Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year's Resolution: Row in Your Underwear

Do you really think that you will stick with the resolution you put forth these next few days? Will you once and for all get fit?

Fitness is tough. You have to live it in order to really get fit for good. What I mean is, you need to embrace it as part of a lifestyle and not see it so much as a chore. It's a habit-forming activity. The first few days can feel like an against-the-grain grind. But after a few weeks, it's something you won't want to give up.

But something will derail you anyway. You'll get sick, or loose too much sleep. Something might put you into a funk - a break-up, crappy weather - whatever.

This is where the 65% rule comes in. In a year's time, you only need to have worked out 65% of the time - that's 237 days out of the year - if you want to see good results. That leaves 128 days for all of the things that will go wrong. And plenty will go wrong.

A skilled person will know how to squeeze in the workouts when conditions are less than ideal. Inconveniences won't derail this person. Forgot your workout shoes? Then row instead of run (you don't need shoes to row). Forgot your workout clothes? Then get on the rowing machine in your black socks and underwear and get the job done! (Disclaimer - I admittedly did this in my office a few weeks ago - I have no shame). Point is – get the workouts in – make it the first thought when you get up in the morning. Say to yourself, “When am I working out today?”

Remember that it is the times that are less than perfect that defines those that get results and those that don't. Get it done. Get it done 65% of the time.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Being Young and Flying High

I don't usually tell people that I was a pole vaulter in high school and college because when I do, I get the sense that they associate me with being a daredevil type dude.

Think of your youth. Can you recall those simpler times? When I do, I think of vaulting. Sprinting down the runway and then launching myself 14 feet into the sky. It was an incredible feeling.

I bet you can relate - even if it wasn't through such an exotic feat. Self expression is all it was. I was an introverted kid, but not when it came to physical things. That was my comfort zone.

Now its my children's turn to express themselves. Dance, art, music, sports. Whatever their pursuits are will be fine with me. All that's required is passion, purpose and freedom to be who they are and who they want to be.

Marianne Williamson says what I'm trying to say, but a thousand times better, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Feeling Alive

That's what exercising is all about. You go into with notions of getting fit; that is the goal and that should be the goal.

What's taken for granted though is the in-the-moment feeling that comes about during exercise. Next time you're exercising, take a mental check when your heart rate is around 125 to 140. Hover there for a while and think about how it feels. Sure it might be a little uncomfortable physically. But how do you feel mentally?

Is there a clarity of thought?

Do things seem more crisp to you? I bet they do.

Now do this: get more fit. Just a little bit more - like 3-4 weeks worth. Do another mental check.

That's what it's about. The aesthetics matter, but you'll see that they become secondary.

What we all really want is to feel good, from the inside out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why Does Everyone Feel They Have to Run a Marathon?

Marathon weekend in New York City. The event seems to be much more of a parade than an athletic event. Obviously I encourage people to be more active - but I sense a lot of the slower participants are doing it to prove something and that I don't get. Marathon running is not for everyone - it takes a certain body type. So why do people that clearly have physical limitations run them? If you want a monumental challenge, why does it have to be a marathon if you are missing a limb? There are other non-physical ways to excel. I admire the motive and human spirit, but I think it is a misguided use of such a strong spirit.

I'm writing this so that you don't feel pressure that running a marathon is some sort of 'right of passage.' Keep it simple. Get your 20-60 minutes of exercise in 4-5 times per week. Then get on with your life. You don't need to construct such a monumental marathon event to feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Daddy Fat

Daddy Fat is the 10-15 pounds of fat weight that is wrapped around your torso like a loose and floppy belt. It's a sad condition that sets in from an unbelievable amount of sleep deprivation right after Mommy gives birth. You can't workout on 3-5 hours of sleep, so what happens is that you're tired and you need to stay awake.

So you eat a bowl of cereal.

That bowl of cereal is still with you. It's on your belly and stubbornly attached to your ass. Fruity Pebbles on your ass and Coco Puffs on your belly. It sounds like a sex fantasy but its not. It's your reality. You went ahead and got fat.

Crossroads my friend. Make a decision now before it is truly too late. Stop the bleeding.

Go to sleep. Wake up. Workout. Then deal with your life. Don't try to workout after you deal with your life. You'll get fat that way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Frigid Mornings

I blew out my knee my freshman year of college in my 2nd Track & Field meet of the season. I was a pole vaulter. It was a devastating injury for me because I loved jumping and at 18 years old, its tough to swallow the fact that you can't do something anymore. I could have gotten back to jumping, but I was never able to overcome the psychological barrier of leaving the ground after that.

But, something very wonderful came out of it. One year later, I had discovered rowing. I joined the university crew team and quickly earned my seat in the varsity boat. The coxswain coached us novice rowers how to row on the erg (indoor rowing machine). I asked what time the best guy on the team could pull on this machine. I made it a point to beat that score. To be honest, I never beat that score. The guy who had it was one of the country's top rowers. He was a 6'5" monster. But I did establish the 2nd fastest times on the team within 2 weeks. The next summer, that monster and I had the privilege of rowing at Penn AC's national camp under the direction of Ted Nash, US Olympic coach.

But that's not the story actually. The story was how I got to practice when I started out on my college team. I didn't have a car and lived off of campus. Didn't know any teammates to bum a ride off of them. So I rode my bike to and from the boathouse each morning, 10 miles each way.

It was soooo cold - February mornings at 5am. The darkness made it feel even colder. I'm cold thinking about it. I remember covering my hands in saran wrap before I put my gloves on hoping that would cut the chill (didn't work). I remember hiding behind a building one time just to take a break from the wind chill. I was a little nuts. My teammates thought so! But they respected me. It brought the work ethic of the team up, and we got fast together. How could they complain that our water workouts were hard when I rode 10 miles beforehand and would ride 10 miles home? 20 months later, we rowed to 3rd place in the Dad Vails Regatta, the country's most prestigious sprints race.

It's not a story that I think will inspire you because there was some nuttiness to the whole thing. My telling it is more of an effort of showing you how committed I am to what I do. A few people have recently asked me if this startup is worth all of the hard work. And the answer is yes, because none of it is work to me. It is what I am, so it comes naturally, which makes the work incidental.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sea Change

Enough time goes by in life that a sea change occurs. I can feel that sea change acutely now. I look back on my life; I don’t feel I am in any way in the same place. I ran along the lake in Chicago tonight. Chicago. I used to run late at night when I was a kid growing up. But it wasn’t Chicago, it wasn’t cancer, it wasn’t kids or marriage or money, houses, jobs, startups. It was me and my dreams. My dreams are real now.

All of us are alive you know. The pains that we feel are a cold reminder that we are Alive. That is a good thing.

Go run. Push. Feel the discomfort and remember it. Your heart was beating fast. Remember that. Do it again. Do it to feel alive.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Fast Run on a Friday Night

Twenty years ago, when I was 14 years old, I went for a run with my friends Mike and Dan. It was an early October Friday night. It was a special night, because it was one of only a few events that have happened to me that forms the spiritual foundation that agile was built upon.

Me, Mike and Dan. We met on the corner of our block. We started jogging side-by-side. It was slow, but by the 1/2 mile mark, we were running at a steady but fast pace. Mike was moody, I could tell because he would keep jumping out in front of us, as if he didn't want to be bothered. I'd take a tight position right behind and slightly to the left or right, depending on the turn coming up. I'd position myself in a way that he could see and feel me right there, just to piss him off. Dan was steady right behind us, never really fighting for a lead or asserting his presence. But he was there. He was always there.

Mike and I took turns jumping. The pace was ridiculous. All 3 of us were on our high school cross country team; we ran fast all the time. But tonight there was an edge to that speed. We were moving faster than we usually do. We were 2 miles into what would be a 5 mile run. But there was no thought of pace. There was thought only of each moment, each turn and each jump. And with each turn and jump, the pace escalated.

About 3 1/2 miles into the run, we started turning home. Dan began to fade. It was probably the last time he ever would fade against us; he went on to be the top runner in our state 3 years later. Any other night, we would have moderated our pace to stay together, but as I said, Mike was in a mood, so Dan would be left behind.

Mike and I kept notching up the pace. It was a simple and totally primal game of one-upmanship. It hurt for a while, but then it didn't hurt anymore. It seemed as if the pain was a temporary state that we simply ran past. And it was that state that I will never forget. A state where you come within yourself. Outside forces disappear and feel abstract. You feel and hear your breadth and nothing more.

Except Mike's elbows in my ribs. We kept jockeying for position. It seemed that our speed was so fast that the only way to keep up was to take every inside corner. If not the inside, then so close to each other that our natural strides collided with one another.

With about 10 blocks to go, I was running as fast as I could without jumping into a flat-out sprint. Mike was doing the same. Desperation did creep in now because I wondered, with so many blocks to go, how could we keep this up? But the blocks seemed to only take a few strides to notch. It seemed we could do this. It didn't matter what I thought, we were doing it.

We turned down the last block, our block, and shifted to sprint.

Hands on knees, drop of sweat on edge of chin, Mike looked up at me walking toward him. He was smiling. But I was smiling. He beat me. We were wide-eyed over never having run that fast. More bitter-sweet for me, but sweet all the same.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Toning is a Bad Word

If you mention that you want to tone your body to a trainer or other fitness professional, he or she is likely to do a mental cringe. You see, from a physiological point of view, there is no such thing as 'toning' your muscles. Muscles can only get bigger (called Hypertrophy) or smaller (Atrophy).

So why then did I put Tone as one of the main goals on the Agile home page? Because I need to find a way to relate to you. I know what you're looking for, and I know how to give you that, but it may not be words that you'll readily embrace (i.e. words like hypertrophy, lean body mass, vascular muscle tissue). I want to speak to you in terms that you will understand, and then teach you about your body as we get to know one another.

The initial effect from weight training is a perceived tightening, or firming, of the muscles. So when people say they want to tone their body, they're looking for this firming effect plus some fat reduction in certain parts of their body. But, the idea of making your muscles grow longer or shorter is really not possible. You cannot manipulate the length of your muscles - you can make the more flexible and vascular, but not physically longer.

You can still achieve a lean look. You can get this look by reducing your body fat weight and increasing your muscle mass. This is where some people, mainly women, get afraid - it's that word 'mass' - they don’t want to get bulky. Well, okay, I won’t make you ‘bulky’ but we’re still going to lift weights and increase your muscle mass. You would have to lift weights 6 times per week with high volume and intensity cycles to get so muscular that you look bulky. If you appear bulky because your muscles are growing a little bit but they’re layered under fat weight. Well, that’s a diet issue.

Now what about those whose muscles grow fast, they've lost their excess fat weight and they actually think they're too bulky? Don't worry, even hear we can lean out your muscles by increasing your cardiovascular exercise volume. But this is very hard to do because it requires a lot of cardio conditioning and a strict diet.

I can show you how to reduce the fat that is over your muscles and I can show you how to increase the size of your muscles. I can show you how to strengthen your heart muscle and increase your cardiovascular efficiency by growing more capillaries. I can help you increase your coordination and balance. I can tweak each of these benefits to a certain degree so that your body has a certain look and feel.

If you want to call that toning, that’s okay, it’s just a word.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Doing It The Wrong Way

Here are the 10 most common mistakes I see in a gym - and I see these mistakes almost every time!

1. Walking on Treadmill while holding on with hands. This is cheating. If you need to hold on, then the speed is too high and or the incline is too steep.

2. Resting between sets: I see way too many guys reading a magazine or chatting with their buddies in between sets. Here's the deal: if more than a minute goes by between sets, you're either a Division 1 football player in the Strength Phase of your sport specific strength training program that demands a 2:30 rest period, or your a 'Joe' wasting time in the gym.

3. Overweight men & women lying on their back doing abs. If you are overweight, you need to be doing exercises that are getting - and keeping - your heart rate up. That means staying on your feet (weight-bearing exercises). 100 crunches a day will firm up your abs, which will always remain buried under 25 extra pounds of fat. I promise you that crunches do nothing to eliminate the fat weight on your gut.

4. Skinny girls doing Pilates. Not the best use of your exercise time. Lifting weights is more effective and can teach the same virtues as those of Pilates. A popular benefit cited by Pilates enthusiasts, 'lengthening' muscles, is a misnomer. You cannot make a muscle longer. Muscles attach to bone via tendons and ligaments. Unless your bones grow longer, your muscles cannot get longer. Now you can and will get more flexible, but a flexible Serena Williams is still a very muscular women.

5. Guys wearing pants in the gym. Quick giveaway that their legs are totally undeveloped because they chose to concentrate on upper body beach muscle. Result: very tight back because they stopped squatting down and bending over 5 years ago.

6. Recumbent bike TV Watchers. This bike has a good purpose: light riding for heavier people on their easy days. But what it ends up being instead is an ideal position for watching the TV on an exercise bike.

7. Poor exercise sequencing: chest and biceps are a bad combination. Your biceps act as a 'secondary mover' when pulling. Do biceps after back. Do triceps after chest.

8. Muscle targeting: guys are targeting 2 muscle groups + abs in one workout and doing this twice per week. Your better off doing 1 or 2 exercises per muscle group 3 times per week. You'll get bigger and more fit!

9. Elliptical machine: okay, I'm warming up to this machine. It’s a legit choice for those whose bodies simply can't handle the higher impact treadmill. But geez, get more into it! Bring your strides per minute up and really use those arms. Don't hold onto the arm rest handles.

10. The Smith machine: it’s tragic that this machine has found its way into most gyms. It allows your muscles to 'shut off' from having to think about what they're doing. No balance or coordination is needed, so men are able to really load up on the weight to boost their ego. Guys: who the heck cares how much weight you can lift?! Find another ego satisfier.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Difference Between Trainers and Coaches

Good personal trainers are awesome at exercise sequencing; they are very good at putting together fresh, challenging workouts.

Good coaches are awesome at designing exercise programs. Less emphasis is placed on exercise variety and more emphasis is placed on program goals.

The trainer has to keep the client happy and coming back; the coach dictates what his or her athletes are going to do if they want to play on the team.

The trainers approach is more fun, but the coaches’ approach is more effective.

The challenge for us at Agile is of course to do both: make goal-oriented exercise programs that are innovative, fresh and fun.

The challenge for me is walking the fine line between my roles as coach and trainer. On the one hand, I have to be a hard-ass, demand more and keep you on track. On the other hand, I have to be sensitive to the demands on your time and cheer you to do the best you can.

What's the balance between those two? I’m still not exactly sure.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Get in Shape This Fall!

I cannot believe that today is September 1st! I love that we have a new season upon us. It’s a chance for renewal. Sure we've got plenty of days of warm weather left but the daily pace and tempo is going to be different after this long weekend. Time to get back into the work routine. And time to get back into the workout routine!

I just counted that we have about 12 weeks between now and Thanksgiving. That's the perfect chunk of time to plan an exercise program. And think what a perfect scenario to have 3 solid months of exercise training under your belt before the Holidays and New Year's.

All Agile exercise programs are one month long. That means you can start one now, then a new and slight harder one in October, and then a newer and even harder one in November. Each exercise program is calibrated to have you 'Peak' in the 3rd week of that month. Then on the 4th week (Taper Week) the workload gets easier. 3 months of that and you will be in the best shape of your life!

If anyone is browsing through the programs on, and you’re unsure of where to get started, then email me at and let me know. Email this information and I'll tell you what program you should choose:

1) Exercise and Health History (or Sports History)
2) Age, Height, Weight
3) Activity likes and dislikes (i.e. "I hate the stairclimber")
4) Where you will workout (i.e. Home or Gym)
5) Anything else you think I should know

I’m so passionate about this stuff. Please let me know how I can help you!

Monday, August 21, 2006

New Features! Adobe Printouts, Endurance Audio Podcasts and New Yoga Sequences

Dropping a note to let everyone know that we have some new and exciting features being added to your programs over the next 6 weeks!

Adobe Printouts - all of your workouts will be available on a one pager showing the exercise illustrations and a short description.

Audio Podcasts for Endurance Workouts - We start recording all of the endurance workouts live! A couple of endurance athletes and myself will exercise through and record every one of our endurance workouts (currently over 300 of them). We'll cue you on when to go harder, slower, easier and faster! All mixed to a cool beat. Don't worry - it'll be done in a way that we're not constantly in your ear breathing heavily and telling you what to do.

New Yoga Sequences - Mariko Bhakti Hirakawa is coming on board to really make our Yoga Programs special! This will transform our Yoga from, 'yes, we have that too' to the most authentic and original Yoga programming available. Mariko has over 15 years experience and will be spending half of her time with Agile in India! If you'd like to get a preview of Mariko, visit her website at

New Dashboard and Workout Page - We're making it more intuitive. Workout page should be up and running this week and Dashboard page next week.

Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Most people like the idea of training but few people have the patience to see this idea through to reality. My squash coach, Sean Gibbons, and I thought about this between drills today. I suppose, and Sean agrees, that this dilemma is true with most things in life. Many people start off on a project, or new job, with good intentions and great energy. In fact, I have learned only in the last 5 years that I needed to learn how to apply my athletic discipline to other areas of my life. Now, I have much more balance and success in other things besides sport.

Does this sound familiar? In what areas of life have you excelled? My bet is that a big part of your success in that realm is because of your persistance and ability to see things through.

So the secret to getting fit is that there is no secret. You just have to implement day-in and day-out. Stay true to the cause. Stay focused on what you set out to do, tweak it from time-to-time, but otherwise implement day-in and day-out.

I can only help you if you are committed to letting me help you.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sari is Doin It!

I'm gonna open up a gym that has a female-friendly weight room, possibly with pink weights. Sari, the 'case study' subject many of you asked about has been courageously walking into a testosterone-heavy gym to do her Tone Lifting program. Sensing desperation and pressure-overload in her voice on one of our phone updates, it seemed clear to me that I needed to stop by her gym to get her comfortable. We did that yesterday morning.

We went over most of the exercises in her program. It's been slow-going with the her lifting program partly because it was so new to her. The rowing too. We decided that since there is so much new-ness to this experience for her, that we're gonna scrap the rowing program until the winter and swap it out for running in this fantastic weather we've been having lately.

I think now that she has more comfort in the weight room (I showed her how to flaunt her stuff and not take crap from any muscular monkeys) she'll be good to go with the lifting. It's important for her, and important for most women, to lift weights. I said as much in my last blog but I left out a critical part. Weight lifting increases bone density, an especially important benefit for women. Pilates, Yoga or Cardio do not have the bone-densifying effect like that of weight training. Any time you place a weight-bearing load on your shoulder girdle, spine or hips, it sends important messages to your central nervous system that your skeletal system has to adapt and handle that load. At the cellular level, this means creating more osteoblasts, which increases bone density.

So, Sari's plan is lifting to increase her lean body mass and running to simply let loose and soak up nature when the endorphins are flowing (a beautiful, and downright spiritual combination).

The success story so far: Sari and I are still working together. Exercising, or really making change, is hard work. It takes a team.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pear-shaped Women

I see it all the time - women who are strong in their hips but have very little tone or strength in their shoulders and arms.

If you have extra weight in your hips and you want to burn that off, the fastest way to do so is not by cardio and not by Pilates. You should lift weights. Specifically, upper body weight training exercises.

Here's why:

When you increase your lean body mass your metabolism (base metabolic rate) increases. That means you'll be burning more calories all day long - even when not exercising. If you're lifting with your shoulders, arms, back and chest, then that muscle growth will effectively eat away the extra weight in your hips. In 3-6 month time, your pear shape will morph into that of a beautiful hourglass.

Running or elliptical training won't build lean body mass because you're using the aerobic energy system. To gain lean body mass, you need to train aenorobically (weight training). It is true that you could run aenorobically and gain lean body mass, but that means lots of sprints (think Olympic sprinters). Sprints are great, but chances are, you may not be ready for the high impact demands of sprinting.

Here's a good routine to build those upper body muscles:

1. Upper Body Ergometer for 6 minutes to waken and stabilize your shoulder capsules.

2. Romanian Deadlifts to hit all large muscles groups and prep your body for isolation-type exercises.

3 and 4. Pullup & Dip Machine for chest and back. Use wider grips and plenty of assistance from machine.

5. Seated Overhead Press for shoulders (first with bar and then with dumbbells)

6. Seated Double Arm Extensions with dumbbells for triceps (do not alternate).

7. Arm Curls for biceps (bar, then alternate with dumbbells).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I Am Not Selling Magic Pills

Tucson, Arizona, 2001. I went there to train for the up and coming racing season. New York is no place to ride 3000 miles in the winter. I just finished B-school. Job market was horrible. It was a perfect opportunity to go. 8 weeks of 400-500 miles per week in the desert. Not one of those miles was my heart rate over 158 beats per minute. Yet cumulatively, those were the miles that made me wickedly fast by May of that year.

Results will come if you are persistent, one mile at a time. One workout at a time.

Common scenario is that people will start going to the gym and really get into it. High energy, they feel great and then 'the fizzle' happens. I think its great that people get into it that way. It's so awesome to see people's energy shoot through the roof. What stinks is seeing them disappear 3 weeks later.

It is good that you start off that strong, but when that dies down (within 3 weeks for most), that's when you need to recall why you started exercising. Slow down. Take the pressure off yourself that you need to go hard all the time. Go to the gym and allow yourself to have a less-than-great workout. On those days, take credit for even getting there. You accomplished more than you think.

I am not selling magic pills. If you want to get in shape then you need to do the work. I'm impressed with what you've done in 3 months, not 3 weeks. I can help you get started in 3 weeks. But I need more of your time to get those results. I need 3 months without a week missed. I need 6 months without 2 weeks missed. I need 2 years to change your life.

Exercise for many is a random pursuit. Think about your goals. What is your plan to reach those goals? Are you hopping on a cardio machine everyday? If so, what's the workout plan? What about the next one? How do you string together 2 weeks of cardio sessions? 4 weeks? 2 years?

At Agile, when you logon to your workout, you'll see something called 'Run Rate' on your dashboard. It starts at 50%. Each workout you complete makes that number go up. Each day that goes by without you doing a workout makes that number go down. This is your barometer. Results are guaranteed if you can keep that number at 65% over a 3 month period.

But here's the beauty of Run Rate. If you got off track and your Run Rate dropped to 18%, then you have a clear goal - get it to 25%.

If you're having trouble, let me know. I am always here to help.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Just Give Up

Don't trust yourself. If you want to really see results, then you have to leave your comfort zone, and in my experience, the surest way to do that is to put a pro in charge.

You're deviously smart. You'll figure out the most efficient and painless way to exercise. That's a good thing for all other things besides exercise.

Ever notice that some people have been gym members for a while (months or years), but they look the same? They're comfortable. Bottom-line: if you have been exercising and you are not seeing good results within 3-6 months, something is wrong.

Leave your comfort zone, give up control, but remember to still hold yourself accountable. A pro can guide you along the way, but ultimately you have to walk that path.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eeeasy there, Tiger.

Your intentions are right-on; you’re starting an exercise program! You go into it with energy and high motivation. Then you fizzle.

Does this happen to you?

My goal, and the foundation agile was built on, is to show you how to overcome this. Every program starts off relatively easy and then builds in intensity each session and each week. The 4th week is a taper week, which means we back off of the intensity so that your body can regenerate and become stronger. Then you're ready to start the process again, except at a higher level.

It takes about 2 cycles (months) for this pattern to take root. The first few weeks, you might resist the routine. It's human nature. Even elite athletes have to concentrate on getting their workouts done by reminding themselves of their ultimate goals.

I make an inner smirk sometimes when I hear people tell me their goals, because I know that, if they stay the course, they will exceed their goals and reach a state of well being that they cannot currently imagine.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How do I Reach You?

Can we Build a Community?

Hi everyone!

I'm having trouble with something and I need your help.

Exercise is tough - less because of grueling workout sessions and more because of the day-in and day-out routine one needs to establish to see results.

I put everything I have into building agile as it exists today. My heart, knowledge and life experiences permeate through every single pixel of what you see.

But how do I reach you? How do I make sure you know that I care as much as I do?

Heated but healthy debate occurred today between us founding agilites on the virtues and pitfalls of creating an online community as a means to reach out to those in need of fitness help.

I want to know in what ways I can improve my service to you. I want to get you fit. I want you to have moments where you feel at peace with yourself.

Help me help you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Who Wants to be the First Case Study!

I am inviting 1 person to begin a 6 month, all-expense paid, exercise program starting on July 5th.

The requirements are as follows:

1. Commit to 6 months of consistent exercise 3-6 times per week
2. Talk with me over email, phone and/or IM 2-3 times per week about how you feel
3. Have computer with Internet Connection
4. Have Gym Membership
5. Be in good health
6. Be willing to take a before and after photos of self to be posted on this blog (casual shots - not those cheesy bikini shots and then suck-in-the-belly shots)
7. Be comfortable with my writing blog posts about your journey. I will always speak of you in a positive light and never divulge personal information. You will get to read, edit and approve/disprove all posts I write before I publish them.
8. Be willing to write commentary on blog periodically.

This is a serious commitment, so think it thoroughly through! It will be hard - not in terms of endless grueling exercise sessions, but in terms of the day-in-day-out commitment for 6 months, and me being your coach through it. Of course, you can back out at any time.

The benefit to you: The best shape of your life!

Email me at if you're interested!

Monday, June 05, 2006

A New Day at Agile

Agile Fitness is a business that I started a year and a half ago, but today, it feels like a new beginning.

I met a woman, Sari Goodfriend, by chance a few weeks ago. She was sitting outside my office, waiting for colleagues of hers. It took about 30 seconds for us to hit a friendly rapport and 5 minutes to realize that we could help each other professionally. I wanted a photographer to put a dash of humanity on Agile; she was exactly that person. I am so happy to have met her.

My Dear Family & Friends, Lee Jackson, Jennifer Pepe McDade, Dora Cedano, Mike Hughes, Bailey O'Neile, Julia Conduit and Bree Patron made that possible by becoming the 'faces of Agile' in what was an exciting photoshoot. I am so priviledged and rich to know each one of you. I am so happy that I am surrounded by such smart, healthy, down-to-earth people.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good and Not-So-Good Exercises

When you get older - and this means over the age of 25 - it's time to change your priorities about what's important: your ego or your health.

No one in the gym really cares how much weight you can lift. I do Arm Curls with an empty bar and I haven't gotten laughed at yet, at least not about that.

That said, the opposite is useless - not lifting enough weight. I see too many women lay down with a pair of 12 pound dumbbells to Bench Press. That's almost a total waste of time.

3 popular exercises that can do damage, should you lift too much weight:

1. Incline Bench Press
2. Behind Neck Shoulder Press
3. Upright Rows

3 exercises that should be staples to any exercise program (and you can keep it light):

1. Squats (for back and hip flexibility)
2. Cross Bench Pullovers (for shoulder flexibility)
3. Downward Dog (for hamstring & IT Band flexibility)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ignite Your Calorie-burning Furnace: Lift Weights

I see many people get caught up in how many calories they burn in a cardio session. It seems an hour’s effort hardly burns away a donut. Be discouraged, but don’t fret. I have the answer!

Muscle is always hungry, so adding lean muscle mass to your frame means calorie-munching muscle all day long. Start with a full body lifting routine of 9-12 exercises, 2-3 times per week. Stay on this routine for about 4 weeks and then switch to a split lifting routine (means alternating muscle groups each workout session) for 4-6 weeks.

Your metabolism will immediately rise and noticeable fat weight loss will occur within 2-3 weeks as long as you don’t significantly increase your caloric intake.

Cardio is an important staple to a fitness regimen, but unless you’re doing a high volume of cardiovascular training, the post-workout metabolic effect is much less than that of weight training.

Give it a try – if you have any questions, let me know! I’m happy to help.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Core Training: Know When & How to Use It

Core Training is the latest rage in the fitness world, and unlike past trends, it actually works. A typical core training workout is one in which the muscles in and around your torso and hips are strengthened so that you have a 'rock solid' foundation. You'll be less susceptible to injury when carrying out everyday tasks like lifting baby from crib or playing tennis on weekends.

At Agile, we've actually taken the methods of core training a step further by widening the 'core' areas of the body to include the deeper muscle tissues acting on the major joints: ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders. A good example of this type of core training: dumbbell exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulders.

Core Training almost always involves an exercise tool that adds an element of instability to the exercise, bench pressing with dumbbells on a Swiss Ball is a good example . But some trainers take this concept too far: kneeling on a Swiss Ball and doing bicep curls - this is more of a circus act than the most efficient way to exercise. Don't get me wrong - you'll strengthen your core muscles doing this exercise - I just don't think it's the most effective use of your gym time.

For the best results, add core exercises to the beginning of your workout so that your muscles are awake and ready to engage in weight lifting and cardiovascular activity.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What Comes First: Cardio or Weights?

The short answer is Weight Training. You'll burn more blood sugar which means tapping into fat reserves more quickly during cardio. It's safer too. Exhaustion from cardio can lead to sloppy lifting, which increases risk of injury.

If you're not doing high intensity with either, then it's not as important which comes first.

There are scenarios where it makes more sense to do your cardio first. If your plan is to do running intervals on the treadmill and your lifting routine for that day is all machine-based, then I recommend doing the treadmill intervals first.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Do You Do Legs?

Alright guys - it's gone on long enough. You actually need to 'do legs' in the gym if you want to gain muscle weight. I know what you're thinking, 'Nah - I just want the chest and back and...'

That's fine. But here's the real reason you don't train legs: it hurts. You got very inflexible over the past 10 years. That inflexibility makes it very uncomfortable to do 'high value' exercises like Squats, Deadlifts and Lunges.

Hmm - I bet when I said those exercise names you thought of those huge dudes on Strongest Man competitions - the guys with their knees wrapped and wearing shorts from Runner's World...

I promise you that if you do a Squat or Deadlift, you won't feel compelled to wear short shorts.

Jokes aside, Squatting and Deadlifting for fitness are important if you expect to be tossing your toddler around the house. They keep your back loose. It's not about putting 225 lbs on the bar and going 1/2 way down. Try an empty bar and slowly progress up to 65 lbs after 2 weeks. Trust me, you'll feel it plenty.

Problem areas the Squat and Deadlift can fix:

IT Bands - thick ligamentous bands that run the outer length of your leg, from hip to ankle. Tight IT Bands lead to tight lower back.

> Squat or Deadlift by keeping your toes pointed straight ahead. This forces your IT Bands into a longer range of motion and stretches them out over time.

Ankles/achilles - if you cannot squat without lifting your heels, your ankles/achilles are tight.

> Squat or Deadlift with an empty bar to that point where your heels want to lift. Pause here - give them time to loosen up. Aim to go a fraction lower on the next rep.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weigh-in Twice Daily

The old rule-of-thumb for weighing-in is once per week. This way you won't be discouraged by up-and-down fluctuations. But it is not often enough to reinforce the committment you made - to finally lose those extra pounds. If you are serious about losing weight, then you need to remind yourself of that committment twice a day by getting on the scale. Here's what you need to do:

1. Buy a scale and put it in or near your bathroom (always use same scale).
2. Make a weigh-in chart and post it on the wall at eye-level when on the scale. The chart should have an AM & PM column with 30 rows for each day of the next month.
3. Weigh-in completely naked (no socks) when you wake up, right after you go to the bathroom.
4. Weigh-in again before you go to bed, after you go to bathroom and again, completely naked.
5. Repeat for at least 21 days, or until you reach your target weight.

Why weigh-in so much? Because you need to be more in-tune with what's going on with your body. Inevitably, you'll weigh more at night, so compare your night weights to each other and your morning weights to each other. Eventually, you'll notice how different foods effect you and what impact exercise or an active day has on your weight. This is powerful knowledge that will help you take control.

Each step up to that scale reinforces your pledge to make change.

Great - that's how to weigh in, but how do you actually lose the weight? In order of importance, here's how:

1. Calorie-counting - don't eat anything you can't count - and count everything - even the skim milk in your coffee. After 2-3 weeks, you won't have to count anymore because you'll know precisely how many calories are in most of the foods you eat.
2. Exercise - you don't have to go hard necessarily, just get into a routine. Much more on this another time.
3. Food choice & portion size - why 3rd? Because it goes hand-in-hand with #1 If you're counting calories, then you're going to become pretty economical about your choices.

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)