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motivation

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What Does Male Fitness Look Like

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Growing up in the early 90's I spent a large amount of time watching WWF wrestling. These larger than life men running around in their underwear with muscles captivated me. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Slyvester Stallone were all over the movie screens with their oiled up muscular bodies; what boy didn't want to be like Rambo or the Terminator! I wanted to be like them.

5'7" 135lbs

UThat was me my senior year of high school. And this was AFTER discovering what a gym was. I had gained 10 solid pounds over the summer and was "on my way" to being like these guys I idolized as a little boy. 

Today I have a different perspective on the "ideal" male physique. Are we driven to want big, lean muscles because that's something we legitamely want or have we been told by others that's the physique we should aspire to?

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Most men interested in fitness have seen this meme on the internet. From a performance stand point it doesn't make any sense. The activities while similar (both are running) require two completely different physiological adaptations. One is endurance related and the other is power based. To compare the two is apples and oranges.

What I get from this photo dives deeper into the consciousness of Men. It illustrates the point that we should want to be big and muscular. But Why? From an early age we're told that unless you're big and muscular, that you weren't a "real man". Hell even our action figures were buff! So If you don't look like an upside triangle with a giant V-taper, you don't fit society's ideally male body. You aren't built for survival.

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Does this mean you think the marathoner isn't fit? 

Fitness means a lot of different things. I believe being fit comes in a variety of shapes, forms and modalities. Each physique is capable of things the other cannot do. It doesn't mean one is better than the other, it simply means they're different. 

"That dude is scrawny"

So what?
Why does it even matter? I believe it comes down to this: 

How big is big enough?
How strong is strong enough?
How fast is fast enough?

I would argue that unless your job is professional bodybuilder, weightlifter or athlete there should be more or less a target for you to aim for. Why do we lift weights, run and eat well? Other than looking good, its to live a long healthy life. Yes you should strive to always be getting better, but just because someone doesn't fit YOUR ideal depiction of fitness doesn't make them or their goals lesser than.

I'm sick of hearing bodybuilders saying those powerlifters are fat. 

I'm sick of weightlifters saying those bodybuilders aren't functional or mobile.

I'm sick of runners saying I don't do weights because then I'd be slow like those powerlifters.

Regardless of what you enjoy doing, there's A LOT to learn from each other. So instead of focusing on all of our short comings, we should be helping each other get better and be happy. But a lot of guys won't because talking smack is easier than raising each other up, because putting others down means you're a man. A real man, right?

I say that's one insecure man, now could you oil me up while I wear my man thong-singlet for my 10k meet?

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Ball is Life...Until You Have to Pay Your Bills

Tim DiFrancesco of the Los Angeles Lakers w/Jordan Clarkson

Tim DiFrancesco of the Los Angeles Lakers w/Jordan Clarkson

Question I received: "Gary, I really want to get certified as a trainer. I've been lifting since high school and I'm thinking about quitting my job as a pharmacy tech. I really hate it and want to leave as soon as I get certified. I love basketball, so I definitely want to train mostly athletes." 

First off I told him it was great that he figured out what his passion was, but also that it would be a long road ahead with a huge pay cut. If he was happy taking a pay cut to become a trainer then by all means full steam ahead and I would be more than happy to give him resources to be the best trainer he could be. But if he had responsibilities and things to pay for, that he may be better off as a part time trainer initally on his days off to really see if he enjoyed training and working with others for a living.

As a pharmacy tech or any health field background, becoming certified as a trainer isn't a big stretch. The science part should come easy, but those experiences won't cover coaching people. It's easy to train your friend who is young and healthy, but what do you do with the former athlete who has a surgically repaired ACL or bum hip? What happens when you get a difficult client that doesn't seem to take your advice on proper nutrition?

I brought up the point that he's currently employed with a steady job, by leaving the comfort of that job to become his own boss to "train athletes" right out the gate; he would be in for a rude awakening. Some trainers believe that within a year they'll be working with high level athletes. The problem with that naive line of thinking is this:

You've worked with ZERO athletes, what makes you think a million dollar body is going to take a flyer on a rookie trainer? 
(hint: the answer is none)

If he had only mentioned he wished to train athletes in the future I wouldn't have come at him hard with the truth. I've had the opportunity to meet plenty of well intentioned people who like this individual, they quit their jobs to "follow their passion" only to fall flat on their face after going independent. Wishing to be your own boss and actually cultivating all the skills required to succeed are two completely different things.

I've learned this: 

You cannot live wishing to be an entrepreneur when your skill-set and mindset haven't been cultivated to be one

Remember when you're out there on your own, there are zero guidelines on what to do next and how to spend your time. For many the risk of the unknown and leaving something "steady" is not worth it and I would advise this person to seek a different JOB instead of taking a weekend course to change industries cold turkey. 

Some simply can't get organized enough to get a business off the ground. Other's aren't wired to think on a deeper level strategy-wise.  I used to think "what do I need to do? I want to work but I don't know what to do!" If you really don't have any clue what to do, go get a job. I mean there are so many resources and you still don't know what to do!? I.E: Google it! 

It got to the point where I would pester my wife with "so what should I do?" which is an asinine thought considering I was supposed to be my own boss.
(Note: I knew what to do, I was being lazy and didn't want to own up to doing the work)

Being your own boss is a skill too, one that you may not have been born with. You can still be your own boss but to temper expectations if you don't end up rising to the top of your industry. You'll earn 45K instead of 1 million dollars each year.

It boils down to being happy > everything else. 

Ultimately he wrote back and said thank you for my input and that he would be getting certified to start training part time and see if it might be something he wished to pursue full time. He mentioned it hadn't occurred to him that it would be THAT difficult getting in front of ONE professional athlete. I gave him some more resources, said he should try his hand at  working at the high school level and left it off with an open invite anytime he was in Los Angeles to drop on by and I would love to host him for an hour at the gym.

Ball is life...until you have to pay your bills. 

Don't You Have Any Other Interests?

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I recall a conversation with a fellow trainer in our facility who said something along the lines of 

"All you talk about is training and food, don't you have any other interests?"

Of course I do.

I love sports, cats, and I'm even growing an interest in the geopolitical landscape. My biggest "outside" interest which I suppose ties into fitness and food is a burning desire to improve society on a much larger scale.

But all those things take a back seat to what I'm currently focus on. 

I live, breathe and sleep exercise, nutrition, cooking and all that my business entails. 

Here's the thing, if you're happy with the current life you have as a trainer, office worker or salesman; then don't change a thing. Keep doing what you're doing and feel free to mock me and my lack of diverse interests. 

But if you want to make big changes. Make big moves. And you're still late, wasting money or unfocused; how on earth are you ever going to get there?! Your actions don't map out your words. You my friend are, pardon my French, full of sh*t.

I can say this because I once was as well. I would talk a big game, say I'm going to make a lot of money and make a difference in this world. And how is that going to happen by waking up at 10am and barely working a few hours. Hell I watched more TV than I worked!

I've cut out Basketball (which pains me), poker, and "hanging out" because I don't have time for these things these days. This is the classic "I don't have time" excuse. Making more time often comes at the expense of the softball team or the bowling team or the book club; something you've decided to occupy your time with. It should never come at the expense of family time. This feels right to me, while it may be "unhealthy" to you. Whatever the case may be: YOU need to DO YOU.

Every moment, every minute of my life is consumed by the burning desire (you might say obsession) to be the best.

Every morning I wake up not content wanting to be the best version of myself, but to be
The Best

Why I Write

Question: Should I continue to produce content and articles if no one reads or interacts with them?

No one?! I high doubt that it's zero, rather you believe your engagement is too low. 

If something I say or notice might help someone then that alone is reason enough to continue publishing articles and social media content.

I'll continue to work harder at finding things to share and formulate opinions of thoughtful examination to share with these individuals. By doing so I will only continue to get better at writing and creating videos.

And if by chance someone reads this and they give me their trust, it's even better. A win-win for both parties. I have a fan for life or until I say something dumb or no longer provide any value. 

Gaining permission to speak to someone is the most valuable thing, you have their attention. There's no SEO or amount of social media monkey business that allows you to game the system. 

Treat others and run your business the way you operate and navigate the world. I engage with everyone (as long as it's not a bot generated comment or cookie cutter email) who wants to speak to me because I love helping other people when possible. To me it's all about creating connections. And large part of that is sharing something of value. 

I'm A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

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I recently received an e-mail in which I am asked the following:

How do you maintain a positive attitude when you have overly negative clients and can't afford to fire them? You appear to be nice to all your clients, some days I just can't.

Here was part of my response:

I'm actually an asshole, so it's not hard to understand where these people are coming from. I had to work REALLY HARD at improving who I am or better said who I was, a big selfish asshole.

Growing up I was never far from being the punch line to a joke or being pushed around. I had little understanding up until a few years ago how much that had affected me negatively. From my Mom, my extended family or classmates, there's always been a constant source of negativity in or around my life. I was encouraged to do well, so long as it was in an avenue that deemed appropriate like school or a degree towards medicine. 

I always had trouble making friends or initiating conversations with strangers. Even flashing a smile was a pain, preferring to look away from direct eye contact. It's something that didn't come naturally to me. I bottled up my emotions inside, and as a result I was an angry person. An angry person who thought the world had it out for me, and I was putting others down because it was the only way to make myself feel better.

Fast forward to the present day.

While I can "turn it on" and be really outgoing when I need to, it's not who I naturally am. I believe I'll always be a fairly quiet and reserved individual. What I will never be is an overly negative angry person again. Having been in those shoes, perhaps your client needs a friend and I say that in the least condescending way possible. People who are that negative and critical are usually unhappy.

I was an unhappy person. 

I tell you all this to give you context. To give you some background behind WHY someone might be the way they are. Anytime someone is rude, inconsiderate or just straight out mean; I take a second to think why are they acting like that and then respond accordingly. It's often hostility masking another emotion: for me it was a feeling of inadequecy and loneliness. Empathy is an under utilized emotion, practice it and you will be an even better coach.  

Now to the business side of this question, what to do when you really dread the scheduled hour but you need to keep the lights on in your apartment. Well my friend like any good fitness question the answer is it depends.

Can you scale back spending in other areas to make due?
If so, by how much will you be off your necessary monthly income?
If it's not a lot you can decide then if you wish to keep this client.

If not, what are you proactively doing to replace this client? 

We must not act emotionally instead you need to formulate a plan.
Are you marketing?
If so, for how long have you been at it? Has it generated any leads?

Have you tried asking any existing clients for a referral in exchange for a percentage off their next month/package? (By far the best approach)

There's a lot you can do besides simply "firing" the client. Once you can replace the income then you can decide whether or not to cut ties with said "negative" client. Though I would try to take the empathetic route first. I appear to be nice to all my clients because I thoroughly enjoy the time I get to spend with each and every one of them! No acting only geniuine care and love for their health and improvement as people. 


Reflecting back on this response I would like to add this: I am a happy person now. I've learned to forgive those who may have wronged me in the past. I hold no grudges and try to always move forward. I have my health, a fantastic home life, a thriving business and my family; really what would I have to be unhappy about. If you put out love and happiness you'll get just that in return. 

Smile, it costs you nothing and can even turn someone's day around. I am forever grateful for who I was because it's made me the driven person I am today. This is the first holiday season I can say with clarity that I have everything I will ever need. Anything else I accomplish moving forward is simply the cherry on top.