Have You Noticed?

Written by: Coach Jess

When was the last time you noticed how you were feeling–physically and emotionally–before eating?  Have you ever noticed how you feel when you see yourself naked after stepping out of the shower?  Do you take time to notice how you feel–mentally, emotionally and physically–before heading to work for the day?  Be honest here–have you noticed??

Noticing is very similar to mindfulness, awareness and consciousness.  But it is different, in that “to notice” is a verb–something we can do, an action we can take (even if we aren’t yet mindful, aware or conscious).  Mindfulness, awareness and consciousness are all nouns; they are states of being and sometimes we don’t know how to get to those states.  Noticing is how we get there.

What’s the value of noticing, you ask?  Noticing your emotional, physical and mental state before, during and after any activity will help you connect thought patterns and habits to outcomes–both good and bad.  Let me explain:

  • Are you well-fueled for a workout?  As you drive to the gym, take a moment and let go of what happened an hour ago at work, and take inventory of your body.  Does it feel like you have enough gas in the tank for a workout?  During your workout, is your energy level steady, or do you feel depleted?  After your workout, do you feel energized or drained?  How do you like to feel, or how would you like to feel?  What can you do to achieve that?  Oh, yeah, you say–I am going to take an afternoon snack to work, so I feel good when I get to the gym.
  • Before your next dinner, take inventory of how you feel. Calm?  Anxious?  Stressed?  Peaceful?  Next, observe how you eat with that feeling.  An hour after dinner, take notice again.  Here’s my story:  I used to hype up Thanksgiving dinner as if it were a euphoric experience.  I would build up loads of anticipation and excitement, and I would gorge myself.  I thought I enjoyed it–until about 30 minutes after dinner, when I became miserable from being stuffed.  Then I felt gross, lethargic and let down.  Once I made the conscious connection, I was able to approach that feast much differently.  Now I can enjoy one reasonable plate of food–a reasonable serving of my favorites, a tiny serving of the others and pass on those that are just OK.  I can walk away from the table still feeling energetic (and definitely guiltless).  The lesson applies to every meal during the week, too.  If you make a connection between your stressful day at work and a bag or Doritos, now you have the power to control the craving.
  • Do you listen to your own self-talk?  Or, has it become like the furnace in your house and you know longer notice when it turns on?  Take a few minutes and notice what your self-talk sounds like.  Would you be proud or embarrassed if your self-talk were on a billboard?  Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?  We all have a little devil who sits on one shoulder and an angel on the other.  Which one is whispering more loudly in your ear?  Your angel or your devil?
  • How do you feel while you are getting ready for work?  Are you looking forward to a few jokes in the breakroom with some co-workers you enjoy?  Or, are you wrapped up in dread about a meeting, or quotas or something else?  How do these feelings affect your physical wellness?  How do they affect your performance?  

Noticing these things about ourselves CAN result in change.  Let’s say that your spouse asks if you have replaced the bathroom faucet.  “No,” you say, “Why would I?”  Then you walk in the bathroom and notice the faucet is leaking (and you’ve wondered why the water bill was increasing for the last few months!).  Now that you’ve noticed it, you can take action and fix or replace the faucet.  

The same is true about YOU.  Maybe your doctor or loved one has mentioned (one too many times) a poor choice.  You argue, “Hey, it’s hard to (insert life change here).”  Maybe that’s losing weight, stopping smoking, partying less–WHATEVER.  Take a minute and observe yourself.  Once you notice something, you have the power to change it.  

 

Scarcity vs Abundance Mindset

How do your words affect your thoughts? What if I told you that the language pattern you use with yourself and others determines your level of success in the gym and out in the wild. Read on to learn how…

To start we need to understand 2 mindsets:

  • Scarcity (Fixed) Mindset
  • Abundance (Growth) Mindset

Scarcity Mindset

If we’re trapped in a scarcity mindset we believe that everything necessary for future progress is becoming scarce or running out. Scarcity also tends to focus on what others have that we do not. Scarcity shows up in our language with a focus on what there is “Not enough of”. There are never enough hours in the day, money in the bank, people who care, etc.

When we are in the Scarcity Mindset in regards to fitness we say things like, “I don’t have time to meal prep.” OR “I’ll never be as fit as (fill in the blank). I bet it’s sooooooo easy for them to lose weight.” A scarcity mindset also focuses on all of the things you’re giving up or losing by making healthier choices: treats, pizza, alcohol, Netflix.

Scarcity often focuses on immediate gratification and disregards your long term goals because… YOLO. This mindset brings negative emotions like envy, guilt, sadness, and anger. Examples: Have you ever eaten like shit for a whole weekend and felt awesome about yourself on Monday morning? Nope! Does comparing yourself to that super fit person on Instagram make you feel good? Doubtful

Abundance Mindset

On the other hand, an abundance mindset believes that there is always enough. When in abundance we focus on the long term and create positive feelings about self worth and value. Abundance focuses on what we do have and what we can do. Abundance shows up in our language with a focus on what there “IS enough of” and what we “CAN do.” I can plan better and give myself more time, I’ve always had enough money and will always find a way to provide, my life is filled with people who care about me, etc.

A growth mindset in fitness says, “I can schedule time this weekend to meal prep for next week.” OR “I will work hard to become the healthiest version of me because I am worth it.” An abundance mindset also focuses on all the things that you’re gaining or adding by making healthier choices: health, energy, libido, self confidence.

When in abundance you are in opportunity seeking, problem solving, a$$ kicking flow. This mindset brings positive emotions like joy, excitement, compassion, and calm.

Cultivating An Abundance Mindset

Mindset is a powerful tool because just like working out to build muscle, mindset can be practiced, and if you practice my friend you can get better at it. You are not fixed. Human beings are capable of amazing change both internally (how you think and talk to yourself) and externally (your body composition and how you talk to others).

Sometimes scarcity language is sneaky. It may not be as obvious as the above examples. Often, it’s more a slow creep. Here’s a quick mindset/language game I’d like you to play that will hopefully hit this material home for you.

First, grab a pen + paper or open up a Google doc to type.

Got to, Need to, Have to → Get to

Part 1: Pressure/Scarcity Language

Step 1- Please write out 1 of each “Got to”, “Have to”, and “Need to” sentence.

Examples:

  • I’ve got to go to bed earlier tonight.
  • I have to go to work. 
  • I need to work out later.

Step 2- Read these sentences aloud.

Step 3- Check in with yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel saying it? 
  • What are you feeling right now?
  • Where are you feeling it?
  • 10 is high, 1 is low – what number is it?

Part 2: Choice/Abundance Language

Step 4- Rewrite the 3 sentences from above and replace the got to, have to, need to with get to.

Examples:

  • I get to go to bed earlier.
  • I get to go to work.
  • I get to work out later.

Step 5- Read these sentences aloud.

Step 6- Check in with yourself. Ask yourself:

  • Any difference between the first set of sentences and the second set of sentences?
  • Describe the difference.

What Changed?

When we change our words we change our focus. Shifting 1 word in a sentence can make all the difference in how you see the event in your mind. Is this a “have to” or a “get to”? If you look objectively at your life there are very few things that you “have to” do. I have to go to work… you can quit. Well, I “have to” pay bills… you can sell your house and move into something cheaper. I “have to” work… you can get a different job, change your lifestyle, move across the country. You choose to go to work, to pay bills, to stay where you are. 

Our days are the culmination of our decisions, our choices, and when we acknowledge that then we can choose to enjoy them or make different ones. That is the scaffolding for building an abundance mindset.

Motivation is Bullsh*t

Most days I can train without too much resistance. Most days the decision to train is easy. Most days training feels great. Most days training is a necessary release it centers me. Training is my meditation. A time to process, to be present.

 

And some days it really f*cking hard to do it. Some days I don’t feel motivated to train. Some days I want to stay curled up and nestled in the warm blanket of comfort. Some days it’s a battle against my mind to pick up a barbell or get on a rower.

 

Today was one of those difficult days. They come infrequently but when they do, the lack of motivation to train can be crippling. Because if I don’t feel like training it’s highly likely that I also have a desire to engage in some other form of self-destruction. It could be eating junk, I’ll eat a whole large pizza on a day like today, or I may attempt to clear my schedule and not move from the couch. I have one of those all in personalities and I never half ass anything. This includes going off the rails and spiraling into a self-induced food/lethargy fueled energetically depressed state.

 

Today is/was a difficult day to be disciplined when I don’t feel motivated.

 

I dislike the word motivation because I believe that “motivation” is largely bullshit. Here’s why… 

First, motivation is NEVER there when you need it. Looking for motivation when you’re down is like looking for water in the desert.

 

Motivation is often external. We want someone or something outside of us to spur us to action. We want someone to call us when we don’t feel like training to ask us where we’re at. We want a pep talk. We wait for the feeling. We wait for something to show up and make our hearts race just enough to get off the couch. The problem is that feeling never shows up for most people.

 

If motivation does finally show up in your life fleeting at best. You ever felt so motivated to clean up your diet that you purge the kitchen of junk food with every intention of refilling the cabinet and fridge with ONLY healthy options. How long did that last? Did you even make it out of the store without some junk? Did you make it a week? A month?

 

At some point, you gave up and slid back into the old habits of eating for mouth orgasms and dopamine rather than eating for fuel. Now, not every meal you eat should be boring but if you’re #1 goal of eating is edging, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with food. More on this in another blog.

 

The reason you gave up is that you ran out of motivation. There is no amount of external stimulus that can solve an internal issue. Motivation is a lot like caffeine. If you didn’t get enough sleep last night it’s a nice pick me up and it can pull you through a day or two. But if you don’t get enough sleep for a week straight no amount of caffeine is going to save you. Your performance is going down the drain.

 

Rather than looking for motivation, we must lean into discipline. Discipline says “Even though I don’t feel like it, I am going to do it anyway. Even though I’d rather eat a whole bag of Doritos, I’m going to have a salad and some chicken. Even though I’d rather stay in bed, I am going to get up and exercise.”

 

Discipline is the answer to the problem of motivation because you are going to have days when you don’t feel like it. And if you’re just starting out those days will be more numerous than the days that you do feel like it. Motivation won’t save you on those days.

 

I still need some help sometimes. That’s when I lean on my coaches and my community or I’ll search and listen to motivational speeches on YouTube for a hit of that sweet dopamine. It feels good to hear others talk about the struggle. They let me know that it’s normal to feel a lack of motivation. At the end of the day no coach, other person, or YouTube video can do it for me. I have to be disciplined.

 

It’s on me to do it for me, just like it’s on you to do it for you. When you look at the reasons that you train what do you have? Do you do it for yourself? Or are you doing it for someone else? For your spouse? Your kids? Your doctor?

 

Training for someone else is another form of looking for “motivation”. Here’s the deal if you don’t train your spouse will likely stay with you, your kids will still love you, and your doctor doesn’t really care that much anyway. This also shows up in the person that needs a training partner or a gym buddy to keep them accountable. What happens when that buddy ends up canceling a session because insert excuse here. Both people end up skipping the session that day. Eventually one falls off for good and shortly after both quit going to the gym because neither person started doing it for themselves… They started doing it to not let someone else down.

 

When I sit down with someone new in a consultation I can tell who will stick out the arduous journey of transformation based on how they talk about their “why”. Nearly every person who told me they want to do it for someone else either doesn’t enroll because it’s too expensive and they’re not planning to stick it out anyway, or they quit within the first 3 months.

 

The people who stick it out with training and reach their goals do so because 1. They start selfishly. They start for them. Or 2. They start for someone else and spin that into a selfish reason to stay. An example is a father who starts so that he can play pick up basketball with his son pain free and stays because he like the way his body is starting to look when he gets out of the shower.

 

If you only remember 2 sentences from this blog remember this. Training should be selfish and motivation is bullshit. No one is coming to do the hard work of training for you and discipline is the only way to show up when you don’t feel like it.

Athlete’s Hierarchy of Needs

We discuss this Hierarchy with all of our new clients and athletes.

Why is this hierarchy important?

Because this is how our coaches determine what our clients/athletes need to prioritize to stay injury resilient and crush plateaus! This hierarchy is our bedrock for making informed decisions. Without this process for assessment, we’d be guessing what our clients need rather than making informed data-driven decisions.

When looking at this hierarchy it’s important to know that while we can work on more than one thing at a time it’s built like a pyramid for a reason. The base is the most important layer for building up.

From an injury resilience* standpoint without the necessary or prerequisite flexibility, you become more likely to incur an injury through training. Injury is a broad word that captures catastrophic incidents like a tear or break. Though in training it’s far more likely that you experience a minor injury such as a pulled muscle or a sprain.
*side note- we no longer use the term injury prevention because there are many factors that play into injury and we can no more control or prevent those variables for clients than we can control the weather or what happens when you leave the parking lot. More on this in another blog

From a performance goal angle. Do you know how tall a pyramid can grow? Answer, as wide as its base. So if you are looking to lift more weight/gain more skill having adequate flexibility is paramount and the indicator of potential growth.

Here’s a great example to describe that nagging injury. Bob’s knee hurts when squatting. Working on Bob’s squat to improve his knee pain is jumping all the way to the top of the pyramid (because squatting is a skill) and we missed all the layers below. It’s possible that Bob has stiff or short muscles in the front of his upper leg (quads) as a result of sitting at a desk 8 hours a day for the last 15 years. So, we need to work on Bob’s quad flexibility first before addressing the skill of squatting.

Next, we’ll briefly break each layer down:

Flexibility

A structure, joint, or tissue’s passive range of motion. If I use my left hand to pull my right finger back towards my forearm as far as it will comfortably go I am demonstrating my finger’s flexibility. How far my finger can move = flexibility

Mobility

That same structure, joint, or tissue’s active range of motion. When I lift that same finger as high as possible without any assistance attempting to follow the same path I am demonstrating my finger’s mobility. How far I can control/ consciously access movement = mobility

Strength Balance

At Fortitude, we work off very real specific ratios to understand how well you produce force in different movement patterns. The more structurally balanced you are the less pain you have and the better performance gainz you get. Win/Win. Below is an example of some of the ratios that we use to determine why someone like you or Bob, from the example above, may get knee pain when squatting.

What we have observed over the last 2 years of implementing this strength balance testing is that the closer our clients are to these ratios in terms of weight, the more injury resilient and less injury prone they are. These ratios allow us to see if someone is squat or hinge dominant, stronger on one leg than the other, or lacking something like grip and core strength (both of which are indicators of longevity).

For example, if you can deadlift 100# and also squat 100# you are squat dominant to the tune of 20%. To improve resilience and decrease the potential for pain/injury we would work on developing strength in your deadlift. We can then extrapolate this data all the way down to your single arm carry and single leg step up. Anywhere that we find a deviation from the goal ratios, we have an opportunity to train. Creating more balance. More balance = more resilience

Work to Rest Ratio

How much are you doing vs how well are you recovering? You do not get fit from working out. You get fit by creating an opportunity to recover. Exercise breaks down your systems, recovery builds it back stronger. Recover = Gainz. Here we look at things like Stress, Diet, and Sleep as intentional recovery strategies.

Skill

Skill is defined as the ability to do something well. The air squat, pull up, and deadlift are all complex movements that require practice to get good at. Developing these skills through training is how we help you develop strength, resilience, and become an all around bada$$ out in the real world.

What does it all mean?

Each layer is a piece to the puzzle that allows us to identify how we can help our clients continue to train pain free for life. On day 1 of our onboarding process, we take new clients through a full joint by joint assessment to learn about any flexibility or mobility restrictions that they might have. This information coupled with some simple strength balance metrics dictates how we teach what we teach to new clients. From day 1 we build a custom roadmap of education around each individual in order to set you up for long term success in training.

As new clients progress here at Fortitude Strength we will reassess these things every 6-12 weeks to help them continue moving forward towards their strength and fitness goals while staying injury resilient.

Why “Community”?

I’m sometimes asked why community is one of our core values. In part, it is because it’s the word that our members use to describe their experiences with others here. When you become a member at Fortitude Strength you become part of a tribe. A group of like-minded people pursuing similar goals. In our case strength, health, and fitness.

Before I get too deep into it, I’ve gone back and forth on even using the word community because eeeevery gym I’ve ever walked into says their “Community” is what makes them special. If everyone is special, no one is. Every gym, including ours in the past, ends up with cliques when the focus is “community” because “community” is only in reference to the people in the gym at that time. When most people say community they mean my friends, who come in when I do. Often excluding new members or at best acting standoff-ish. That is the opposite of community and the definition of a clique. I remember feeling my anger rise when I saw cliques form because I knew drama followed.

Back when we started Fortitude we said “We’re a place for everybody!” From my experience that doesn’t work. If we say we can help everyone, we’ll effectively help no one (or very few people). If you need a real-world example, walk into any 24-hour gym in town. I can speak with near certainty that if they showed membership numbers it would be in the hundreds with a fraction even showing up regularly and an even smaller number getting significant results. They’re a place for everyone based on “community” that is helping a very small percentage.

Today we have core values that protect our people and I’ve spent 6 years curating, refining, defining, and redefining them. Most gyms, and individuals for that matter, haven’t spent enough time defining what their values mean. I/we have.

At Fortitude Strength, Community means- Walking into Fortitude feels like coming home. We are inclusive. We build each other and ourselves up. Attempting to tear anyone down is not tolerate within these walls. We focus on culture and community is a positive byproduct. We represent everyone under our flag and they, in turn, represent us. We take great care of our people.

As a facility, we aim to drive culture and community becomes the positive byproduct of that.

Socially, your community is a choice. It’s an intentional decision to interact with a group of people and their choice to accept you in return. Communities have standards. Live into those agreed-upon standards and the community thrives. Everyone moving together towards better.

Why community and not family then? Isn’t that what a family does? Yeah, it should. But we all have that one uncle, sister, or cousin that seems to make it their mission to tear everyone else down? You know the one that you hope won’t show up to the next family gathering (pre-COVID). I do and the deal is you didn’t get to choose them. Sure you can cut em out or cut em off but they’ll always be family.

Communities don’t operate that way. If someone shows up day in and day out with the intention of making the community a worse place to live, they are given the opportunity to improve and do better. If they choose not to, they’re out.

At Fortitude, we have a process that selects for and weeds out anyone interested in making Fortitude a worse place to be. It’s our initial consultation. Think of it as a 2-way interview. If you want to start at Fortitude Strength, your first step is to come in and meet with our head coach. Where we’ll get to know you, your goals and both of us will learn if Fortitude is the perfect fit to help. Based on the type of services that we offer AND if it feels like a good fit culturally.

If we are a good fit then we talk about membership.

If not, we’ll refer you to another gym in town that might be a better option.

All of our members agree to our community standards, which they helped us write: 
As a member of Fortitude Strength, you agree to show up in the gym and community with respect, decency, and tolerance towards your fellow human being at all times. Any act(s) deemed to violate this basic principle of human existence can/will result in immediate membership termination. This one is simple, be a good human being. To yourself and to others.

We have Values to protect our culture AND our community because we care about the people that choose to call Fortitude “My Gym.”

The Illusion of “Priorities”

When everything is important, nothing is

There never seem to be enough hours in the day, am I right? I found myself doing this recently I’ll write up a list of tasks for the day in no particular order (problem #1) and attempt to work through them all with equal importance. I began to look at my workday as a bunch of critically important tasks, juggling and bouncing between one and the other attempting to give each equal attention.

In a recent email newsletter that I receive called “The Hustle”, they published a long-form post about burnout. In it, they talk about the word/concept of “Priorit-ies” or in my case trying to juggle a ton of different tasks thinking each to be equally important, and how this is a relatively new term. If we’ve talked recently, then you know I am currently fascinated with words.

Side note: I highly recommend subscribing to “The Hustle” as it’s a great resource for information and one of the only emails that I read almost daily.

A search through the world literature on Google N-Gram shows that the term “priorities” was practically nonexistent before the factory boom following World War II.

Before that, only the singular version of the word — priority — was widely used. Almost never before had human beings attempted to take on too many things as most important or critical.

A sobering realization for myself after looking back at the last few years is that the idea of multiple priorities is an illusion: Two things can be important, but they can’t both be the most important. When I have had the most success it’s been in committing to doing 1 thing, at a time, really really well.

When people say they have multiple priorities, what they’re really saying is that they have a hard time prioritizing. They are unwilling to make difficult, potentially uncomfortable decisions about what should take precedence over everything else.

I see this all the time in terms of health and fitness. That’s why now when someone comes in for the first time to talk with me about joining Fortitude I will ask them about their goals and then ask if it’s a priority for them to achieve those goals. If yes, I can lay out a plan to help. If no, we need to have a longer conversation to determine are the goals listed deep enough and/or are we the right place to help.

The truth is that juggling too many balls increases the risk of tiring out or dropping them all. The way to combat that is learning to take time to figure out which proverbial balls are actually important — and which need to be dropped.

Here are some tips to help. First, make your list of priorities then answer:

  1. Is this task still important, or has the situation changed? Often we commit to tasks that seem important at the time but become less important as situations evolve.
  1. Am I really the only person who can do this? Many top performers think that doing something on their own is easier than teaching or hiring someone else to do it. Trust your tribe and outsource when necessary.
  1. Is this the most important thing right now? Or am I using it to avoid something else? Deep down, you know when you’re doing this.
  1. If this was the only thing I completed today, would I be satisfied with my day? Part of success is focusing on work that will give us a sense of accomplishment.

You can do this with the BIG things like fitness or family time and with the little things like work tasks, chores, and daily to-dos. Have separate planning or reflection sessions for each. Remember, two things can be important, but they can’t both be the most important.

All Things Are Equal In Fitness

I imagine that fitness, exercise, strength, whatever you want to call it can solve a lot of the world’s current problems. It may be a simplistic approach, but it’s tangible and offers so REAL results.

Most of us know the health benefits of exercise. Live longer, feel better, improve mood, decrease anxiety and depression, lower risk of chronic disease, better sex, on and on. Ok, that last one won’t appear on WebMD but regular exercise has been shown physiologically to improve circulation (blood flow to the… extremities) super important for both parties, and you get a psychological boost with improvements in self-confidence and self-image. 

On top of all of that, COVID-19. The greatest precursors to a catastrophic end is preexisting conditions like a chronic disease. Metabolic diseases or chronic diseases are things like heart conditions, type-2 diabetes, and obesity. How do you get a metabolic disease? You ask. A lack of regular exercise and poor nutritional practices like eating too much fast food and drinking soda. In other words, choice. That’s right, people die every day because of a lifetime of choices.

So if living longer, being disease-free, and having better “sexy time” isn’t enough to engage in fitness, what is? How about equality, racism, and hate? Fair warning, this is a SUPER simplistic view and I fully understand that. But hear me out. 

I love strength and fitness because it is impartial. I’d argue it is one of the last platforms where a human being can show up as they are, be accepted, and excel based on their willingness to do the work. Fitness does not care if you are black, white, yellow, or pink. It does not care of your sexual preference or identity. Strength does not care what religion or political party you associate with. Fitness does not care how much money you make or where you are from. Strength is disinterested in age, sex, creed, or color. Strength and fitness is one of the last great arenas of equality.

I heard something years ago that stuck. It was, no matter who you are when you step up to a barbell 200 pounds is 200 pounds. The barbell doesn’t care where you came from, what you have, or how you identify. Nothing will lift that bar except strength. The strength that you have earned.

I imagine that culturally we are suffering from a lack of empathy. Not sympathy, but empathy. Empathy is described as, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Want to know a place where you can forge understand? A barbell and a workout. 

In our gym, people start off as stranges. On day 1 you might not know anyone here, but really quickly you know what kind of people they are. You can see that they value hard work and the pursuit of their best selves. Then people bond through shared experience, perseverance, shared suffering, and PR’s. They support each other regardless of anything else. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you are rewarded with smiles, fist bumps, and support.

I’ve seen a 16-year-old boy cheer for and fist-bump a 70-year-old woman. Those 2 have nothing in common… Except for fitness. And you’ll be hard-pressed to recreate that level of understanding anywhere else. He understands her and she understands him and in that moment there is pure unfiltered support and love, if only in the context of this thing. But isn’t that enough? What kind of effect can that have on both of their lives downstream? That empathy, that understanding? Now imagine that you are exposed to that day after day. Can it create a better world? I think so.

I understand that this is a simplistic view of a very complex and nuanced problem, but I imagine that a simple solution is a great place to start. If you want to solve “people issues”, you need to get people to understand one another. I believe that strength can open that door because all things are equal in fitness.

Why I Fell Out of Love With “CrossFit”

Before we get into this, I’m referring to our old group CF class, where everyone does the same “high intensity” working while trying to “forge elite fitness.”

Oh and don’t get me wrong. I “drank the kool-aid.” When I say drank I mean that I swam in that river.

When I started, I was going to go to regionals (when they still existed), I was going to build a gym of elite athletes- CrossFit calls them “fire breathers”, and everyone was gonna do muscle-ups and snatch body weight.

During that time, I never stopped to ask whether or not this was what people wanted or – more importantly – needed.

I was so consumed with the cool “sport of fitness” that I was blind to the fact that there are some pretty obvious flaws if you want to create a fitness journey that is sustainable for a lifetime and can lead to our clients being a badass 25, 50, and 90-year-olds.

The group aspect is fun, and doing the same high-intensity workout with others around you will double up on feel-good hormone responses. Your body gets hooked on that feeling and you convince yourself that this is where you need to be because it just feels so good. 

But, does it? Does it really feel good?

Are your goals being addressed? Your specific goals? Or are you snatching because that’s what’s on the menu for the day?

Is your movement selection and load correct for your body and your lifestyle?

Are your workouts serving you, or consuming you?

After 6 years in the “CrossFit” scene, I have seen too many people become consumed by having to prove themselves to others or to themselves and forget that they need to take care of their mind and body, first.

If you really want to get a pull up you need to be doing some very intentional work. If you want to get a skill like kipping or butterfly and stay healthy, you need even more specific work. Or else you’ll probably end up with some nagging issues in your elbow/ shoulder that will only get worse. Anyone else just read that and think, “Yup… That’s exactly what happened.”

If you don’t want a big back squat, there is no need for you to do heavy back squats. In fact, the argument could be made that unless you’re training for a sport that requires bilateral power production, you don’t ever need back squats in your life. Blasphemy, I know.

It is not normal or correct to have an “always achey” joint. Your workouts should address this and work around it if necessary.

Group fitness is fun, I get that. Nobody is telling you not to work out with your friends. We’re only saying that your friend might not need or want to snatch to be fit. You might not ever want to do a handstand push up, but if handstand work is programmed you’re gonna try kicking up to the wall because that’s what’s programmed.

We also have to be leery of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Going into the gym and loading more weight to keep up with your buddy even though your knee is aching is a sign that we have a misaligned intent for fitness. At that point, our movement practice has become counterproductive and arguably moving you further away from your goal.

Listen, I love the “constantly varied high-intensity functional movement” idea for fitness. It changed my life and allowed me to open a gym to help change other lives. I also know that it was a fitness modality originally created to train police, military, special forces, and Olympic athletes. Resilient individuals who had spent years practicing the basics and practicing a personal program before just diving in.

There was no long term test for the masses. CrossFit took off like a bullet train and we all just tried to keep up.

So did our parents and grandparents. High volume high impact cyclical movements performed at high intensity for the sake of “forging elite fitness” was prescribed to the masses with little regard for training age, chronological age, specific goals, or movement limitations. And as you would expect, people started getting hurt.

Asking someone to squat is not screening them for movement limitations. That’s like trying to assess whether you need new brakes by getting it up to 90 on the highway and then slamming on them. You’ll definitely get information, but is it the right information? 

No, because there is too much going on. Which leads to cues that can cause more harm than good. All because the coach didnt have the right information.

When squatting, you’re moving at 3 separate joints in the lower body- the ankles, knees, and hips. When determining why squatting is causing you pain, most coaches haven’t tested the joints individually for range of motion, looked at whether bracing is an issue, or whether one leg is stronger than the other. They just throw out something like, “Keep your chest up.”

For us, that’s not good enough. So again… How do we create better?

We do this with a movement screen and strength balance testing. These are the things that provide quality of life AND allow a professional coach to write a program to address those imbalances. 

Without looking at these physical markers and other contributing lifestyle factors, it is a disservice to blindly prescribe movement to somebody.

Let’s be real for a second. Most of us do not need “elite fitness” and even more people do not have the lifestyle pieces in place outside the gym to be able to safely and repeatedly express the high-intensity movement inside the gym – even when “modified” or “scaled.” 

Being in pain because of the gym is the opposite of why we should be doing fitness. Participating in an exercise program that causes discomfort is akin to insanity, of which the definition is “repeating the same task over and over expecting a different result.”

This is a piece of why we’ve decided to move forward in this new direction and create better. 

One of the most common praises we hear about our group class is our coaching. Now, we’re adding some serious muscle to that with our new Hybrid Class which takes that and makes it even better. We combine a personal program with a fun hour with your friends. You get the best of both worlds via a half and half split. 

The first half of class is custom work for you, your body, and your specific goals. This is delivered to you from your own coach via an app and the coach running class will be there to make sure you are wholeheartedly setup for success. In the second half of class, everyone does the same fun conditioning workout together.

Your coach has also armed you with the knowledge of what is the right modification for you, according to your movement screens and strength balance tests. This approach gives us the most effective AND most fun approach by combining a personal program with the opportunity to throw-down with your friends.

We are a personal coaching company that helps people create a better life through fitness. That means personal, specific, intentional programming.

3 Tips for Creating Consistency in Anything

Anthony Robbins once said In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”  

Being consistent is hard. It takes a great deal of effort to do what needs to be done day in and day out. Building consistency takes time. It’s not an overnight success story. However, there are steps that you can implement into your daily routine to put you in a position to be successful. 

Here are 3  ways you can begin to develop consistency today. 

  1. Create and implement a morning routine. This is huge when it comes to being consistent. Set up a routine that you can accomplish every morning and stick to it. This could look like waking up at the same time every day. Then jumping in the shower, drinking 8oz of water, and reading for 10 minutes. Start your day off on a high note and watch how easy the rest of the day becomes. 
  2. Exercise. This doesn’t mean exercise every day, but be consistent with the days you do. Dedicate 60 minutes 3 days a week to move around and get active. 
  3. Write it down. Physically write down on a piece of paper what it is that you want to become more consistent with and look at it daily. Read it out loud. Tell someone so they can help keep you in check. 

Just like any other learned skill, consistency gets better the more you practice it. It will also help to boost your spirits and help you push through some of those hard times. However, being consistent goes beyond the gym. Picture this, you want to lose 10lbs by the end of the next month. That’s a pretty achievable goal! What happens if you only eat a few meals a day and both of those meals are from a gas station or drive-through; that goal becomes significantly harder! What if you were to be more consistent with the way you eat? That would look like preparing some meals ahead of time and eating 3 meals a day. 

Consistency is the act of doing the same thing repeatedly.

Is it hard? Yes. Can you do it? 100%!

The Difficult Road to Success

Creating good habits is the longer, more difficult route to success. This is a dirty little secret that no one in the fitness space wants to talk about or hear right now. Everyone is too interested in cashing in on our need as humans for immediate gratification. This is where 10-day detox, 6-minute abs, and fitness challenges make their money.

I can speak from experience on the challenges because we’ve run 2 separate 6-week challenges at Fortitude and each time we made a couple of thousand dollars. Within 6 months though almost ALL of those people who signed up for those 6-week challenges had left the gym and I felt like shit about it. I felt like shit because we had, at least for the time being, lost the opportunity to help those people reclaim their health and fitness. The main problem behind the structure of any fitness challenge is that it establishes a finite end. In 28 days, 6 weeks, 3 months the challenge is over and thus so is your journey. So, if you can just really commit for the next X amount of days and go all in you can come out on the other side with some progress.

Now, the only reason I got involved with running any sort of challenge is that I believed it was what we needed to do as a business to get new members interested. If I could get them interested, then I could get them to join the class, and if they joined we would deliver some killer results and they would naturally want to stick around to continue the process. That is where I epically failed every single person that came through our doors during a challenge. I did not set the right expectation from the beginning. The expectation that I should have established is that in 6 weeks we won’t be able to accomplish a fraction of the work needed to begin changing your life. You might get some great results, but without the deep work, those results will not last.

Before you get too deep into this article we run nutrition challenges throughout the year and we might even run another fitness challenge at some point BUT with an entirely different focus. The Nutrition challenges and any future challenges that we run will be set up in a way that creates the understanding that this is only the beginning of a much longer process. If you’re just interested in winning a nutrition challenge, ours isn’t the one for you. If you’re interested in creating better habits and starting your journey towards a better lifestyle, THAT is what we’re here for.

Did you know that almost every single contestant on The Biggest Loser has regained all if not more weight than when they started? Why? During the season they had every possible advantage. The conditions were perfect and they got tremendous results, like hundreds of pounds lost. Shit, when I first started nutritional coaching I gave clients a perfect meal plan tailored to them, we checked in every week, made tweaks, adjustments, whatever was needed. The program had a 3-month commitment and we went all in. I helped them create perfect conditions for a finite period of time. Guess what happened? Great results. Then, many of them regained the weight they lost within a year or two. Again, why? 3 reasons.

Habits, Growth Mindset, and being Process Oriented.

Habits take a lllllllllooooooooooonnnnnnnnngggggggg time to build. You are the accumulation of however many years worth of habits that you’ve built up. To change that takes diligence and TIME. If you’ve been on this Earth for 50 years, you ain’t gonna override your shitty programming and habits around food in 3 months. Building good habits and reprogramming bad ones takes MASSIVE action and consistency. It’s f-ing hard. For example, currently, I have cultivated a bad habit of coming home and turning on the tv within the first 15 minutes of getting home. Then, I’ll watch it until bedtime. This is a REALLY shitty habit. So know what I did? Canceled all of our streaming services, moved the TV out of the bedroom, and spent $200 on books that will help me grow as a coach business owner and human being. That $200 is the accumulation of what I’ll save in the next 6 months by canceling those services, good trade in my book (pun intended). MASSIVE action toward building better habits.

Growth Mindset. This one is easy. If you don’t understand the ins and outs of Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets check out THIS podcast or THIS blog post. At the basic level, it’s understanding that I/we are never done. Things can always be different, our lives can always be better but we have to take control of the stories that we tell ourselves. Stories like, I am going to commit to my fitness for the next 6 weeks and then see what happens (fixed) vs I am going to spend the rest of my life valuing health and fitness using the next 6 weeks as my launching pad (growth).

The growth mindset leads nicely into being Process Oriented. There are 2 ways to look at your trips around the sun. Goal-Oriented behavior says, “If I achieve _________ then I will be happy.” It could be more money, losing 20 pounds, getting a 6 pack, completing a challenge, or playing in the NFL. Whatever the goal is, becomes the focus and its achievement associated with the desired feeling of adequacy. It’s also the easiest way to set yourself up for failure. Remember the Biggest Loser guys and gals? Hit the goal. Then what? How about the people who set those goals and fall just short. Ever heard someone say, “I lost 16 pounds, but my goal was 20.” WTF?!?!

Process Oriented behavior focuses on who you become in the PROCESS of achieving that thing. It’s the fact that you lost 16 pounds, not that you didn’t lose 20. It’s appreciating and using the new skills and recipes that you can take back to the kitchen. It’s writing a new story and focusing on your habits. It’s realizing that it’s never the destination that makes the person, it’s who we become along the way that matters most.

5 years ago I came up with the name Fortitude because when given the option, I want to be the kind of man that chooses the harder path. And I want to help others cultivate that in their own lives because I know that the best versions of ourselves are waiting on the other side of adversity. You know it if you’ve ever taken one of our classes. This sh*t is hard! It’s WAY easier to sit on the couch and pound potato chips… But that’s not who WE are.

If I could make the journey to your best self faster or easier and produce the same result I’d be a Bazillionaire but I can’t and the results wouldn’t last. Think back to your most memorable days in life, school, or at work… How were things going? Was it easy breezy or were you in the middle of a storm? I’d wager it seas were raging and things were hard as hell. Know why you remember those times? Because you made it through. Because you become a better version of yourself on the other side.

Your Fortitude allowed you to overcome those times. Your habits, mindset, and how you view the process will allow you to overcome the next ones. Not to mention, it’s how you will get results that last.