Random Friday: Two Client Stories, A Milestone, Go Me And A Sweet Video

It’s been a quite a while since I’ve done a Random Friday post, and since I have a few different things I wanted to mention, it seemed like a good time to bring it back.  Not too mention it also happens to be Friday.

I had two very cool stories from a couple clients of me this week. 

-The first, a client I’ve been working with since May, informed me a couple days ago that she is having  a yard sale.  The reason is that she been kicking butt and taking names in the gym and with her food choices and almost all of her clothes are too big for her now.

The interesting thing is that  she’s had some friends tell her that she might want to hang on to them…you know…just in case.  It’s amazing to me that people so often have a plan for failure.  I’m crazy proud of this client, not only in her progress, but in her defiance towards ever returning to the body she used to have.  Kudos!

-The second client, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, is moving and we had our last in-person session yesterday.   We were talking a bit about the phenomenal progress she has made.  Of course, I was talking about external, physical progress.  She agreed with me, but then looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me that the real progress was in how she felt about herself and how much her self esteem has improved.  Things like that are always strong reminders to me of how my job is about much more than just vanity.  Thanks to this client for reminding me that this job isn’t just about getting stronger and losing inches.

-I missed a professional milestone of mine.  I realized yesterday that I have been blogging for over a year now.  In fact, I’m about a month late on this.  I know, way to pay attention right?  I’m planning on doing a “Year of Michael Gray Fitness” in the very near future, so be looking for that.

-Speaking of being late, I made a goal in February of 2010 to deadlift 405 lbs by January 1 of 2011.  It didn’t happen.  But thanks to a few friends and clients who have kept me accountable to this goal, yesterday I FINALLY met it.

Admittedly, my back gets a little sloppy, which isn’t that uncommon when pulling PR’s.  But I’m super excited to have met this goal.  This just goes to show that just because you may not meet a goal in the time frame you were hoping, doens’t mean it’s a good idea to give up on it.  455# here I come!

-Here’s another video I saw this earlier this week that I thought was pretty awesome.  It’s a dude dubstepping to Foster The Kids song “Pumped Up Kicks.”  Dubstepping is basically a style of dance that makes your brain freak out from trying to process how what your seeing is actually happening.

-Lastly, just a quick reminder about my “Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss” Seminar that’s coming up.  Be sure and register here.

Have a good weekend!


New Article On EliteFTS!

Yesterday, I had a new article go up on EliteFTS.com.  Click the link below to read it, and be sure to leave a comment letting them know if you liked it!


On a Friday morning last fall, I was at the airport in Boise, Idaho, waiting for my flight to board for a conference in Seattle, Washington. I arrived at the airport around 5:00 a.m. and got through the security gate without a hitch. I had about an hour to kill before boarding began, so I decided to stroll around and do some people watching.

I try not be someone who judges a book by its cover, but sometimes you can tell a lot by watching someone for a few moments. I could tell that this one woman was unhappy with her husband who had just checked out the stewardess. I could tell that the sixteen-year-old kid with a face riddled with acne and his shoulders slumped over so far he almost turned inward didn’t have the greatest sense of self-worth. Human behavior often repeats itself and it’s often indicative of certain attributes...  Continue reading.

An Exercise You Need To Try: Swiss Ball Jackknifes

This is going to be short and sweet, as I’ve got a lot on my “to-do” list today.  By the way, if you want to get a ton done, make a to-do list.  I swear it increases my productivity tenfold.

Everybody, I mean everybody, wants to know what they can do to get better abs.  While I am a huge believer in the fact that unless you get lean enough to see your abs, no amount of training them will make any visual difference, there are some things you can do to not only help those abs stand out, but also make them strong enough to stop a tank.

Swiss Ball Jackknifes are one such exercise. 

Here’s what they look like:

Here’s how to do them:

-Begin in a push up position with your feet on a swiss ball.

-Get your abs and your butt tight to keep your low back and butt from sagging (because no one wants a saggy butt).

-Start the movement by pulling your knees towards your chest using your abs.  Don’t pull with your thighs.

-Reverse the movement by keeping tight and think of “stabbing” your feet back behind you.  This helps keep the abs tight.

Perform 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets.

I will say that if you’re a beginner, this isn’t a good move to start with as it requires a decent level of strength as well as lumbopelvic stabilization.  (That’s a fancy term for the ability to keep your pelvis and low back where there supposed to be.)  One of the things that I like about Swiss Ball Jackknifes is that while there is a good amount of abdominal work happening from flexing the hips, the ball adds a stability element that really fires the abs up.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think!

You Only Get One

I don’t remember who said it or where I read it.  I’m thinking it was either Mike Boyle or Dan John, both coaches who are known for dropping knowledge-bombs all over the place, but it doesn’t matter much.  What I read was something along the lines of this:

If you knew you only got one car for your entire life, how would you take care of it?  Would you let the oil sit in there for tens of thousands of miles, or would you be very timely in your oil changes?  Would you fill it with cheap gasoline that you knew would cause problems over time, or would you do your best to always fill it with high quality gas that would extend the life of your cars parts?  Would you let it sit and rust, or would you actually use it for what it was intended?

The answer of course is the latter of each question.  If you knew you only got one car for your entire life, you would take great care of it because if it wore out you’d either be stuck walking everywhere or bummin’ rides from your friends.  (We all get sick of that guy.) 

Of course, the above question really isn’t about a car at all.

The truth is, we all get one body.  Just one.  We don’t get to trade it in, or lease a new one.  We get the body that we were born with and that is it.

The sad part about this statement is that many of us fail to realize it.  We treat our bodies as if they are expendable.  We fuel our bodies with things that barely resemble foods.  They are processed, manufactured in factories, died to look prettier and more appealing, and on and on.  But, the bottom line is that a lot of the things we feed our bodies are pure crap.

Then we sit all day.  We sit at work.  We sit in the car.  We sit on the couch to watch American Idol and then we go to bed, pop our sleeping pills and lie down for a good medicated night’s sleep…as if we’ve earned it.

Does that sound like a good way to treat something we only get one of?

Does that sound like a good plan for getting the most life out of your body?

What if instead, you fed your body quality food?  Food that was capable of fueling your body for all it’s needs and demands.  Foods that didn’t have to be fortified with vitamins, because they already had vitamins in them.  Foods that did good things in your body and encouraged proper function of your organs and blood.  What if you fed your body foods that didn’t solely come in a bag or a box?

What if instead of letting your body sit and corrode and rust to the point that it no longer resembles it’s original design, you moved it.  What if you got up and let it move the way that it was intended to move. 

I hate to sound all dramatic, but this is all very true.  You get one body.  No replacements.  No trade ins.  How long it lasts and how well it functions as it ages is up to you.  You can take care of it or neglect it, but don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.  Your health and well-being is 100% in your hands.

(For more info on how to keep your body functioning optimally by keeping your body fat low, be sure and register for my “Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss” Seminar for October 22nd.)

Seriously? I Mean, Seriously?!?

I saw a commercial last night that left me scratching my head.  It was for Oreo’s new Triple Double Oreo cookie.  Has anyone else seen this?  It kind of like a Big Mac for cookies.  Basically, it’s a regular Oreo squished together with a chocolate Oreo.  

But it’s one cookie. Aside from the fact that there seems little point to this cookie other than trying to be extreme in nature, and that it has joined the ranks of KFC’s Double Down and Wendy’s Quadruple patty burger monstrosity in the Hall of Fame for food ridiculous-ness, the thing that struck me the most was not the cookie at all.  

Watch this commercial for Oreo’s Triple Double cookie and see if you see the same thing I did.

Did you see it?

Did you notice who all four of the spokespersons were?  Yup, they were all world class athlete’s.

Tennis star Venus William’s

New York Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning

Olympic Speed Skater Apollo Ono

And retired basketball great Shaq

Four athletic greats pitching a processed, fatty, sugar laden cookie.

Does that seem wrong to anyone else?

Shouldn’t athletes be hawking vegetables or fruits or a good solid breakfast?  Shouldn’t they be encouraging people to eat things that can actually help them be healthier? 

I find this kind of thing pretty frustrating. 

Now I’m not saying that someone could never eat a Triple Double Oreo (although the thought of it makes my stomach turn a little), or other junk food for that matter.  But it’s frustrating that athletes and celebrities see a pay check, join forces with a cookie mascot, and lend their name and influence to something that is made of complete crap.  Especially when many kids look up to them.

On a completely unrelated note, it’s been shown that even more than cartoon mascots, celebrities and athletes, parents and other influential adults have the greatest impact on kids and their eating habits.

I’ll let you connect the dots on this one.

Poor Form Fix: The Kettlebell Swing

For those of you who missed it, Tuesday I (finally) released the details for my up coming “Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss” Seminar.  Knowing that fat loss is just about everyone’s physique goals (or at least one of their goals), I really think everyone can and will benefit from this seminar.  Be sure and go here for details as well as to register.

In the last several years, kettlebells have gained a lot of popularity, and for good reason.  They have a lot of versatility and are easily transported so that you can get a good training session in virtually anywhere.  

One of the more popular movements to use with a kettlebell is the swing.  However, as with most things that have tremendous benefit, they have some technical components that need to be learned to execute them properly, avoid getting injured and getting the most out of each rep.

This means that usually what happens is that people see something, think “I can do that”, go to the gym, grab a kettlebell and give it a go.  More often than not, what they wind up doing is a far cry from the original.

It usually winds up looking something like this:

You may be thinking to yourself, “that looked pretty good to me.”  And there is the problem.  Kettlebell swings have been so massively and poorly reproduced that what people recogonize as “correct” is actually very wrong and potentially dangerous.

The swing is designed to be an explosive movement for the hips.  Being explosive in the hips has a ton of benefit for athletes as well as the Average Joe in terms of lifting properly and avoiding injury in daily life.

If you watch the above video again, you’ll notice that the movement isn’t at all explosive, but rather a long laborious swing, and there is much more work being done in the back then the hips.

What a swing should look like is much more like this:


-At the bottom of the movement you should have minimal knee bend.  This is where most people screw it up.  They turn this into a squat and lose all potential for explosion.  The hips should be pushed back and you should feel good tension in your hamstrings.

-Think of “snapping” the weight up with your hips.  This isn’t a shoulder exercise where you’re pulling the weight up with your shoulders.  Think of throwing the kettlebell with the “snap” from your hips.

-Bring the kettlebell to roughly shoulder height.  Some people will tell you to bring it above your head, but I believe this reduces the explosiveness as well as the element of you controlling the weight and puts the weight in control of you.

-At the top of the movement you should have a great squeeze in your butt.  This is a good indicator of whether or not your finishing the movement with your hips or your back.

-On the way down, pull the kettlebell into your groin.  As Dan John says, “attack the zipper”.  You should literally pull the bell back into your zipper area aggressively.  If you let the weight simply fall back down, you lose all of your tension and your potential to be explosive on the following rep.  Remember, this isn’t a slow movement like the pendulum of a clock, this should be a quick, explosive and choppy movement.  It’s not art, it’s aggressive. (Admittedly, in my above video, I should be pulling the kettlebell down with more force.)

-Repeat the movement

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping the movement in the hips.  As Dan John has also mentioned, if you feel this in your low back, it’s your fault-meaning you’re doing it wrong.

If anyone is interested in watching a 13:00 minute video on more in depth video, Dan John gives some instruction here that is well worth the watch.

Put these elements into practice, swing properly and enjoy the benefits of the Kettlebell Swing!

(Don’t forget to register for the Fat Loss Seminar!)

Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss

I mentioned a week or two ago that I was planning on holding a fat loss seminar here in Ontario some time in the very near future.  Admittedly, it was a bit of a premature announcement seeing how I didn’t have any details, but hey can you blame a guy for being excited?

Anyway, I now actually have the details and thought a little more formal announcement was in order…you know, in case anyone actually wants to attend.  So here we go:

Hear ye, hear ye! On October 22nd of the year of our Lord 2011, I, Michael Andrew Gray the first, will be holding the “Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss” Seminar extravaganza!!!  (Fancy right?)

But seriously, despite my lame attempt at being funny, the info above is accurate.  This will be roughly a three hour seminar covering all the elements of fat loss:

-how to eat for weight loss

-how to get the most out of your training sessions

-how to stay motivated and on track when your fat loss efforts seem to stall out

-and on and on and on

I will literally be covering every aspect of fat loss.

Be sure and check out my FAT LOSS SEMINAR page as it has all the details as well as a registration form for the seminar.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below!

I hope to see you all there!

(Please share on Facebook and help spread the word!)