listening to now to get me jacked.  If you got something better, I'd love to hear it.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Train for a good cause

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know that I am looking for something else to train for now that I am done with the marathon.  I've had a lot of suggestions from various runs such as the Warrior Dash, Dances With Dirt, Tough Mudder, to triathlons, to CrossFit competitions.  Today I got an email from a coworker of mine Suzy, who you can follow at www.run51.blogspot.com and watch her quest to complete a marathon in all 50 states, and she sent me a link to a great competition and something that is a great cause. 

The link is https://www.eventsasrx.com/AG2011-Event.php and it's for the Afghan Games.  It's sponsored by Kandahar CrossFit in Afghanastan and is a way to see who is the fittest soldier taking part in the operations over there.  It's also a way for those of us over here to compete against them at a local CF affiliate.  The cost is $20 and all of the proceeds go towards purchasing weight training equipment for the troops over there.  I for one couldn't think of a better way to spend 20 bucks and get in shape in the process. 

So if you have the time, check out the link to the event or check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/AfghanGames?sk=info.  I am looking forward to competing against the great men over in Afghanastan and helping them get the training equipment they need.  This is my next event and this is what I will be training for.  I urge you to join me and show a little support to our troops.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rest, nutrition, and other stuff

I remember when I ran my first half marathon in 2004 and it took me about 2 weeks to fully recover to where I was ready to start working out again.  That, of course, was long before I knew proper pre-hab and recovery type exercises and before I dove head first into the mobility world.  This time, I ran (mostly) a full marathon and was ready to hit the gym again within about 6 days.  Did I want to?  No.  My mind still is on vacation but I know that I have to get back to it.  My body feels great, I'm still not quite ready to run a long distance again, but I feel I am ready to do some light cardio and hit the weights again.  Met-con workouts here I come! 

Today I hit the gym with some motivation, intensity, and a proper mindset.  I knew that I hadn't worked a hard metcon in a while so I gave myself something about a 6 on a scale of 10.  Intense but nothing too sadistic.  So I did 10 x 75 sumo deadlift hi-pulls, 15 x 75 push press, 100 jump rope for 5 rounds.  I went at it hard but again, not too crazy.  I basically just wanted to wake myself up again and get back into the groove.  That was one of the critical mistakes I made during my marathon training was going away from my metcon training.  I simply didn't have time to get both my runs and weights in everyday.  That whole family commitment thing got in the way.  I know, priorities, right? 

Not only did I take a week off of my workouts for rest, but I also took a week off from exercising discipline with my diet.  I ate a whole lot of gluten last week and a whole lot of sugar.  I know it too because I have been a little gassy, a little bloated, and a little tired.  It's time to get back at that also. 

Speaking of nutrition, I had a cousin (in law) ask me a couple of questions today regarding her nutrition and timing of eating.  Her first question dealt with eating before her runs.  She says she gets up at 4 in the morning for her runs and doesn't have time to eat anything prior.  This is fine.  Ideally, yes, you would like to grab a piece of fruit or something along those lines before you run but if you can't, you'll be fine...if you are eating properly during the day and night prior your training.  If you are getting a good amount of fats, protein and carbs (no sugar) every day, running first thing in the morning on an "empty" stomach will be fine.  Personally I would still grab maybe half a banana and a few almonds to get me started in the morning and hit my run.  As long as you don't have an easily upset stomach, you will be fine.  She also asked about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.  The biggest thing I know between them is that yams contain more sugar so if that is something you are looking for, there you go.  As far as other differences such as chemical makeup and how they digest in the body, I would check out www.robbwolf.com or www.balancedbites.com.  Both of these sites have a ton of nutrition information for this stuff and I would recommend them to anyone looking for nutrition advice. 

I'm still trying to find that next event to train for.  If you have any ideas, let me know.  So far the best I can come up with is a Tough Mudder, but I have travel quite a bit for that.