Philosophy Wellness

The Start Of Something BIG….

photoToday I officially embark on a new chapter in my life. For the past eleven years, I have been lucky enough to be a FF/Paramedic for the Prince George’s County Fire Department, one of the busiest and best in the country. I have learned a tremendous amount from many of the best and the brightest.

However, these past couple of years have been pretty rough for me. Honestly, I wasn’t self aware enough to realize what was happening. I was simply going through the motions. I didn’t realize the negative energy I was internalizing. I was pleasant on the outside, for the most part. I’m very sure I was a jerk at times. But looking back, I preferred to be home and away from people. I was standoffish and harsh in my criticisms of myself and others. Those that know me know that that is not part of my personality.

I was also drinking more than usual on my off days. I could rationalize this behavior because I would still perform both of my careers well- of course, not to the best of my normal ability, but well enough where people had no idea what I was going through. You see, this happens to public servants, soldiers and medical professionals from time to time. We hit a rough patch, then recover. It’s a constant battle throughout our careers. This time, I realized that I was not recovering.

Was it the job and the consistent death and violence I experienced as a medical professional? Was it the juggling of two careers? Was it the lack of sleep for over a decade? Was it feeling unfulfilled? It was a combination of all these things- but it finally boiled over after a few events.

When you’re trying to resuscitate a dead baby for 30 minutes and you can write your report afterwards without really feeling anything, there might be a problem. Yes, this happened. I wanted to want to cry, but couldn’t squeeze out a drop.

Philosophy Wellness

If You Wait For Success, It Will Never Come…

Yesterday, I almost fired a client. For the past year, he had been depressed about work. He had been looking for a new job and sending out resumes. He had zero social media accounts for networking purposes (something about principle) and he hadn’t attended any networking events. He wasn’t hussling to change his situation. He built a cave on his couch and had been hibernating there for a year, outside of work. So I decided to put him on an 8-week fat loss challenge with eight of my other clients. I asked him if he was up for it. He said yes, with the caveat that his full effort might not be there- already defeated before he started.

I knew that this challenge would help him make changes in his life, teaching him that effort and hard work were the only things under his control. He sent me pics of his first day’s meals. Needless to say, I was disappointed. He wasn’t even trying. I could sense itscreen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-44-14 through the intent and content. “I’ll give him a few more days,” I thought. Nothing changed.

So I made the decision to let him go. Listening to a talk by Gary Vaynerchuck on YouTube inspired me to think about what I was going to say. I was going to give him the speech about ho lucky he was. He was a white male born in the U.S. He hit the lotto and he had wealthy parents that paid for his expensive DC apartment. I was going to go into how my dad raised me by himself in Queens, NY in the mid seventies, how I never saw him because he was working 16-18 hours a day, seven days a week, how I was raised by television shows like the Cosby Show, Three’s Company and the Jeffersons, how I had my first job when I was 8 years old and hadn’t stopped working since. I was going to tear him a new one. I knew no one in his life was going to step up

Philosophy Training

Be A Coach, Not A Trainer

How To Be A Great Coach

(How to select the right coach for you!)


Primum non nocere- “First, do no harm.” As a Firefighter/Paramedic, I am a medical professional. It is my primary responsibility to help, but more importantly, to consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. I am ethically and legally responsible for my patient and his/her outcome. If I neglect my patient, or administer a treatment that is grossly incorrect, it is my mistake- my assessment was wrong and I based my treatment decisions based on erroneous conclusions. That’s a huge responsibility, especially under the pressure of someone that is crashing before my eyes.full-body-workout

As a fitness coach/personal trainer, I have that same responsibility, but under much less strenuous circumstances. That’s why it blows my mind when I consistently see trainers doing harm to their clients. I see incorrect exercise prescription, or poor execution of very BASIC exercises like pushups, squats, deadlifts and overhead presses under the supervision of a trainer.

In the past, I have subbed for trainers. I had cautioned them and their clients not to perform a particular movement because of potential injury, only to find out later that my advice was ignored and surgeries were necessary. I was dumbfounded and pissed off. “Do no harm” was thrown out the window.

Passing a written exam from a reputable organization is only the very basic step in obtaining a personal training certification. Proper cueing and exercise prescription on the big lifts is essential at this phase. When first starting out, you really don’t know much except the basics, unless you were an avid reader and your own guinea pig. But the basics is all most clients need to obtain most of their lifetime results. I think it was best stated by Pavel and Dan John in their book Starting Strength, and I’m paraphrasing here- eighty percent of your results are going to come from the basic movements. I consistently see these basic movements (like the squat, lunge, push up) being performed and demonstrated incorrectly by trainers and their clients.

Exercise progression is also non-existent. I’m not sure if it’s complacency or outright laziness. Maybe it’s lack of fundamental knowledge. I suppose that’s for another post. It is incumbent upon each individual to become a better coach through self development- that means taking classes and internships, reading up on subjects like nutrition, exercise science, anatomy, physiology, program design, coaching, pre-habilitation, etc. Even then, there is still much to learn. There will ALWAYS be more to learn and you will ALWAYS possess just a fraction of the knowledge that is out there.

Coaching is also a skill that must be developed. It can only be gained through experience and self awareness and criticism. On has to understand that each person learns best through different mechanisms- whether it’s kinesthetic, auditory, visual, or a combination, a coach has to apply all techniques in order to find out what works best. That means utmost presence during the training session.

IMG_7123Every once in a while, I think I’m a badass coach- I look back on the year before and realize I didn’t know anything then and that I know more now. Then I come crashing back down to earth because I also realize there is more to learn. This keeps me hungry for more- the fact that compared to before, I didn’t know much. Though we aren’t superhumans with the power to heal, we do have the opportunity with each individual client to help fix chronic conditions, or assess issues they didn’t know they had. I love this part of the job. I love eradicating knee pain by assessing and correcting hip or ankle mobility. I love decreasing shoulder pain through mobility drills. I love fixing anterior pelvic tilts through core stabilization exercises and hip drills. The fact is, most all of the clients I see have similar issues because we are a sitting culture.

1888549_10152272348813866_357628923_nTrust me, I’m not seated here high on my pedestal. The opposite is true. I know that I don’t know. That is the sign of a good coach. Educating yourself to fix this issue is the sign of a great coach. Therefore, I look upon articles, books and videos from established coaches like Christopher Sommer, Eric Cressey, Dan John, Eric Wong, Pavel, Dean Sommerset, Bret Contreras,  Christian Thibideau, Dr. Jade Teta, and a handful of others. No one way is THE right way. If you get caught up in too much dogma, you’ll miss out on the lessons you are able to learn from many modalities. So do your due diligence trainers. Be humble. Train hard. Surround yourself with people smarter than you and inhale their smarts. Study something everyday and increase your knowledge base- because in the end, it is our responsibility to “do no harm.”


*Here are two great articles and fitness resources for you-