Beware of Aunt Sally and her straw men

Posted on September 7, 2012. Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , , |

For those unfamiliar a straw man is essentially a type of argument where a person attempts to win an argument by misrepresenting another’s position.  You create the illusion of having refuted a person’s point or statement by replacing it with a superficially similar yet un-equivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.  In the UK I am told they call it an Aunt Sally.


You can see this happen often in politics, corporate commercialism, and big time in the fitness industry.


Personally I believe majority of time in the fitness industry it is done accidentally.  One becomes so engrossed in their found philosophy or method that disregards basic principles.  I find this happens most often between those who advocate basic weight lifting and those advocate a more “functional form” of exercise (yoga, pilates, some form of dance).


Side Note:  Weight Lifting is functional training.  It only becomes dysfunctional when you do it incorrectly.  I have yet to have a client who does not only improve in aesthetics and strength.  But also range of motion, posture, flexibility, etc.  On more than one occasion some has told me my coaching improved their yoga.


As an example I will use an article written by someone calling themselves, a dancer, strength coach, and fitness educator.  But don’t mention any form of certification or education.  Not that the type of certification is that important.  It is however one of the few ways available to see if person giving fitness advice has taken some time to study their field.  It also makes it possible to check whether they are actually certified.  Any way to their quote:

“Exercise science even has an often repeated and just as often misinterpreted rule called the law of specificity.  The exercise, you see, is the important thing. It’s up to you the exerciser to conform to its rules. Seen another way, certain exercises are just; well, just better than others. I might say that a leg press is inferior to a squat. A push-up is superior to a press. “


Now in fact exercise science says no such thing, in fact it says the opposite.  And only those who don’t understand this rule say such things.


If you want to advocate your method, that is fine.  I hope you help millions of people.  But you do no one a justice by misrepresenting the other side of things to further your own gains.


OK, done ranting.


Keep Fitness Groovy,

Coach W

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Fitness is a science not magic.

Posted on August 29, 2012. Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , , , |

I’ve be doing a lot of coaching, reading, and *shudder* socializing lately.


I’m not against socializing, it just seems to be every now and then I run into some one who thinks they know all there is to know about nutrition, weight lifting, etc.


Which is fine, I’m actually friends with a few academic elitists and like any situation since there intentions are good and they aren’t hurting anyone I don’t have a problem with their occasional rant or sense of superiority.


I know they mean well.


My problem arises with people who assume they are 100% right without doing any real research or reading at all.

If you want to believe something you read without further proof that’s fine. Don’t try to enforce that philosophy to me without expecting a few questions.


Unfortunately my questions have been known to embarrass a few people, and occasionally start fights, so I have had to design a game plan for when I ask these types of questions. I find it’s helpful to follow these steps:


  1. Look to your left
  2. Look to your right
  3. Do you see your girlfriend?
  4. If the answer to step 3 is yes, keep your mouth shut.


The brilliance is in its simplicity.  🙂


For example, I love kettle bells use them all the time. And have nothing but respect for my colleagues who are kettle bell certified. But if one more person comes up to me, and tells me kettle bells are all anyone needs as if they are the beginning and end of all fitness… someone may end up with a kettle bell in an awkward position.


This runs rampant through fitness all the time be it gyms, infomercials, dance studios; someone gets the smallest bit of info and acts as if that everyone should be following only that path. This is where the infamous term of broscience comes from.

No foundation, no proof, no track record, yet people believe because they want to believe there is some secret formula out there.


So how do you avoid getting taken in?


I’m glad you asked.


You see fitness, nutrition, exercise; these are all forms of science. And thus are subject to the same rules used to validate anything else in science.


I don’t want this to become to dry so I am going to paraphrase a bit of the terminologies. And hopefully after you learn or remind yourself of these principles you can more confidently filter through the insanity the fitness world has become.

Every one loves science

  Keep Fitness Groovy


Coach W


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Play Russian Roulette with training

Posted on May 9, 2012. Filed under: Exercise, Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , |

It has come to my attention there are certain things people don’t realize about personal training at commercial chain gyms.


Allow me to clarify, if you sign up with a personal gym at a chain, you are playing a form of roulette with your fitness. Let’s take a major chain I used to work for, for example.


Now I don’t want to embarrass this chain, so let’s just say this particular gym is not a New York or NY fitness club. It’s more of a… LA style Fitness, and leave it at that.


OK, so when I worked there several years ago, they would charge anywhere from $30-$50 per half hour session. Of that fee the member paid, they paid the trainer $7.50.

I’ll let that sink in for you.

Now if the client keeps training past the original terms of their contract. The trainers pay gets boosted up to 10.00 per half hour. This only happens though, after all the original sessions which have been paid for have been used. Since these programs are usually 6-12 months. This could take some time.


On top of that we have the PT sale staff. Who have sales goals, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many demonize sales people but there are good and bad sales people just like any profession, and like any profession they are people working to make a living. I don’t fault them, I fault the structure.


See the sales person does not get any credit toward her monthly sales goal for the client to continue past their original agreement. So it’s in her best interest to resign the client on a new contract and nullify the ability of the trainer to get a boost in pay. Fun huh?


The structure of this major chain literally works against those who provide the hands on direct service to the members. And thus, the type of trainer one might end up with can be iffy.


This is why people can go to the same gym at the same time with 2 different trainers and have night & day experiences.


My industry is very weird.

Keep Fitness Groovy,

Coach W

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The problem with perception

Posted on April 19, 2012. Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , , |

One thing I have to be aware of as a coach. Is often what I say, is not what is heard by a client, gym member, audience, etc.

Ever hear this one.  “All you do is eat healthy.”  I hear that one often at work, because the lunch they see me bring is healthy.  So automatically every thing I eat is organic fruit and protein shakes.



All of our perceptions are clouded by our own experiences.  Much like the person who says they can’t eat healthy because they enjoy food too much.  When the actuality is, their taste buds have been made so dysfunctional by the processed and super-flavored foods they eat.  They are no longer able to taste, what healthy food actually tastes like.


The other day I was going through my workout.  I did multiple sets of 3 reps with a progressively heavier deadlift till my acceleration diminished then did singles with 20 seconds of rest.

I followed this up with a couple of mini-complexes.  First was a trap bar deadlift, Clean-grip high pull, and full Power clean, for 5 sets of 5.  Then I did 4 sets of 7 with a trap bar DL, snatch-grip high pull, and hang snatch.

I only allowed 60 seconds or less of rest in between full complex sets, no rest between individual exercises.  After my 5th set of complexes my heart rate was up in the 190’s. Getting as high as 197 at one point.


As I left the gym a member commented,” all you do is weights, don’t you ever do cardio?”





Keep Fitness Groovy

Coach W

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How many masters do you have?

Posted on April 10, 2012. Filed under: Exercise, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , |

“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”

I have often found the quote about serving two masters interesting. The original writing of it is fund in the bible and is used to explain that one cannot serve god and their own desires at the same time. It can also be stated when it comes to accomplishing a fitness goal. Think of it as the opposite extreme of those who find one way of thinking like I referred to last week. They try to do everything at once and end up nowhere. One must have focus to get specific things done

As world class Coach Dan John would say. The goal is the goal is the goal.


For example the other day a member asked me what they can do for fat loss. I explained the basics; reduce refined carbs (I find saying eliminate on day 1 sends them running for the hills), more veggies, more protein, healthy fats, lift weights, etc.

As the conversation goes on the member the member gradually leads the conversation to how he also wishes to gain size in his shoulders.

Can anyone see a problem here?


Now I would never say it’s impossible for someone to lose fat and gain muscle. Because it’s not. Your body is in a constant position of metabolic function and anything is possible with the right planning. However…

More often than not if you are focused on one thing you cannot do the other.

Many athletes will get leaner and gain muscle through the course of their training it is true. The thing is in that situation. More often than not that was not the goal. The goal was to get better at their chosen sport. The getting leaner along with gaining muscle more often than not was a side effect. Trust me, I have been around enough athletes of variety of ages, that I am surprised if their eating habits are NOT horrible.

I explained to the member he needed to pick a goal and stick with it. Whether it was gaining shoulder size or leaning down. He needs to put that as his target for the next month or so. Then reevaluate and either continue or choose his next goal.

Now in full disclosure could I have suggested a way for his to accomplish both goals? Yes. But I didn’t. And I’m not going to.

Why you might ask. Too many masters involved in his routine from my observation. And I do not get involved in those types of debates any more. When you have too many chefs in the kitchen, who knows what’s going to end up in the recipe.

See if these sounds familiar:

The exercise master.

This is usually persona is usually developed from a composite of friends and magazine articles telling us this special routine is the way to “get gunz” or “lose the muffin top.” Our exercise master is a devious one. It appeals to our desire to justify ourselves without pushing ourselves.

I personally fell victim to this when I was trying to gain enough muscle mass to get over 200 lb. I knew power cleans and squats were what I should be doing but I kept dodging them and staying at 190. Our friend I’m describing already has a special shoulder routine where he hits the shoulders from every angle, except for an actual free weight shoulder press. Guess what he probably should be doing?


The social master.

Oooo, you know about this one don’t you. Whispers in your ear to go talk to your gym friend between sets when you know you should only allow yourself 60 seconds. Watch the TV in the gym even though there is nothing on it you would listen to normally. Tells you to check your cell phone, fiddle with the mp3 player or ipod.

Our friend is a trifecta, fiddler, TV watcher, and talks on his cell between sets.

Side note: When I have my own gym there will be no cells allowed on the gym floor. None


Alchemy master.

This is our dear friend who keeps telling us all we need is that latest supplement to get our results. Because the magazine tells us it’s “cutting edge science”… excuse me a moment


*sigh* Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, supplements.

The moment our friend tried to convince me that his NO product was something it wasn’t because his ‘friend’ at GNC told him so. I knew I should tread lightly.

Oh, another side note: NO (Nitrous Oxide) supplements suck. I mean they really REALLY suck. There is no proven benefit from them whatsoever. OK, that may be stretching it. I’m sure there is some benefit. But the amount you would have to take on a consistent benefit would cost you hundreds of dollars a month. Whereas equal or greater benefit from creatine, would cost you $20 for 3 months, and that’s from top of the line quality products.

So if you are following the routine for muscle gain, and taking supplements for fat loss, and then giving yourself distractions so you’re not putting forth the effort to see results from either. You are not going to get very far

Despite what many believe you can’t multi task fitness. So how do we find the balance between tunnel vision and ADD?  I will give my .02 in a bit. But this blog has already become way to long.

Keep Fitness Groovy

Coach W

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