The “Why” of Why I Love to Coach – Alice Smith

We all choose a path in life. We choose to study a particular subject in school, we choose a career that we think will make us happy. We choose to get married or stay single. We choose.

When asked “why” I made my career choice, it took me a minute to find the words for an answer. You see, it’s kind of complex.

When I went to college, I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had lots of hobbies and things that I enjoyed, but nothing really struck me on the head as a lifelong career path.

So I went in on the wrong boat. I started in an arts and humanities program- but after only a few months realized it was not for me. I couldn’t handle the blood and guts of nursing (my next attempt at a major), so I went to an advisor defeated.

My advisor told me about the kinesiology program, which focused around the study of human movement. The more we talked, the more I was interested. I loved the idea of working with kids and teaching them how to create healthy habits while simultaneously unleashing their athletic potential. I bought in.


For the first time in my collegiate career, classes were interesting and fun.

I was learning so much and loving it. I took an internship with MSU Spartan Performance, where I was able to really grow as a trainer- working with athletes of all sports, ages, and sizes. After a few months, I took over the strength programs of two public high schools. I worked closest with a varsity football team as their strength and conditioning coach, which solidified that this is what I want to do with my life.



Early in my days in charge of a school S&C program, a cheerleader came to the weight room distraught. Her parents were in the midst of a messy divorce, her brother had left home for good without warning, and she was picked on at school. She was defeated- and she broke down.

As we talked, I realized that I had no control what happened to this athlete outside of the weight room walls. I couldn’t knock down kids for bullying her, tell her parents to keep her away from the drama, or call up her brother.

But I could make that hour, that 1/24 part of her day, enjoyable. I could do my best to help her forget all of the crap happening outside, and have fun.

I love training. Pushing kids towards their potential and watching them see results is so rewarding. But it was at that moment that I realized why I show up every single day.

At that moment, with that cheerleader, I was more than a coach/intern/college kid. I was a life line for her, and she needed me to show up for her.

We’ve all had various experiences with coaches in our lives. Some of us have had coaches that we hated- that aggressively drilled us into the ground with endless suicides and burpees. On the other hand, some of us have had coaches that changed us- not just in athletic technique, but in life. I never had a coach like that. I didn’t have someone who would just sit and let me vent for five minutes. I want to be that for these kids.

Being a coach is so much more than agility and lifting. It can be life changing if done properly. If I can make a difference in even just one athlete’s day, I am doing my job, and that’s why I do this.

How Having A Baby Made Me A Better Coach – Brian MacDonald


“Brian! I think I’m pregnant!”, my wife abruptly wakes me with at roughly 6:30 in the morning, and understandably so. Those of you who really know me, I am the antithesis of a morning person. I am the classic “don’t talk to me until I have my caffeine” type of person, so all I could muster from my zombie self was, “Whoa…..” We had just started trying for a kid, so I was obviously excited, just had to be a little more conscious to process those words.

The ensuing change I have gone through since then has been life changing to say the least.

Though I won’t truly realize it until our baby girl comes, I had a dramatic increase in selflessness.

I found myself thinking to myself that it is no longer about me or just my wife and I.

While we were having the conversation about having a child, that was the biggest hurdle we had to accept, that we had to make the necessary sacrifices such as going out for dinner and drinks at the drop of a hat, or suddenly deciding we want to go to Glacier National Park without a worry in the world just to name a couple of examples.

My daily thoughts shifted from protocols I needed to finish for athletes or plans we had for the weekend to what can I do to make this pregnancy as comfortable as possible for my wife or fear of all that could go wrong because all I want is a healthy baby and healthy wife to come out of this.

Free time was suddenly consumed with projects for the nursery or just general projects to prepare the house for a new permanent guest.

Long story short, I no longer thought of myself, and I was completely okay with it.

The point of this post is to talk about how coaching has helped me prepare for this pregnancy and soon raising a child.

Dealing with athletes primarily between the ages of 9 and 14 all day every day for almost 6 years now has tested my patience like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Whether it be one who has constant behavioral issues always interrupting the class, or others who just don’t seem to be understanding the skill I am trying to coach, patience is an absolute must when dealing with kids. Bottom line is we have to be patient and understanding as coaches.

These have been the two most important traits I have utilized throughout this pregnancy, and two that I know will come in handy when our baby comes. The other big one is empathy.

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another is critical when it comes to coaching. When an athlete comes in showing all signs of being down and having a miserable day, it is our job to recognize and make it abundantly clear to that athlete that we understand them and are there to help in whatever way we can.

I obviously can’t possibly share the discomfort my wife is going through while growing a human being, I can do my best to listen and try to understand, just like I would do with an athlete who is feeling down.

These past 9 months have been a wonderful and revealing experience for my wife and I. I feel that I have excelled as a person through this and having coached athletes for the past 6 years has undoubtedly helped me prepare for this and the future of fatherhood.

January 2018 updates

Now that you have stopped laughing from my vintage 80’s fashion sense, here are a few updates to start the new year:

    • The annual Challenge is now in its sixth year.  It has been so much fun each year and we would love for you to join us if you haven’t already.  Our big focus this year is on sustainable habits and behaviors.  Knowing what to do isn’t always the issue but the strategies on how to do it are where we can help!  For more information, check out the Challenge page link.
    • Effective January 2018, the monthly rate for 12 month ATHLETE agreements will increase to $169/month. Since we opened 12 years ago, the annual rate has not changed; while it will increase, we feel it is still a great value.

      There will be a grace period if you would like to lock in your current rate for another 12 months. Please complete the necessary paperwork by January 15, 2018. This applies to 12 month agreements only. If choose not to act by January 15th, 2018, the higher rate will apply should you renew after that date.

  • Please welcome Alice Smith, new performance coach.  Born and raised in Michigan, Alice just completed her degree from Michigan State, majoring in Kinesiology.  Alice played multiple sports in high school and college and just moved to the area in January. She enjoys photography, is a practicing musician and craaaaazy MSU fan!

Finally, we have moved most of our communication to social media outlets, at the expense of email and blog posts.  If you would like to follow us, here are links:






Meet Rebecca Bryant, UC intern for the summer

I’m Rebecca, a girl who grew up playing sports and had plenty of siblings to laugh with, play with, and of course, occasionally fight with. My parents got divorced when I was 2 years old, so I don’t remember ever living with both parents. I used to wonder how things would have been if they stayed together, but then I remember how great they both have always been as parents, and I try not to question it.

Also, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and even through the bad things that happen, we can always find some good in them, even if we have to dig a little deeper. My parents had 5 children together, I am the youngest. They both got remarried and I now have 9 siblings, 5 brothers and 4 sisters – I think it’s pretty neat that we ended up with an even split with the boys and girls.


Life has had its ups and downs, as each person can testify to their own life. For me, I have been as low as depression and thinking that my life wasn’t worth living, to being so grateful for the ways that God has blessed me and kept me that I couldn’t imagine giving up.

I am currently a summer intern and I will have earned my MS in Health Promotion and Education with a concentration in Exercise and Fitness at the end of the summer. I don’t know exactly where I will be after this, I’m just trying to find the best way to do what I love and help as many people as possible.

Growing up, I was always very shy and I would leave my comfort zone as little as possible. As I have grown and matured, I have realized the importance of helping and serving others, which has forced me to see the necessity of coming out of my comfort zone more and more if I am going to reach my full potential in that area. At this point in my life, even with so much more to live, I get so much more out of helping others and seeing others smile than ever before, so that fuels me and gives me that extra boost to leave my comfort zone.

There is one major thing that I have done that has pushed me the furthest out of my comfort zone but has also been the most rewarding, and that is coaching. This surprised me because I never dreamed of coaching. I was pushed to coach by my high school basketball coach – just a reminder that sometimes others see things in us before we see them.

If there was one thing that I could share with someone that reflects who I am and I thought could help them, I would tell them to approach every moment in a way that not only makes them proud, but to those that they hope to influence and inspire, to make them proud, as well.

Here is a quick video that Rebecca put together to share who she is and what her future holds:

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?


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 [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Starting a diet [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Drinking alcohol [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Using tobacco in some form [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Fluctuating between an active lifestyle, and not-so-active lifestyle [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Accumulating less and less quality sleep [icon name=”check-circle” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

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… 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 [icon name=”smile-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””].


  • 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 [icon name=”smile-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
  • 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


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!


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:


      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…


  • 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.