Thursday, April 2, 2020

Online Personal Training & Coaching! Service Changes Due to COVID-19

We don't quit - we adapt!

The current state of the world has opened up new ways to stay connected, receive coaching, and maintain accountability. 

Coaching services have simply pivoted to online, real-time video sessions. I can still see / meet you in your home, providing you with the same personalized instruction as always! And, if you're in need of equipment, I can recommend what to get and where.

There is NO better time to be prioritizing your physical activity. Regular exercise is proven to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain, which fight anxiety and depression.

Treat yourself like someone you really care about! Message me (over there, to the right!) to schedule your sessions today!

 - Andrew

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Doing Negatives

When I was first learning about weight training, I ran across a concept called 'negatives.' The idea was that someone would help you lift the weight, then you would slowly lower it. Do this a few times, and the muscle quickly becomes worn out from fatigue. The next day, that muscle would be really sore. (but i liked it, because I thought it meant that the muscle was damaged but would rebuild itself bigger and better) Shows how much I knew back then.

Today, 'negatives' are far more pervasive, but they affect our thoughts, instead of our muscles.

Short story.

Before my daughter went away to school, her computer suffered a failure. Power it up, and the screen was blank, except for a small, flashing icon of a sad computer face in the middle of the screen. This was particularly upsetting for my daughter; she's a creative, and had all of her written and photographical work on her laptop. We took it over to the Apple store to consult with the 'Genius Bar.' Sitting at the counter, we watched the tech look over the computer and try a couple of fixes, neither worked.

He told us he was going to take it in the back to do a more advanced diagnostic, and that there were a couple of possible outcomes. Either he'd be able to just 'flip a switch' internally, and it would all be fine, or it wouldn't, and it would have to be sent out for more advanced data recovery.

He left, and when I turned to my daughter, I saw she was tearing up.

'What's wrong?'

'All my writing is on that. And my of grandma and grandpa...what if...'

'Hold on; what did he say the possibilities were?'

'That it would either be fine, or we'd have to send it out.'

'Did he say that all your work was gone? That we could never get it back?'


'Ok; so you're getting upset over something that hasn't happened. Over something that wasn't even one of the proposed outcomes. It's just as likely that he's going to bring it back out here working fine.'

And it was.

The point is that, almost daily, we expend a lot of time and emotional energy fixating on things that haven't happened. Conversations, events, interactions...all with 'what if...' placed in front of the thoughts. Funny how we rarely think, 'what if this (fill in the blank) goes really well?'

Ever woken from a dream in the middle of the night, with your heart pounding? Do you think to yourself, 'That must have been the most exciting roller coaster dream ever!' Of course not. You think, 'Oh my goodness I think I may die.'

The basic physiological markers of fear are the same as those for excitement. Driven by adrenaline, your heart pounds, your breathing accelerates, your stomach tightens...but wake in that state, and instantly it was a 'bad' dream. Was it?

If I said to you, 'Here's what I'd like you to do: make up a story in your head, one that has an undesirable outcome. Then I want you to get really upset about the outcome, and spend a couple of days stressing yourself out over it.'

Hopefully, you'd think the idea was ridiculous. Fact is, though, most of us do this all the time. We think about something, and instantly think it will go badly. Why?

There's a saying that pessimists have it better because they fear the worst. So, when things do go wrong, they aren't disappointed, but, if they go well, they're pleasantly surprised. That's a terrible was to go through life. (In my opinion)

I'm not saying that 'thinking positive' is a cure-all; it's not, and in some cases it can make things worse. My suggestion is this: the next time you find yourself stressing and obsessing over an upcoming event, just ask yourself what you're basing those feelings on. Are you reacting to a story you made up in your head?

I stopped doing negatives in the gym because they really weren't giving me the results I wanted, and because they hurt.

Creating, thinking about, and reacting to the negatives has the same effect.

When it comes right down to it, it's just as likely that things will go right.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

How Can I Help You?

For as long as I can remember, my Dad has been an antiques dealer. In addition to my own natural interest in strength training, there was a not-insignificant amount of formative training in the lifting and carrying of heavy things when I was young. (it is not lost on me that there is some poetry in the fact that I now teach people to lift and carry heavy things) His profession, though not mainstream, was easily described: he sought out and purchased exceptional examples of early American furniture, then sought to re-sell the pieces to other dealers or collectors who were seeking the same. 

When I was younger, particularly just after I moved from New England to the Midwest, it was hard for me to describe my work to my Dad. I'm pretty certain he thought I was wiping sweat off machines and folding towels just for the free membership. I do remember the day it changed, though.

Four or five years after moving to Illinois, I was back on the east coast, visiting my Dad. He had some errands to run, and a couple of visits to make, and potentially needed help should any treasures be found. One of the stops was to see Cory, another dealer I knew. (I knew many of the dealers in my dad's circle, which parlayed itself into a great two-day gig moving furniture into and out of a show in New Hampshire every summer. Good story for another time) 

In the course of conversation at Cory's, it came up that he had bought this new exercise machine - a Soloflex - and that his back was bothering him quite a bit. My ears perked up. 

"What exercises are you doing?" I asked. 

"All of them," was the response. 

"Show me what you're doing."

Cory took me into the next room where the Soloflex stood. (no lie, it was very cool at the time; one of the first non-traditional home gyms available, and I wanted one desperately) On the wall, Cory had taped the poster with every possible exercise one could perform with the machine. 

"You're doing all of these?"


"Can I write on your poster?"

"Umm, sure, I guess..."

"Do you have a red marker?"

Cory left the room and came back with a marker...and my Dad. I proceeded to cross off five or six exercises that could cause, or exacerbate his back issue. I then taught him two or three alternative movements that would help him strengthen his midsection without discomfort. 

Cory thanked me, and, once his business with my dad was done, Dad and I hopped in the van and headed out. Dad was quiet (even for him.) 

"You ok, Dad?"

Quietly, he said, "I just realized what it is that you do." 

"What did you think I was doing?" (as if I didn't know)

"I don't know; but not that.'

That day changed a few things between my Dad and me. In addition to no longer feeling like he'd wasted his money paying for my first personal training certification, he seemed to gain a bit of respect for me. (always nice, right?) He'd actually call me when he was having activity-related pain, and ask my advice. So rewarding. (and in order to help him feel better about his investment, I told him that, when people ask what his son does, he can simply say 'Applied Physics and Human Biomechanics.' 

SO - what DO I do? I help people regain and / or improve movement function so they can do what they want to do at an optimal level and without pain. I've had post-surgical clients who were rehabilitating rotator cuff repairs, spinal surgeries, tears to the labrum of the hip, and ACL repairs. Clients who had (or were told they had) scoliosis. Athletes who want to be stronger, faster, and more powerful. Golfers who want to hit further without back or knee pain. 

It all starts with a conversation. We discuss what you're feeling, and what you'd like to accomplish, short-term and long. We assess your movement, to illuminate any challenges that are limiting you. We develop a plan to move you forwards, then begin to implement the plan. Simple, and effective. 

So, think for a moment about where you are, and where you want to be, then tell me - 

How can I help you?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Diets Diets Everywhere...

...but how to choose?

There are SO many options.

South Beach




Low Fat

High Protein

Low Carb

Gluten Free

...and on and on.

Let's simplify things.

Rather than trying to discern what is the best diet by what not to eat, let's take a quick look at what nearly all the programs have in common.

There are generally five components common to nearly every weight management plan:

 - consume adequate amounts of lean protein (eggs, fish, poultry, beef)

 - eat all the vegetables you want

 - stay hydrated

 - be active with intent

 - create a mild calorie deficit (burn more than you consume)

IF you are struggling with 'weight management' or fat loss, take a look at the first four categories. Which one (or two, or four) is getting the least attention? Once you know what you're not doing enough of...well, do more of it.

You're thinking, "But, there's no starches or dairy or fruit on the list. Am I supposed to skip them?'
You're overthinking. I'm not suggesting that you do anything different with those foods unless you know them to be problematic for your digestive system (in which case you've likely already eliminated them)

I'm suggesting that, if you're not consuming some protein at breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, just add some. Add a hard boiled egg or two to breakfast. And/or some chicken breast to your salad. And/or some fish for dinner. Where there's a gap, fill it.

Same plan for the vegetables. Wherever you're not consuming them, pick one or two that you enjoy, and add them.

Water? Keep it simple. Drink 8oz of water each time you eat. Maybe have some tea mid-morning and a coffee mid-afternoon.

People also tend to obsess over the activity component, sometimes to the point that they just don't do anything because it seems like too much effort. 'I've got to pack a gym bag, deal with traffic, before or after work, wait for machines / equipment, deal with 'gym people,' shower, get home...'

Yes; that would be exhausting. Again, I'm saying, look at what you're doing now, and add a little. Climb the stairs a few times at home. Stand up and sit down on your couch 20 times. Walk up a hill. Just do a bit more than you're doing now, and move faster than you would while shopping at the mall.

As for the calorie deficit, if you're filling in your protein and veggie gaps, staying hydrated, and progressively being a little more active than the last, the deficit will take care of itself.

It doesn't have to be complicated.

Let me know how I can help.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Why Strength?

Remember when you were a kid? Remember playing with your friends, choosing someone else to be? Cowboy, astronaut, doctor, pro athlete...someone who had attributes you admired? I always liked superheroes. People who had above-average abilities. Strong minds. Strong bodies.

As I grew up, and began exercising with the intent of adding muscle, this is what I had in mind. I always was just 'an average kid.' But with a barbell, a dumbbell, with these tools, could I lift more than the average person? Run faster? Jump higher?

After a while, I knew I could. I could be better than average.

And it was like having a secret identity. (Which was awesome)

With that secret came something else that I hadn't had or felt previously: self confidence. If you've already read 'Thank you, Seth Carr,' you already know what I mean. (If not, that post is below)

Training to be strong is about so much more than big muscles and sports. It is difficult, and it is supposed to be. More important, though, is that it is a difficulty that is taken on with intention - you have to make a decision to put yourself through it, and you choose it because there is inherent value. Maybe even more important in this era of Google and 24/7/365 media coverage of the planet, the results require process and patience.

Process and patience.

Good rules for life.

No matter what it is you encounter in your life - loss, sadness, anger - process and patience will bear out. Training to be strong is a microcosm of life's challenges. We choose a direction, understanding that the path is going to be demanding. Understanding that, in order to improve, we must choose to show up. To do the work. There is, of course, a well-established relationship between exercise and emotional health, particularly in the reduction of anxiety. (and who doesn't need that?!)

Combining the reduction of stress and the improved sense of confidence from pushing the physical capabilities creates the foundation of a stronger persona. Call it a secret identity, an invisible suit of armor, or something else; to me, physical strength is the cup from which all other strengths flow.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thank You, Seth Carr

Who the heck is Seth Carr?

Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time, there was a kid who lived in a small town. Let's call him Nate. Nate enjoyed all the usual kid-things; playing Wiffle ball at Michael's house, or pickup football at Troy's, or to just jump in the pool at Craig's. He also loved comics and all things superhero. (the only two Halloween costumes Nate remembers wearing as a kid are Superman and The Six Million Dollar Man) Life was pretty good. School wasn't too hard, except for Mr. Rafferty's social studies class, and the afternoons were full of biking, climbing trees, or playing sports with friends.

Then Junior High happened. It was the first time that Nate was going to school with kids other than those whom he'd grown up with. It was also the first time there was a 'boys locker room' to navigate before gym class. Now, Nate loved gym, and the reason he loved gym was because it was the one hour a day he got to spend with Coach (Dave) Faucher. Faucher was a lean, energetic guy who loved only one thing more than running, and that was dodgeball. He dressed as you'd expect a gym teacher to dress in the 80's - Nike shoes, knee-high socks with the double stripe, short shorts, pristine white polo shirt, and a whistle. He was a stud.

So gym classes were great. The problem was that there were now bigger kids in the locker room - y'know, those beasts who were 5'7" - and one of them seemed not to like Nate all that much. Meet Seth Carr. A taller, more athletic, popular kid from the next town over, Seth seemed to feel that Nate was constantly in the way, a situation he would remedy by shoving Nate around in the locker room. Nate, more a lover (of keeping his blood inside him where it belonged) than a fighter, took the pushing for a while, but he'd eventually had enough and decided he needed to change something.

Now, if you ever read a comic book back in the 80's, there was always a section in the back where you could buy black soap, or a joy buzzer, or x-ray specs. There was also the Charles Atlas story. You know the one; girl takes skinny boy to beach, muscular football jock kicks sand in skinny boy's face and humiliates him in front of everyone? The rest of the story, if you don't know, has skinny ordering the Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Muscle-Building program. By the end of the summer, skinny is no longer skinny, and when he shows up at the beach again, the bully gets his come-uppance in the form of an uppercut.

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Naturally, to a 12 year old, this sounded like just the thing. Nate asked his father if they could purchase some weights and dumbbells. As it turned out, Nate's father had stored his old Hollywood Barbell set in Nate's grandfather's basement! One short road trip later, Nate had the makings of his first gym. The bench, barbell, plates, and a few dumbbells were set up in one of the old horse stalls in the barn, and the iron game began. Much like n the comics, a few weeks later, Nate had another run-in with Seth; this time, though, when Seth pushed Nate, Nate shoved him back with all he had. (In the moment immediately following, Nate considered he may die that day) Instead, Seth looked surprised, and moved on. There were no further issues after that.

...and Nate's self-confidence grew three sizes that day!

This really was a turning point for Nate, though. He wanted to learn more about exercise and training and getting stronger, so he bought books, read voraciously, and trained harder, determined to be as strong as he could be. It also set him on a path...almost like destiny.

When Nate went to prep school, his assigned 'Big Brother,' Mark, was the captain of the football team, which made it possible to Nate to be the only freshman in the weight room during football workouts.

Because Nate was unclear about what the course catalog meant by 'all language classes taught in the native tongue,' he chose Latin instead. He quickly realized two things. First, all of the muscles and structures in the human body have Latin names. Second, Virgil's Aeneid truly exemplified why Latin is an otherwise dead language.

Nate played soccer, varsity baseball, and ran varsity track in high school. Not the top athlete, by any stretch, but certainly as fast and strong as anyone he had to compete against. Again; confidence upgrade!

By the time Nate went to college, he found himself being one of the most knowledgeable people in the weight room, often offering advice on techniques and training to the other residents of 'the pit.' He liked feeling useful, like he was helping others to feel better by being stronger. For four years, he tried to be as available as possible to those who wanted to learn and train.

When graduation approached, Nate, who had been spinning discs for the college radio station, thought he wanted to be a DJ. He called some local stations, booked interviews, and headed off to become famous. No one told Nate that he should arrive prepared with some recorded material of his on-air he settled for being told that he 'had a nice voice' but that he was out of luck without the aforementioned support materials. (probably just as well; there's no telling what the response would have been to his reading a PSA about the dangers of traveling to Mexico whilst playing the 'Imperial March' from Star Wars in the background. Yes; it actually happened.)

What to do now? Hmm. Some sage person had once said that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. 'What do I love to do?' he thought. 'Where am I the most happy?' The answer was obvious: anything having to do with fitness and health were Nirvana. There were health clubs popping up all over; surely one needed a fitness coach of sorts? Turned out that the clubs wanted either tour guides, membership reps, or 'aerobics instructors.' Nate, owning no leg warmers, found himself work writing and editing for a chiropractic care newsletter during the day, and running the night shift at a mini-golf course owned by a local health club. (can you say 'free ChipWiches?')

To keep himself in condition, Nate was frequenting a nearby Gold's Gym. One fateful day (well, it WAS) he saw a flyer on the bulletin board that read 'Love Your Work As Much As You Love Your Workout.' It was an advertisement for a company called Fitness Resource Associates; one of the first organizations to certify people to be personal fitness trainers. This was it! Nate quickly ripped the sheet off the wall, stuffed it in his gym bag, and drove home to ask his father for the tuition.

I should preface this with stating that Nate had attended a fairly well-known and more-than-fairly expensive college. When Nate told his dad what he wanted to do, one could almost see the thought bubble over his dad's head, 'All that money and he wants to be a gym rat. Where did I go wrong?' To his credit, however, Nate's father gave him the tuition for the course.

To say that Nate was instantly hooked would be a massive understatement. He'd found his people, his passion, his calling. Eight weeks flew by, and as the final project approached - designing a brochure for a personal training business - he was excited to launch 'Results Plus' as soon as possible.

Shortly thereafter, Nate traveled to Illinois to visit family. While he was there, he visited a large, family-operated club the also happened to be the training facility of the Chicago Bulls. (Michael Jordan!!) While touring the club, the guide, JP, asked him what he did for work. Nate told JP that he had just been certified as a personal trainer. JP raised an eyebrow. 'Looking for work?' Nate said, 'I could be...' JP asked, 'Do you have a resume?' Nate responded, 'I can get you one,' and, when the tour was over, he drove to his Mom's office, typed up a resume, copied it onto some nicer paper, and drove back the the club.

Two days later, John, the fitness manager, called. 'I have your resume here; I'd like to talk with you.'
Nate - "Sure! When?'
John - 'How about in an hour?'

Two hours later, Nate was offered a position as a member of the fitness staff, and that was the beginning of the next chapter. Nate moved to Illinois, and eventually took over for John as the fitness manager. Over the next 13 years, Nate became the personal training manager, and, ultimately, the fitness director for the club.

I...I mean, Nate, has been coaching people now for nearly 28 years. But, if not for those interactions in junior high, it may never have happened.

Thank you, Seth Carr.