Get Your Learn On 2.27

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I read a ton of different articles each week, and always have a few books that I’m working on at any given time.  Reading is just that important to me, and I distinctly remember the first time I was enthralled with a book.  It was “The Boxcar Children”, I was in the third grade, and that bright yellow cover was like a beacon.

I don’t remember the storyline, but I do remember getting into the book so much that I finished it in a day or two.  When I find a book that I really like I can do the same thing even today and knock off a few hundred pages in an evening, much to the chagrin of my wife.

Why is that important, aside from the entertainment value books provide, there are tons of lessons to learn by reading books as well as others writing, most of which can be accessed for free, or at least very inexpensively.  I feel I can express a decent thought in written format, but I know full well that my style may not speak to everyone.  So hopefully each week you have the opportunity to be exposed to some excellent writers and learn a thing or two.  That being said enjoy this week’s edition of “Get Your Learn On”, and yes that’s a new sexy ass name for this series.

The Deficit- How We Lose Fat- Leigh Peele

This might get a bit technical but it’s a great read on some of the specifics behind fat loss.  Pretty simply put if there is no deficit there is no fat loss, but Leigh says it in a much more elegant way.

You Are Standing Wrong- Nate Green

This is a great post on the mechanics of standing.  Seems like a pretty easy thing to do, but most of us are pretty bad at even that.

Learn From Your Elders- Ross Enamit

I can only hope that I am deadlifting when I’m 92.  This is truly a testament to the fact that age is only a number, and this 92 year old dude totally kicks ass!!

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5 Mistakes That Sunk My Personal Training Studio

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While reading this post won’t help you in your journey to get jacked I do believe these mistakes I made are things that, while focused on business, can be just as easily applied to our lives.  Not only do I hope you can learn from my mistakes, but damnit was it cathartic to just write about it.  It is essential that we review and learn from our mistakes and this is my attempt.

It was May12th, 2008. Nothing special about the day for most, but I was excited as it was the unveiling of months of hard work, the opening of Essential Fitness my personal training studio. My partner and I since October of the previous year had been carefully planning and preparing for this day, and it was GLORIOUS!

Ok glorious might be a bit of an oversell, in fact underwhelming is likely more descriptive. I did however; have one training client scheduled, which at the time was almost the extent of my clientele. That being said I’m sure you’ve heard the rags to riches stories of some trainers, where they started with one paying client, maxed out their credit cards to open their doors, and with years of hard work, finally built a world class facility. This is not one of those stories.

In fact it’s quite the opposite. At this point you may be asking “Why the hell am I reading about how some dude sucked at business, and then closed his facility?” Valid question. Having gone down this road I hopefully have some pretty valuable advice that might prevent you from having the same fate.

#1 Being Arrogant

I’m not a narcissist, but like many entrepreneurs, I was pretty confident I could run a better show than the other facilities I’d been training in. Having been behind the curtain of small business now, I realize it is no small feat to run a business and be successful. The same thought that drove me to open my business was a part of why it closed. I thought I knew best and didn’t seek guidance from those better or more experienced than I was.

How To Avoid: Seek out a mentor that will give you open and honest feedback. Comb through your client base and I’ll bet you have someone who is smarter and more successful than you. Then make it worth their while to spend 30 minutes with you each quarter to review your potential pitfalls. Then actually take their advice.

#2 Not Cultivating Business Skills

Armed with a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in marketing, I was convinced I knew enough to effectively manage the business along with the training. I was wrong. This very much ties into #1, as I was arrogant enough to think I knew how to manage the books and systems that were needed to help me succeed. The training piece came naturally as I’d been doing it for quite some time by then, but I sorely could have used a mentor, or should have sought out more education on business basics.

How To Avoid: Carve some time out to fill in the gaps in business knowledge that your exercise degree didn’t give you. A local community college is a super cheap way to do that, and starting with courses like accounting and finance will go a long way.

#3 Not Having Checks and Balances

When you run the show in a small business you don’t have a board to answer to, or shareholders to think about. A board and shareholders are a naturally built in system of checks and balances, where you have to explain your actions to them, and if you don’t produce they can fire your ass. This usually serves as an impetus to make sure that costs are kept at reasonable levels, and things like too much debt don’t jeopardize the company. Be sure to set your own checks and balances and then make sure you don’t decide to break them because you’re the boss.

How To Avoid: Have a checklist of things you must do each week like spend 30 minutes on marketing/advertising daily, or spend one hour on Fridays reviewing accounting for the week. Once you develop your checklist then make yourself accountable too by having to turn it into someone at the end of each week (a mentor or someone else involved with your business would be best).

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#4 Not Being Prepared For Rapid Growth

The phrase Mo Money Mo Problems comes to mind here. Any start-up is in a growth stage and problems can arise quickly, as a result of that rapid growth. We started with maybe $15k in sales by the end of ’08, and ended ’11 with well over $100k. The business wasn’t rolling in it, but it was a pretty good start considering. The thing is when business starts to increase rapidly, other costs start to increase, be it staffing, maintenance, etc. Keeping an eye on these increasing costs, other factors impacted by growth, and making the appropriate adjusments, can mean the difference between keeping your studio open and watching your landlord hang the “For Rent” sign in the window of your building.

How To Avoid: Read “The E-Myth Revisited” By Michael Gerber. This is an essential book that anyone starting a small fitness business should have on their bookshelf, and can speak to how to handle growth and the difference of working on your business as opposed to in it.

#5 Short-Sighted Decision Making

When making decisions in my business much of it was focused on the short-term, and what the immediate benefit was, instead of thinking long-term. I hired my brother to help with the books and he did a great job, but I made that decision because it benefitted me not the business. It was a selfish decision because I wanted to work a bit less, but caused me to be less aware of the financial health of my business. In many businesses there is a need to hire others to handle some of the work, but this one clearly was not well thought out on my part, it was too soon.

How To Avoid: Set benchmark goals for your business in terms of sales before you decide to hire or contract work to others. Once you can meet the basic needs of your business, and get paid yourself, then look to add additional help. If you are currently running your business on $50K of sales, split $25K for operations and $25K as your take home pay, then you probably need another $5K or $10K in order to hire someone, even then that’s only if your costs associated in raising that additional capital didn’t rise equally.

I eventually closed my studio in 2012 and these are probably the 5 biggest factors that played a part in its demise. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but unfortunately fun wasn’t enough to sustain my business. Hopefully you can glean something from my 5 big mistakes and your studio or business doesn’t go the way of mine.

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Chicken and Waffles, Being Uncomfortable, and One Thing At A Time

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Chicken and Waffles…seriously who knew what an excellent combination of food this is?  My wife and I were on vacation in January, and I enjoy trying to find cool and new places to eat.  And find one we did!  Chicken and waffles was on the menu, and came highly recommended by more than a few reviewers, so of course I had to try them.  Let me tell you the syrup was buttery, the waffles were fluffy, and the chicken was tasty, and my first experience with chicken and waffles was a win.

Well played Fancy of Fancy’s Southern Cafe, you ma’am have a fan!  If I ever find myself in Fort Myers Florida again I will be back.  I’d highly recommend if you ever find yourself down that way that you check it out too.  Not only was the food excellent, but it was well decorated and just a cool little place.

Enough about food though let’s get to this weeks link love.  I have a couple of great articles and a recipe for chicken and waffles, albeit a healthier version than what Fancy’s offers.  In full disclosure I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but Neghar always has great content and I’m certain these are delish.

Chicken and Waffles- Neghar Fonooni

Dig in on your next Sunday morning breakfast and if this is your first chicken and waffles experience hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

Discomfort Builds Growth- Tony Gentilcore

I love Tony’s writing and he never fails to deliver.  He hits the nail on the head here, simply put you must get outside your comfort zone in order to grow.  I know personally some of the most uncomfortable times in my life, when I look back, are the times I’ve grown the most and prepared me for where I am today.  Closing my gym a few years ago was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever had, but there were so many blessings and so much growth that came out of that time in my life.

Harry Potter, Coffee, Sex, And Other Things I Think About While Trying Not To Think- Nate Green

Wow how’s that for a title?  Nate gives some great advice about being tuned into the moment.  I think we all suffer from this at times.  It can be really rewarding to be fully in tune to what you are doing and enjoy the moment that you’re in.

Now get your learn on!

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10 Signs That You’re Boyfriend/Husband Is A Meathead

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I thought it might be fun to write a post for any of the women readers.  I’ve read a few different posts lately with similar titles, and I thought it might be fun to come up with my own version.  Ladies if you can relate to 4 or 5 of these your guy is probably a meathead.  If 6 or 7 ring true you’re doomed!

Aside from the astronomical grocery bills at times, and the endless amount of money spent on supplements, there is at least one saving grace of being with a meathead.  You’ll never have to hire someone to move your furniture again 😉  Enjoy.

1) You never have to carry the groceries in from the house cause he’ll grab every bag and make one trip to get in some extra farmers walks.  You know cause they’re good for grip strength.

2) You ask him what day it is and he responds “Leg Day”.

3) Most of the meals you cook together start with chicken or steak as the entree. Usually to be paired with the likes of broccoli or another vegetable.

4) You have more than one shaker in the kitchen cabinet.

5) You’ve ever purchased 4 dozen eggs for a family of 3.

6) He plans his weekly activities  around his workouts.

7) Protein Farts…enough said.

8) Half of his wardrobe consists of dry-fit shorts and shirts.

9) If it’s above 35 degrees out he rarely wears a shirt.

10) When you walk in the gym with him it’s like Cheers and everyone knows his name.

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Hills: Are You Man/Woman Enough?

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Whether you’ve run hills in the past or not, I’m certain we can all agree…they SUCK!  Not suck in the sense that they are ineffective, but the sort of love/hate suck you know is necessary to make you a more badass version of yourself.  Plus if you don’t feel accomplished or like a beast after a good hill run then I’m not sure we can be friends.

Check out my latest post over at Go! St Louis, where I talk a bit more about hill training.  Fair warning I do geek out a bit, but not so much that you won’t get something out of it.

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Detox Diets, Books, and Happiness

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First off let me say Happy Valentine’s Day.  You’ll hear complaints of today being a Hallmark holiday and the like, but it is an important day to invest in your relationships, and seriously nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer so don’t let the negativity out.   Take the time to reach out to the women in your life, and heck even the men, and tell them how much you appreciate their friendship.  A big part of what life is about is spending quality time with people you love and appreciate.

It may come off a bit sappy, but I’m ok with that, and this picture of a shark with a laser beam should make up for that.  I mean seriously what isn’t more manly than a shark with a laser beam strapped to it’s head?

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Anywho, I’ve got a couple of great reads today so be sure and check them out and get your learn on!

Detox diets & juice cleanses: Could they make you more toxic?– Ryan Andrews

The guys over at Precision Nutrition knock it out of the park like usual with this one.  You hear the would detox/cleanse thrown around a lot in the fitness industry, and it can be a bit confusing, but Ryan breaks it down with some great information and a story of how he actually ends up in the hospital while trying a juice cleanse.  It is long however, but worth the read.

10 Reasons Books Are The Best Teachers- Nate Miyaki

Another long one but I couldn’t agree more!  I’ve long been an avid reader, and can’t stress the importance of using books to expand your knowledge and introduce different perspectives.  And what else do you do during a long cold winter like we’ve had here in St Louis?

67 Tips To Happiness, Fulfillment, and Life- Jason Ferruggia

I’ve seen a lot of lists like this and I always enjoy reading these.  There are great nuggets of information, and while I know we won’t realistically implement all these tips, if you just find one or two that really resonate it can set you on the right path to living a more fulfilled life.

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The Fountain Of Youth

Fountain of youth concept.

The longer I am in the fitness industry the more I find myself encouraging clients and friends alike to make strength training a regular part of their exercise programs.  It seems one of the latest trends is to shame cardio and paint the proponents of it as neanderthals.  I don’t believe that, and I really think we as fitness professionals should be called to be more accepting of those modes of exercise that don’t fit in with our own personal preferences.  Let’s be more inclusive as opposed to exclusive.

However, I’ll be the first to admit that cardio isn’t a necessity.  You don’t have to do it in order to maintain health, that is if you’re staying active, be it through strength training or other activity.  And if you’ve ever done a set of walking lunges with a moderately heavy pair of dumbbells in your hands, tell me your heart isn’t about to jump out of your chest when you finish.  If that’s not cardio I’m not sure what is?!  I do feel however, that strength training is a must for anyone, or at least anyone interested in aging gracefully.  I’ve been in my fair share of nursing homes over the years due to the failing health of several of my grandparents, and most recently when walking out my brother said “Just give me a gun before I end up like that”.

It may be crass, but I don’t think anyone likes the thought of having to be spoon fed Jello, especially the green kind that stuff is terrible.  While the thought of living that existence is commonplace for many it doesn’t have to be.  We have a choice, and that choice is strength training.  It really is the closest thing to a fountain of youth, in my opinion.  As I’m sure you’ve heard or depending on your age maybe even noticed, after you hit that sweet spot in your 20’s where you can eat like a garbage disposal without gaining weight, things start to slow down a bit.  And one of those processes is the ability to build lean muscle mass.

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For most of us in our late 20’s the chemical cocktail of hormones that help us pack on new muscle starts to diminish, and that means if we aren’t doing anything about it (strength training), so too does our muscle mass.  Now if the words muscle mass start to conjure up some dude with spiky hair, glowing orange skin, and a banana hammock let’s work to get rid of that association.  Many times the thought of muscles reminds us of bodybuilders and all the negative stereotypes that come along with it, when in fact muscle is the very thing that can prevent you from dribbling chocolate pudding down your chin in the senior living home.

Muscle should not be looked down upon, but should be celebrated as the ultimate in freedom as we age.  Without muscle we get feeble and activities of daily living get tough, but a consistent routine of strength training, can prevent many of these age related issues.  I encourage you to look for inspiring stories of those who can match performance to those decades their junior, because they are all over the internet, and are a testament to what strength training can do for you.  And as a last note strength training does not have to be performed in a gym, it can be done in your basement, your backyard, or your local park, .  Now go and enjoy the beautiful creation that is the human body!