and the like

Things that drive me crazy at the gym

I spend a lot of time at the gym.  As a personal trainer, I'll spend many hours a day training clients and will then do my own workout before or after. This is a list of the things I witness that make me force myself not to walk up and say something.  Granted, I may be guilty of some of these myself so I'm listing like I am some gym etiquette guru, however, I try to avoid these at all costs. So here we go!

1) Texting!

I get it--you have your phone on you in case of emergencies or to listen to your music. You get a text, something important, and you think "hey, I need to respond to this!" But this should ONLY be acceptable when you're either (1) switching from one exercise to the next or (2) starting a new circuit of exercises.

Here is when it's NOT ok to text:

  • WHILE using a machine! (Really? You need to text while using the adductors and abductors machine?)
  • On the treadmill.  You're going to fall.  I'll laugh,
  • On any other cardio equipment
  • While sitting on a bench--Someone wants to use that to get fit, so please move

2) Eating

You probably don't need that protein bar while you ride the bike after your workout. A shake while you're out in the weight room is permissible, but you don't need to walk around eating your chicken, rice, and salsa out of your Tupperware between exercises (I swear I've seen this multiple times)

3) Bringing your entire tub of protein to the gym.

Just throw a couple scoops into a bottle before you get there and add water. It's simpler than EasyMac.  Need more protein? Bring a second bottle...

4) Holding on to the treadmill with a death grip and walking on an incline.

When was the last time you walked up a really steep hill that had magic handrails that hovered right in front of you? Just walk at an appropriate incline and let go--You'll get more fit.

5) Recumbent bike. Enough said.

6) Not re-racking the weight.

Bro, if you just squatted 450 pounds, please take all the plates off when you're done. And for God sakes, why are the 100 lb. dumbbells stashed in random corners of the gym? If you're strong enough to carry it over there, put it back.

7) Using the assisted dip machine to do a leg press movement.

If you want to work on your glutes, I have hundreds of exercises I could show you, or go to my man Bret Contreras's website and learn the many variations of hip thrusts.

No.

8) Bad form.

I preach over and over "form before function." If you do the movement correctly, you'll get a lot stronger and won't get hurt

9) Chit-chatting.

Don't tell me you spend 2 hours at the gym every day when you really spend 90 minutes talking to everyone you see and 30 minutes lifting weights.

10) Using the machines in ways they're no designed to be used.

11) Performing "reverse lunges on the Bosu ball while balancing on the exercise ball holding uneven kettlebells"

A set of squats or deadlifts will you get you a much better body than any crazy exercise combo you can invent.  And if you can't squat or deadlift a heavy amount of weight than there is no point in working on your "balance" work

12) Laptops on the cardio equipment

yo-wtf-dawg

13) Curling in the squat rack

Never ever ever ever ever ever if there is someone that is waiting to squat

Squat rack

14) Living at the gym

Not figuratively, literally.

15) Leaving the gym without proper clothes on

I don't care that you just swam, put on a damn shirt if you're going to walk out of the gym!

16) Pick up your stuff

This goes for the gym floor and the locker room--we are kind enough to provide with you free towel service so please be kind enough to put them back in the huge bins we have all over the gym.

Well that's all I have for this volume, but I'm sure I'll think of more!

Disagree with anything I said? Anything you would add?

2,822 Miles to San Diego!

I made it! After a long adventure across the country (with my brother for half the trip) I've finally made it to San Diego. This post is just going to be a lot of pictures and quick blurbs about what we did along the way! Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 9.58.05 PM

My brother flew into Tampa and we spent a couple days just clearing everything out of my apartment, mailing boxes to San Diego, and packing my car to the brim--to the point where if you opened a door or window, it would spell disaster.  Of course, this was the first thing my mom decided to do when we met her in Tulsa....

The plan was to drive from Tampa to Tulsa, where my cousin was getting married, attend the wedding, then continue on San Diego. My brother was going to go with me from Tampa to Tulsa, before he flew back to Virginia Tech to start work for the summer.  We rolled out of Tampa on Tuesday morning and made our first stop in Atlanta.

We got there unloaded our stuff, and met up with one of my best friends, Matt, and his Kristina. Matt and I met when I spent a summer in college living outside of New York City, in Hoboken, and I lived in the Beta Theta Pi house at Stevens Institute of Technology where Matt lived and went to school. Since then, we've done a number of fun races together, like the Men's Health Urbanathlon, which we hope to do again this year! We went to an awesome, local, hidden treasure style bar with great food and a beer list that was literally a novel.

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The next day, we grabbed a workout, packed up and headed out, en route to Nashville by the evening. Along the way though, we stopped at Ruby Falls, and amazing underground cave that ends with an incredible waterfall.  Apparently, we had stopped here years ago when my family took a road trip from Houston to upstate New York (don't ask me why my parents wanted to make that drive...) Anyways, the falls cave was amazing and so worth going a but off the beaten path to make the stop!

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We got back on the road, got an hour back thanks to the time zone change, and got into Nashville.  We ended up at the wrong hotel--a much nicer Marriott that was downtown--but I talked our way into getting two discounts to get a cheaper room than the original hotel. Score.  We met up with another good friend of mine, a renowned player in the fitness and personal training industry, JC Deen.  JC is a trainer and writer and is frequently featured in Men's Health as well as other publications like Forbes. He suggested that we check out a really cool jazz/funk show that was only on Wednesday nights where some classic names in the jazz/funk genre, the Wooten brother, got together to play as the house band at a local bar.  This was totally my brothers scene and I had a great time a well. These guys were amazing  and I saw possibly the best drum solo and base solo that I'll ever see (according to Stewart--and he knows what's he's talking about, since he is a drummer in multiple bands).

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Thursday morning was Stewart's birthday! He turned 22.  As my present, I opted to not tickle his feet in the morning when I woke up and they were the only visible part of him sticking out of the blankets in the morning. From Nashville we drove to Memphis, but first we stopped in Graceland, the home of Elvis.  Come on, we had to! It was actually pretty cool--having not grown up in any of the Elvis eras, it's hard to comprehend just how big his influence was and how many fans he had. Like, 35 years after his first song, he was still selling out Vegas 7 nights a week. We'd been to Graceland before too (on the same trip as aforementioned) but it was cool to go as an adult.

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When we got to Memphis, our first stop was some barbecue! I had running Stewart into the ground with our morning workouts and so we were hungry and he was ready to celebrate his birthday with some grub! Thanks to a suggestion from my friend Beka, we went to Charles Vergos' Rendezvous! This place is known for ribs, so that's what we had! If you're gonna do it, do it big, right?

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We then went out on Beale St. and celebrated his birthday... we'll leave it at that...

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Oh yeah, and we saw this: the Memphis what??

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When we could finally get out of bed the next morning, we started the final leg to Tulsa.  We stopped in Little Rock, but then realized the only to do there in the daytime was to like go to the Clinton Library... so we passed on that.

The weekend wedding was a blast though! From the bachelor party golf outing to the rehearsal dinner at the Hard Rock followed by hitting the casino, we had a lot of fun.  My cousin Erin is only a couple months younger than me, so we were always close growing up--her dad just sent me this picture:

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Her new husband, Paul, is great guy as well, and their  wedding was beautiful. It was outside and held at a mountain cabin overlooking a valley. They did a cowboy theme and so we all wore our boots. It was fun and I danced alllll night--I mean, somebody had to get the party started right?

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It was amazing to spend a weekend with my entire family. My dad is flying back out here next month and we are going to go camping in the Grand Canyon for a week.  This was also one of the best trips I've ever taken. My brother and I are close, but we've never really done something like this before and it was long overdue.

From there, I venture our alone.  My first stop was en route to Albuquerque, and I of course stopped at the Big Texan Steak House. If I'd had an accomplice, perhaps I would have thought about the 72 oz. steak challenge... but it's on my bucket list, and I'll try someday! The "scenery: around there was wild though!

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That night, I got into Albuquerque and found out from my brother (who was back in Virginia by then) that one of his friends and a kid we grew up with lived there. So, what the hell, I gave him a call and hung out with him for an hour while he rolled silverware after his shift at Applebee's haha.

The next morning I grabbed a workout and when I got on the road, I got a text from my mom (who on a road trip back to Virginia with my little sister). They were at a Starbucks in Memphis, where the Spurs were playing the Grizzlies in the NBA conference championships, and just happened to run into Boris Diaw. Kind of awesome

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My adventure for the day was driving through the mountains of Arizona en route to Phoenix. I lifted in the morning, so I as I drove through canyons, I stopped in Sedona, which is a beautiful, small, mountain town. I found a small turnoff to stop, parked my car, stripped down, and went for an amazing trail run! It was some of the most beautiful scenery I'd seen in a long time and made me feel like a million dollars.

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There wasn't much to do (alone) in Phoenix, BUT I did take an amazing midnight adventure! Remember the scene in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure when Napoleon takes the Ziggie Piggy Ice Challenge at the Ziggy Pig Restaurant? This is the Chuck E. Cheese that the scene was filmed at! Check out the scene here to refresh your memory. Gotta love the iPhone app that pointed that out to me.

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The last stop on my journey, from Phoenix to Felicity, California, to The Official Center of the World.  I still honestly have no idea what the f**k this place was, but I was the only one there and it was creepy as hell.  It was like something straight out of the Da Vinci Code or some Illuminati stuff. Pretty awesome though--there was this small church at the top of this hill and weird triangular stone pillars that lined the land in front of it with the history of Arizona (yes, I was in California, so I have no explanation there), the history of the United States, and the history of the World:

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I basically visited the place at a full sprint before running back to my truck and getting out of there! The rest of the trip was driving through incredible mountains and seeing deserts that I didn't even know existed in America

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Finally, 2,822 miles and a ton of fun later, I arrived in San Diego at my new home! I'm living with one of my best friends Roddy who did all the leg work finding us a spot

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Now that San Diego is my home, let me know if you're nearby and want to meet up or train! Or just some visit!

Life Lessons I learned From a Dog Named “Bolt”

Let’s be honest, I don’t usually watch a lot animated Disney movies. Oh wait, I said “let’s be honest”--Ok, so maybe I do (and don’t try to tell me Toy Story isn’t one of the greatest movies of all time.) But a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike on the trainer in my apartment looking for something to watch.  For the most part, I have the TV on, but I don’t really watch it, as I’m rocking out to some Seether or 2000’s rap, like some old school Nelly. Since ESPN was showing women’s basketball, I was looking for something to watch while I rode. Disney channel was showing the movie Bolt, which I’d heard of, so I figured I’d watch. Plus, I had my jams on and was watching with subtitles, so I didn’t have to listen to John Travolta’s voice come out of a dog’s mouth anyway. The plot is about a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. Under the false pretense of the TV studio, he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Bolt

Halfway through the movie, this dog had me rapt (no, not rapped). Not only was the movie pretty good, there were some great life lessons that one can pull out of it, no matter who you are:

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t

Sometimes, if you tell people you can shoot lasers from your eyes or have a super-sonic bark, they won’t believe you--blasphemous, I know. But if I told you 6 months ago that I would be stronger now than I ever been in my life, you probably wouldn’t believe me either. Early in his adventure Bolt comes across a cat whom, convinced by a pack of conniving pigeons, he deems to be in plotting with an evildoer who stole his human.

The cat mocks Bolt and tell him that none of his powers are real. But the difference between us and Bolt? Bolt never doubt’s himself for a minute. He knows he has special powers (he doesn’t actually), and if he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? The first guy to break 4 minutes in the mile probably didn’t have anyone who believed he could do it, yet he did. Most people don’t think anyone will ever break 2 hours in a marathon, but there’s some crazy kid running around out there who thinks he can... And I guarantee they will.

Even if you want to do something unfathomable, never begin to doubt yourself--if you do, then you’ll never even try.

Always protect and be there for the ones you love

When Bolt’s person gets taken away from him, he has one mission--save her. He never once thinks about where he will sleep, when he will eat, if it will be dangerous, or if he could get hurt. All Bolt knows is that someone he loves needs his help and he’ll risk life and limb to save her.

As I’m writing, I can’t think of any stipulations for this rule. No “but” or “except when”, nothing. If you love someone, be there.

Turn your enemies into friends

Tricked by a flock of conniving pigeons, Bolt is sure that the cat he encounters knows where Penny has been taken and how is responsible (another lesson--stay away from haters).  His initial response is to hurl the cat headlong into rush hour traffic on the highway from the edge of a bridge. But he doesn’t.  Bolt recognizes that the cat may prove useful in his journey and he takes the cat along with him on his mission.

Bolt and the "evil" Cat

You won’t get along with everyone.  You should try, but it just won’t always be the case (caveat--PLEASE don’t hate on people for trivial things like how they look or how they workout.  We’re not a bunch high school girls here). But I am not talking about the guy who parks across 2 parking spots, I mean your true competition.

Instead of resenting someone who vies for success in the same industry as you, try looking at them with curiosity--what do they do that has helped them be successful? Did someone get a promotion over you? What skills are on his or her resume and what work experience do they have that you don’t? Now, what are you going to do to ensure that the next time someone is being looked at for a promotion that you get it?

Lastly, as Bolt learns, sometimes our enemies are those who are most similar to us, and that’s what breeds the competition and dislike.  Set these aside for a minute and try to get to know. The things you couldn’t stand about a person might be what make for a great relationship.

Create your own luck

There’s a point where Bolt realizes that he doesn’t actually have any powers. On his journey, the cat is captured and Bolt has to make a covert rescue operation to bust her out. In doing so, he takes out an animal-catcher, thwarts a group of hungry canines, then proceeds to blow a gas station to smithereens.

But wasn’t he useless without his powers? The saying goes, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.” Luck is relative. Sometimes the cards just fall right for you, but you have to be willing to play those cards in the right order.  Now this is just my opinion, but I believe our lives are filled with luck and opportunity. For me, I believe that comes from God, but wherever it comes from, the key is acting in that moment.  If a beautiful girl (or guy) walks into a coffee shop and you don’t introduce yourself, are you unlucky that you’re not dating anyone? If you don’t lift weights heavy and push yourself to get better, are you unlucky that you can’t build muscle?

Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle hard (closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard)

Bolt didn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring him to Penny. As soon as he saw the problem, it was game on, do work, solve the problem. What we can learn is that  you can’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you and, like I said above, you’ve got to put in the work to expect good things to happen.

Additionally, find ways to be awesome and to not be like everyone else.

Hustle

Learn new skills

So learning how to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor is not the most glamorous of skills to learn, but Bolt allowed the cat to teach him how to do so. The point? Another tool in his toolbox.  Right now, I am trying to learn to code websites.  Does my job require this? No, but someday it might, or someday I may want to build a site and I’ll have the skill to do so.  Not only that, but there are all the skills that come along with learning something new--like how to study and how to partition your time in order to have the hours you need to learn.

Learn everything you can.  C.S Lewis said “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Mere Christianity, 88). If you don’t know about the other side, how can you actively choose to behave in a certain way?

Never stop learning, asking questions, and challenging what is already given. If you don’t ask questions, then you can’t grow.  I’ve always found this in my Faith. By asking questions, I am able to arrive at the deeper understandings behind the “whys” of what I believe.

Face your weaknesses

Be brave.  Bolt never backed down. As a superhero, the evildoers didn’t scare him, but even as he realized his mortality, he stayed true to his mission... and he succeeded.

Why don’t we like to confront our weaknesses? I can think of 2 reasons--the first is that we don’t like to revel in what we’re not good at. A good friend spent some time trying to teach me to juggle... And I’m awful at it.  Throw a football, drain 3-pointers, do fancy footwork on agility ladders, I’m golden... But juggle 3 little batons and I’m useless.  My sticking point is I don’t like failing. And I don’t like failing over and over. But if I really want to learn to juggle, and I’m going to have to fail, fail, and fail again... And maybe one day I will nail it!

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that it makes us uncomfortable. Everybody else in the gym squats more than you and runs faster? Its more comfortable to not go.  But if you ever want to run fast... You’ve got to run fast. If you ever want to squat 300 pounds, you’ve got to start moving some pretty uncomfortable weights in order to get there. The joy comes from being successful and eventually learning how to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

I hope you can relate to some of these lessons.  Tell me, what lessons have you found from surprising places?