Results v. Habits

This is a timely post for ASF; our annual Challenge results are pouring in, with the vast majority showing improvements in body composition.  In our group page on Facebook, the conversations range from a few sentences to a few paragraphs, with a common thread of honesty, transparency and openness.

It has been amazing to see how people have transformed their bodies, but also transforming their entire lives.  My hope is that the six weeks isn’t exclusively about body composition changes but also that of permanent behavior change.  It would be fun to do another quasi Challenge in six months to see how many of those positive habits are still going strong!

Before I continue, I would like to share a brief history of how I came to my current habits, which started a long time ago, in a basement not far away…

Circa 1985, I was about 11o pounds as a teenager.  I had to sleep with padding on my hip bones because they protruded so much.  I played 5 hours every day after school (This was the foundation for my habit of loving activity).  It was not a coincidence that I could not gain weight!  You probably hate people like that?! My first weight set was filled with sand, made out of plastic.  While I was inspired by the muscle magazines at the time, I was equally inspired by my father who would do hundreds of sit ups and push ups every morning.  His 25 pound dumbells may have well been 125 pounds!  I was determined to lift those things!

Now, I had another habit brewing:  Structured exercise, in the form of lifting weights.  It was structured in the sense that I was doing it but I had no idea what I was doing; a typical “routine” was to lift for a few hours or until my parents would call me upstairs. Embedded within the act of lifting weights was several other habits:  discipline, motivation and reward.

As I was devouring every magazine available (there was no internet at the time), I also became very conscious of how and what I ate.  I ate extremely clean with minimal processed food, took every supplement I could afford and slowly started to reap the benefits.  You guessed it: My nutritional habits were born.  By the end of high school, I was a whopping 135 pounds but had built a foundation of strength through powerlifting.  As I entered my late teens and ventured off to college, the best was yet to come.

As I was studying physiology, biomechanics, physics and nutrition, I was able to formulate my own training philosophy of what worked best for me.  My unique formula, you might say.  The habit I was developing was the constant and continuous desire to learn more, to get better. Miami was also the place where I first competed in bodybuilding.  My first show was a disaster; I had no idea what to do.  The next show I won the whole contest.  The habit formed was to never give up if you fail, but to learn from it and move on.

Fast forward to my late forties and many of those same habits guide me today.  While I can’t expect you turn back time and change your childhood, there are some key lessons to ponder when you look back over the last few decades; can you identify patterns in your life that lead to your habits today?

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Another way to look at habits….

Let’s say there are two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Goal was to lose 15 pounds over 6 weeks, only lost 8 pounds but developed 3 new habits.

Scenario 2:  Goal was to lose 15 pounds over 6 weeks, lost 16 pounds (great job!) but did NOT develop any new habits.

Which would you choose?  They both lost weight over the six weeks, which is a victory unto itself.  But scenario 2 will likely see failure in the near future and fall back into their old ways.  Scenario 1 is now developing permanent lifestyle change that will become keystone habits, allowing future changes to continue.

Speaking of keystone habits, that is where it all starts.  Charles Duhigg coined the term, Keystone Habits, that is the foundation for all other habits.  One good habit can beget other good habits.  If you get up early to exercise, you are productive and eat better that day and sleep better that night.  As I write this, I know it will lead to other productive outlets today.  Can you identify a keystone habit?  If so, let me know what other habits it improves.

What you may find is that the real change happens within, not the habit itself.  When you reward yourself for the outcome, you are missing a vital ingredient to the habit chain, which is the process.  Yes, you look better with that extra 20 pounds off your body but your identity is more than your appearance.  Using the early morning example from above:  If you show up at 5:30 am to train, here are some habits (i.e. the process) that went into that occurring:

  1. Likely retired early the night before.
  2. Woke up when you really wanted to sleep.
  3. Put on your workout clothes (which you set by the bed the night before).
  4. Got in your car, in the dark, half asleep, and drove.
  5. Pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car.

So, a lot happened before you even exercised!  ALWAYS REWARD YOURSELF.

Showing up is the result.  Working out is the result.

 

Maybe this inspired you to rethink how the last six weeks changed you.  More importantly, how the next six months, six years will look like.

The joy/curse of putting things off

Disclaimer:  There is a slight difference between being kind to someone and being nice to someone.  Being nice is telling people what they want to hear; being kind is telling someone what they need to hear.  This post is the latter.  It may offend you.  It still comes from the heart, written with love. 

The psychological economy of instant gratification of the American population over the last few decades  is starting to catch up with us.  See how many of these you are guilty of doing in the past ten years:

Using a credit card 

Starting a diet 

Drinking alcohol 

Using tobacco in some form 

Fluctuating between an active lifestyle, and not-so-active lifestyle 

Accumulating less and less quality sleep 

Most of you have done most of these.  It doesn’t make you a bad person.  But it can lead to a habit of “your brain writing a check that your ass can’t cash” mentality.

It is a mindset of do now, pay later.  Examples include financing a 65″ television (when your 2014 model still works fine); starting a diet and exercise program in January (because of the gluttony of the holidays); swearing that you will never drink again (after you streak down the highway)…you get the idea.  At some point, you are going to have to pay the price for your past behaviors, whether they are acute (a night of hard drinking) or chronic (sleep debt), something has to give.

We are so good at being reactive, we have forgotten how to be proactive.  There is a rush of adrenaline (no pun intended) and other chemicals when we make these lifestyle withdrawals.  In an effort to repeat those feelings, we get caught in a web of repeating those withdrawals, and shoving down the fact that the payback will come later.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe the end of the month, maybe next year, but it will come LATER.  We are a nation of LATER.

I will join the gym LATER, but right now I am too busy.

I will pay off this _______ LATER, but right now, I want it.  That’s what this credit card is for, right?

I will start this diet LATER, but right now, I will just buy bigger pants.

I will sleep LATER, but right now, I have to get this paperwork finished.

I will chase my dreams LATER, but right now, I have a full house, work long hours and put my needs second.

*** Some LATERS are necessary as they are sacrifices as part of a greater process to make the Big Picture become a reality .  This is different.

Not only will these all catch up to you, and a payment will be needed, the worst result of these becomes an even more horrifying outcome: REGRET.

REGRET that you never got in shape.

REGRET that you are in financial debt.

REGRET that you have become an alcoholic.

REGRET that you didn’t chase an opportunity, dream, business, risk.

Frankly, I am sick of it.  I am just as busy as you; I have the same 24 hours that you do; I am not willing to live with REGRET.  Are you?

 

 

When it comes to health and fitness, this is the mantra~

I want to eat as bad as possible, do as little as possible and look as good as possible, 

This may not be said, but it is thought.  This stuff is hard, and you will self-talk your way out of it any chance you get.  We are not wired to lose weight and exercise; it is in our biology to gain weight and preserve our energy, not expend it.  We only need enough calories and enough activity to procreate, in terms of our species’ existence.

Consider that the odds to even become a human being are 400,000,000,000 to 1.  There are no greater odds you will face than those.  Now, consider that you have about 75 years on this earth, give or take, to do something with your life.  For some of you, myself included, that means that you are on the “back nine” of your time on earth.  Stop with all the LATER bullshit, and start with the NOW.

Here are easy NOW things to incorporate ~

Move as often as possible, in as many ways as possible.  In your home, outside, at a gym, just move!

Stop all negative internal dialogue.  You are not ugly.  You are not dumb.  You are not too old.  You are not special.  You are not that scared.

Believe in yourself and make your dent in the universe.

Relax.  The world does not revolve around you and your problems.  A year from now, those problems won’t even be remembered.

Determine what your legacy will be and what you want to be remembered for at your funeral.  Reverse engineer and start doing that stuff now.  This is heavy shit so take some time.
I will wait.

 

 

 

Let’s get PHIT! How Trump’s election may help the fitness industry

First, if you are looking for the latest tips on burning fat, getting stronger, running faster or diet-of-the-week, you can close this page now.  If you are looking for a political post, this is kinda, sorta, maybe for you.  Read on to see why…

The PHIT (Physical Health Investment Today) Act has been in limbo since 2006, when it was first presented to Congress.  It was designed for the general public to save 20-30% on the costs associated with physical activity, such as exercise classes, memberships, personal training, sports dues and fees, etc. No longer would cost be (such) a prohibitive factor for individuals and families to get healthy.

The PHIT Act would make this a reality by allowing people to use existing pretax health savings accounts (HSAs are medical savings accounts available to U.S. citizens enrolled in a high-deductible health plan) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs are funds set aside for certain healthcare costs that are not taxed) for fitness and sports related expenses.  These funds are typically used for medical expenses; PHIT aims to use those funds for prevention and proactive expenses.  If passed, the bill would allow individuals
up to $1000 annually to be set aside for physical activity and fitness expenses.

It has been a slow climb in the last decade but the newly elected administration may finally be the break that is needed for its passage.  The Trump regime seek to improve the Affordable Care Act (via modifying, or repealing/replacing it), opening the door for expanded use of HSAs. Democrats generally don’t favor the use of HSAs or FLAs.  However, this bill has generally been a bipartisan topic with roughly equal members sponsoring its approval.

Stay tuned to see how this will play out.  You may not like the new President but he may directly affect how fitness and health outcomes are being paid.

What We Learned in 2016 – ASF Coaches

It seems a lot of people are glad that 2016 is over.  The ASF Coaches felt that 2016 was one of their best years ever.  Hope you enjoy this abridged summary from each of them….

 

From Coach Macdonald –

  • Relationships, Relationships, Relationships~

    2016 was the year that building relationships reached an apex.  This is what I value the most about my profession. Do I love being in a position to help people achieve their performance and fitness goals? Absolutely, it was my driving force to pursue this profession in the first place, but over the years, it has been the amazing relationships I’ve formed with our athletes and adults that keep my passion growing for what I do as a coach.

    Saying I truly appreciate all of the awesome relationships would be the understatement of the century for me. They have made me a better coach and person, giving me more motivation every day to come in and do what I love.

  • Cookie cutter programs/diets simply DO NOT EXIST~

    The more I learn, the more I realize that the “one-size-fits-all” theory has no place in our world of fitness and nutrition. Everyone’s body reacts differently to certain stimuli when it comes to fitness or nutrition. For example, John and Carl may have the exact same body type when looking at them, but John may put on 15 pounds of fat when he is on a high carb diet, where Carl puts on 10 pounds of muscle when on the same diet. Their bodies absorb and process the change differently.

    The same applies to fitness. John may look and feel better while on a circuit based “bootcamp” program, while Carl sees no change when performing the same program assuming all other factors are the same such as nutrition, sleep, stress, etc.

  • What selflessness really means~

    My wife and I just had our two year anniversary back in October, and I am just now truly understanding what it means to love someone. She has shown me what selfless love means which she has shown me unconditionally since we met. Selfless love, by definition, means “to love regardless of your personal needs. You love whole heartedly without loving yourself, without any personal gain. It is the opposite of selfish love. It means loving without any attachment to an expectation in return. It means whatever you do you do it from your heart. I ask myself daily, “What did I do to deserve this incredible human being?”

    If you know me at all, you know I’m not all into this fluffy lovey-dovey talk, so this is foreign territory for me, but I love and appreciate my wife very much. My point in bringing this up is she has made me a better person and coach by showing me what it really means to be selfless. This has drastically helped me in my coaching because I realize why I coach. I expect no personal gain from it, my personal needs are set aside. I coach because I truly want the people I work with to succeed, whether that be to improve their performance on the field, reach fitness goals, or more importantly, improve their quality of life. That…..is from the heart.

 

From Coach Platt – 

The beginning of a new year is always a great time for reflection. As I sit here and review the progress I made in 2016 I can’t help but smile and be grateful for the crazy journey it ended up becoming. The previous year was full of ups and downs but I managed to come out stronger and more prepared moving forward.

The experiences I have had at ASF continue to play a large role in shaping the evolution of who I am. The relationships I have formed not only with Brian, Tony and Becky, but with all of you who call ASF home have been instrumental in my growth.

I would like to personally thank all of you for opening your lives and allowing me to be a part of your journey. I wouldn’t be who I am today nor would my journey be nearly as exciting without all of you being a part of it.

Some of the more memorable parts of my 2016 were:

  • The biggest event of 2016 for me was getting engaged to the love of my life and my best friend. Kristen has been my rock for over six years now and I can’t imagine where I would be without her.

 

  • I had the opportunity to travel with great friends this year and share a few unforgettable experiences with them. I managed to eat my way through Boston and seeing Brittany Spears live in Vegas satisfied a lifelong dream of mine.

 

  • My family took our annual trip to Isle of Palms, South Carolina over the summer. I absolutely love spending time with family and there is no better place to do it than there.

 

  • The book Start With Why was a gamechanger for me, both personally and professionally. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you get a copy.

 

  • I bought my first car this year. I was spoiled growing up when my parents bought a car and let me drive it. I’m more thankful to them for that now, especially knowing how awful car payments and insurance are. Adult-ing seriously sucks.

 

  • From a professional standpoint, I have grown more in the past year than I ever thought possible. I owe a lot of that to you guys for being awesome. My personal and professional development over the past year makes me excited for what is to come in the next one!

 

From Coach Poggiali

  • The biggest part of 2016 for me was how social media has changed, and taken over, the world.  Just like any new technology, it can be used for good or for bad.  The irony of it all is in the name itself – social media.  While it may be due to my age, there is nothing social about posting pictures, updates, videos, etc.  It seems to take the human element out of the equation.  Physical interaction used to be social media and now you do not have to do that to have a relationship.  Before FaceTime , there was face time.  As a business, however, it can be another positive way outside the human experience to keep communication channels flowing.  While I don’t fully embrace it as the primary means of communication, I understand it’s power and realize it is here to stay and has changed how we interact.

 

  • Professionally, last year was a tale of two halves:  The first half was incredible, culminating with our 10th year of operation.  The second half was a whirlwind of ups and downs, with more of the latter.  However, with reflection comes clarity.  I plan on using that clarity to guide 2017 and beyond.

    An early shot as ASF was being born.

 

  • In response to the above, I had to lean on a select group of people more than ever in my life.  I like to figure out things on my own but am also smart enough to not go it alone.  If it wasn’t for their guidance and support, things may look different right now.  Hopefully, ASF can be that support system for you also .

 

  • One of my nerd goals each year is to read more than the previous year.  Some quick mathematics added up to about 600 hours of reading.  I learned something from every piece that I read.  For me, learning something new each day is the meaning of life.

  • Similar to the above, it is amazing the number of relationships that are being built inside, and outside, these four walls.  When we opened it was all about results and training.  While those are still important, it is now about culture, relationships and experience.  It has allowed me to bear witness to the power of getting like-minded people together and just see what happens, almost like a social experiment.  It also crystallized my “Why”.  In other words, I am more clear on why I am doing all of this.  If you are interested, I would love to share it with you…and maybe learn what your “Why” is at the same time!
  • Finally, this year was another year to sharpen my “dad” skills and “husband” skills.  I still have a lot of work to do but feel confident that the best is yet to come with the ladies in my life.  Those two Rocks keep me grounded and provide everything I need.

 

2017….bring it on!

Fitness Trends for 2016

It is no longer a secret that fitness, or “being fit”, is beneficial.  Fitness centers continue to open (and close) to the point of saturating the market.  To the consumer, little separates each of these facilities and it typically comes down to “whomever is the cheapest” gets your money.  If all you want to do is to rent out equipment, many of these facilities will work.

A look at recent trends supports a positive trend (as published in the IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report):

  • The number of Americans who belong to clubs increased by 24% since 2009.  The number of ACTIVE users climbed 23% in that same period.
  • Nearly 50% used their gym 100 days each year.
  • The number of VISITS jumped 25% since 2009, indicating that visiting their gym is a part of their lifestyle.
  • The greatest growth happened in the under 18 category; their membership numbers grew by 78.7%!  That is great news for our kids 
  • Other age groups indicate a positive trend as well, with the only decrease in the 18-24 year old age group.IMG_20160425_204040

What always resides in my brain however, are two somewhat ironic ideas:

  1. The fitness industry keeps opening more and more facilities ignoring the fact that exercise is not a biologically necessary part of our existence, nor do we particularly like to expend calories with no immediate gain (versus, say, chasing down an animal in which we get to eat it after we kill it).
  2. Also, if we accept the above as part of the equation – that people don’t inherently like to expend calories (exercise), then it also goes against conventional wisdom that we ask them to pay for said exercise.

While the above is certainly great from a numbers standpoint, what may be more important are other metrics, some of which are harder to define.  Here are just a few to consider~

  • How many people get the results they are looking for in the first place?
  • How many people are okay with not achieving their results, but like going to their respective facility for other intangible reasons (friends, fun, cleanliness, location, etc)?
  • Shouldn’t we be measuring more than just the number of facilities, number of members and profits?
  • Can facilities sustain their existence if members change their health and fitness but not necessarily their bodies?  In other words, if a person’s blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels improve but little change in body composition occurs, is this a sustainable approach?
  • At some point, is it fair to accept that our evolutionary tendencies will hinder our desire for a “great bod”?  Can/will someone still spend their hard-earned money with the intention of getting/staying healthy and accept the premise of

#progressnotperfection?

I don’t know.

It is always good to see the light bulb go off for individuals who have come to terms with their body and love it no matter what but still bust it every time knowing that activity is good for so many other things besides just looking good naked.

Our approach has always been to meet people somewhere in the middle; not promising too much or too little, and then delivering a great experience.  In fact, many conversations we have don’t even talk about exercise and nutrition.  If you have improved since last week, last month or last year, isn’t that really what is the most important?  Where that improvement comes from is up to you but that is a fitness trend that needs to be at the top!

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How Coaching Youth Sports Has Changed Over The Years – Guest Post by B. Joe Eldridge

This post is from B. Joe Eldridge, who has great insight as a youth sport coach over several decades.  This is a very emotional topic and one that we are very passionate about.  The youth sports experience has seen better days, to say the least.  We care too much to let it keep going and will be publishing more on this subject in the future.  If you agree that the Youth Sports Machine needs some serious change, please let us know your level of interest as we put together a group of like-minded individuals to help facilitate change.  Thank you for your support.

 

Do I think coaching youth sports has changed since I started coaching in the 70’s? The short answer is:  I think coaching youth sports has become more challenging. Before I expand on that thought, I should provide some background about myself. In my youth I played a variety of sports but mainly soccer, track, football and cricket (I lived in England for three years). As my own children grew, I volunteered to coach and ultimately got involved organizing a local soccer league. To help in that endeavor, I joined a national soccer organization where I was trained as an instructor. Ultimately I was asked to join the national staff and for the next 30 years I traveled extensively across the country teaching volunteer moms and dads how to coach, referee and administer soccer programs. Additionally, I continued to coach and referee at all levels of youth soccer including High School and College. I retired in 2009.

Enough about me… back to why I think coaching youth sports is more challenging than it used to be. First of all, it takes more effort to img_20160527_221746become a youth sports coach than it used to. We used to let anyone coach who would volunteer their time. We are not so trusting these days and reputable youth sports programs often require background checks, training and certification before we consider selecting someone as a youth sport coach. Youth sports have become much more organized and available than in the past which means coaches have more competition with other sports to attract and retain young players. In my day, baseball was the only organized game in town for kids, whereas today it’s possible for kids to be involved in a different organized sport every day of the week. Also, coach knowledge of the sport is no longer enough, they must now also have knowledge of exercise physiology and child development. I shudder to think of some of things I had kids doing for conditioning when I first started coaching only to later learn how they were detrimental to young growing bodies. An awareness of concerns for the emotional and physiological well-being of youth is also required of coaches today to recognizing the effectiveness of and differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques (kids don’t respond to critique in the same way professional athletes do).

The most significant challenge for coaches in youth sports today from years gone by is, in a word – PARENTS – or overzealous and ill-informed adults. Youth sports coaches must deal with player parents who have developed preconceived notions and behavior from watching professional sports which are not appropriate for youth sports. Over time, Americans have become more and more obsessed with sports. You might say we are sports fanatics! Not surprisingly, this has resulted in huge sums of money paid professional athletes and generated by sports organizations, schools and colleges. With the money has come some not so positive changes in adult behavior about sports, particularly when viewed through the impressionable young eyes in youth sports. The will to win has been replaced by the need to win in professional sports, and just about anything goes to achieve that ultimate goal… winning!cjlhizswsaacklo

Many of the old fashioned values associated with sports in the past have taken a back seat to winning. The values of sportsmanship, fair play, respect for opponents and for authority, honesty and humility are now challenged by “in your face trash talk”, childish temper tantrums, open criticism of officials, excessive celebrator demonstrations for minor successes and a general lack of humility. The average red blooded American sports fan attending a sporting event is mostly concerned with their own amusement, including criticizing or trash talking players, ridiculing the officials or in general just behaving in an outrageous manner. So, when they bring this behavior and attitude to youth sports, it is out of place and destructive to the kids who don’t understand why mom and dad are being so negative and spoiling everyone’s fun.

How inappropriate would it be for mom and dad, while attending their child’s music recital, school play, spelling bee or other such activity, to shout critical and derogatory comments during the performance? Support and encouragement is what young players need, so they will continue to participate and to learn. The pressure to succeed will come soon enough in their lives, without mom and dad speeding up the process. We should let them enjoy their youth and share in their enthusiasm for just playing a game.

For the overwhelming majority of youth sports players, sport is not about the end product of winning, but rather it’s all about the process of playing the game and having fun. Winning is not a dirty word. The object of any game is to do your best to win, but the purpose of playing games at the youth level is to enjoy the process. Think back to when you were a kid and the games you liked to play whether it was stick ball in the street, basketball in the driveway or football in the backyard. Can you remember playing for hours and hours and the score might be overwhelmingly in favor of your opponent but you kept on playing because it was fun? Can you remember it getting dark or your Mom calling you for dinner and how many times did someone keep saying, “OK, next goal wins?” so you could squeeze in every last minute of playing time? It was all about the process of playing not about the end result of who wins!

Too often player parents fail to recognize that the behavior and attitudes common in professional sports have no place in youth sports. The “in your face” mentality, open criticism of officials or opposing players and an excessive emphasis on winning in professional sports have made coaching youth sports so much more challenging than it used to be. Years ago the coaches job mainly involved teaching players; how to play the game, respect for opponents and officials, the importance of sportsmanship, doing your best and how to win and lose as true sportsmen. Today coaches must now also “coach” the player parents to make them aware of the critical role they play in contributing to the overall “success” of the sports experience for their child and indeed for everyone involved.

The coach’s job in “educating” player parents on the differences between youth and professional sports and their role in helping their child have a successful and worthwhile experience is both sensitive and difficult. Hopefully, help in this task is available from the sponsoring sports organization in the form of parent meetings, signs and literature addressing the topic and support from more knowledgeable and informed parents (peer pressure). It only takes one or two misguided parents to spoil the experience for everyone involved. One of the worst things a coach can do when presented with inappropriate behavior from players or parents is to ignore it. If inappropriate comments or behavior goes unaddressed this silence gives tacit “permission” for more of the same. It may not be easy, but ultimately it’s the coach’s job to set the example of what is and is not acceptable behavior for players and parents alike.

It’s important to be clear about what is considered “success” in a youth sports program. Is the primary goal of a successful youth sports
program to develop a winning team or to contribute to the positive development of youth? Hopefully most would agree it’s the latter. The additional challenge coaches have today which was not such an issue years ago is that somehow they must convince the player parents they should let the coaches coach, the referees referee and that mom and dad’s job is to support and encourage the young players to enjoy the process of playing a game without external pressure or criticism whether or not they are winning.

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It’s a great ride and it goes by fast, so we should enjoy every minute and remember that…

In Youth Sports, It’s About More Than The Game!

Long Term Athletic Development – What you need to know

Long Term Athletic Development, or LTAD, is a phrase that coaches use to describe the process by which children acquire skills, starting in the pre-pubescent years through their early twenties.  It involves motor skill acquisition, biological maturation and physical literacy among other variables.  The definition laid out in the following position paper is as follows:

The term long-term athletic development refers to the habitual development of “athleticism” over time to improve health and fitness, physicalliteracyenhance physical performance, reduce the relative risk of injury, and develop the confidence and competence of all youth.

In layman terms, it is the framework to “slow cook” athletic development.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association recently came out with their Position Statement on the matter.  Since we are all members of the NSCA and certified through their certifying arm, it made sense to give a summary of the key points of their paper….

 

The first three points from Coach Platt:

1). NSCA Position: Long-term athletic development pathways should accommodate for the highly individualized and non-linear nature of the growth and development of youth.

My Take: The position of the NSCA is that youth develop at different rates. There is a vast difference between chronological age and biological age. While some children may be “ten” years old chronologically, biologically they may be closer to eight or twelve, depending on the child. A training program that is appropriate for one fourteen year old may not be suitable for another child of the same age. The differences in the rate of biological development must be accounted for when prescribing an athletic development program for any athlete.

2). NSCA Position: Youth of all ages, abilities, and aspirations should engage in long-term athletic development programs that promote both physical fitness and psychosocial wellbeing.

My Take: The NSCA advocates for all youth, regardless of age, abilities, and aspirations to participate in some form of long-term athletic development. Consideration must be given to the different developmental rates, as well as other lifestyle factors, of each youth athlete. Programs should not only focus on improving measurable traits of athleticism (strength, power, speed, etc.) but, should also place a large
emphasis on the psychosocial development of the youth athlete as well. As a coach that works with young athletes I see the need for psychosocial development everyday. Young kids are facing extraordinary outside pressures from peers and what they are exposed to by social media platforms on a daily basis. As coaches, it is our job to nurture a healthy social atmosphere that encourages youth athletes to be themselves without fear of social repercussions.FB_IMG_1442708270367

3). NSCA Position: All youth should be encouraged to enhance physical fitness from early childhood, with a primary focus on motor skill and muscular strength development.

My Take: I could not agree with this more. All youth should be encouraged to be active from the get-go. The obesity epidemic we are facing is real. Children are becoming more and more obese by the day. As coaches and advocates for a healthy lifestyle it is our job to encourage a fun, safe, and healthy environment for our youth to participate in. Children that are exposed to an active lifestyle from an early age are much more likely to continue being active as they develop. Getting all youth involved in some form of physical activity is crucial to solving our current obesity epidemic.

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Points 4 – 6 from Coach Macdonald –

4). NSCA Position: Long-Term Athletic Development Pathways Should Encourage an Early Sport Sampling Approach for Youth That Promotes and Enhances a Broad Range of Motor Skills

My Take: This has been a major issue/topic within the sporting world that needs to be addressed by parents across the board. It’s been proven time and time again that early sport specialization is detrimental to the development of our youth athletes and their odds of making it to the elite level are likely hindered by high volumes of sport specific training at a young age. On the other hand, playing a variety of sports, aka “sports sampling”, at a young age not only increases gross motor coordination in athletes compared to those who are specialized, but are also more likely to be successful at the next level.

5). NSCA Position: Health and Well-Being of the Child Should Always Be the Central Tenet of Long-Term Athletic Development Programs

My take: Our youth need to be exposed to positive experiences associated with sports and physical activity early on. In my eyes, it is most important with IMG_20150806_165240_741physical activity. Once a negative association is made with physical activity (physical activity as punishment, for example), that is when a sedentary lifestyle is almost inevitable. Fun should be the driving force behind playing sports and being physically active. Once fun is taken away burnout is the end result and a large percentage of our youth ends up quitting all sports by the age of 13. From the strength and conditioning side of the topic, we need to be sure our programs for the youth that we deal with are positive, constructive, and age appropriate. Quite a bit of damage can be done when an ill conceived and thoughtless program is implemented with a group of 10 and 11 year olds.

6). NSCA Position:  Youth Should Participate in Physical Conditioning That Helps to Reduce the Risk of Injury to Insure Their Ongoing Participation in Long Term Athletic Development Programs

My Take: This is pretty cut and dry, when youth athletes participate in a well rounded strength and conditioning program, it can cut their risk of injury down by up to 50%. If I’m a parent, that is just about all I need to see in order to get my kid involved; who cares about results if my child is injured all the time? Growth needs to also be a major source of concern when it comes to the increased risk of injury. When rapid growth of the skeletal system occurs, soft tissue structures are playing catch up. This is a breeding ground for injury. This is another reason our youth need to participate in a long term training program that promotes athleticism and strength to withstand the growth associated with increased injury risk.

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Points 7 – 10 from Coach Poggiali –

7).  NSCA Position : Long Term Athletic Development programs should provide all youth with a range of training modes to enhance both health- and skill-related components of fitness.

My take:  Remember when recess was organized chaos?  Kickball for a few minutes lead to tag lead to swingsets lead to chasing the girls/boys.  While structured exercise is important, unstructured, unsupervised play also needs to be integrated.  Role-playing, problem-solving and strategizing are just a few of the cognitive tools used when play is the driving force…no rules, no reward, just fun.

8). NSCA Position:  Practitioners should use relevant monitoring and assessment tools as part of a long-term athletic development strategy.

My take:  This one is a struggle for me; on one hand, I value the use of technology and assessing athletes to develop protocols, set goals and IMG_20160619_191706-01measure progress.  However, we have foregone assessing over the last several years so we can “assess” via observation and relationship-building.  I still feel there is a place for testing (acceleration, strength, power, FMS, etc) but the power of observation is our biggest ally right now.

9). NSCA Position:  Practitioners working with youth should systematically progress and individualize training programs for successful LTAD.

My take:  At some point, general physical preparation should segue into special physical preparation and eventually competitive physical preparation.  This process can be several years, with cycles lasting any where from three months (multi-sport athletes with multiple peaks throughout the year) to four years (Olympic athlete).  Progressions can be any number in scope, from increases in volume, intensity, frequency, duration, difficulty, etc.  Exercise selection can be progressed as well including advanced approaches of Olympic lifting, plyometric considerations, bounding, etc.  The key is to “slow cook” the process so adaptations occur in key windows of biological growth and development.

10).  NSCA Position:  Qualified professionals and sound pedagogical approaches are fundamental to the success of LTAD programs.

My take:  This is the fun part:  the art and science of coaching and/or teaching.  Each child is different in how they interpret information the best way; some are visual, some are auditory and some are kinesthetic, or hands-on.  They might not even know their preferred style of learning, but it is the coach’s responsibility to observe the environment(s) in which they thrive the most and pattern their teaching style to their learning style.  There is no perfect way to coach, but developing many styles of teaching will transfer to the most styles of learning.0407161735d_hdr

 

 

Ten Reflections on 10 years of business

June of 2016 marks our ten year anniversary.  It is mind-blowing, at least to me, that ASF has been open for that long.  It seems fitting to wax poetic what has happened over that time.

While it may put you to sleep, here is the genesis of ASF, starting circa 1985…

Sports are, and were, a big part of my life.  I played everything I could and turned out to be a pretty good athlete during my developing years.   I was very thin and the “springy” kid in the neighborhood games who could out-run most.  Running away from the bigger kids was my introduction to “speed training”.  However, because I played so much and ate so little, I was usually the lightest kid around.  Fast forward to my junior year in high school and everything changed:  I was introduced to the high school weight room via a gym class.  I was instantly hooked.  I subscribed to every muscle magazine around; it was, after all, the early version of the internet.  All of my  early training knowledge came from those glossy articles and photos.  I swallowed pills, pre-workout-100-grams-of-carbs drinks, ate super clean foods and trained every day for hours. If I wasn’t at the high school weight room, it was in my basement throwing around sand-filled weights, while my mother would tell me to turn down hair metal blaring from my ghetto blaster!  I would literally hit the speed bag until my knuckles bled.

It was at this time that I decided to stop playing organized sports during my senior year and go into powerlifting exclusively.  I now had a purpose:  Get on the team and compete.  However, the guys in front of me in the 125 pound weight class were stronger and I never received a chance.  I decided to still train for a solid year and ended up with a bench of twice bodyweight, and a squat and deadlift around 3x bodyweight, while still 125 pounds soaking wet.  That experience started to give me the tools that would later transform into business.  I captured some of those tools a few years back.

My power lifting phase was short lived as I was finally putting on some muscle and liked that style of training even more than pure strength training.  I never planned to compete in bodybuilding until someone at the Miami University weight room asked me to compete in their annual show.  From 1990 to 2005, I competed in 17 shows and did very well.  I had also been training people at World Gym during that same time.  It was more than a hobby, it was my career and my passion.  At some point, I was training several kids of the parents  I was helping and even helped a start-up that focused on Sports Performance.  Everything had come full-circle:  The skinny athlete was now training…skinny athletes!  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The last phase before ASF was born included the demise of the aforementioned start-up facility which lead me to a search for local real estate and/or buildings.  I just diagonalviewlengthviewhappened to be driving by Liberty Court and noticed what would become ASF.  It was literally just being excavated and I took a chance.  Was it luck?  Maybe.  It seemed my whole life had lead to this one opportunity.  It took a while but I was building something from the ground up, not just a facility, not just a business, but a community; I was also in for a big surprise, some of which  I will elaborate on below.

  • PASSIONATE.  ALTRUISTIC.  SELFLESS.  Those are just three descriptions of what makes a great coach.  I came into the business world with a training background, with little prior business acumen.  Looking back, I was an average trainer.  When I started training people in 1989, there was so little information available that you had to figure it out on your own.  It took several years to realize how much I DIDN’T KNOW, let alone accrue what  I did know.  This profession is so new that if you are not constantly learning and re-inventing your knowledge base and training methods, you get left behind.  On a side note, the word passion get used often; it means different things to different people.  My take on it is that Passion is the marriage of love and anger.  I use each emotion often, but combining them creates another energy source entirely.

 

  • Feeding off number one, CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT is a tool that I have used more than ever.  Just the desire to get better is almost as important as what you Kaizen-2.svgdo to get better.  A Japanese concept, kaizen, perfectly embodies the grind of growth.  In the book Legacy, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby club changed their whole culture to be one of the most dominant sports teams in history by adopting this model of behavior.  I have used the phrase When your good enough isn’t good enough for years to motivate our coaches to keep getting better; that includes myself. It can just be a percent difference from last week, month or even last year.  I made a quick video in a hotel room a few months ago and Neil wrote a blog on it.  Think about how much better you could be by improving several things just 1%?!

 

  • When I was just starting out in the 1990’s and even in the first few years of ASF, I mistakenly believed that the more knowledge I accrued, the better our business would become.  While I still have a thirst for training and science information, I now know that this is a relationship business more than anything.  I cannot believe how many close relationships have been forged within these four walls.When my mindset shifted to that idea, ASF really took off.  There was also a shift in our culture that was directly related to that notion, although I am not sure which came first.  Being an avid reader, only about 20% of my reading list comprises training/science specific material, with the other 80% devoted to business, philosophy and leadership.
    Our first dollar.
    Our first dollar.

     

  • When I married my wonderful wife, I thought that journey was tough; when our daughter came into our lives, I thought that was tougher; but when I went into business, THAT was tough.  I have made so many mistakes, I lost count. But…those mistakes have been invaluable in shaping the short and long term future that you see now.

 

  • While my business acumen and our margins have improved over the years, my true currency is the effect that I hav0425161903_HDR-01e on others.  Living a purpose-driven life has opened up my eyes that each day is a chance to help as many people as possible in as many ways as possible as often as possible.  In other words, leaving a legacy.  More on that later.

 

  • Most successful people that I know have had help along the way.  It is the same process why you may hire a trainer/coach to help you reach your fitness and/or performance goals.  If it was easy, everyone would do it on their own and see results.  ASF opened in 2006 and was on a great trajectory until the recession took that momentum away.  There were lean times and I contemplated whether to stay open.  It was around that time that I became more involved with a group of business coaches out of Louisville called the Fitness Consulting Group and even became a licensee of one of their businesses, Fitness Revolution.  Now I have peers who share victories and struggles, instead of feeling like a solo act on an island.  On a similar note, the coaches that have been, and are, at ASF are able to experience personal and professional growth, fulfilling the cycle of coaches helping coaches.

 

  • The highs are HIGH and the lows are LOW.  Business is a mirror of life in general.  If you celebrate the good times too much, or lose your mind during the low times, you will go insane.  The struggles that I have experienced as a business owner supersede everything else combined.  Luckily, I can lean on the ASF coaches that grind it out everyday to my peers all over the country to my family.  The two biggest allies that keep me grounded are the books that I read and the fellow owners that I can use as a sounding board. All of us have taken several rides on this emotional rollercoaster and lived to tell about it.

 

  • Mindset determines everything.  Feeding off number seven, if negative thoughts creep into my head, which they do, I have to be aware of them before they manifest into a permanent way of thinking.  I have this flow chart on my desk that I look at daily:

LIFE —> MINDSET —> THOUGHTS —> BEHAVIORS —> HABITS —> PERFORMANCE —> LIFE

      Every seed planted in the mind can determine the events that follow.  It is amazing when life gets heavy, just thinking a certain way can change your perspective.  It seems  simple, but it is not easy.    I also have this quote next to me right now that makes me realize that there is always another sunrise to get another chance…

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  • I really feel that Coaching is one of the best jobs in the world.  The impact that we can have, especially for young kids, is the primary driver that gets us out of bed each day.   In a way, we have a lot in common with academic teaching:  Kids go through the system of kindergarten through high school/college, gaining knowledge and improvements along the way.  While our classroom may be more on a field, court, diamond, track or pool, the process is exactly the same.  I mentioned this before, but our currency is the ability to change someone, to impact someone, and in some cases, to save someone.  I have had three people in the last two years say, “You saved my life.”  That is not to brag but to illustrate the power that we potentially have.

 

  • At the end of the day, people will not remember what you said, or even how you said it, but they will remember how you made them feel.  When a true connection happens with someone, on a deep level, that is a catalyst for changFB_IMG_1442708270367e, a direction on their compass they did not know existed or did not know how to navigate.   If it a smile from a shy 10 year old, a belly laugh from an awkward teenager, an intense conversation with an 18 year old or a heart to heart with a 40 year old having a rough time, we have a duty as a coach to be there for them, even if just to listen.  The answer may be on the surface, or we may need to peel back some layers, but it is in our DNA to help people.  It is part of our Core Values.  Giving of ourselves also gives us back something:  “Service for others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” (Muhammad Ali).  Our legacy as coaches is not how much money we make, not how many initials/credentials that we have after our name, not how many wins we accrue; it is the magnitude and culmination of the effect that we have on people.   We are the liaisons for where they are, and where they want to be, either in sports, business or life.

At times, it feels like coaching chose me, versus me choosing it.  I can’t imagine what I would be doing if this opportunity had not presented itself decades ago.  It has given me a purpose for existing.

Thank you for reading.

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