Going To An Auction

A few weeks ago I went to a fitness equipment auction to buy some equipment for the new SST that is opening in Richmond Hill. This was my first auction and it was an eye opener.

On the day of the auction they have a viewing period to allow you to look at the stuff they are selling. I got there about 30 minutes before the auction started and took full advantage of this opportunity. There was a lot of traditional cardio machine, a bunch of spinning bikes, some benches, some weight machines and a bunches of Olympic plates. I had my eye on one of the spinning bikes for home and for the new center I wanted to buy a bench for bench press, a preacher curl bench, a lat pull down machine and maybe some of the weights. The stuff was in really good condition, better than I had anticipated so if the price was right people were going to be getting a very good deal.

If you have never been to an auction before, it’s very much like what you see on TV – the auctioneer calls the item number, talks about the item a little and suggests an opening bid. If someone likes the suggested bid they will raise their hand or say something to alert the auctioneer that they accept the bid. If they don’t like the bid, there is an uncomfortable silence and the auctioneer will fill it with a joke, some begging, or a truthful comment that we (the people at the auction) are “hammering his balls trying to steal the stuff from him”. It was kind of embarrassing and very funny. The auctioneer did a really good job.

There were a few bidding wars that I didn’t participate in – we do need the rubber flooring, but I wasn’t going to pay $55 a sheet for it because it costs about $80 new. I would have paid up to $30 for 90 lbs worth of bummer plates but when the price went over $100 I thought the people had lost their mind (these two plates sold for $160 which isn’t a bad price but way more than what I was willing to part with).

The deal of the night was $450 for 3 Free Motion pulley Machines. These three pieces were way too big for what we need them for, but they were practically new and they are beautiful machines. I think these items would have cost up to $2000 EACH new. If our location was bigger I would have bought them.

We ended up with 3 items. A Hammer Strength military press bench, a preacher curl bench with Olympic EZ curl bar, and a back extension bench. The total cost with taxes and the sellers cut was about $550. To get these items new it would cost over $2200 so it was a good deal.

I’ll be going to more of these auctions as time goes on. I’m sure there will be plenty of deals coming up.

Speed Training – Uncovering Imbalances

SST is running their Lightening Speed Camp again and the coaches have been getting ready for it by working their way through the drills to make sure we know what we’re doing and to make sure things do smoothly when we’re working with the athletes.

I have never done any speed training for running before. My speed training is for the bike and it focuses on getting me up a hill or around another rider quickly. Most of my power comes from my quads and glutes for the passing and from my quads and hamstrings for the hill climbing. When I started doing the drills for the speed training I was anticipating that they would be a piece of cake given my level of fitness and relative strength, but I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. Turns out that I have a few imbalances or recruitment issues what make sprinting efficiently fairly difficult for me. Worse than this is that these issues have been having a negative impact on my cycling power as well.

Below is a list of the issues I uncovered, how they impact my riding and what I need to do to correct them:

Hip flexors are weak on both sides and I have a recruitment issue with my left side. My tensor fasciae latae was KILLING me on both sides for a few days after the training. This came primarily from the wall knee drives. It’s safe to say that the other muscles that flex the hips are also weak – psoas and illacus. These impact my riding because the hips do flex when pulling the pedals from the 9 o’clock position to the 1 o’clock position. I’ll address these issues by doing more knee ups, a hanging leg cycling movement and hanging leg raises with my toes facing out. I’ll also benefit from doing more sprinting. My goal is not to add a lot of strength to them. Instead I will focus on improving muscle recruitment.

The bottoms of my feet were really sore in the days after. This makes sense because I lift with my feel flat on the floor and when I ride, my shoes have a stiff sole meaning that the muscles in the foot do not have to do very much. I’m losing a little big of power by having loose feet although it isn’t that much. I’ll address this one by doing more running – particular starts and starting to use the power runner machine we have at SST.

My VMO’s were sore. I know I have some recruitment issues with my vastus medialus because my knees sometimes get sore after riding a lot. I’ve been working on this by doing Poliquin step-ups, hack squats with my heal on a step and lots of split squats. The VMO is active mainly when in the first and last 20-30 degrees of knee extension so the alternating wall knee-ups with complete knee extension of the lower leg caused the pain. This issue impacts my riding because I’m not firing these muscles when I need to when the front foot is between 3-6 o’clock in the peddle stroke.

My calf muscles were killing (primarily the gastrocnemius and not so much with the soleus). This one shocked me a little because I have good calf development and I do a lot of movements that use them. However, I haven’t been training them with heavy loads very often because I figured I was getting enough work with the riding. I was wrong. I’ve been losing power with the 4-6 o’clock position of the peddle stroke because of this. To address this I have a variety of options. Lots of standing ankle extension (gastrocnemius), some seated ankle extensions (soleus), back squats with ankle extensions at the end, and forward sled dragging.

The front of my lower leg was somewhat sore but it should have been killing. This indicates a recruitment issue with my tibialis anterior and a possible (very likely) flexibility issue with the antagonist muscles on the back of my lower leg (gastrocnemius and soleus). These issues would impact the 6-11 o’clock position of the peddle stroke as I pull from the very bottom to the top. I’ll address the flexibility issue by doing more stretching of the lower leg. I’ll fix the recruitment issue by doing toe raises, focusing on lifting the front part of the lead foot when doing split squats and by doing some ankle flexion work with band.

All in all I’m losing a fair amount of power that I wasn’t aware of. What’s funny is that I wouldn’t have become aware of it had I not tried the running speed drills. The lesson here is one about diversifying my training and not doing the same thing all the time. I’m fairly sure that if I tried cross country skiing I would uncover more information about how my body is functioning that would make me a better rider.

Finding Our Space – New Facility

On Tuesday we started our search for a space for the new SST location in Richmond Hill. This isn’t the same as looking for a new place to live. There are so many things to consider that one doesn’t even have to think about when they are looking for a new apartment or house. For example, my concerns when house hunting are grocery shopping, proximity to riding, proximity to a decent gym, space and safety. These things aren’t of much concern when looking for a place to open a gym.

So far our concerns are focused on a few key areas:

Parking. We need lots of parking. Our needs are somewhat different from a typical commercial or industrial business in that our peak times are going to be early in the morning (6-10) and after school (from 4 PM on). This offers some flexibility but we do need to be sure there is room for all of the people who come to the facility to park regardless of when they come to workout.

Location relative to where the people live, where they are coming from and where they are going to. We need to be easy to get to. While our services are first rate, people won’t show up if it takes them too long to get there or if they have a difficult time getting home. We saw a few locations that were the ideal space – very long for a good running track – but they were well away from the residential areas, which took them out of the running.

Dimensions. We’re looking for a space that is between 3500 – 6000 sq feet but it needs to have a track / turf area. Given that SST focuses on making athletes faster, the track needs to be long enough to allow the athletes to get up to top speed but leave them with enough room to slow down. For this reason, a 60 / 60 space isn’t going to provide us with the length we need. The space we’re looking for needs to be a rectangle and not a square.

Lighting. A location that has poor lighting inside is not going to help motivate people to work hard. If there are no windows people may feel closed in and not like coming to workout. If the lighting outside is bad, people won’t feel safe coming to the center when it is dark.

Feeling we get from the space. Can we see a functioning gym existing in the space and one that we are happy to work in? Once we sign the lease and open the center we are there for years. If the space cannot be made into a comfortable location, there’s no point in setting-up shop. The center’s success will be determined by the attitudes of the people who work there so we need to make sure that we can be upbeat all of the time. The space itself needs to motivate people to push past their perceived limitations and achieve what they believe is impossible.

Vision for the final product. We need to be able to visualize the finished facility from a layout perspective. There needs to be a logical layout for the offices, track and workout areas where nothing presently exists and this layout needs to make the most of the available space.

The process of finding the perfect space is a challenge but one that I’m enjoying and learning from. It’s a challenge that almost every business goes through so I know we’re going to open in a great location that meets the needs of our athletes and our team!

The Opportunity I’ve Been Waiting For

My best friend once told me that if you don’t go looking for what you want, you’ll end up settling for what you get. He was right. Before I took his advice I had lots of jobs that were soul destroying and very unsatisfying. Right before I took his advice I quit my job and spend a month travelling the east coast with a tent, my bike and enough money to buy food, beer and a few other things that I may need along the way. I’ll tell you this, it was one of the best months of my life and I learned a lot about myself during my time on the trails, roads and sitting in the tidal water with a belly full of Keith’s Light and growing desire to find my purpose in life.

When I made the decision to quit my job and take the trip I hadn’t realized that my old life was ending and that a new one was beginning – life is funny like that, you really don’t know that a paradigm shift has occurred until you look back on it and that see something new started.

Fast forward to now. I have just started the next chapter of my purpose filled life. Larry, my old boss, friend and owner of Sports Specific Training is expanding his company into Richmond Hill and helped me secure the role as Director Of Sports Programing for the facility. This is the dream role for me. This is the job that I have always wanted (at least since that trip out east when I began dream of getting what I wanted out of life vs. getting what I get).

I am a helper, a guide and a facilitator of change. My purpose in life is to help others achieve their potential. The role I play is to add something to the equation that allows one to move past their plateaus or sticking points and find greater success in their life. As a strength and conditioning coach, the opportunities to do this are huge. As the Director of Sports Programing, these opportunities are almost limitless given that I’ll be creating the programs for the athletes along with leading the team of strength and conditioning coaches.

To say that I am happy or excited about this opportunity would be a modest understatement. I am ecstatic! This role is a singular accumulation of all of my past work experience – my 3 years in IT management, 2 years in fitness club management, 2 years of personal training, 2 years of sales, 2 years of instructing fitness classes and my endless hours in the gym training. It will even draw from unsatisfying soul destroying jobs I took before I realized I had a choice to do what I wanted. I am grateful and see myself as lucky for having decided to work at what am passionate about for long enough to earn the opportunity to do this role.

Over the next few months I will be writing about the experience of opening the new center and my experience of starting this dream role. Check back often to get the updates of the important changes, benchmarks and personal growth steps I take along the way. I look forward to all of it!

New Exercise This Week

Mid cable core rotations / holds. This movement works the entire core along with recruiting the VMO and Gluteus medius and Gluteus minimus. It also recruits the pecs in an isometric contraction.

To preform this movement you need to be standing in front of a mid cable machine that has a handle attachment. Your feet and hips will be in line and will be at a 45 degree angle to the front of the machine and your upper body will be rotated about 45 degrees towards the machine. You take the handle in both hands and straighten you arms so they are extend and at shoulder height. Once you are in this position you rotate your upper body so your shoulders are in-line with your hips and feet.

If you are doing static holds, you hold this position for 15-30 seconds before rotating to the starting position and resetting to work the other side.

If you are doing dynamic movements, you use a tempo of 211 with a 1 second lift, 1 second hold and 2 lowering of the weight. Do 8-12 reps and switch to the other side.

What I like about this movement is the VMO and glute recruitment that you don’t normally get with core rotational movements.

The Dreamer of Ridiculous Dreams

I haven’t written on newstasis in a while because I have had very little inspiration. I left my management job at SST in August and found a job as an IT recruiter. I figured I would try it out and see what it was like and for 7 weeks I was a recruiter. When I took the job I thought that I had found something that I was going to love and make a career out of. I didn’t. I do not have what it takes to be a successful IT recruiter; mainly because I do like it and can’t see myself doing it for much longer than a couple of months.

But there was a lesson in the whole process and now that I am back with SST I’m able to see things more clearly.

I am a pathological optimist. Rachel would say that I have a tendency to dream and I would agree with her. Often times my dreams taint my judgement and I make decisions that are based on the happy-blissful feeling I get when I’m thinking about all the things that are possible vs. the slightly muted or dull feeling that is associated with the acceptance of how things actually are. The end result is that I agree to things that are, in hindsight, not suited for me. IT recruiting is another example of this tendency.

I knew even before I started doing it that the fit was wrong – Rachel knew, my friends knew, my family knew – but such was my decision to leave SST and try something new. They all supported me because that’s what you do with someone who dreams the ridiculous dream.

At 35 I’m not sure I should even attempt to change this aspect of my personality because I don’t see it to be a flaw. In fact, I think people could benefit from being a little more optimistic about the future. I would say that being hopeful for the possibility for change is a requirement for things to get better; at the very least, it’s a requirement for seeing things in a different and better way. This seeing things as better and believing that they can be this way is the first step in make your world the way you want it to be. Even if this means taking on jobs that you don’t like after 7 week.

Hey, I could have been right and found my happiness as an IT recruiter.

CanFitPro – Certification I Now Hold

I attended and took a lot out of the 2008 CanFitPro conference in Toronto. I was like 1000’s of people who attended with the intention of gain new qualifications, certifications and experiences that will make their journey through the fitness land-scape more rewarding and more enriching for those they interact with. I now hold two certifications that I didn’t hold before – my Spinning certification and my CanFitPro PTS certifcation.

So What?

I’m now qualified to be a personal trainer and to teach indoor group cycling classes at places other than GoodLife; given that my LMI RPM certification only qualifies me to teach at GoodLife in Canada.

What now?

There are two things I need to consider now, the first is the easier of the two and that is to create and market some All Terrain cycling classes using my own choice of music and my own choreography. This shouldn’t take me too long given that I’ve been riding while listening to music for the last 4 years. Things I need to complete before I’m ready to launch my class include getting my computer set up with music editing software so  I can cut and paste songs to create the specific profile that a track requires, track objectives or scenarios, riding and hand positions and their names, class format stuff (e.g. length and pacing) and the materials to teach participants about zone training.

The tougher of the two things is setting up a personal training company. I say this is going to be tougher because unlike cycling classes, I’m NOT already doing this. While I have trained before, it was working at GoodLife and at SST, but this is going to be the first time that I have gone out on my own to do it. I’ll need to come up with waivers, educational materials addressing nutrition and lifestyle behaviors, templates for workouts, assessment materials and tests, goals sheets, designing workouts, creating and pricing a list of services, training clients, building a client base and marketing myself as a trainer and a brand.

There is a good connection between teaching cycling classes and being a personal trainer given that both are natural next-steps for the active person. They are a great complement for each other in that those who do a lot of riding should also be doing some weight training and those who do a lot of resistance training should be doing some intense cardio based training.

It’s going to be a fun and challenging venture and I’m looking forward to see how this next chapter of my life works out! Stay tuned for updates!

CanFitPro Toronto 2008 – Some Lessons/Observations

I attended the CanFitPro conference in Toronto this weekend. Rachel volunteers at it every year and brought me along so she could share the experience with me. I had a really good time and learned a lot. I took the Spinning orientation course on Thursday because I want to start creating my own indoor cycling classes and didn’t have the credentials to do it; now I do and will write more about that in a later post. Below are some of the things that I took out of attending the conference that didn’t relate to indoor cycling:

  • Whey protein is both anabolic and anti-catabolic. People who have normal kidney function will not run into difficulties by taking it. In fact, the positive effects of taking it are so great that almost everyone should be taking it.
  • When someone has an allergy, their body’s cannot handle a certain protein that a food contains. People who have difficulty with lactose are intolerant and NOT allergic to it. For these people, they may be able to consume whey isolate because it contains almost no lactose.
  • Elderly people, children and some athletes do not get enough protein. The protein requirements for endurance athletes are greater than all other athletes because once the stored glycogen is used up, the body starts to use protein to create glucose to keep movement going.
  • The absorption rate of creatine is almost 50% when taken with 90 grams of carbs or with 45 grams of whey and 45 grams of carbs. Therefore, if you are taking creatine, you should be taking it in your post workout shake and never by itself.
  • Free range or wild meat is better for you than commercial meat because it contains less chemicals and it grew-up eating what it evolved to eat; not relying on humans to create a diet. It’s important to realize that commercial farmers are going to feed their livestock to maximize profit vs. boosting nutrient density.
  • I have developed a sort of immunity to beautiful sales people. I’m more likely going to listen to what an average person has to say about a product vs. a beautiful person. When I talk to beautiful people about what they are selling I get that feeling in my gut that someone is trying to control me. I credit “Blink” for this sense and it is still most important book that I have ever read.
  • The fitness industry is loaded with trends and distracting products and marketing. Is it any wonder why many outsiders don’t want anything to do with fitness professionals given the line of crap that many of us spew? I don’t believe that standing on a vibration plate for 10 minutes is the same workout as running on a treadmill for 60 minutes; but many people are convinced to believe this and are out thousands of dollars because of it. Oh, and gym sticks are so hot right now.
  • Almost anything works for as long as it takes the body to adjust to it. Time under tension is one variable to control, but you’ll get good results not caring about it for a while so feel free to switch things up every now and then.
  • Power endurance is built by eliminating the rest time between the strength move and the power move during the super set – do your heavy front squats and move immediately to your jump squats instead of waiting 45 to 60 seconds between them.
  • It’s a bad idea to schedule a pre-season NFL game the same weekend as a fitness conference. Buffalo and Pittsburgh played at the Rogers center on Thursday. When I walked out of the convention center and happened upon 1000’s of NFL fans I couldn’t help but notice the difference between these two groups of people. On one side is a group of people who care about their health and fitness and on the other side are a group of people who care about football and tailgating. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going because I had been inside most of the day where the fitness people were looking like fitness people being lean and eating fruit and healthier food. Outside the people had a different type of mass, there was lots of beer and the smell of sausages filled the air. Both groups got along in so far as the fitness people could feel superior about their lifestyle choices and the football fans knew they could kick some ass.

I had a lot of fun and look forward to going back to it next year! If you have never gone you may want to consider it.

Thinking About Fish Oil

People should eat more fish because fish is an excellent source of protein and fish oil.

The benefits of taking fish oil are huge – check out Fish Oil And Fat Loss for a fairly detailed list of the positive effects. I personally have noticed a decrease in the joint pain since I started taking them about 8 months ago. My skin has improved; I have less acne and fewer ingrown hairs. My body feels better than it did before I started taking them. I am stronger than I have ever been and I have been able to add a fair amount of lean mass while maintaining a fairly low body fat percentage.  I take between 3-8 grams of fish oil per day and would recommend this to others, particularly people who are over weight or active.

I take 1 gram capsules which I leave in the freezer to eliminate the fishy after-taste. I try to take them with other food so the body won’t use the fat for energy – I’m not sure if this makes any difference but it seems logical that the body will use the sugar first. My morning breakfast is oatmeal, protein powder, water with some fish oil capsules and a few multi vitamins.

Of all the supplements I take, fish oil is one that I can say does something for me. If I stop taking them for a few days, my shoulder pain returns. The ones I take are made from wild Pacific salmon. They cost less than a $0.50 / day and for the benefit they offer, they are a bargain. If you are not taking them already, consider buying a bottle and taking them for a few months to see it they help to improve your health and well being.

My First Functional Workout

I closed on Saturday so I decided to do a full body functional workout. I did the following movements:

  • Tire flipping
  • Battle ropes
  • Farmer carries
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Keg press
  • Log press
  • Sled pulling

It was an energy systems workout so I used perceived exertion as the guide for how much work I should be doing. I did 4-5 sets of everything except the sled pulling. It took me about 45 minutes.

What I liked:

  • Most of the movements are new to me so it was easy to stay focused.
  • The keg and log press are a lot easier than Olympic lifting because I wasn’t afraid of banging my hips into the bar.
  • I got that lung burning feeling that I only get during the first hill ride or race of the season.
  • My heart rate went up very quickly.
  • The tempo of the workout is closer to that of trail riding than my usual weight training because pull-ups and dips do not work the entire body like tire flipping or farmers carries.
  • It was fun to really push myself that hard.

What I learned from it:

  • Battle ropes are brutally hard on the body and lungs – I was expecting the tire flipping to be the toughest aspect of the workout but after about 25 seconds of whipping the ropes I was “fall on the ground” tired.
  • A keg that is partially filled with water is a tough implement to hold overhead.
  • New and novel movements are a lot more physically taxing than well practiced movements with substantially more load.
  • It is possible to get a really good workout in a junk yard using “crap” so you don’t have to rely on state of the art equipment.

I was a little sore yesterday, particularly in my chest and lower back, but it felt good. I think I’m going to enjoy closing on Saturday’s a lot more now!