Invest in your success!

A Harvard psychologist released a study concluding that you are the sum total of the five people you hang out with most.  If you hang out with smokers, you are likely to be a smoker. If your friends are overweight, you are likely to also be overweight. Are your friends rich and successful?  Guess what you’re most likely to be?

I’m a very goal-oriented person, so the five people I “hang out” with most are: Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and Thomas Edison.  When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is read inspirational passages from these men and people like them. It helps me set my mind on course for a good day.

Napoleon Hill is one of my biggest inspirations.  His book “Think and Grow Rich” is a classic source for the secrets of success.  He lays out 17 keys to achieving your goals, and the first one is this: Definiteness of purpose.

Definiteness of purpose means that you must have a specific goal in mind in order to be successful, otherwise you will drift aimlessly through life.  What that means is that your goal must be specific, and it’s best to write it down so that you can remind yourself each day what your goal is. Napoleon Hill also recommends writing down what you are willing to give up to achieve your goal.  He’s clear that nothing comes for free, and that you must be able to control your own mind and actions to accomplish anything meaningful. My definite purpose is to live a healthy, fit, organic life, while educating people on the correct way of exercising and moving.

Mr Hill’s second key to success is called the “Mastermind Alliance.”  This rule refers to securing inspiration and cooperation from like-minded people.  This is why I wake up each morning and read the writings of people I admire. It’s also why I attend so many conferences and belong to several mastermind groups relating to health, fitness, and nutrition.

The third key to success is “Applied Faith”, which means having faith not only in a spiritual sense, but also faith in yourself.  The faith is that the Divine has given you all you need to succeed, and all you need to do is to tap into that potential. If you pray or meditate or do anything where you call on the universe for assistance, don’t ask for success.  Instead, ask for the ability to tap into your already-existing potential to achieve it.

I have faith in myself, and I also have faith in my clients–I know they have the strength to achieve their goals.  My hope is that I can pass along some of the wisdom I’ve gathered from the “five people I hang out with” so that they can tap into that potential to live healthy, wealthy lives.

Titleist Performance Institute: Get get smarter, get stronger.

As many of you know, I’ve made golf fitness a key part of my practice.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been certified as a level one trainer by the Titleist Performance Institute for some time now.  I recently upgraded my certification from level one to level two. That doesn’t make me a golf pro–I can’t teach golf, but I can expand the limits of what a golfer can do.  TPI’s philosophy of the swing is: “We don’t believe there is one way to swing a club; we believe there are an infinite number of ways to swing a club. But we do believe that there is one efficient way for everyone to swing a club and it is based on what they can physically do.”  In other words: the efficiency of your golf swing is only limited by what your body can do. What I can do for you as a TPI golf fitness pro is to assess your body’s limits and work to expand those limits as much as possible.

By training and testing to upgrade my certification, I learned better and more precise techniques to assess and develop power and strength.  I can also now design a comprehensive program for golf fitness, including nutrition, cardiovascular development, and advanced golf swing biomechanics.  I learned specialized techniques and practical applications for motor learning. I also trained in how to spot golf-specific injuries before they get serious, so that I can adjust your program to help you heal, and teach you how to move so that it doesn’t happen again.

Titleist has 7,000 golfers under contract, so they have a huge sample size of highly skilled golfers to perform research on the physical and mental conditioning of golfers.  The techniques I’ve learned incorporate lessons from years of study with thousands of individual athletes, and they take into account physical conditioning, course management, mental and emotional state, and many other factors to make sure that your program is tailored to you personally.

I have a passion for this stuff, so if you have a passion for golf and want to expand your boundaries, give me a call.  If you contact me in the months of September and October, you’ll get a complimentary one hour assessment and functional movement analysis.  We’ll work together so you can stay sharp in the off season and come back next year stronger than ever.

Ten ways to reduce blood pressure naturally

I was recently asked for ideas about how to reduce your blood pressure naturally. Honestly, I had to work to keep the list to only ten! There are so many great ways to reduce blood pressure and promote health. Before I start, let me say that if you have high blood pressure, these methods aren’t a substitute for seeking treatment from a medical professional, but they are great ways to take control of your health and wellness, and maybe they’ll help you relax and have fun a little in the process.
1. Exercise – I’m sure you know this one already, but it’s worth repeating because exercise is truly a miracle drug! It reduces blood pressure, increases insulin response, strengthens your bones, and has a great effect on your mood.
2. Herbs and nutrients – Certain herbs and supplements like Hawthorne berries, Coenzyme Q10, Garlic, and Cayenne have been shown to lower blood pressure. A good plant-based multivitamin will help, too.
3. A plant-based diet – Plant based diets are best for your health. Over time, animal protein will slow down your circulation. Industrially raised animals are also exposed to lots of chemicals, hormones, and GMOs as well. By eating them, you’re consuming those same chemicals.
4. Plenty of water – Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water. 200 pounds? 100 ounces of water.
5. Essential oils – used externally for massage and aromatherapy, these can relax and calm your mind, body, and muscles. Any way you can reduce stress is great for your blood pressure.
6. Tai Chi and Meditation – I call practices like these “working in.” They are great ways to reduce and cope with stress. Again, reduced stress = reduced blood pressure.
7. Going barefoot outdoors – I like the beach, personally, but the grass is good too. The stimulation on the 6,000 nerve endings in the bottom of your foot is relaxing. Walking on the bare earth also helps your body to “ground out” negative energy.
8. Salt cave – Also known as “halotherapy”, spending time in a salt cave allows you to breathe air enriched with Himalaya salt that’s been said to influence healing on a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure.
9. Acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy – These modalities can reduce your stress levels. They also help energy and blood to flow easily through your body, helping you to heal and feel better.
10. Pet ownership – People who own pets live longer and happier lives than people who don’t. They reduce your stress and blood pressure levels and promote physical activity.
Bonus number 11. – Make sure you get adequate, high quality sleep. Sleep quality is right up there with physical activity for improving your health and wellness. That includes blood pressure, insulin response and mental health.
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Use it or lose it!

The New York Times recently highlighted several studies about the consequences of being a couch potato.  Earlier science has suggested that if you’re a relatively active person and you suddenly start sitting for long periods, your metabolism will go way down, and your body will start developing unhealthy symptoms, like lower blood sugar response.  The good news was that if you started moving again, these symptoms mostly reverse themselves. New studies point to some limits on that good news.

In earlier studies, the test subjects were mostly young, healthy college students.  The new studies drew from older pools of test subjects. In the first one, scientists studied healthy adults who were free from symptoms of diabetes and who took at least 10,000 steps every day.  When these people were forced to take fewer than 2,000 steps per day, they started to develop symptoms of their metabolisms slowing down–lower insulin response, less muscle mass, and more fat around their abdomens.  When these people started moving again, most of them saw their metabolisms return to normal, but some of them never recovered their normal metabolic function, and they never returned to their earlier levels of activity.  This suggests that for some people, the damage from taking a break from activity can be permanent.

In another study, scientists focused on senior citizens who were overweight with high blood sugar, but who were otherwise active and healthy, taking at least 7,000 steps every day.  When these people were forced to go down to fewer than 1,000 steps per day for two weeks, their insulin resistance shot up, and some had to be removed from the study because they had become diabetic.  The majority of the other study participants didn’t fully recover their metabolisms even when they started moving again.

So what does that mean?  It means that the older you get, the more important it is to stay active.  Every time you stop, it gets harder to start again, and the consequences last longer.  You don’t have to train for a marathon, you just have to get moving every day.

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Can you exercise while fasting?

Fasting has become a popular way to detoxify the body, and there is some evidence that periodic fasting can extend your lifespan. To many people, fasting seems like an extreme measure, and there’s no requirement that you take the plunge and go on a fast. If you do decide to fast, make sure you do your research and don’t overdo it. I was recently asked whether it is healthy to exercise while undertaking a fast. My answer is a resounding yes! Exercise is always beneficial, and fasting can enhance its effects, but it’s important to follow certain guidelines.
Guideline number one: hydratte, hydrate. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and that the water you drink has some minerals in it. I like to add a pinch of Himalayan salt to my water, since it’s all natural and it has the best mineral profile of any salt you can get.
If you’re thinking about fasting, it’s important to know that there are lots of different fasts you can do. I’ve personally done a five day fast where I only ate watermelon and drank water. There are other fasts where you only eat vegetables, or strictly have broth. Do your research and make a decision based on your goals.
Every day we fast for at least 8 hours, hence the term “break-fast”, so if you ate dinner at 7pm, and you exercise at 8am without having breakfast, then as far as your body is concerned, you are doing exercise while fasting. In fact, since your body uses 65% of its energy in digestion, eating before exercise can take away from a great workout.
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New thinking on joint replacement

Last weekend, I attended a workshop on the latest developments in fitness and physical therapy for people who have had joint arthroplasty (replacement). Joint replacement is much more common that you might think. Every year in the U.S., doctors replace 600,000 knees, 400,000 hips, and 20,000 shoulders. That’s over a million joint replacements every year, and the trend is that by 2030, there will be 4 million per year.
There are a lot of reasons for the increase in joint replacement surgery. As many athletes age, they have a higher need for joint replacements than other people do, especially if they have not been training safely. Others need them because of bad posture or falls, and obesity also contributes to the likelihood that you will need to have a joint replaced. As more people have these surgeries, it’s more important than ever that physical trainers and fitness pros get the training they need.
The conference I attended over the weekend was mostly aimed at physical therapists. I was the only fitness pro in attendance, and I learned a lot. The old mentality towards physical therapy with joint arthroplasty patients was to perform therapy with the patient on the table, but now we recognize the importance of getting patients standing and moving as soon as possible. We want the joints to be used under the conditions that they will be subject to every day–it’s important that the joint bears weight and gets movement in all directions. It’s also very important that the patient gets used to balancing over the new joint using their core muscles, so we make sure that they are standing and bracing their core as they work on healing. Incorporating balanced movements, like walking backwards and sideways, are important for all joint replacements, even shoulders, since all these major joints are part of your body’s chain of movement.
Joint replacement can have a very painful recovery period, but trainers can help. We incorporate skin brushing, laser therapy, chiropractors, acupuncture, and internal and external herbs. You may also try a salt den to accelerate your healing. You don’t have to get so exotic if you don’t want to–epsom salt baths are very helpful, traditional massage and soft tissue work are effective, along with self-administered therapy like walking on a tennis ball.
We all need to take care of our bodies. If we do it well enough, we might be lucky and avoid joint replacement. If you do have a joint replacement, it’s even more important that you stay healthy. Luckily, the medical and fitness communities are working together to improve therapies all the time. If you know anyone who could benefit from this information, please share it!

Train Like an Athlete for Golf!

The 2016 and 2017 U.S. Open Champions Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are part of a new generation of golfers who spend almost as much time in the gym as they do on the course. They days of questioning whether golfers are athletes are over. If you’re a duffer who’s not ready to work out like a traditional athlete, you’re not going to win any tournaments.

Johnson and Koepka both train at a high level of intensity with trainer Joey Diosalvi, whom they call Joey D. They use many of my favorite training techniques and equipments, like TRX suspension bands, medicine balls, tubing, and bodyweight exercises. I have been following Joey D’s work for some time, and try to learn as much from him as I can. Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson train together and they train relentlessly. Most of their workouts focus on total-body integration and core strength. They don’t use weight machines, since golf (like life) relies so much on the subtle strength of support muscle groups, not just the major ones that machines work. They incorporate suspension bands into their pushups and go paddleboarding to increase their balance. You have to work out to be strong enough to hit the ball far, and the precision you need to hit the ball straight also comes from exercise.

Winning the U.S. Open is not every golfer’s list of priorities, and certainly spending hours a day in the gym isn’t either, but I can help you get to a scaled-down version of either of those goals–whether it’s just dropping a few strokes off your game or winning a club tournament. The point is, your golf goals and your fitness goals are not separate. In order to golf better, you need to use your body more efficiently. Through my functional golf fitness program, I can help you learn how to do that.

If you know anyone who’d like to learn more about golf fitness, share this article with them, or feel free to contact me!

The simplest exercise for the best results

One of my main focuses as a trainer is on healthy aging. Many of my clients are beginning to experience limited mobility, and some of then fear losing their independence because of physical limitations. To help them stay active in their homes for as long as possible, I make them do some of the same exercises done by elite athletes.

That sounds intimidating, but I assure you, you probably perform at least one of these exercises on a daily basis and don’t even know it.  Ground-to-standing (or G2S) exercises are some of the simplest and yet most complete workouts you can do. They are exactly what they sound like: come from a sitting or lying down position to a standing position.  These motions require you to use all your major muscle groups, your sense of balance, and once you’ve done a few in a row you’ll also feel what a cardio workout they can be.

G2S exercises are great for anybody, and even athletes use them as part of their training program.  They’re especially good exercises for people who want to stay mobile and independent as they age. Performing G2S exercises reduces your risk of falling and improves your ability to get up after a fall. They’re movements you do in everyday life, so they develop strength to not worry about whether you’ll be able to get up from playing with grandchildren or looking for a lost object on the floor.

One of my favorite G2S exercises is this:

  • Lie down on the floor on your stomach, get up to a standing position
  • Lie down on the floor on your right side, get up to a standing position
  • Lie down on the floor on your back, get up to a standing position
  • Lie down on the floor on your left side, get up to a standing position.


If you’re not in good condition, you can start with one repetition in each position.  Work up to 5 cycles of front, right, back, left. That will get your heart rate up and you will feel the benefits.

Exercise + Video Games = Smarter?

Researchers at Union College recently showed that it’s possible for older people to experience cognitive benefits from doing exercise while also participating in virtual reality games. Specifically, they studied older people riding exercise bikes while playing a game that had them chase dragons and collect coins by pedaling faster and using controls. The people in the study had already started to experience some age-related cognitive decline, but by the end of six months participating in the study, their mental sharpness was better than it was before they started!
So what if you don’t have a virtual-reality video game attached to your exercise bike? The good news for you from this study is that another group of participants saw the exact same benefits from riding an exercise bike that just played a plain-old simulation of riding down the road. So you can imagine the benefits you would get from actually riding your bike outside.
This study was done as a follow-up to another study that showed that people who rode an exercise bike with the riding-down-the-road simulation showed cognitive gains over people who just rode an exercise bike with nothing to do or look at. The point of the new study was to find out if there could be further mental upsides to making the simulation into a video game environment with points to gain and so forth versus a straightforward biking simulation. The answer is no, there is no extra cognitive gain, although some people did say that the exercise itself felt easier to them when they were occupied by the game.
What does this tell us? That exercise has the most benefits when you do it in context. If you walk or jog, avoid doing it on a treadmill; do it outside or at the mall where you have to look and think about where you’re going.
The same goes for resistance training–machines force you to move in a certain way without you having to think about it, but it’s better to use kettlebells or resistance bands that force you to think about how you’re moving. Another exercise that we know is great for your brain is anything where your limbs cross the centerline of your body, like when using an agility ladder or doing toe-touches from one hand to the opposite foot.
So, if you can’t get your hands on a virtual reality machine, try exercising outside, in actual reality.

Sciatica Pain – Try this first

For those who don’t know, sciatica is intense pain in the legs caused by a pinching of the sciatic nerve.  Many doctors believe that sciatica is usually caused by spinal bones pinching a nerve in your back, leading to pain in the legs.  Sometimes, a highly invasive surgical procedure called “spinal fusion” can reduce or remove sciatica symptoms.  Unfortunately, this surgery often does not work, and after that, the only solution remaining to doctors is potentially addictive pain medication.

However, a 2005 study from the Journal of Neurosurgery found that most people who did not respond to this surgery actually had sciatica pain caused by a muscle pinching their nerve.  The good news about that is that we can treat these soft-tissue issues through non-surgical means.
If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain, before you take the plunge on radical surgery, give these exercises and treatments a try:

  • Walk backwards and sideways to try to stimulate different muscles around the sciatic nerve.
  • Stand on a tennis ball and roll it around under your foot.  This will stimulate nerves in the bottoms of your feet that are connected all the way up through your spine, and cause a release of tension and pressure.
  • Get a professional massage, and mention your sciatica pain.
  • Use an inversion table to release the pressure of gravity on your legs, feet, and spine.
  • Take hot baths with Epsom salts or Himalayan salt.
  • Cold laser or infrared therapy can help heat and relax muscles that cause you pain.
  • Try this stretch: lie on your back with your knees bent and place one leg over the other.  Feel the stretch, and then do it on the other side.

If you have sciatica, make sure you discuss it with your doctor, but keep in mind that the traditional explanation for sciatica may not be the right one for you. Invasive procedures may not be the best option, and hopefully they aren’t the first option your doctor suggests.

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