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Protein powder is like the quiet kid in class.

Sure you know his name.

You know a couple things about him.

You might have heard a rumor or two.

But do you really know that much about protein powder?

I'll let you in on a the secrets of this young lad: One of the common rumors around gyms is that protein makes you bulky.

This one could be true….

But is most likely false.

Here's why.

Protein helps build muscle.

But you would have to work VERY hard to get bulk.

As a matter of fact, I'd say you would have to do all of the below, together.
Every day.

You'd have to:

Add in consistent training that progressively gets harder and harder and harder

Eat enough other food to make you gain weight

Sleep 6-8 hours a night, EVERY NIGHT

And you would have to do all of these things, in concert, FOR YEARS.

So, the point is, muscle is EXTREMELY hard to build to the point of being "bulky."

Many times it is easy to mistake muscle gain for weight gain.

Sometimes we have a week or 2 of crappy eating that results in us gaining a couple pounds.

And depending on genetics, it could be held in good or bad places on our bodies.

So, before you go blaming protein, try cleaning up the diet for a couple of weeks and see if you are still looking or feeling bulky.

Another myth that has been in the news lately is that protein is bad for your kidneys.

This one can also be true….

If you do not have properly functioning kidneys.

If you are a healthy adult with no preexisting conditions, protein is safe, and it can be extremely beneficial in helping you lead a healthier lifestyle.

The last myth is, you can only eat a certain amount of protein at every meal.

For most people it doesn't make a difference how much protein you eat per meal, as long as you eat enough throughout the day.

It is optimal to space it out over 3-6 meals when trying to add on muscle.

But when you are just trying to get healthier and lose fat, you can take in protein whenever you find the time.

So now that you know a little bit about protein powder, go say "Hi" and give it a try.

Swing by GFP to try a sample of our favorite protein powder, Doctor’s Whey!

-Bryan Fitzsimmons, CSCS

In almost every sport, accelerating quickly is key to playing well.

You can easily lose an opponent on offense or keep up with anyone on defense - plus, you'll cut quicker and dodge better.

One of the best ways to improve acceleration is to improve first-step quickness.

Try this drill to build a better first step:

If you want to discover the best drills and exercises to help your athlete get faster and have a better first step, schedule your free Athlete Performance Assessment today:

Click here to learn more!

If your high school athlete is looking to jump higher and develop a quicker first step, the Jump Shrug is one of the best exercises they can do.

It's also an exercise that most athletes do wrong - unless they have proper supervision from a trained coach.

The safest way for your son or daughter to learn how to train is in the High School Athlete Performance Training program at Gabriele Fitness.

Our coaches will work with your athlete to understand their goals. Then, they'll create a customized plan to help them achieve those goals quickly & safely.

To learn more about how our programs can help your High School athlete, schedule your free Athlete Performance Assessment:

Click here to schedule your
Athlete Performance Assessment

The Brand New Cure-All prescription!

A new medicine has hit the market and claims to cure pretty much any form of disease and may even help you live longer. Extensive research has been done over the course of several decades supporting this medicine.

Some of the reported benefits are:

Now, at this point, you have to be questioning whether these results are typical or even accurate. It just sounds too good to be true.  I even questioned the medicine when I first started researching… but I must tell you I am a believer and religious user.

So what is the medicine you ask?

Activity!!

 

And it’s not the kind of high-intensity, soul crushing activity you would expect.  All of these benefits have been shown with just 30 minutes of continuous walking a day.  If you add 30 minutes of  daily walking to your regular 3-4 intense training sessions a week you will not only look better but also get a ton of the side effects as listed above. Who doesn’t want increased quality of life?

The biggest problem with this prescription, as with any other medicine, is adherence.  Medical research shows that even when life saving medicine is prescribed only about 40% of people stick to their medicine schedule.

I am challenging you to add 30 minutes of daily walking to your normal training schedule.  Here’s how you do it.

Look at your hectic schedule and be sure to put aside 30 minutes for walking.  I find the best time is right before bed.  For most this is T.V. time and since the average American watches 5.5 hours of T.V. daily I think we can spare the last half hour.  Walking right before bed also serves to calm you down and prepare for rest.  It’s a great time to get some quiet ‘alone’ time, reflect on the day, and plan for the day to come thus calming your mind and reducing anxiety and nighttime worrying.

Try it! You can even do it in conjunction with Tom’s breakfast challenge.  I guarantee you will see benefits after just 7 days.  One last thing - make sure to leave the cell phone at home!

Like many of you I have been watching the Olympics. I have been extremely impressed with the mental toughness and focus of many of our American heroes. I stayed up late and watched the female gymnasts win gold and also witnessed history when Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever.

These are all incredible feats and it makes me very proud to watch them perform.

I have never trained an American Olympic athlete, but I have trained a Chinese Olympic athlete.

Several years ago when I was training in San Diego, a young man named Chen walked through the door. He did not speak a lick of English and had a translator with him.

I was told he was a superstar basketball player from China and was going to train for the NBA in America.

I trained Chen very hard for several weeks and I have never seen a tougher athlete- he was on a different level. Mind you at the time I was training about 7 NFL football players.

The second toughest athlete I have trained was a competitior in the firefighter combat challenge named Jeremy "the champ" Czapinski. Jeremy was ranked 2nd in the world and had a mindset that was incredible.

Chen trained 2 times a day, 4 days a week.

I clearly remember a long, steep 100 yard hill close to the gym that we used often with our athletes for conditioning.

I had trained high school athletes, college athletes and my NFL guys on this hill. It crushed everyone. Everyone except Chen.

It was like he was immune to fatigue.

When the athletes would run the first hill sprint there time would almost always be slower on the next one.

Chen ran almost 17 hill sprints and his time was almost exactly the same, it was incredible.

It was no surprise that when I looked at the roster for the 2012 Chinsese Men's Basketball Team, there he was.

When we watch the Olympics we must realize the level that these athletes are at.

They are the best in the world at what they do and have dedicated their entire lives to be performing at the Olympics.

Olympic Athletes from any country are the ultimate example of dedication, sacrifice, and mindset.

Yes they all have talent but there are many talented athletes in the world.

The athletes in London right now have much more than talent, they have an incredible ability to ask things from their bodies and minds that others are not willing to do.

Now please do not think I will be routing for the Chinese basketball team to beat the USA. I hope the USA crushes them - but I hope Chen has 30 points and 14 assists!

There is no better example of the Growth Mindset than a developing baby.

My daughter is 6 ½ months old, and has been on the verge of crawling for a few weeks now.

Every day she gets down in her kneeling position and reaches out, moves her legs, reaches out farther - but still no crawl. She just started to crawl backward a little so I know she is very close.

It is amazing to watch this.

She has not crawled forward yet, but I do not think she is frustrated like many of us would be.

She is not going to decide that it is too hard or just not worth the effort.

She is not worried about how Vanessa and I feel, making a mistake or humiliating herself. She will just keep trying until she crawls.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQrLm6zXgto"]

We are ALL born with an intense drive to learn. All of us!

Something along the way in our lives changes this. All of sudden we are afraid to learn because of the potential to make a mistake or look foolish.

This is classic Fixed Mindset thinking and if Bella had these thoughts, she might never crawl.

The Growth Mindset frees us from being so concerned about how we will look if we make a mistake.

The Growth Mindset is your vehicle for constant learning and improvement.

This past Saturday I competed in the Warrior Challenge. It is a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors held down the Jersey Shore. I am in a mastermind group with a bunch of other guys in the industry, and we decided to compete together.

I was not super happy with my performance, but that was not the point of this competition - it was about something bigger.

The first event was a 1 mile deep sand run. The first ½ mile we had to carry a 40 pound sandbag. I finished the run with my great friend Zack; we stayed together the whole time and sprinted the last 100 yards.

There was a guy from our group that bravely decided to run even though he was not in good physical condition. We all finished and he still had about a ½ mile to go.

We all gathered and finished with him, making sure he did not quit.

Then it got emotional.

A soldier who had lost his leg in combat ran the last ½ mile with us. This brave man looked no older than 20 and had a prosthetic leg.

I spoke to him while we were running and thanked him for his sacrifice for our freedom.

When we finally finished the soldier told me he wanted to go shake the hand of the guy who was struggling to finish. What an amazing man.

This got me thinking of several things at a pretty emotional time.

What an amazing country we live in - we should be thankful every day for the incredible, brave people making huge sacrifices for our freedom.

We are always saying if you find a big enough why, you will find the how.

The man who needed to get back in shape found his why after the brave soldier ran next to him on the beach. I found it amazing how a person that needs to get their body in shape can be influenced by one single moment.

I truly value the human body and what an amazing miracle it is. This drives me to take great care of my body, making sure it gets proper fuel, moves often and gets enough rest.

The Men and Women that protect our country are special people. We can learn many things from their sacrifice. We should be grateful they protect our freedom but can also provide us with life changing experiences like the one that happened on the beach on Saturday.

See the picture below of us running together in the camo shirts and take a look at the incredible young man a step behind us. This experienced changed a life forever.

Do great things today!

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ5JCGuO0yw" hd="1" loop="1"]

Check out our different Athlete Training Programs for Middle School, High School, and Female Athletes

 "A man's errors are his portals of discoveryJames Joyce

 

We have written many times how important it is to learn from failure. Learning from failure and adversity is probably the most effective type of growth in our lives.

There is a term in Psychology called "Learned Helplessness".

"Learned Helplessness" is when people continuously fail at things and start to believe everything is pointless.  A person who suffers from this will never try new things because they have cemented in their brain that they will just fail again.

This is similar to the Fixed Mindset, which we have written about extensively.

Tony Robbins' great book Awaken the Giant talks about Dr. Martin Seligman, who has done research on what creates learned helplessness and breaks it down into 3 categories: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personal

 

Permanence:

Achiever Mindset: No problem is permanent. "This too shall pass"

Learned Helplessness Mindset:  Even the smallest problems are permanent. Nothing you can do will change the current problem and things are the way they are and there is nothing more you can do.

Pervasiveness:

Achiever Mindset: Will not let one problem control their entire life.

Learned Helplessness Mindset: Believes a mistake in one area means that everything in their life is messed up.

Personal:

Achiever Mindset: Sees a failure as an opportunity to modify their approach.

Learned Helplessness: Sees a failure as a problem with themselves and as a personality issue. ie someone who takes everything as an attack on them personally

Our lives will be filled with opportunities to tell ourselves we are no good.

There is no one on this planet that does not deal with difficult times. The difference between succeeding and not is how you respond.

You are a resilient being. Make today the day you stop judging yourself, learn from everything and take the steps toward having the achiever mindset all the time.

Onward Brave Hawk Men!

Elite athletes see better than the average athlete. It is that simple. In order to take all the strength and power an athlete builds in the weight room, they need to be able to see to the best of their ability out on the field or court to put it into action. If an athlete sees better, they will be better at making decisions and get to the ball or play first.

There are a number of aspects that make updynamic vision of an elite athlete.  There is focusing, tracking, and eye-hand-body-coordination.

Through my years as a baseball player, I learned how important my eyes were to be my best.  It did not hurt to have an Optometrist as a father.  I would always be in his office getting my eyes checked and tweaking my prescription to be the best it could be for the next season.

I was not born with the best eyes.  Having very little depth perception, an astigmatism, and poor acuity (how clearly one can see, 20/20, 20/10, etc.) did not give me the best chances to succeed as a baseball player.  I had to take care of my eyes and work at it.

In addition to getting new prescription contact lenses every year, I would do eye exercises almost every night.  I remember being in my basement and having half a pool stick as a bat while my dad (wearing protective eyewear of course) whipped ping pong balls at me from 20-25 feet away.

Imagine if we marketed that... 

I went on to have a successful baseball career even though I was not genetically an "elite" athlete due to my eyesight.  Through my studies, I have found there was even more I could have been working on to help me get my eyes to the best they could be.

Just as strength and conditioning in our gym will help you become a better athlete, so will taking care of your eyes.

Here are 5 ways to ensure you are seeing the best you can out on the field:

1.  Get your eyes checked.

The best athletes in the world do not have 20/20 vision, they have a better reading of 20/8 or 20/10.  This is the first step to getting your eyes to where you want them to be.  An eye doctor can help get you to your best prescription.

2.  Go outside and play.

Statistics show us that every man, woman, and child in the US is 66% more nearsighted than they were in the '70s.  We are also 70% less active.  This means we are spending more time in front of our computers and TVs.  By sitting close to our screens and books, our eyes get worse at seeing things farther away.

3.  Drink water.

One of the first signs of dehydration is blurred or impaired vision.  Keeping your body hydrated will allow for better tear production in your eyes.  Having dry eyes is annoying and hinders your vision.

4.  Hit the weights.

Studies have shown that athletes that are in their best shape have better vision than when they are out of season or injured.  This goes hand-in-hand with number 2.  The better shape we are in, the better our vision will be.

5.  Train the eyes.

Practicing the different aspect of dynamic vision I spoke about earlier such as tracking and changing focus on objects will be incredibly beneficial.  A great game to pick up is ping-pong.

Last week, Vince wrote about his college recruiting experience and the highs and lows he went through during the process. Vince and I both grew up in the area, both played football and even played the same position, but our recruiting experiences were very different. I think the major difference between Vince and I was that I was a stud of a player. (I kid, I kid)

In all seriousness, the big difference is that I have experienced recruiting from both sides, as a player and also as a coach. As a 16 year old kid, I was 6 foot 8 and weighed 265 pounds, so I was very appealing to college coaches. I also spent 3 seasons as the offensive line coach at Kean University.

So to show you both sides of the fence, I broke down what I felt were some of the biggest issues/problems I saw as a player and a coach and to give you both perspectives.

1 - Contact is NOT Recruiting

Tom the Player- Following my junior season I was identified by a recruiting magazine and my name was placed on a list as a "Top Junior to Watch in NJ". The problem was, nobody told me I was on the list. Soon after the season I started receiving letters from schools across the country.

When I say schools, I mean every school from USC to Tennessee to Notre Dame. As a 16 year old kid, I thought I was pretty special, not realizing they just looking for information for their databases, that's it.

The schools were NOT recruiting me, they were CONTACTING me to acquire more information. The coaches had no idea who I was, I was simply a name on a list and so they sent me letters, lots and lots of letters.

Coach Langton- As a coach, I would guess that 90% of the athletes I TALKED to or CONTACTED I had no interest in recruiting. They were names that were given to me by coaches or that I received from recruiting resources (like the magazine that I was in). I contacted HUNDREDS of players every off-season, with letters, e-mails and even in person. However, those contacts did not mean I had interest, they were simply "feelers" - looking for information.

2 - ACADEMICS ARE IMPORTANT

Tom the Player- In my mind I was going to play in the NFL, so I simply wanted to go to the school that gave me the best chance to be a pro. I did not use my athletic skills to enhance my academic prowess.

I was being courted by a handful of VERY good academic schools; schools I wouldn't have dreamed of getting into had I been a normal sized 16 year old.

I did not see past my athletic career and realize how important the STUDENT part of student-athlete was. I chose my school based on the athlete part of the name.

Coach Langton- The first question I asked in the recruiting process was "How are his grades?" The grades of an athlete not only show whether or not they could get into school, but also said a lot about the person.

Was the athlete an over or under achiever? Did they have attendance or tardiness issues? Did they slack off in the early years of high school and only apply themselves once the pressure of getting into college began?

I knew as a college coach, that an athlete with good grades and attendance records had a solid work ethic and would fit into the college environment much easier.

3 - EVERYONE NEEDS A BACKUP PLAN

Tom the Player- Like I said earlier, I told A LOT of schools that I was not interested because I wanted to play "big time" ball. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing, but it came back to haunt me.

What I did not realize was that I was the backup plan for the BIG schools. When they got their guys, I wasn't needed and slipped through the cracks. There was a time about a month before National Signing Day when I had no schools interested in me. I can't even begin to tell you how scary that was.

Coach Langton- As a College Coach, I tried my best not to string kids along and be up front about how interested we were in them.

However, I was under pressure to get the best players possible and fill certain needs within the team. So if the All-State running back I loved was still deciding, I may have continued to talk to the All-county kid, just in case.

4 - PICK A SCHOOL, NOT A COACH OR PROGRAM

Tom the Player- I ended up choosing Central Michigan University (before you ask where it is, re-read the name of the school).

I loved the coaches and they told me that after a developmental year on the scout team, I would be competing for a starting job.

It sounded great, until after that developmental season, the entire coaching staff was fired. Even better was that I didn't fit the mold of the new staff.

Coach Langton- One of the reasons that I decided to get out of the university coaching business was because of the "nomadic" nature of the job.

The contracts of college coaches are not usually binding and they are fired every year, all over the country, in every sport.  So if a team does poorly, the coach is out. But even better, when teams do REALLY well, the coach will get a better job and leave even sooner.

I hope that I don't make this process sound completely negative. It was a very exciting and eye opening experience. If I could go back and change it all, I wouldn't. I loved my school (Proud to be a Chippewa) and all of the people I met and the experiences I had.

I just know what a mystery the recruiting process could be to a lot of people and want to help out in any way that I can.

I have a very close friend who is also a GFP regular. We met about 5 years ago after Vanessa and I had just moved back to NJ. While I was starting GFP, I trained at a small local gym, and I always happened to run into this really strong guy named John.

John and I quickly became good friends through our love for lifting weights.  I was always amazed at this small man lifting such enormous amounts of weight. It was very impressive.

John is much stronger now then he was 5 years ago - it seems that every year he just keeps getting stronger.

To be clear, John competes in the sport of Powerlifting. This sport requires you to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition in the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. You are broken up into weight classes and John is in the 165 pound division.

John is ranked 13 overall in the country (USA Powerlifting) in his weight class and holds several nation wide records.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLW8Ifj0sIc&list=UUFQcwMhvzc1LOPMS9IV8_cQ&index=58&feature=plcp"]

I have learned many lessons from John over the last 5 years, and I wanted to share a few with you.

Patience

I have never seen John lose his cool, ever! I am sure there have been times where he has, but I have spent many hours with this guy in some very stressful situations and his patience never fails to amaze me.

One of the reasons why people fail to be strong is that they do not have patience to wait until the next week to add a little more weight to the bar. John very patiently lifts a specific weight each week and then simply adds a little more the next. Patience helps him to keep getting stronger.

He does not use any tricks like complicated rep schemes or bands and chains, he just adds a little more weight the next week. This patience to not rush the process of getting strong simply works.

My takeaway: In life we want things now. We are living in a world where you can have almost anything you want at the touch of a button. Good health, strength, fat loss, and success in business does not work this way.

Patience is a quality we need to have to get things accomplished the right way. How many diets do you see that promise 6 pounds in 2 weeks? What about after?

Adopt patience and success may come more slowly, but you are building a foundation to be successful for the long term - not the short term.

Mindset

I have never met a person that is able to channel energy to one task as well as John. When he squats, there is nothing else in the world that matters. It is John, the bar, a whole bunch of wheels and nothing else.

John is a carpenter and works all day lifting, painting, hammering and building - he has a very physical work day. I am sure there are days where he is exhausted and does not want to pile 500 pounds on his back and squat. That never happens. John has never said “I am a little tired today, I think I will just wait until tomorrow.” If it’s Monday night at 7 PM, he is squatting.

He defines the rule “If you want something done tomorrow, start today.”

There is never anything that gets in his way. Instead he is able to use stressful things in his life and channel them positively into what he is doing.

My takeaway: Too many times in our lives we let our minds affect our performance. This one is close to me as I can remember in my college football days having some very tough times and instead of using them as fuel I would let them hinder my performance.

I have learned from John to have militant focus on what I am doing and to use anything in my life that would affect it negatively as a positive.  This is a very difficult task and one that I have still not mastered, but it is through his examples I push forward.

Attention to Perfect Detail

With John, everything must be perfect down to the last pound. When John lifts, the bar is always set up perfectly, his form never breaks even when he is pulling a max lift, and his work as a carpenter is just as good.

The indestructible step-up box

John built us a box that many of you use for step-ups and squats. The wooden box is about 4 years old and is the strongest piece of equipment we use at the gym. This includes everything we have ever bought from a professional equipment manufacturer. It is just an example that whatever he does is done with the utmost attention to detail and perfection. The only thing that will break this box is a sledgehammer or a bonfire.

My takeaway: Strive for perfection in what you do. There is too much sloppy work out there and the world needs more attention to perfect detail. If you are going to eat well, do it perfectly (90% of course). If you sign up to train 2x per week, make it your mission to never miss a session. If you are going to coach a youth sport take it seriously and provide the best experience possible for the kids.

His accomplishments are extraordinary, and I have learned many lessons from his patience, mindset and attention to perfect detail.

I have hired John for many jobs in the facility and his work always exceeds my expectations, every time.

If you would like to see some of Johns work on bathrooms and kitchens visit his Facebook page or call him at 908-229-5345.

I can promise you if you hire John once, you will never look for another carpenter again. Tell him that Vince sent you, and he will make sure you get priority as his schedule is packed.

The Importance of Stretching and Soft Tissue Work

 by Michelle  

Many of us cringe at the thought of foam rolling, stretching, and warming up before a workout. It's typically not much fun and not very comfortable. But think about it.. Why are such simple exercises so hard for us? ... Answer: we don't do enough of stretching, foam rolling and mobility work!

Why are we so tight?

General "tightness" and a lack of flexibility is the cause of most people's habitual aches and pains, and can significantly affect your health, quality of life and ability to continue to be active. Restrictions such as scar tissue in our soft tissue can give us that feeling of being "tight" and inflexible. Soft tissue refers to muscles, ligaments, tendons and especially the fascia.

Most people have never heard of fascia - I went to school for 8 years and never really learned much about it until I started working as a strength coach. Fascia wraps around all of our muscles and tissues

Fascia {fash-ee-uh} is the most prevalent tissue in the body yet it is often the least understood. The fascial system is one continuous, laminated, connective-tissue sheath that spreads from head to toe throughout the entire body.

The structure of fascia is often compared to a knit sweater or a web, and its job is to maintain a delicate balance between tension and elasticity. It is known that the health and function of joints and muscles are a direct result of the condition of your fascia.

The problem is that fascia will shorten, thicken and tighten (like shrink-wrap) when any of your tissues are under stress from aging, poor posture, dehydration, improper body mechanics, lack of exercise, repetitive motion, injury, emotional stress, or over-training.

Over time, the accumulation of tight "shrink - wrapped" tissue will place pressure on joints and nerves, and can create pain in areas of your body that seem unrelated to the actual problem area.

How can we loosen up?

At GFP, we have some great solutions to help you increase the health of your fascia and overall flexibility. Two of these you already may know, as they are expected of all our clients before they enter a weight training session. The third method you may not know much about and may be a very beneficial thing for you to try!

1. Foam Rolling

If you haven't already noticed we LOVE foam rolling here. Foam rolling is one of the most important things you can do for yourself before and after you work out! The benefits of foam rolling are many. Compared to traditional static stretching (stretching and holding a position), foam rolling gives us muscle stretch with added pressure that helps to breakdown scar tissue and tightness in the fascia. We call this Self-Myofascial Release or SMR.

Nobody likes it - but it works!

You can think of foam rolling as very similar to deep tissue massage, except that it is being much more affordable and convenient. Foam Rolling only takes about 10 minutes to be effective. Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn't produce marked improvements overnight; you'll need to be diligent and stick with it every day (although you'll definitely notice benefits right away).

2. Warming up

Taking your warm-up seriously is key to a great workout. Think about it; in our warm up what do the specific stretches, exercises and mobility drills do for you exactly?

Warming-up increases central nervous system function, makes muscles more elastic, and enables joint lubrication. A proper warm-up helps you to see how you are feeling and make corrections so that you don't hurt yourself in the session. For example, if you feel any side to side imbalances or differences, a few corrective exercises in your warm up will make a huge difference in correcting problems.

My personal favorite benefit of the warm up: Mental preparation. These movements and drills give me a chance to zone in on what I'm about to do in my session and give myself a positive "pump" talk.

3. Fascial Stretch Therapy

This is a method of stretching that you may not have heard of before. Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) is a technique that can drastically improve your flexibility and mobility by decompressing your joints and unwinding the tightened fascia.

What is a FST Session like? 

FST is performed as assisted stretching on a massage table equipped with comfortable straps that stabilize the parts of the body not being worked on.

The stretching sessions include fluid movements and the therapist can either address specific areas of the body that you feel are tight or perform a full body stretch.  While you relax on the table and breathe the therapist gradually eases you into a series of gentle, but deep stretching movements.

The experience is relaxing and pain-free. Unlike traditional stretching, FST integrates several angles and planes of movement that follow the patterns of your fascia.

This type of stretching is not something reserved only for athletes! Remember, being "tight" or having specific aches or tightness can greatly affect your quality of life and you may not even realize it! Whether you're an athlete or not, people of all ages can reach pain-free function and flexibility with Fascial Stretching.

Taking care of our fascia is something that everyone needs!

A habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically.

A little while back I did some research on how long it takes to develop a habit, and 21-28 days kept popping up as a standard. After further digging from it looks like this is an understatement.

Newer research shows that it takes about 66 days to form a real habit. Remember, a habit is something that is automatic and becomes a part of your life.

My personal example is my morning reading.

I am just about at the 66 day mark of getting up in the AM and going to my basement to read for 30 minutes.

Every morning, no matter what. You Can't make excuses when establishing habits. 

I have said before I was never an avid reader, but I realized that reading 30 minutes a day would be a huge performance enhancer in almost every aspect of my life.

I can say I am hooked on reading for 30 minutes in the AM. Even on Saturdays and Sundays, I have this strong urge to get up and read.

Creating habits is not easy. It takes discipline, focus and having a purpose for creating the habit. My personal purpose for reading every day is a drive to perform better in my life. I value reading 30 minutes a day and feel it is essential in my quest to be the best I can be.

Not establishing habits is a huge factor in why people have trouble losing weight and getting in great shape.  As I mentioned above, creating one habit is not easy because it takes a long time. The biggest mistake people make when creating habits is that they try to create too many habits at one time.

Think about the New Year's resolution crowd. They vow they will eat right, get more sleep, exercise everyday and spend more time with their family all at the same time. This is an incredible amount to change at one time, and while it may be sustained for a few weeks, it is highly unlikely it will become a habit.

Living a healthy life the right way requires establishing the right habits for the long haul.

The first order is to define how important the habit is to you. If you have a big enough why, you will find the how.

If you need to lose 5 pounds and the only thing in your way is a few glasses of wine per night, you know what you need to do. You may not want to give up your wine but you must deal with the consequences if you don't.

Before you succeed, you need to figure out what's more important

The desire to lose 5 pounds must be stronger than the urge to drink wine every night, only than will you have a good chance of creating this habit.

Here is my suggestion of some great habits to develop to live a healthy life. Remember only choose one or 2 at once and you need to give it 66 days!

  1. Eat 20-40 grams of Protein at breakfast
  2. Exercise at least 3x per week
  3. Stick to a nutrition plan 90% of the time
  4. Avoid sugar and processed carbs
  5. Take the right supplements: Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Magnesium
  6. Have green leafy vegetables 3x a day

Choosing just one of these habits and doing it for 66 days in row will definitely improve your health and quality of life.

The results you get in the first 66 days are just the beginning; you now have a great new habit that makes you more healthy and the confidence to go ahead and grab another one and crush that habit for 66 days.

It will take time but great things come to those who are patient and do it the right way!

In order for athletes to perform at the highest level possible and for fitness clients to achieve the fat loss results they desire, hard work is required.

We put everyone through an extensive assessment process to help minimize the risk of injuries, but the reality is injuries are going to happen.

How you handle them is the key.

Many ask the question if they should ice or heat after an injury.

The injuries I am referring to are minor soft tissue injuries, such as sore trap/neck, sore shoulder, lower back, knee, foot etc.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUWGZmsQesU&list=UUFQcwMhvzc1LOPMS9IV8_cQ&index=1&feature=plcp"]

How to Ice After Injury (Joe's Swollen Ankle)

If you have an injury such as very sore upper trap muscle where turning your head is difficult, the area is inflamed.  You need to reduce the inflammation as fast as possible to decrease pain and swelling.If you have an injury like a broken leg stop reading this and please escort yourself to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.

What Does Ice do?

Ice will to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and muscle spasms, promote healing, and help prevent further injury. Ice is the absolute best choice immediately after an injury.

How long should I Ice?

For the first 24-72 hours after an injury or sore area, use ONLY ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off as much as possible. Avoid extended direct contact of the ice on skin.

What does heat do?

Heat increases the inflammation, and it is not a good idea to use it during the inflammatory phase.

Putting heat on a new injury is like trying to put a fire out with gasoline. It will just increase the inflammatory response and will prevent the healing process.

After the first few days you can you heat before a workout to warm up the area. But even after this point it is still a good idea to ice after a workout or practice.

Should I get a massage right away after an injury?

Massage is probably the best way to relieve pain with a soft tissue injury. The results we are seeing from the increased number of our clients getting regular massage are incredible, but you need to wait a few days.

Christina Hungria, our massage therapist, recommends to wait about 48-72 hours after an injury to get a massage.

When you have a knot or trigger point, it is like a piece of chewed bubble gum. Since it's all knotted up blood cannot flow through it so it does not heal and keeps causing pain.

Massage breaks up the knots and trigger points and allows blood to flow through the area, which helps promote healing.

Christina also recommends to heat the area she works on for about 20 minutes after the massage.

Heat will rush more blood to the area and speed up the healing process at this time. Remember this is roughly 72 hours after an injury.

Taking care of your body is an essential element of living a long pain free healthy life. Ice is something that is very simple but we often underestimate how important it really is.

Ice!

8. The benefits of soft tissue therapy

As many of you know, each of our sessions start with some type of soft tissue therapy - foam rolling, tennis balls etc. In order to move and feel better, the quality of your muscles and other soft tissue is very important.

Taking the time to spend 5-10 minutes foam rolling has made incredible changes in the way people move. Spending $30 on a foam roller and using for 5-10 minutes per day is probably the best investment you can make to help your body feel great.

Doesn't always feel good - but it does help!

 My view of getting a massage has also evolved from luxury to therapy. Getting a massage should no longer be something you do to pamper yourself or only get when you are on vacation. A great massage from a knowledgeable and talented therapist is a necessity for an active person. I now get 2 massages per month, and my body has never felt better.

When there is an injury involved, it is even more important. People wait way too long to use massage as a form of getting out of pain. A tight lower back, a painful shoulder or an aching knee can all be alleviated or reduced with good manual therapy.

9. The importance of training kids young

We have a big problem today with youth sports. Kids are participating in more sports than ever and are playing in more games than ever with minimal practice time.  I am afraid this process is truly the wrong way to go about developing young athletes to reach their genetic potential.  When practice and training time is trumped by competition and games, development is severely compromised.

 Kids need time to just play and develop skills on their own

In the Soviet countries, young athletes were not allowed to compete in their sport until they demonstrated a good level of General Physical Preparation. GPP is essentially having a solid foundation of coordination, strength, flexibility and movement skills. They developed this is Physical Education class in school.  Most, but not all, American PE classes consists of a few stretches and then go play soccer or volleyball.  There are even cases where PE is cut down so kids have it just once per week.

My view of school and sports is that we are preparing kids for life. Exercise should be a priority in EVERY person's life in some way or another. Great habits with fitness and nutrition should be taught and taught well in school at young ages.

Developing GPP for kids is an essential factor in helping them become more fit adults.

IF this process is skipped and they go directly into competition mode they may never develop the basic physical skills needed to become a better athlete and may never learn the basic principles of exercise to take with them in their future.

Here is a list of basic physical skills all kids should be able to perform proficiently

10. Do what you love

In the last 10 years I have learned that I have great fulfillment in my life from my career. I have chosen to provide for my family by doing work that I love. When we have team meetings I never look at the clock. When I train an athlete my only focus is their results, and when I go to bed I always look forward to the next day.

Finding a career you are passionate about and can make a living at the same time has been an essential component to happiness in life.

So there it is -  10 of the most important things I've learned in 10 years!

Let's look forward to the next ten years of helping and changing lives.

6. Long distance Cardio and Fat Loss are a bad combination

When I decided to get into this field, I was about 296 pounds and 22% body fat. I had a huge motivation to get leaner as I was moving to the sunny beaches of San Diego in a few months. I had the burning desire to get lean, but little knowledge on doing it the right way.

When you play college football all you do is practice, watch film and lift weights.  I had become very strong and put on a lot of muscle. I estimate I had about 230 pounds of lean mass, but it was covered by a layer of fat.

My (failed) plan to get lean

I did almost an hour of cardio a day.  I still lifted weights, but my weight training sessions were pathetic. My thought process was the more cardio I do, the more weight I will lose.

I lost weight, but in the process I lost a ton of muscle and some fat. If I had taken another route I would have maintained much more muscle mass that I had built instead of losing almost all of it!
Do only cardio, you'll have the body of the guy on the left.

I got down to 215 pounds in only a few months. In this process I had burned a whopping 41 pounds of lean mass and 40 pounds of fat. My teammates would walk by me and not even recognize me.

Dropping as much lean mass as fat is NOT a good thing. When I look back on this now I truly understand that letting cardio training dominate your workouts is not a great recipe for success. Yes I lost weight, but it could and should have been done much more effectively in order to maintain my muscle mass.

Focusing on building lean muscle mass while burning fat will make sure you don't just lose 'weight', but instead you lose fat and look good at the end.

7. Nutrition is almost everything when it come to Fat Loss

When I look at most of our clients' results, it is always the ones who change their nutrition that get the best and fastest results.

I make my living teaching people how to exercise, but I will tell you that if you are looking to lose fat than changing the way you are eating is essential.

Over the past few years I have been exposed to the Paleo System, one I use myself and have seen many of our clients be very successful with this system.

 

Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It is very sustainable after the first few weeks, and I believe it promotes very healthy living across many fronts. Once you get over the initial thought of "How can I avoid breads and pastas?", you will realize that there are a ton of delicious and healthy foods you can eat, without your waistline ballooning.

When kids lift weights, the most important thing to them is the amount of weight lifted. This is fueled by pressure from friends and for the bravado to be able to say I bench or squat this much.

Performing a bench press where the bar comes half way down your chest or a squat that is performed with a ¼ range of motion is truly not advised, as it increases chance of injury and adds no athletic benefit.

I had a kid come in the other day and that said he benched 225 at the local fitness center. Having seen him train before, I did not take his word for it and we took the proper steps to test his bench.

I made him perform the lift correctly and he barely got 200 pounds. This means that he probably did perform 225 on his own, but to what expense to his joints? And who else was in on this to help him???

THE POOP TEST

We use a concept with our athletes called the "Poop Test". If they perform a movement in the weight room and their form looks like poop, we make them stop, lighten the weight, tweak their form and then continue the right way.

This fails the POOP Test - Even if you knew nothing about weight training, this probably doesn't look right.

If your son or daughter is lifting weights on their own, make sure all the movements they are doing pass the POOP TEST! If not they are on their way to disappointing results and a good chance at getting hurt.

Lifting weights the right way is not easy. You may not lift as much weight in the beginning, but strength comes to patient and disciplined athletes who do it right.

Kids need to be taught proper form - letting them into the weight room without proper instruction and supervision is wasting time and contributing to a lifetime of injuries.
Do it Right!

Kids needs to use proper form, load the bar with the right amount of weight and use a program that is balanced to not leave them with overuse injuries.
Here are the things I see many kids do when unsupervised in the weight room with minimal coaching:

The bottom line is this. Kids should be lifting weights. It is a great way to improve confidence, strength and sports performance. The way I see many kids performing lifts outside of our walls is not advised.

4. The Importance of Preparation

In almost every aspect of our lives, being prepared is an essential skill for success.

I can remember taking tests in school where I did not study at all. The result was usually the same: a bad grade and a nervous, disappointed feeling before, during and even the day after the test.

Other times I can remember studying very hard and got excited to take the test because I knew I was going to crush it. There was a feeling of confidence and accomplishment. I loved feeling like this, and all it took was some old school preparation.

If I do not prepare my daily schedule of what I am going to accomplish, my day is usually filled with unproductive work. I usually keep everything I am doing on Google Calendar and refer to it throughout the day to keep me on track. The days when I do not do this are much less productive than when I prepare.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

If I do not prepare all my food at the beginning of the week, my nutrition is usually not very good. How many times do we catch ourselves not having anything to eat, so we grab what is most convenient: Bagel, fast food, bag of chips, cookies, etc? This is normally not the best choice, and is a major reason why many people do not get the fat loss results they desire.

If I do not have a written program for my training, I usually end up wandering around the gym doing only the things I like and not what I need.

Writing lists is also very helpful here. I have a notebook that is dedicated to just my to-do lists and I am not sure what I would do without it.

If you take the above ideas and consistently prepare yourself, you will be a much more successful person. This is something I try to live by every day, and being consistently prepared is as simple as making a decision to do so.

5. Be a Life-Long Learner

For the longest time, I was a trainer that lacked confidence. I decided I wanted to be a trainer in my last year of college but my undergraduate degree was in business. By not having an exercise science degree, I was far behind in my knowledge and felt inferior to all of my colleagues. At my first job, almost every trainer had exercise science degrees and many even had Masters degrees.

This feeling provided a fuel surge of motivation for me. I knew I was behind everyone else in my education and I had a lot of catching up to do.

I studied every day. I took classes at the local university just to learn, I did not get any college credit for them but I got one step closer to catching up to my peers.

Don't wait like me - start learning young! 

I watched videos every night after long days of training clients, I visited other coaches and asked questions, questions and more questions. I attended seminars almost every other week.

This drive to learn was initially motivated by feeling inferior to my colleagues and even the clients I was working with. Now when I think about learning, it is not about proving anything to anyone, it is just about learning.

Throughout my 10 years my learning has not stopped. I am sure I have surpassed most of the people I felt inferior to, but my new motivation is to be the best I can be and to constantly improve.

My attitude is that I will NEVER know as much as I want to and this constant quest to learn keeps me going.

My learning is not just about training. Business, motivation, leadership, team building, nutrition, relationships and even learning about learning are all things I try to improve.

My solution for this "Read Every Day". I have made it my personal mission to read at least 30 minutes every day. I usually read from 6AM-6:30 AM before Vanessa and Bella get up. Nothing starts your day better than accomplishing this.

A message to all you kids who hate to read: I hated to read more than any of you when I was in school.

What you need is to learn is to love to learn. This may take time, but hopefully it will not take you as long as it took me.

Be fascinated by learning and just fill yourself with knowledge.

Focus on learning, not grades.

Understand the things you are being taught at school, not memorize them. This is such an important concept to grasp. We are more grades-focused than learning-focused.

If you focus on learning, the grades should take care of themselves. Find something you love and want to know more about and you will start to love to read.

The only book I can remember reading as a youngster was the biography of Bo Jackson. He was my one of my favorite athletes and I read his biography cover to cover and loved it.

Find a subject you enjoy and keep learning about it.

Why I stopped and never read another one I have no idea, but the reason I was so into this book was because it was about a subject I wanted to learn more about.

Find something you want to know more about and read 30 minutes every day.

Remember - you are a reflection of all you have learned. Choose wisely.


Stay tuned for part 3!

My career in fitness and sports performance training began in the spring of 2002. It all started with muscle and fitness magazines along with a deep desire to learn everything there is to know in this field.

Next came my first personal training certification (that I so proudly attained), followed by my first real exercise science class, then my first job as a personal trainer at the University of San Diego. The rest is history.

Here are the top 10 lessons I have learned over the last 10 years:

1.   10,000 Hours

If you have not read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, stop reading this article, pick up a copy and finish it! Fast! Probably the best lesson I have learned is that it takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to become an expert at anything.

Matthew Syed says that "The practice sessions of aspiring champions have a specific and never-changing purpose: progress. Every second of every minute of every hour, the goal is to extend one's mind and body, to push oneself beyond the outer limits of one's capacities, to engage so deeply in the task that one leaves the training session, literally a changed person."

I later realized that many of my early years had only a few actual purposeful hours. Once I knew the difference between an hour where you worked and an hour where you learned, I became much more effective as a coach and person.

Everyone on the GFP team understands this concept and we work toward it every day. If you stop in our office, you will see "10,000 Hour" stickers all over the place to remind us to keep having purposeful hours.

2. The best learning is done through failure

I was fortunate enough to be able to play football at a pretty high level in college. To be honest, I was a little lucky, and probably a division 1AA player that was in a little over his head at the 1A level.

The thought of me actually playing against teams like Virgina Tech and Miami (Both top 5 teams in the country those years) were long shots, but I was there and knew how to work hard.

Not being a gifted athlete, I struggled against my teammates in practice.

As an offensive lineman you are graded on your performance on each play with a plus or a minus. This gives you a percentage score on your performance for the game. For us, winning was grading out 70%.

One scrimmage in the Fall of my Freshman year, I performed so poorly that I did not even get a grade. They just said in big time southern slang:

"Veenny, you didn't do too good."

 This means I had almost no plus plays and a boatload, possibly all, minuses. I believe I played about 50 plays in the scrimmage.
At the time I didn't understand, but looking back this was a good thing for me. When you pancake somebody, you get a plus and a pat on the back from your coaches, but since little else is said there is only a small learning process, if any at all.

When you make a mistake, you are given feedback - sometimes positive, many times negative in the college football world - but you are given information to help you learn and be better next time.

This scrimmage was one of the most embarrassing times of my life, but when I look back now it was 50 opportunities for me to learn.

50 plays that I could watch on film and then hammer into my brain to not make that mistake again.

I got better that day and I learned much more than anyone else on the field.

3. Passion Leads

About 5 years ago my mother gave me a quote that said "Passion Leads, dough follows. One of the best lessons I have learned from being in the Fitness industry is that loving what you do is a key to happiness in your life

I love everything about what I do. I love helping people, studying training, studying personal development, leading people, the challenge and pressure of running a business and being able to say I really do not feel like I have a job. I never say "oh man, I gotta go work today" or "I can't wait till the weekend."

I spent the first few years waiting for the day I would have to put on a suit and tie and get a real job, but after 10 years in this industry I am here to stay. I have invested the last 10 years of my life into my passion and profession, and I am excited for many more decades of helping people achieve greatness.

I am humbled that many of our athletes ask to interview me for their school projects. I do not think they choose me because of how much money I make or how great I am as a trainer. I believe they ask me because they see I am doing something I love and am able to help many people in the process.

Find what you love and make it your profession and passion.

Stay tuned for lessons 4-6!

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