Random Friday

I was just sitting here, eating my breakfast (cottage cheese, greek yogurt and almonds) and mentally preparing for this mornings workout when I thought “Hey mister, why don’t you write this weeks Random Friday blog?”  So that’s what I’m doing.

-My wife and I, along with a couple friends, are going to dinner tonight and then to see Ingrid Michaelson.  We saw her about a year ago and it was easily one of the best shows I have ever seen.  If you ever get the chance to see her-GO.  And yes, I’m going to eat what I feel like eating and maybe have dessert.  It’s OK to have a couple cheat meals throughout the week as long as they’re planned and you are sticking to a healthy diet the rest of the time.

(Whoever shot this video didn’t do a very good job, but it’s pretty good sound quality for a live recording.)

-I’ve been toying around with more barefoot training with myself, and I have to say I’m really liking it.  I’ve started doing all my warm-up stuff in my socks as well as some of my lower-body lifts.  It’s making a difference in my ankle mobility as well as my balance.  Here’s a great article by Eric Cressey discussing why our modern footwear could be more detrimental than helpful.

-I mentioned a few week ago that I would be interviewing a chiropractor that I met at the Boise Health and Fitness Fair.  We’ve been doing the interview this week, so be looking for that towards the end of next week.

-I know I already said it this week but, peanut butter and banana sandwiches (especially in flatout bread) are awesome!

Have a good weekend!


How good is the information you’re getting?

I saw the following video about a week ago and it really got me thinking.  I decided to blog on my thoughts on it today.  Before I continue, here’s the video.

The part that struck me the most was this sentence, “There will be no equipment and it will take up your time.”  Ian King (the dude talking) makes a fantastic point on both the consumer of fitness products and the marketer.  And the point doesn’t feel too good.

My first thought was, “Yup, the typical American consumer wants to purchase something that gives them the promise of great results in limited time.”  Because if it’s free it can’t possibly have much value, right?  But after stewing on this for a few days, I think this point was minor compared to the subtle comment he’s making on the marketing side of things.  (At least to me it was subtle.)

Ian is saying that his “idea” for a product would never fly because there is no product (nothing to sell) and the need of instant gratification isn’t met (it’s going to take a lot of time.)

Follow this train of thought with me for a moment.  If ideas and thoughts that can’t be sold or that don’t gratify instantly never make it to market, then we can assume that only products which can be sold and gratify instantly will be marketed.  (I know that’s pretty obvious.)  But if that is the case, then we are only being “sold” ideas/thoughts/products that people can make money off of and can be sold as “quick acting”.  (I know it sounds like I’m saying the same thing over and over, but bear with me.)  So if that is the case, then one of two things are true.  Either 1. Only ideas that can be sold and take little time have any value to your fitness goals. Or, 2. A great deal of valuable information is being withheld due to the fact that people can’t make money off of it and it takes too long.

I have a hard time believing that information that can’t be sold and takes time, has no value.  (For crying out loud what is this blog all about-free information.  And how often do I preach about consistency?)  So all this leaves us is, the latter.  Keeping all this in mind, here is my question.  If we’re only being sold things that can be bought and take little time, how valuable and well-rounded is the information we’re getting?

My guess is not very good.  When late night television screams “8 minute abs at you,” the video might be lacking a bit.  When a magazine (which you purchased) tells you you can drop a dress size this week, it may not be the best/safest way to do that.

This is the very reason I have such great respect for the people who’s blogs I read.  (See my blogroll to the left.)  Everyday I get access to a ton of free information.  These people are titans in the fitness industry and they shell out all kinds of free info day after day after day.  In fact, this is the reason that I wanted to start a blog of my own.  I was sick of the crappy information that I was reading everywhere.

Sure some of these people have products that they sell.  In fact, I actually purchased one of them not too long ago.  Eric Cressey’s “Show and Go.”  But here’s the big difference: A great deal of the information included, I’ve seen on his blog, for free.  Also, the program is 16 weeks of training programs, 5 workouts a week, and 3 of the workouts take between 60-75 minutes.  No instant gratification there.  (By the way, it is an awesome product.)

Be wary of the “marketing”.  Be smart and don’t dismiss information that is freely dispensed.  In fact, seek it out.  And if someone/something  in anyway speaks to instant gratification, run…

Exercises you should be doing: Swiss Ball Roll-outs

Just to let all of you know, I recently spent a whopping $17 dollars to make this blog a little more official.  Instead of michaelgrayfitness.wordpress.com it is now simply michaelgrayfitness.com.  It’s a little easier to remember, as well as to say.  The old address will still take you here, but the new one will make it easier for you to tell your friends when your going on and on to them about this amazing blog you read all the time.  I’m really just thinking of you here.

It makes absolutely no sense to have this picture here.

As I’ve mentioned before the main roll of the abs is to provide stability throughout the torso.  This is why I train my clients abs (as well as my own) to do just that.  One of my favorite exercises to promote stability is the Swiss Ball Roll-Out.  This exercise, when done correctly, is very challenging and will most likely leave you with no doubt that you’ve trained your abs.

Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s how to do it:

-Start on your knees, facing a Swiss Ball with your hands on the side of the ball closest to you.  If you start with your hands on top of the ball you will wind up laying on it when you extend out.

-Keeping the abs tight, roll the ball away from you.  Extend out as far as you can while still able to maintain a tight mid-section.  If your hips sag or your butt sticks out, you’ve gone too far.

-Pause briefly, and pull back in using the abs.  Make sure you don’t pull in using your arms.

-Do not stick your butt out.  This completely ruins the efficacy of the exercise.

Here is a more advanced variation of the same exercise, the Barbell Roll-out:

The same rules apply for this as for the Swiss Ball variation.


Online Personal Training

There are usually three reasons people give for not being able to do personal trianing.

-Time (Our schedules don’t line up.)

-Distance (You live too far from me.)

-Finances (Your piggy bank’s hurting.)

I completely understand that some or all of these can absolutely be legitimate reasons.  This is why I offer online personal training.

-You do it at a time that is convienient for you.

-Since it’s all done online, it doesn’t matter how far from me you live.

-It’s quite a bit cheaper than training in person.

(Just to let you know today is a bit of information and a bit of a sales pitch.  I promise these won’t happen too often.)

What you can expect from me with online personal training:

A completely unique program, designed specifically around your needs and goals as well as recreational activities.  If you take someone who likes to golf and someone who likes to run, I guarantee they are going to have different imbalances.  The repetative motions each of them experience during these activites are completely different.  This means they will need to strengthen different areas as well as have aches and pains in different areas.  All things that cookie cutter programs do not address.

My full attention.  A lot of online programs I’ve seen simply give you a list of exercises as well as rep/set schemes.  After that it’s simply “OK, now go have fun!”  This kind of misses the “personal” aspect of personal training.  With me, you get continual daily support as you need it.  For example, one of my regular clients sent me a text the other day that said, “I’m not going to be able to make it to the gym.  What can I do at home?”  My response was to write her up a bodyweight routine that she could perform at home in lieu of what she would normally have done at the gym.  You also have access to me for questions about your program, nutritional support, etc.

Videos for every exercise.  This includes warm-up, mobility work as well as strength training.  I feel this is something that really sets my online training apart from others.  I could tell you to do a Barbell Reverse Lunge with Front Squat Grip, but you would probably have no clue what that means.  Of course, you could look that up on youtube and hopefully get a demonstration that maybe shows somewhat decent form.  But I would much rather show you myself.

My “expertise”.  I use the term “expertise” VERY loosely.  I’ve only been in this game for a couple years which makes me very young.  At the same time the average trainer only lasts about a year.  Also, I spend between 8-10 hours a week reading, researching and studying how to become better at what I do.  For example, yesterday I had a client of mine “walk” into a session hunched over and limping due to a great deal of pain in her right glute and hip.  So we completely threw out what we were going to do (it would have been borderline abuse to even try and attempt it) and spent our time getting her feeling a bit better.  None of the things I had her do were things that I learned while going through my personal trainer’s course.  They were all things I’ve learned since then through my own continuing education.   Incidentally, she walked out of that session upright.

Results.  This was an actual online training client of mine.  Before and 4 weeks later.  This client lost 10 lbs. and had  decrease of 3% body fat.

Online training can be a great tool for you in your fat loss or strength gain goals.  It’s perfect for those who live too far away to meet or for those who live in the same town as me but need a more affordable way to train.  If you or someone you know is interested check out the services page for more info and feel free to contact me.

What I’m eating

I get asked a lot what I eat.  So I thought it might make for a somewhat interesting blog post to talk about a few of the staples I have in my diet.  I tend to eat the same things for a while (it takes the thinking out of it) so I’ll mention some of those too.

Spinach.  This is pretty much my “go to” green vegetable.  I put it eggs, in a sandwich or wrap, I even put it in my protein shakes.  (You don’t taste it.)  It’s super versatile and incredibly nutrient dense.  Not to mention it’s crazy low calorie.

Protein Shakes.  Usually I mix mine in water.  They take about 10 seconds to make and provide anywhere between 20-30 grams of easily digestible protein.  You can mix them in milk if water is too thin for your liking.

Turkey Bacon.  This took me a few tries to get into.  It’s kind of got a bacon taste to it, but after eating it a few times I didn’t think about it being different.  This goes in pretty much every one of my omelets or batch of scrambled eggs.  It’s got a lot less fat and calories than regular bacon.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-fat (or even anti-saturated fat) but it’s a good way to reduce caloric intake.

Flatout Bread.  Although this goes against my general rule of thumb to eat foods that are low in number of ingredients, these aren’t too bad on the nutrition facts side of things.  They boast 100 calories, 8 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar.  I use these for breakfast burritos and wraps.  They’re not amazing but they get the job done.

Greek Yogurt.  This has been a regular attender in my diet for a while now.  Admittedly I can’t stand cottage cheese.  I think it’s quite disgusting.  The only way I can eat is by covering it in yogurt.  I had a problem doing this with regular yogurt due to the high fructose corn syrup and sugar content.  As well as the paltry amount of protein.  Then Greek yogurt stepped into my life.  My personal favorite brand is Chobani.  Completely natural and a whoping 14 grams of protein.  Mix this with some cottage cheese, blueberries and handful of almonds and you’ve got a mighty fine on-the-go breakfast.

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.  This is a new one for me, but I love it.  It’s incredibly quick and easy to make.  A couple slices of whole grain bread, some natural peanut butter (yes, natural-not the regular crap people buy that’s basically the filling of a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.) and a banana.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

So how about you?  What are you eating?

Random Friday

Here’s this weeks wonderfully entertaining installment of “Random Friday.”

-The wife of one of my good friends shared this with me a while ago, and I think it’s pretty hilarious. Garfield Minus Garfield is basically the Garfield comic strip with out Garfield.  Jon winds up looking completely insane.

Eric Cressey’s blog post from today is pretty awesome.  What can you learn from an un-potty-trained puppy?

-I recently saw the movie trailer for True Grit and it looks pretty sweet.  It’s a remake of a John Wayne Classic and the Coen Brothers (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?) always deliver.

Have a good weekend!

Feel Better

Do you ever hear someone say something and think “Did they really just say that?”  Maybe you catch the very end of a conversation and think, “They couldn’t possible have meant that.”  I had one of those experiences the other day.

I had just finished up a session with a client and was picking up after myself.  (Yes, I do occasionally pick up after myself.)  I had left my foam roll and lacrosse ball out and a couple women had spied them.

One of them asked the other, “Have you ever used one of those foam things?”  To which the second woman replied, “Yeah, I used one once, but I didn’t feel any better afterwards.”

Really…you tried it…once?

To me, that’s the equivalent of saying, “I worked out once, but I didn’t lose any weight.”

Foam rolling/using a lacrosse ball is not a magic, one time fix.  It’s something you need to do religiously to see benefits from.  To think that you can undue years of built up scar tissue and adhesions in the muscle in just a few minutes is pretty ridiculous.  You can make progress each time you foam roll, but I tell my clients that it’s probably going to take 6-10 sessions of rolling to start to feel the benefits of it, especially in the places that are really bound up.

If you’re foam rolling, take your time with it.  Keep at it, and certainly don’t disregard it because it didn’t work after one try.

You can purchase a foam roll here.

And a lacrosse ball here, or at a local lacrosse store.

Foam rolling, can be a bit painful, and it isnt always incredibly fun.  You can’t see it, but in the following video from about 0:27-0:33, I’m trying not to cry.  (I’m only half joking.  Oh, and yes I know my socks are dirty.  I had been deadlifting earlier in the day which of course is done with the shoes off and so they got a little dirty, OK?  Yes, I know how to wash my socks.  I just lay them on the top rack with the bowls and tupperware right?)

Keep at it.  It does pay off.