Friday, December 30, 2011

Lose Your Way to Winning

You will probably be inundated with information about resolutions this week - how to set them, and even more importantly how to keep them. I have no doubt that it will be well meaning and wonderful advice that we should all pay heed to, but sometimes I find it more relatable to hear someone else's personal story, the good, and the bad rather than the 'how to'. This past year I made a conscious effort to be better, to work harder, and to find my way. This blog is my journey (which is still ongoing) and the effort behind my resolutions and what they meant (and mean) to me.

This time last year I was in Thailand celebrating my sister's wedding, and I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't looking forward to this trip. We not so fondly referred to it as the 'Amazing Race' - three flights, two taxicabs and a ferry ride all to get us to a small island in the middle of nowhere, that no one had ever heard of. To put it in perspective, it was like a night that you didn't want to go out but your friends managed to convince you, and against your better judgement you did ...and ended up having one of the best nights of your life. I don't think I could have had a better time, with a better group of people - nothing was as I had anticipated in the best possible of ways.

You may wonder why this is relevant, and how it relates to resolutions. There are moments in life, they don't happen often, that inspire you to realise that you're more than what you are or have become, and when they do, you have a choice. In the words of Paulo Coelho:

When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.

That trip was one of my moments. I came back inspired to change. It gave me something that I didn't have before, a clear picture of the person I wanted to become. It made me realise that I could control my life, as long as I had a good grip on what I wanted and didn't let it flow under me. I sat down with this vision to start planning my next year and what I had to do to get closer to who I saw myself becoming. Caught up in the excitement of planning my life, I was sure that a year was more than enough time with hard work and effort to get 'there'.

What I failed to realise was that no matter how clear the direction you're headed in, you will still have to battle life for what you want. It takes more than recognition, or the writing of resolutions. What you want must be strong enough to pull you through the toughest of times and your worst days. It must be able to stand tall in the face of self doubt and you must understand that no success comes without self sacrifice. You'll need to find your vision, write your resolutions and prepare your plan of attack understanding it's going to be a longer, harder, and more grueling battle than you had anticipated. Knowing you will lose, but that you're never as far away from victory as you think, because losing is how we learn our way to winning and become who we see ourselves being.

~ Sasha

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planning for Success in 2012!

This time of year people start thinking about New Year's resolutions or plans for the coming year to be better or more successful. There are some key things to keep in mind when planning for the year to come. Plan big, but be realistic. Plan for change, but make it a sustainable one. Break your goals down into sub-goals and, lastly, write them down and include a timeline.

Often people come up with a goal for the coming year that is not realistic. When we do this, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Make a plan that is optimistic but not unattainable.

When planning for changes, make sure that they are sustainable ones. Don’t plan to change something that will only last for a set timeline. Often people go on 30- or 90-day cleanses or dramatic diets that they have no intention of making into long-term changes. The key to making changes is to choose something that you would like to make permanent. A good example: "I am never going to eat junk food again." This is obviously not a sustainable change. What will work better would be "I am only going to eat junk food on Sundays” or “I am going to stop eating chips”. When we make changes that have a possibility of lasting, we not only have a better chance of being successful, but we are also setting ourselves up for long-term success which is really the goal of planning for the future.

Now that we have a big picture goal that is realistic and sustainable, it is time to break it down into sub-goals. These should be microcosms of the larger goal. For example, if our goal is to “never eat chips again”, then a good sub-goal is to not eat chips during the week for the next month. It is realistic, sustainable, and has a timeline.

The last and one of the most important parts of planning is to write it down. This should be written in ink on paper and then kept somewhere that you can access it throughout the year. Having this written copy will allow you to not only keep yourself accountable, but also give you something to check in with to see where you are at with your plan. So our written plan would look something like this:

Goal – never eat chips again

Time line – Completely off chips in 6 months

Sub-goal 1 – Only eat chips on the weekends for 2 months

Sub-goal 2 – Only eat chips on Sundays for 2 months

Sub-goal 3 – Only eat chips very second Sunday for 2 months

Result: After 6 months of sustainable changes, we can go off chips completely!

Of course chips are a just an example, but these planning tips can apply to anything you want to accomplish. So now all we have to do is follow these rules and make it happen!

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Good We Have it

'Tis the season of giving, or so we are told
the season with loved ones we gratefully hold

And though we work hard and for that receive
we have more abundance than most will believe

For as we unwrap gifts, give thanks and cheers,
there are those whom this season brings nothing but tears

For every chocolate, feast, or glass of fine wine,
there are those wondering "when will that be mine?"

As we charge forward, planning the new year
there are those who each day brings new fear

The goal of this post is not to change merriment to mourn;
though there are those who's shortcoming was just where they were born

Forgive the novice attempt at poetry, but I thought it fitting to change up the medium for the message you may have already seen or heard.

This year I spent Christmas with not 1, not 2, but 3 people who received iPads... and it reminded me even more how lucky we all are - not a week earlier I was driving by a liquor store as it opened so that I could buy a last minute gift - and the place was lined up at 10am with a crowd of people who knew each other, sharing their addiction, their grubby clothes and their weathered, hard faces as their only bonds.

Many of them may be there because of a series of bad choices; a few more because of their inability to fight their demons and their addiction. But I couldn't help but wonder am I in the fortunate position I'm in strictly because of good choices?

The answer is no folks. I've stolen as a youth, I've gotten behind the wheel impaired, and I have done my share of stupid things. Yes, I've worked my tail off far more often than not, and I've planned and worked the plan to a high level- but the truth is, I am where I am also in large part due to luck.

Everyone deserves to relax, unwind, raise a glass, and hug their loved ones this time of year. Please do these things and don't hold back... the reason for the somewhat sombre post this morning - is to help everyone remember that there are those who will have the opportunity to do none of those 4 things this year.

As you give to your loved ones and give thanks for what you have - please also make the effort to give to the homeless, the starving, the victims of domestic abuse; whatever calls to you - but give.

We all have time, talent, ideas, money, or more that we can give; and as those blessed with opportunities - it is our duty, not our choice, to do so.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Women Make Christmas Work

With Christmas in the rear-view mirror I think it appropriate to to credit the people who make this holiday tick... Where would we men be at Christmas without the women in our lives?

My good friend Marcus Hondro said it best in his piece for the Digital Journal:

Women make Christmas work, men mostly... watch.

I've always found Christmas to be this hulking thing that careens willy-nilly about and it is both exhilarating and absolutely exhausting. It is one holiday that demands real effort

As soon as you get one problem solved another pops up. Whose house this year? Who is invited? What car, bus, ferry, plane or footpath do you take? Who buys for who and who picks who up, and at what time? For some families there’s who isn’t talking to who, and why

Christmas then is no picnic. So who makes it work? Well for me it seems as clear as a midnight mass bell that it is the female of the family who pulls it off. Why? Because it’s the female who does all the work and a glance at any aspect of Christmas will show that to be the case

Women Make the Decorative Santas

Let us start with arts and crafts, a wonderful if somewhat unappreciated part of the holidays. It is women who draw and cut out those decorative paper Santas and snowflakes and hang them up on bulletin boards at work or dangle them from strings at home. Some women even put poems about Christmas right up there alongside the Santas.

No man has ever done that.

I cannot imagine most fathers and sons I know choosing a heartfelt verse about Christmas and writing it out by hand together and hanging it on a tree. It’s easier to imagine Lady Gaga in jeans and a t-shirt. But I could see any mother and daughters I know doing it. They’d be giggling and having fun, too.

It's hard to picture most males doing arts and crafts. Could you see singer Will I. Am carefully cutting out and pasting a chubby Santa Clause on a Christmas collage or Peyton Manning drawing happy little snowmen? Can you picture Georges St. Pierre fashioning a string of decorative snowflakes? I didn’t think so.

Most women are wonderfully competent at these things but it seems the closest most men come to an act even bordering on arts and crafts at Christmas is choosing a color scheme for the wife’s lingerie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Christmas Cards and Christmas Carols

The female puts all of that time and effort into sending out dozens of Christmas cards. She makes the phone calls and does the bulk of the organizing. More often she makes the Christmas food, dishes of goodies ranging from shortbread to rum balls to multiple-course turkey dinners. I can’t think of any dishes men are the more likely to make.

Except the dirty ones.

One of the biggest jobs at Christmas is buying all those gifts for friends, family and the kids and a visit to any mall on the planet tells you who does that. What you’ll see are a lot of men standing outside shops...watching. They're looking at all the lights and yes, at the women walking by. What they're actually doing is waiting for their wives who are in the shops, of course, buying gifts.

There’s more. Caroling. More often in the woman’s domain. Can you see the average guy singing along to 'The Little Drummer Boy'? Justin Bieber, sure, but the average guy? No. But I can easily picture almost any woman I’ve personally met or seen an image of. There's legions of other stuff women do but that should do as far as this offering. Suffice to say they make it all possible.

Men at Christmas: Eat Food and Drink Christmas Cheer

Now before closing it must be said there are things men do at Christmas, for example on the big day we pick up the seniors, open our gifts, play with the kids, construct anything that needs constructing – often breaking anything that needs constructing - and of course we drink and eat.

And there’s one more thing men do – we thank our wives for all they have done. We make certain each Christmas to do that and to all you women, please do not think that we do it, that we thank you, or that this missive was written, just to set you up so you’ll do it all over again next year. No way. We guys really, really mean it: thank-you: you are the best.

And a Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, ladies.

How bad do you want it?

No... Not ‘the latest’ pump-you-up-for-a-day you tube video demonstrating how someone else achieved.
No... Not someone elses performance, writing, quote we ‘like’ & then substitute for our own inaction.
No... Not a challenge from someone else in an attempt to persuade you to take action, for their benefit

A serious question for you.

A question... That transcends beyond the easy rhetoric ‘bad. I want it bad’.
A question... That requires an intentional, careful, deep rooted, introspective honest review.
A question... That only after above, requires traits some may be unfamiliar with ‘how to’ &/or unwilling to do.

Thought. Planning. Effort. Determination. Change. Patience. Persistence. Tenacity. Collaboration. Compromise. Execution Failure and many more.

Answering how bad you want it is easy.
Sharing what you’re prepared to do about it is where the real value lies.

Monday, December 26, 2011

For 2012

Well, here we are - just under a week away from a brand new year. As such, the gyms, rec centers and other training facilities will be packed for the next three weeks with people trying to rectify a month of poor living, as well as the "Resolutionaries" that get inspired by the feeling of a fresh start... but do this "fresh start" every single January.

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions - but I do like goal setting, and far be it from me to judge someone when they decide to start their journey. That being said, I have one request to those for whom improving their health (through exercise and nutrition) is one of these goals:

Set your sights on a target that excites, inspires, or (to a small degree), scares you a bit.

Don't be vague ("I just want to be in better shape"), and honestly, don't make weight loss or aesthetics your objective; being vague gives you an easy out, and zeroing in on a number on the scale or some predetermined visual mark is never a good idea.

I've said it before, I'll say it again - you have to find a way to discover joy in training. I'm not saying that every workout will be a study in fun - making progress requires hard work, patience, dedication and determination, and sometimes you're going to "punch the clock" for your workouts, where it's simply a matter of getting through them - but if your only motivation is to have your scale tell you something you think you want to hear, or to have a "six pack", then, quite frankly, none of your workouts will be fun.

Guilt, Regret and Insecurity are three of the worst exercise partners you can find. So for 2012, try something new - kick them to the curb, and train for a different reason.

Train for yourself.

Happy 2012.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Client: A Letter From Your Personal Trainer

Dear Client:

I want to preface this letter by saying that I love what I do. I couldn't imagine doing anything else, and I feel incredibly privileged when you seek me out to help find your way to health and wellness and humbled that you entrust me with your body, it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. As a result, I spend a large portion of my spare time reading articles, blogs, books, journals and watching videos all in an effort to stay current so that I can be a better coach to help get you better results. Even when I am not working with you, I'm always working for you. Your success is my success. It's as simple and as complicated as that.

I'm invested in you, but no more than you're invested in yourself. I can't want what you want more than you do, and therein lies the problem. I know that getting in shape is hard, believe me, I do. I know that it is never a linear process - what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. I also know that the only way you are going to see results is through consistent dedication, and patience. It's not going to happen overnight. You need to trust that I am going to be able to take you where you want to go and I will bend over backwards to get results for the person who shows up (both literally and figuratively).

Which is why I find it so hard when you sabotage yourself. Don't tell me how badly you would like to lose weight, and then change nothing. Don't tell me that you know you should eat better, but don't. Don't tell me that you know the program would work better if you followed it, but you have limited time. And don't schedule sessions, and then not show up. You're wasting my time, your money, and my education and effort. There's someone out there that really wants it and is willing to work for it, let me help them or let me start helping you.

Bottom line, we are not moving forward until you recognize or address what's holding you back. So don't hire me until you are willing to give yourself 100 percent, you deserve it. If I have to keep nagging you to stay on track and you just keep giving me all the reasons why it's too hard to stay committed, that's a direct reflection of your investment. Committing yourself to your cause is the best way to invest in your success and the more invested you are the better able I am to help you. And for as long as you are willing to put in the effort, I will be beside you - helping you, leading you, and supporting you in finding your way, because your success truly is my success. Make the investment.

~ Sasha

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Only Way.

The moment that we stop learning, or refuse to believe that what we believe could possibly be wrong we are shutting out a world of possibility. Don’t let it happen to you, keep your eyes and ears open at all times because you may just learn something.

People often think that what they are doing is the only way to accomplish something. That this way or that way is the “best” way to get to the desired goal. When we will all learn that there are typically several ways to get something done? Some ways are better than others for various reasons and some are not, but there is ALWAYS more than one way. In the fitness industry people are always stating how this is the only way to get stronger, faster, leaner, healthier, skinner etc… or that this system or that system is the ‘only’ way, but is that really true? Is it ever true in any field? I doubt it. Whenever you think that you have something totally figured out that is the moment that you really don’t know what your talking about. When you close your mind to other paths you are missing out on a ton of other great options that may in fact be better than what you are already doing. Of course this is not always true, often I have thought “this is a great way to do ______” and sometimes I like to think that I am right, but then every so often I learn something about what I am doing that changes my opinion. The main issue is that if your opinion cannot be changed, or if you don’t have an open enough mind to explore contradictory options or opinion then you are just doing the same thing over and over again assuming it is always going to be the best way!

I think it is summed up like this: when you are 18 you think you know about 70% of the 100 things there are to know and when you are 80 you think you know about 7% of the 1,000,000,000 things there are to know. Where the problem comes in is when we decide that our 18-year-old intelligence level is good enough to last a lifetime.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Define "Need".

Though I am not discounting the severity of the recent financial turmoil & effective double dip recession we are battling our way though & hopefully out of... things could be a LOT worse.
For everyone who is miffed that the stock market tanked & they are now 3 - 5 years further from retirement, remember - you still have a job which means you likely have all of your faculties, you have money invested, and you are near a goal a great many will never enjoy - enough resources stockpiled that you can spend without replenishment and without worry.

For those who took a pay cut - you are probably still in the top 25 percentile of the world's wealth

For those who are having to work really hard for seemingly the first time just to stay where you are let alone get ahead... welcome to reality, it's not all that bad once you take a look around.

When I look around in Calgary, or call one of my best friends in Vancouver, it strikes me that what is stressing most people I know - is Christmas shopping. If that's the case, some very real and hopefully very fast approaching perspective are due.

The basic needs for survival are food, water, shelter, and clothing.
Once those are in place, the only other needs are belonging (social) needs.
Once survival and human connection are in place, the strongest urges we'll ever face are procreation, and self actualization.

Seven Brand Jeans, your own paparazzi, a smart phone, and a Lexus do not fit in the above equation.

Parents - do not over-feed the insatiable beast that is WANT.
Adults - do not underfeed yourself or your children the malnourished potential within yourself that is WONDER... rather than yearn, LEARN. Nurture your mind by volunteering, or learning about those less fortunate than you.

It's the time of year we celebrate and embrace those we love.
It's also the time of year we evaluate where we are going.
Hopefully that means we look ourselves in the mirror should we resemble the right half of the attached photo and think better of our actions...

It's ok to spend and it's ok to have nice material things - but remember, those don't define anyone. Our actions and our motives do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Everything You Need Is Already Inside

Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, legendary running coach and "father of the running movement" is credited with the quote:

"Everything you need is already inside."

It's a few simple words that mean a lot... especially when coming from a guy who coached 31 Olympians, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record holders, 24 NCAA champions, and 16 sub-4-minute milers.

To me it refers to the concept of ultimate responsibility... that in the end we are responsible for our own results in life.

That we are responsible for taking charge of our own destiny - nobody else owes us success.

Even though positive and negative things (that we have no control over) will undoubtedly happen to us, it is our reaction to those things that will ultimately determine whether we are successful/happy/prosperous or failures/unhappy/broke.

Realizing that our actions and our reactions will write the story of our lives (positive or negative), and that we are ultimately 100% responsible for both, proves that "everything we need" REALLY IS "already inside".

I don't know if Bowerman was ever asked to elaborate on the famous quote. If he was talking about the trunk of his car (that he famously sold the earliest Nikes out of) please don't tell me!

Incidentally, the quote spawned one of the BEST TV ads ever (my opinion) - watch it below...


Monday, December 19, 2011

Finding the Right Trainer Part III

The First Session

After having gone through the ordeal of locating a trainer/coach, then "interviewing" them (the consultation), many people think that the process is over - but there's still a crucial stage. How do they relate to you in the first session? There are still some significant markers to keep in mind while working with them for the first time.
  1. Do they assess you? There should always be some form of screen or assessment that precedes the start of the training session - no ifs, ands or buts. Everyone will have a different take on what they use - but what's important is that they use something. Remember (in the words of Eric Cressey): if they're not assessing, they're guessing.
  2. Is the first session as much an education as a training session? This likely won't be the hardest session you ever have - nor should it be. Even if you know your limits, they don't - and they shouldn't be trying to find it in the first 60mins. If they're throwing out massive numbers of repetitions, or loading up massive weight - something's not right. And even if you are asking to be pushed harder, they should be sticking to their guidelines.
  3. Are they someone that you can relate to? Do they "speak your language"? Do they seem like a robot? Do they not seem to pay enough attention to your form? You might not even be able to put your finger on it, but trust your intuition - if something tells you this isn't going to work, don't commit to a long-term agreement.
  4. Finally - how do you feel 24-48hrs after the session? While a small degree of soreness is to be expected (particularly if they've shown you some new exercises, or you've been inactive for a while), if you find you're so sore that you have trouble sitting on the toilet, putting on a jacket or washing your hair - you were pushed too hard. A good trainer or coach should always try to err on the side of caution - and leave you with positive feelings after each session.
So there are a few things that you can keep in mind as you go into the New Year, particularly if you're looking for some help starting the year off right. These are by no means a guarantee - even paying attention to all of the previous notes, you could still wind up with a dud. Similarly, a potentially great trainer could have an off-day... in the end, though, our "gut" or instincts often prove to be surprisingly reliable.

Trust yourself, and good luck in your search!


Friday, December 16, 2011

What is a Coach?

What is a coach? I read a great blog post written by Neghar Fonooni on her site, Eat, Lift and Be Happy discussing just this, and it it is too good and has too many relevant (and awesome) takeaways for those of us in the industry not to share. For the full blog you can visit her site but for the most part I have included it the post below. So, without further ado and courtesy of Neghar Fonooni, what does it mean to be a coach?

A client of mine (who also happens to be a personal trainer) said something interesting to me today as we spoke about our roles as coaches:

I'm in the business of being positive.

Not the business of being elite, famous, or rich. Not even the business of being the most educated, knowledgeable trainer in the industry. The business of being positive.

Go ahead. Be successful. Go to every single seminar , workshop and certification that you believe will make you better at your craft. Watch every DVD, read every book and article and listen to all the pod casts that will broaden your knowledge base and make you a smarter coach. Expect the best in terms of effort, performance and attitude from your clients. Have a standard as a professional that you hold yourself to each and every day. Develop a methodology, live by your training philosophy. Build your brand, make some cash. Do well. Hell, that's what I strive to accomplish on the regular. We certainly need more qualified coaches in this industry, so the more education and experience the better.

But will all of that make you a better coach? Will all of that ensure that you go into the world and do good?

The way I see it, there are two things that make an exceptional coach (or professional in any field for that matter):

  1. Knowledge and experience, beyond the requisite education as well as the skill and talent necessary to articulate the knowledge and translate it into results.

  2. An inherent and relentless intent and desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those they come into contact with in their professional realm.

A great coach simply cannot possess one without the other. They are two sides of the same priceless coin. If all you've got is a long list of certifications and a strong desire to be profitable and reputable upon your merit as an educated professional, chances are you're kind of a jerk. You probably possess more arrogance than apathy and expect your clientele to demonstrate perfection in performance and compliance. When they fail to achieve this (because inevitably, they will) they are quite possibly met with irritation, disappointment and disapproval on your part. You might rock at training people, but that's not the same as coaching people. Trust me. I almost became this trainer.

Conversely, if all you've got in your tool box is sickeningly positive affirmations with limited substance or science, well, then you're basically Richard Simmons. You are a well paid cheerleader. You will undoubtedly uplift others with your sunny disposition and eternal optimism; alas, you will fail to get them fit to their fullest potential. You will lack the tools and the expertise to assess movement, correct movement and create strong and powerful movement. You might make them happy but you probably won't get them very strong. A truly effective coach embodies both. An extraordinary coach inspires and educates; does well by providing a quality service but also does good by providing encouragement. I often find the need to remind myself of this, and realign my actions with my vision and purpose. Because the thing is, I am ridiculously lucky to do what I love for a living and I owe it to those who trust me with their bodies, hearts and minds to be extraordinary every single day.

Lets blow up this industry up with remarkable coaching. Let's do well for ourselves and do good for other by following these two principles throughout our coaching careers:

  1. Get educated. Simply put, know what the eff you're talking about. You cannot make a significant difference in someones movement without being armed with knowledge and hands on experience. Take the time and initiative to learn from those who have been successful in the field and continue to produce stellar results. Obviously people like, Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Mark Verstegen, Dan John, Brett Jones, Gray Cook, etc. are all valuable resources.

  2. Be in the business of being positive. Spend some time learning how to be a better coach and a happier person in general. Take the time to offer e-mails, texts and phone calls of encouragement to clients. Make them feel as though you are invested in them as human beings, not as dollar signs. Be the BEST part of their day. Ultimately, everyone wants to feel as though they are a part of something special; everyone wants to feel legitimately cared for. Your clients want this more than they want to be in shape, even if they don't know it. Evaluate your coaching skills and the character of with which you interact with your clients. Are you someone who would you would want to spend an hour with?

I have a client that comes to see me every Tuesday and Thursday. She isn't the most athletic or coordinated person. She might never do an Olympic lift or dead lift twice her body weight. But at the end of every single session she says, "I feel better than when I came in here." That's what it's all about.

~ Courtesy of Neghar Fonooni

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Female Sports are ‘Also’ Amazing

I would like to preface this post with two comments. The first is that I am a HUGE supporter of female sports; it is a major part of my life. Second is that this post is being written upon request. I was having a conversation with a client of mine about my participation with female athletics and she became fired up with my approach and suggested that I write about it…so here it is.

Men’s sports get a ton of attention in the media. They get this attention for a host of good reasons. Male athletes are explosive and athletic and even casual spectators can see that. When you watch an NBA game, you see them jumping higher than you can imagine and sprinting faster than you would think possible. When you watch the WNBA, you don’t see those feats, at least not in exactly the same form. What you see are amazingly talented athletes competing at the highest level in their sport. To some, it may not seem as overtly exciting as the NBA (the payroll and exposure certainly reflects that generalization). What some folks don’t see, however, when they watch women/girls' sports is what they are actually all about. Women/girls tend to run systems better, work better as a team, and do the small, finite things that make sports simply amazing to a purist of athletics. It takes an educated eye to see the difference between the two.

When you work with both male and female athletes, you see a big difference in how they approach sports, what they are expecting to get out of it, and what they are willing to put into it. When you coach females, you get less attitude. Less of them think that they are the “man’… so to speak. There are fewer female athletes with delusions of grandeur. There are infinitely fewer females who think that sports are their lives and that they have nothing outside of it. The number of female student-athletes who graduate and go on to be successful professionals in something other than sports reflects this.

From a coaching perspective, working with females is a unique experience. I have often said that, if you could get a high level men’s team to play together like our women's teams do, you would have instant champions. Of course, there are a lot more tears in girls' sports, but you get used to that - and, I must admit, it's often a surprisingly educational experience!

I found myself participating in female sports almost by accident. I wanted to work with a university sports team and, at the time, my only way in was by working with a women’s varsity basketball team. I distinctly remember thinking “well, at least it is still basketball” and had plans to move on to men's athletics as soon as possible. After one year of working with that team, though, I have never again had the desire to get back to working with a men’s team. This is not to say I don’t enjoy working with male athletes because I love doing that, but I much prefer working with groups of female athletes in comparison to groups of males and I have had more than ample opportunity to do both.

I was a hardcore fan of "guy" sports and I still am, but my appreciation for what female athletes are capable of has completely changed just from having exposure to them at a high level. I encourage all the doubters who are reading this to go and watch a live sporting event where high-level female athletes are competing. Don’t just watch to see how high they can jump or how fast they can run. Instead, watch with a connoisseur's eye. What you see will surprise, amaze, and educate you.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Parable of the Old Man and the Rug

...working fast when the coast is clear, and selectively if Hard Hat glances over… sliding on that unique black gel that permanently coats the ground at the transfer station (what is that?), my worst fears are realized. He is ambling in my direction. Nearing, his walk slow but purposeful, in one wrinkled old hand a golf club, in the other a scrap of rug, his "you're busted" look completed by a fluorescent yellow Saf-T-Vest.

Hopelessly, I continue, faster now... (get it all out before the heat comes down!) Maybe it was that cardboard box with all the old CD cases in it? Was I really supposed to go to the recycling depot for one box? I hope he didn't spot the broken paper shredder that I jammed with 8+ sheets…! (Contraband electrical appliances… I bet that was it…)

You know… It's not like I'm dumping every week. I live a pretty clean life, do my best to reduce, re-use and recycle… and on the one day I'm in here with a SUV full of (pretty innocent) household junk this guy needs to go on a power trip over the miles-long list of things that the transfer station is too good for… he must be bitter, I would be too working here...

Just as I fire the last bag of garbage out the back (trying to land it on, and obscure, the jammed paper shredder) and slam the tailgate, he arrives, drops his rug to the slimy ground, advancing it with his rusty 8-iron to a position directly under my driver's door.

"Wipe yer feet on that, you don' wanna mess up yer truck's carpets."

Friday, December 09, 2011


Ask anyone what they want, what they would like for themselves and their life and I can guarantee almost everyone would have an answer. The problem is a lot of us know what we aspire to, whether it's a successful career, family, weight loss, but the point is not many of us have it. We can see what we want, but we can't quite get there. What are we missing?

They say knowing is half the battle, but I disagree. I think the work to get there (wherever there is for you) is the hardest and most unforgiving part of the process. If someone offered you everything that you needed to get what you wanted in life, would you refuse it? Would you say that you had to think about it? Or that maybe you would wait until the New Year to get started, because this month was just too hectic? I'm going to say probably not, because that sounds ridiculous, but we do it all the time.

How many times have you heard someone talk about how they would just like to get in shape. How that's all they want, just to be healthy and fit. If that's truly what they wanted (and I don't doubt that it is) then why aren't they doing anything and what are they waiting for? Because the thing is, everyone has everything they need to get what they want. The only thing that's holding us back is effort. You need to not just want it, you need to work for it and effort, that's between you and you. If you're not putting in the effort today for what you want tomorrow, the only person who can help you fix that, is you.

~ Sasha

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What do we need?

This time of year always makes me think about consuming and consuming some more. I found myself in our local Wal-Mart yesterday looking for a Transformers box set for my nephew (he is 8 and does not read my blog so it is safe to say what he is getting for Christmas on here!) when I heard myself tell the savvy-motivated staff member that I “needed” the Transformers box set. Although it was foolish to think that the clerk might have had some kind of moral epiphany and rebuked my “need” for what it actually was, I myself, standing there in the Mecca of capitalism, did have a small moment of clarity that I felt like sharing.

The never-ending cycle of do-gooders who remind us we don’t actually 'need' things and instead we just 'want' things are 100% accurate in their statements, but does that sentiment actually get through to us? When you look at the "Black Sunday/Monday/Tuesday" crowds mauling each other for $9 DVDs, you have to take a moment and conclude that perhaps we are indeed just that self-centered and delusional to risk life and limb (and being unkind to our fellow human beings) for something as trivial as a $9 DVD. I like to think, as I am sure some of you also do, that I am above things like that, but am I really? Surely I am not about to jump into a crowd of people to save a few bucks, but I did drive all over town to find my nephew that "special something" to show him that I love him (as if a Transformers box set will actually do that!).

When I reflect on this odd little holiday that many of us in the western world celebrate, I really have to stop and think. What do I "want" and what do I "need"? I want a new "house", but I only "need" shelter. I "want" to go for dinner at a nice restaurant, but I only "need" to eat. It is important for me to keep these distinctions clear. I "need" to believe the holidays are about more than only the things we "want". Thankfully I do know they are about my love for my nephew and the rest of my family and friends. I know that these "needs" are the most crucial and my "wants" will always take a back seat to them. May I keep sentiment firmly in the front of my mind all year long.

Happy Holidays!

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Envision - Engage - Embrace - Entrust

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together"
- African proverb

Anyone who has had a dream, and I mean the kind you want to spend the rest of your life bent on pursuing, can actually achieve that dream in 4 easily understood steps. Fortunately for those few of us willing to outwork anyone - there is still plenty of opportunity for hard working dreamers, because many people don't get past the first step.


What does your dream look like?
What does your life, and the world, look like once that dream is fulfilled?
What need does that vision fill in the world today other than just a better life for you?

Once we have spent time on the 50,000 square foot level of that dream, we can...


There are lots of great dead ideas out there. The ones that change the world - those ideas had more than one person working on the logistics, the planning, the implementation and the follow up. Hence the African proverb to open this post.


If you cannot enjoy the journey - you will never reach your destination.
If most of the path to the promised land is hell, and you can't see the finish line off in the distance, many people drop out of the race.
While balance might be a tough struggle for us all in the building or highlight years of our career, we all fail if we don't make time to play with our kids, raise a glass with our loved ones, take care of our bodies, and embrace nature/ a good book/ God/ whatever grounds you or inspires you.


"Great leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders" - Tom Peters

If you've gotten to the level of leadership and achievement that your life is where you want it to be headed and you've mastered the arts of time management, goal setting and achievement, well then you have one more profound duty on this Earth as a leader... recruit, engage, support, hold accountable, and pay it forward through a new breed of leaders that you find a way to make even better than you.

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose" - Robin Sharma

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Man in the Arena

Today I want to share a quote that, through many tough times, has inspired me to have courage and push outside my comfort zone. At times thinking about these words has allowed me to ignore naysayers, shun negative influences and avoid fear of failure.

Sometimes words are powerful enough to positively change the course of a life, and these ones have for me, in small, but important ways on more than one occasion.

I hope you enjoy them!

Excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizen in a Republic" speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. April 23, 1910.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."


Monday, December 05, 2011

Finding the Right Trainer Part II

So - once you've done the research and are confident that the trainer you're meeting has the basic qualifications needed to make you comfortable, it's time for you to "interview" them.

  1. Challenge them a bit. Don't try to "one up" them - if they know what they're talking about, then the odds are good they are going to know more than you do (they should, anyway). But they should be confident and consistent in their answers.
  2. Tell them your goals, and ask them how they would help you get there. Be careful of anyone who seems too quick to simply answer what they think you want to hear - in fact, I would rather have someone tell me "I'm sorry, I don't think that's possible" than have someone who simply flips around what they're willing to say in order to make the sale. You want a coach, not a "yes man".
  3. Ask them what they last did for continuing education, and when they did it. If they haven't taken a course in the last half year, then staying current with what's happening in the training world is clearly not high on their list of priorities. A trainer who was at the top of their game 10 years ago and has taken one continuing education course since then is far from up to date (similarly to checking their certifications - be careful if all they can offer you is internally-run courses).
  4. Set up a complimentary session with them. Every good trainer/coach should be willing to offer you a chance to try their service - if not, you probably don't want to work with them.
  5. Finally, ask yourself - do they inspire you? Do you walk in and think "That's someone I could use as a role model"? Because if not - if they look like they're having their own struggles with maintaining an active lifestyle, for example - then how can you expect them to lead you to your own goals? If nothing else - listen to your intuition.

Next week - assessing the initial session.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Punch the Clock

"Not all workouts have to look like a scene from "Pumping Iron." In fact, I often argue that these moderate workouts ...the punch the clock workouts ...are the ones that make champions. Hell, everyone is willing to work hard the week of the State Championship: I think what separates champions is the willingness to just get "them" ... the workouts" ~ Dan John

Some days I don't want to workout. Those are the days when changing for the session feels almost as challenging as the actual hour, and when I finally do step out onto the training floor, I have to double check the weight I just picked up because it feels infinitely heavier than last workout. But, these are the days that are going to make the difference long term.

"Anyone can train hard when they feel like it. But the difference in results comes with the less-than-spectacular workouts - the 'punch the clock' workouts." ~ Alwyn Cosgrove.

Consistency is a major key to success in any area, and I think we forget that sometimes it's just getting in, and getting another session done. It's being consistent with your training sessions. And, lets face it sometimes you just have to "clock in and do work" as Robert Dos Remedios says.

~ Sasha

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Trick to Dieting

The fitness industry is saturated (pun intended) with weight-loss schemes, magic pills, secret foods, etc., etc., etc. What most people don’t want to hear is the truth. The old saying of “if you are looking for your six-pack, it is in the kitchen” is 100% accurate. You can do all the crunches and core work in the world and never see a ripple of even a one-pack if your diet is not in check. People are always asking if we have a diet plan or a way to get their eating habits together. Typically the answer that we give is “Yes. Write down everything that you eat for a week and we will review it together”. Very few people can adhere to this for even a week, but, when they are able to, they start losing weight. A few times a year Innovative Fitness hosts a nutritional challenge that combines food logs with exercise points. People lose a shocking amount of weight. Something as simple as emailing your food logs to your trainer is all the accountability that some of us need. So what is the trick to losing weight? Get a partner and commit to sending each other food logs everyday for a month. You will be surprised at what happens!

Weight loss is really quite simple from a logical standpoint. If you take in less calories than you put out, you will lose weight. It really is as simple as that. For some people, it is easy and, for some, it is extremely hard, but that is the cold hard truth of the matter.

When looking at your diet, even though calories have the largest relevance to weight gain or loss, there are several other things to consider as well. Getting enough vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is key to being healthy and this is where the tricky part comes in. If all you ate everyday was a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, you would most likely start losing weight as the calorie content is below the average daily intake for most people. From this delicious ice cream treat, however, you would be getting next to no nutritional value outside of calories. A Blizzard falls into the category of calorie-rich and nutrient-poor foods. What we want to fill our diet with, of course, is nutrient-rich and low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. When you are eating nutrient-rich foods, you will find that it is easy to get full without breaking the calorie bank, whereas, when you are eating nutrient-poor foods, you will be eating excessive, empty calories and still be feeling hungry. Why? Your body continues to crave the things it does not get from nutrient-poor foods.

So what is the trick to diet? You know the answer to this question. You simply have to use logic and remind yourself from time to time that chips are not a food group!