Monday, November 22, 2010

You're Missing the Point

'Fitness' is an eye-rolling business sometimes. When people find out I'm in fitness, they perceive me as being a goodie two-shoes when in fact I just love the athleticism of working out. Exercise for me, really, has nothing to do with getting healthy or looking good - those are just awesome side benefits. I just love running and lifting and I love doing that with other people.

If you set out to start exercising to 'get healthy' - I think your missing the point and I think your setting yourself up to fail. Enjoy the pursuit in and of itself.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Tonight my seven year old daughter asked me, "Daddy, what is death?" I said to her, "Mia, it would be like if you went to sleep at night and never woke up."

"Forever?" she asks. "Yes, as far as anyone knows, yes." And I'm kind of unsettled in my response because you want to give your kids really good answers when they ask things and this one is a question I just don't know the answer to. I mean, you wait a good 5 years for them to start talking to you like a person so when the "why this, why that" comes out of their mouths, you want to give good answers. Instead I felt like a 7 year-old.

Thankfully her attention turned elsewhere, but my aging thoughts lingered.

When my daughter talks this way, I get scared. I'm young, but getting older. I want to live a long, healthy life so I can enjoy her for a long, long time. Feeling of vulnerability.

My emotional reaction to this fear day-in and day-out is consistently the same...

I run. I lift. I breathe hard. I sweat. I feel that burning muscular pain. I workout.

For me that workout is a reminder that I am alive and an expression of how I choose to go through life. That workout, in its pure essence, is the second purest expression of living that I know.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


SEE is an acronym I use to describe 3 interrelated necessities in life. Sleep, Exercise and Eat. Might seem just a cute little neat acronym but I've learned to live my life by it.

You see, when I was younger, I was this really good athlete that could get by on just the 'exercise' part. I could be up late, eat what I wanted and still perform at a pretty high level. I was 22.

Now I'm 38. I've always had bad sleeping habits, especially when my 2 kids were very young. My immune system suffered big-time. When your sleep is off, sugar and caffeine become a lifeline of energy. And so the cycle goes...

It got to a point with me where I knew I needed to fundamentally change SLEEP. I trained myself to shut-down earlier - before 10:30. My mental acuity climbed appreciably. My diet improved mostly because I had the energy to care. I stopped getting sick (kids being older helped too) and the quality of my workouts improved dramatically. None of this happened overnight, but over a period of 9 months, I was able to look back and say, "wow - i am in a different place."

At 38, I feel close to that 22. As long as I keep that sleep in check.

So folks, you can pump yourself up to get on a workout regimen all you want. If you're not getting a consistent quality 8 hours of sleep, you won't last more than 3 weeks on that workout program. Unfortunately, that's reality. We're human.

Take a look at your life. Are you treating yourself well? Are you getting the sleep you need and the food your body needs? If not, why not? You might have to dig a little deeper to understand that 'why not' - and I'm not speaking from an almighty pillar. I'm speaking from having been there myself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Afraid of Success

"Something is wrong Jim, I'm looking at your power numbers and I've gotta tell ya, these are pro numbers. I'm glad that you finished in the top 5 but look, you can win - you should be winning. I don't know what you're doing up there, but you're not closing the deal. I know you are capable because I'm seeing the numbers. You don't need to be faster, you need to learn how to win."

Ouch. Here I was all excited that I 'placed' in a big race and my coach, whom I never met but have worked with over the phone and online for about 6 months gave me the real deal.

In split-second pulses at the finish of a race, I was making decisions about how I thought of myself and what I was comfortable with. I was not comfortable winning.

Craig Griffin, my coach, insisted that I win. And he showed me that I was good enough and deserving. Over the next 2 years, every time the finish line got closer, I amped up my mental focus to places I've never been. I would say to myself, I'm here! I'm here! I friggin deserve this. And then, every move was intense, split-second-made and fierce.

I was taking it. I was fighting. Not physically. Mentally. Once I gave myself permission to feel I deserved to win, it felt like I was not just trying to win that race that day, but making up for every race, and every situation in life, that I did not win.

Those moments crystallized in my brain. As I think back to those races over the next 2 years, I remember shutting down extraneous factors and hyper-focusing on where my position was, what gear I was in, where my competitors were and what I needed to do to win. All of it was happening at high race speeds with dozens and sometimes hundreds of bikes cornering deeply into sharp turns before the final straight-away.

So what right? Speedy Jim - whoohoo. Autograph anyone?

But here's the thing: those experiences, and my coach's ability to share his insight with me - in a way that I could handle - changed my life. I was 31 years old at the time. I didn't go on to be a great cyclist. I went on to be a husband, daddy and successful entrepreneur.

I never grew up understanding how to win - it wasn't in the family archives, and that fact made it inherently uncomfortable to succeed. No road map. It was easier - familiar actually - to 'struggle' and be a survivor.

I don't want to survive anymore. I want to live, and live large.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where I Can Find Me & You Can Find You

I slip on my white italian sidi cycling shoes. They fit perfectly. Tight without being tight. I clip into my bike, I am no longer me and my bike is no longer it. Every effort applied results in one forward movement. Rise from the saddle, cat-like and pounce with speed. I feel comfortable here. Climb mountains, cross desert.

I can relax.

Heart rate climbs, breathing accelerates, and here I am comfortable. This is the place where I can be me. Not a rush, that's a feeling of experiencing something new. This is not new. This is familiar and comfortable.

It's a frequency where I can communicate on all levels. I can reach you here. I can reach me here. I can see brightly. And I can feel everything and be afraid of nothing. Not invincibility. Comfort with my humanity.

God, whoever or whatever that may be, provided me with a heart and I primed it to pump powerfully, and slowly. I did that. My legs - agile sticks as a child are now powerful workhorses that have taken me tens of thousands of miles.

On the road or in the boat, I've met people that I will never forget but that I will never see again. That is living and at its best.

Ever look square into the eyes of an athlete who is at speed, sweating and physically hurting? Its a pure moment of someone being as alive as can be. Challenge that person's spirit by surging ahead of them. I've been here many times, some won, many lost.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Outside My Comfort Zone

Rivanna Reservoir, University of Virginia, October 1st, 1992

Rowing duels are rare. Usually crews will compete in fleets of 6-8 boats at a time. But once a year, my crew would take on UVA's crew and this year it would be on their course. It was a quiet reservoir. No spectators; no shore to have them. It was early fall, the leaves were only beginning to change.

When the gun sounded, we pried into our first ten strokes. The UVA crew was rowing higher than us and they immediately gained a 2 seat lead within those first ten strokes. Joe was our stroke, the newest member of our team, one we have not yet really gotten to know.

Had I known Joe would raise the stroke rating to a 48 and demand that we stay there, I probably would have unlocked my oar and dove into the reservoir because I did not think that pace was sustainable. But, having no choice if we were to stay with the big and powerful UVA crew, Joe kept us high.

I remember cursing Joe halfway through the race, accusing him of inexperience for rowing this high - we never settled! We have to settle you ass! We're going to blow up!

UVA hung with us but I could here there coxswain growing more frantic and demanding toward her crew. They were beginning to falter, which gave us new life, and we began to surge.

"Okay Joe, lock us down. Let's settle. Let's bring this down."

He never did. He kept it high and I, along with my crew, felt like our lungs were going to explode. I had already emptied my tank, or so I thought.

Funny how your body has reserve of which you are not aware. Survival reserve.

2000 meters later, we finished in the lead with an open water advantage and broke UVA's course record. Once we recovered in the boat, UVA floated over to us so we could lock oars, shake hands and claim their jerseys. My UVA counterpart was 6'4" with no lank about him. I could not believe I out-rowed this guy.

I took his sweaty jersey that he surrendered in sportsmanlike fashion and thanked him for the race. On the dock, I thanked Joe with a slight grin and smirk on my face.

Who was this guy that handled me like a horse and demanded I go faster than I was accustomed?

Every now and then, we should all surrender control to what we think we know and let someone else guide us. The outcome could take you to a good place.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


A relatively young age, but one of massive transition. The middle of the decade of leaving your youth and entering the 'time' you vaguely knew was coming.

I've always been this hyper-focused athlete and now I feel confused. I still have this itch everyday to start racing again, or jumping, even though I know my peak is past. Could I get back there? Well, sure, I think so. But for how long and under what cost? And wouldn't that be a selfish path given the two little munchkins I have running around?

It's their time. Two little ripe kiddies with energy that requires no premeditated thought to unleash. They just...go. Me? I have to have a conversation with myself first before I fire up my engines.

So what's the motivation now if not to win? To look good? That's more about diet for me, and I've never been too good about 'working out' without that competitive element anyway.

I'm itching so badly to open up a studio. One that I, myself, would workout in. I'd invite all of my friends and colleagues to join me for workouts. I NEED to share my experience and knowledge with other people. I want to teach those that REALLY want to amp it up and get fit. It's so hard to do online - no human touch.

I think that's it. I'll be that awesome 40 something year old Dad that's in terrific shape, goes cycling with his buddies on the weekends and occasionally does a Triathlon. Maybe my kids will come by to 'find Dad' and breathe in what I do. Maybe other Dads will walk in and want to get in shape - really want to get in shape. I would love that.

No feeling is greater than the feeling of watching a person's life change as they find their fit selves. Good to know I have those opportunities in front of me, in the not-so-distant future.

About Me

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NY, New York, United States
I'm 34 years old, the proud father of 2 beautiful children and husband to Jennifer, a beautiful, smart, and very caring woman. I'm an athlete - someone that was blessed with the ability to move fast and fluidly past, around, up and over my opponents. But, my body now reminds me that those days are numbered. I'm the Founder of Agile Fitness, a company dedicated to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Resume: - Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist ('96). - Bachelor of Arts & Science, University of Delaware, ('95) - Masters in Business Administration, Baruch College Zicklin School of Business ('01)