Sunday, December 9, 2012

the real thing

its hard to believe sometimes, but they are out there.

the real thing.

people who are larger and deeper than their reputation. people who speak more often with their actions than their words. people who deliver more than they promise. people who know the difference between action and acting. people who do.

 we all know that talk - action = 0 , but it is worse than that. every time we hear the chatter that will never amount to anything, every time we meet someone who's presence pales in comparison to their persona, we all become a little more cynical. words lose their meaning.

follow-through is an inverse of how many exclamation points a person uses.

the person i respect is not the one who tells me they are going to show up every day, but the one who shows up when they say they will.

the person i respect is not the one with the most exciting story, but the one who shares the un-embellished facts and has a reason in the telling.

generally, the more a person asks for something, the less they deserve it. respect, recognition, rewards... these are not given. they are earned.

it shows up in the gym, the dramatics. we have all seen it, flopping and wailing after a "hard" session. the act, the shit show...

yes, it hurts. so what? is that helping? is that who you want to be?

we call it training for a reason. it is not the real thing, it is preparation. it is rehearsal. it is practice for how we want to perform and behave when things are truly difficult. actually frightening. we try and touch the edges of fear and exertion with the goal of deepening the well, expanding our will into new and darker territories. we train to act rightly, to act deliberately, to behave the way we have decided to even in the worst of circumstances.

what behavior are you training? to complain? to make excuses? to be dramatic?

theatrics do not belong here.

i have seen people touch that place where they actually collapse. muscular failure, the body not obeying the mind. each time you wail and throw yourself to the ground you are saying you are the same as those individuals, saying you are as committed and  as willing. and we both know you are not. we all know.

this is not theater. do your work, do what you must to get through it, and know that each action leaves a mark. enough marks paint a picture. a portrait of who you are and what you stand for.

the difference between the real thing and the posers is simple. it is a choice. a history of choices executed over time. your actions have consequences.  what kind of mark do you want to leave?

live deliberately. train deliberately.

GYM JONES was a place that truly over delivered. set the bar for me. gave me chance i am not sure i deserved, and i will spend everything i have trying to prove they were right to take a risk. our greatest teachers give us something that can never be repaid, how we handle that debt is also a matter of choice... and consequence. (photo credit: Mark Twight)

 this is our crucible, we apply heat and pressure with the hopes of transforming. find yours. find people who won't tolerate your bullshit. get uncomfortable. surround yourself with your betters and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


when i first started training i usually worked out against the clock- i was always trying to get work done faster. to be more efficient, to rest less, to recover faster...

as the years passed i began to look at time differently. business and personal obligations made me value the time i spent training even more - not just the workout that day, but its greater effect - i began to seek more value than a quick high or beating my previous time. we give up so much to train, spend so much time tweaking our sleep, our diet. recovery. planning. every hour i train i am saying no to something else. to family, to friends, to more business... my time is worth everything to me and i plan to make it count.  not just today, but next month. next year. a long trajectory. fixing weaknesses.

i got a late start when it comes to fitness, i have a lot of catching up to do. i intend to get the most out of my training. time matters, but not in the way people seem to think. this is something i talk about often.something i stress with the people i train - "there is never enough time, and decisions must be made. what do you need to work on?" we ran a large timed workout this weekend, and had a chance to see this in action. i was reminded about all the little adjustments to a workout that can change the message sent to the body. about the effect of squat depth, of bar height, of measured effort and of pulling the pin and dealing with the consequences. what made me the most proud was that i watched people make decisions that were sure to slow them down. an individual picking a low box as a depth gauge for his squat - or another who picked the highest pullup bar in the gym, because it scared him. because he would be better for it.

there is a time when it becomes easy to "go hard". pride is a fuel that burns hot - and once someone can channel that it is not long before they start to get diminishing returns. work smart, work on the things that will get you the greatest return on your investment, work on the things that are most worth your time. it is the most precious thing you have. spend it wisely.

work fucking harder.
work fucking smarter.

when your time in a front plank is dependent on your partners movement, time becomes a slippery concept...

 ...and time under a 10' slosh-pipe operates on its own unique set of rules

Sunday, August 19, 2012

the cost of doing business...

everything costs something. everybody pays.

sometimes we come across an opportunity that is to good to pass up. we have to dig a hole, to burn it at both ends. to give up what we want now to make tomorrow, or next month, or next year into something better.

since may i have been busy. building and burning in a way i have never before imagined. stress levels were through the roof. i watched my waking heart rate creep up two beats per minute each day until i stopped measuring.  most of my own training went to the back burner, i only slept 5 hours a night,  my recovery ability went into the toilet.

it hurts now. more than i remember. getting back. pushing into that space, kicking until something breaks...

this is the price i have paid, back sliding... strength and power stuck, even went up a bit, but endurance and recovery are a little more slippery. i have slept. i have recovered. and now its time to dig. to grind. to rebuild.

airdyne to the 5th circle of hell. i chose this as part of my first week back mostly as punishment. something hard and ugly, but there are answers here in this grid... and more importantly - more questions.

Monday, June 18, 2012



it is occasionally a beautiful thing to be this wrong...

weighted bear crawls @ 2x35# dumbells. 800m.

it was supposed to be a mile.

within 20 feet i realized my mistake, realized that i had underestimated the work - overestimated my ability...

these are the moments i seek. moments when things get a little ugly. when you have to eat your words. when the dark voices have the weight and timber of another person, an attitude and a persuasiveness that must be fought with wits and will.

the first lap took 30 minutes. the second - 34. large angry blisters had formed, i was afraid to look - afraid it might be bad enough to make me quit. not "make" me quit. i knew it was hurt, not injury. that it wasnt going to be much worse if i finished. that the damage was done... no, i was afraid of an excuse to quit.

but now that its over, i need to review. what was the use of such a workout? my body is no where near as sore as those angry red holes in my hands... yes, the work was hard - but was it worth it?

for the first few years of someones training, everything works. in the beginning training is most often used as a tool for behavior modification - harder and harder workouts build confidence, increase tolerance and continually redefine words like "tired", "heavy" and "hard"... eventually though, hard is no longer enough. working harder often looks like progress  - but eventually you must ask if you are working hard in the right direction....

be critical. i would not repeat this workout. i would not prescribe it. i am going to do it with bodyweight for 1/4 mile. that should be more strain on my body, less tearing on my hands, and likely the same time frame (maybe a little shorter) . while i do not have a specific fitness goal, i do not want to fall into the trap of "hard for hards sake". difficulty can serve as a distraction from progress. sometimes we work hard to hide from questions we are afraid to answer.  we sometimes work hard to avoid progress - to avoid changing...

harder workouts are different right? i am getting better right?  it cant be a plateau, i don't need a change....

meaningful training.  intelligent training.

work hard. question everything.

is it worth the cost?

is it making me better?

if not, fucking change it.

in the end, there are questions to be answered. am i closer to my goal, or further away? was this useful? was this worth it? what now?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


the truth is, it all boils down to utility.

to usefulness.

beyond true and false, there is the usefulness of an idea.

there are many examples, extreme and mundane, about the belief of something being useful. being a means to an end. it simply takes some understanding, some acceptance of the effect our beliefs have on our actions, and the willful shaping of those processes.

if you believe everything happens for a reason, you will find reason in every happening.

if you believe that you are always being observed, being judged, you will only make decisions you are proud of.

debating the truth of certain things is pointless, they are beliefs. as far as we are concerned, in this context, they are important only in their expression. in their usefulness.

usefulness is the reason that your coach may be lying to you. so many pieces of information are only half truths - are training wheels. they exist to help you along far enough to understand the next part.  they exist to get you moving, to get you feeling and thinking. they are rules that saved us all like "never cross the street" and "look up while you deadlift " they are not true. but they are helpful.

i often get stuck asking questions, digging and trying to understand details. this has served me well in the past, and continues to do so today. but at some point i need a gut check. i need to ask myself if more information is going to help. i can get so caught up in the chase from A to B to C that when i am busy figuring out the tricky transition from D to E i could be actually working on A. long term goals are important, but too much focus can be immobilizing.

it is important to understand why something works, but not at the expense of actually making it work.

anything can be taken too far.

it is why i see training as a craft. as a skill more than a science.

it is about usefulness. it is about timing. it is about "right action"

whatever that may be.

sharing photos of my dinner on instagram makes me eat better. i think it is a waste of my time and ridiculous  and, more importantly, that it works. so until i cook like this for myself as a default action, i will continue to use whatever tools are at my disposal until i am able to outgrow them.

crutches are useful. the danger lies in getting comfortable using them.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

the iron price

there is something profound about hard work.

about long, difficult work.

about ruthless honesty.

there are many possible reasons why you didn't get a PR, why you didn't lift a certain weight or missed a split time on a row. but whatever the reason, you still missed it.

things have honestly gotten so easy in out polite society that people seek out controlled discomfort. seek failure and frustration and those moments where there are consequences to actions.

we seek things, feelings that can not be purchased in the usual sense. we seek experience that is not bought, but earned. experience paid for not with cash or credit but blood and bone. 

hard work is a wonderful teacher. it is humbling. it is honest. it is terrifying in the best way.

hard work pushes us to ask uncomfortable questions. to weigh pros and cons. to understand the worth of a thing. to understand how far we as individuals are willing to go.

in the last few weeks i have redefined my relationship with the word tired. there has been hard, long work done. but the work has been paying off. the new space is moving, it is breathing, and seems to have a will of its own...

there will be some changes to the blog soon, more information. more notes, logs, and more frequent updates.

but, for now - there is work to be done.

we have been playing with longer efforts lately. 60 minute max efforts, SMMF, work capacity tests... this one started as a birthday celebration, but has interesting implications. the "interpretable" nature of the movements, the inevitable downward spiral when the work starts taking its toll, taking its time, eating up your rest... it will be making its rounds in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

fear and fortune.

- fear is healthy because it shows us where we have yet to go.

today was closing day. evolution day. a new space and a long term plan. time to move. to work. to hustle harder.

and tomorrow?

tomorrow i will find a new fear. a new mountain. a new and brighter way to fail. i am fortunate enough to be able to spend the last two weeks of april training at GYM JONES, and i am confident in the ability of Rob MacDonald to ensure i fail in ways i can not even imagine.

and i am confident i will be better for it.


400sqft office

2000sqft of training space

Sunday, April 1, 2012

looking back.

it was probably 6 years ago this month that i saw this video. it made me dig and ask questions. it started me down a path i would have never expected. next week i close a deal on a building i have been eyeing for years. i used to think that if i won the lottery one day i would buy it, run my gym out of it and make art in my spare time. i didn't win the lottery - but because of the people around me i found the strength and the schemes to make it work. to everyone who made this possible, i will do everything i can to be worthy of your sacrifices and your faith.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

ask the right questions...

Einstein suggested that we make things as simple as possible and no simpler. the right questions can simplify things. change them - or, more accurately, change us and allow us to see the answers that are directly in front of us. people often ask me what i learned at GYM JONES, other trainers are more specific and ask me what workouts i did, if they send me a "workout of the day". i was lucky. i found a group of talented individuals who helped shape my relationship with training from the beginning. i learned early to ask why and how and not just what should i do now. i also began to learn what to do with that information...

this is a short list of questions - it is hardly complete, but answered honestly these questions can help arrange a framework, a scaffolding to build your training around. these questions should bring up more questions, they should start a process, give you hints of where to look, where to push and where to rest. just remember that you are never going to find your way to your destination if you can't be honest about where you are...

first, we define fitness as "the ability to perform a task" the task you chose will outline the attributes necessary to achieve your goals, the first step is to define the task, the test...

how will you test (and in doing so, define) your fitness?

how long before you undergo this "test"?

how many hours per week (total) do you plan on dedicating to training?

what small tests do you have arranged as "error corrections" on your way to the main test?

- gut check - is this time-table honest and reasonable?

what is the duration of this test? will fueling/hydration be a factor? will boredom? will weather?

how often during this test do you expect to reach a max or near max heart rate? for what duration? what condition will you be in going into a max heart rate situation - a late attack during a bike race? a standing start off the blocks?

will you have an opportunity for intermittent recovery during your test? if so, under what conditions? (standing? sitting? walking? hanging from a good hand-hold? pinned under an opponent or against a cage?)

what factor does specific technical skill play in the final outcome?

in previous tests, has a lack physical strength ever been a deterrent to your performance? has fatigue (physical or emotional) or endurance/stamina? be specific.

during training, has lack of physical strength or endurance ever been a deterrent to learning a lesson or performing a task? at what point during training (at what level of fatigue) does your technical skill begin to deteriorate and to what extent? at what point does fatigue prevent you from tying a secure knot? making a catch? locking in a hold? defending a take-down against a lesser opponent?

has your weight/size ever been a deterrent? too heavy or too light?

has explosive power ever been a factor in your performance? quickness? the ability to "change gears" - going from a stand-still to a sprint? changing positions?

in training or during previous tests - where have you failed? what excuses distract you from training? from recovering? from eating properly? what triggers you into self-sabotage? how often must you test yourself to avoid complacency?

why are you eating the way you do? for what objective? does your diet reflect your stated goals?

what plans do you have to cope with these pitfalls? to avoid them, recover from them, or at least mitigate their effects?

what are the effects of your mental and/or emotional state or your training? on your tests? what triggers change that state? (risk? competition? failure? success?)

what sort of return on investment can you expect from each corrective effort? do any corrections contain a natural order or progression? which corrections will lay groundwork for other corrective efforts?

this list could go on, but do not mistake answering questions for progress - or asking them for that matter. that has been a pitfall of mine. the flashing lights of data points and interesting questions can be just as paralyzing as not enough information if you are not careful. the important thing is to learn from what is in front of you. to ask questions and find answers. to test theories. to try and fail and try again. the goal is to learn. to grow. and to improve.

re-evaluate often.

give things the time and attention they deserve.

do not give up what you really want for what you want right now.

look at trends, not snapshots.

be willing to take a step back to make a leap forward.

do not waste today fighting yesterdays battle. that which got you from point a to point b may not be able to get you from point b to point c. it may, in fact, be blocking your path.

pay attention. ask questions. don't quit.

add to that - find someone smarter than you. better than you. as many as you can, and learn from them.

(on that note: mark & lisa twight, rob macdonald, michael blevins, james gardner, johnny carlquist, john frieh, john spezzano, rob fusco, jenny raff, matt owen, ryan mcCliment, bill mcconnell, fred bigliardi, josh harth, jonathan yankee, candace and frankie puopolo, rachel nievelt, to everyone who makes the station what it is ... thank you for making me try harder every day.)

things have their place. ju-jitsu is a technical sport. there are, however, gym movements that can set the groundwork for better technique. we can handle the "dumb" stuff here so you can spend your mat time focused solely on practicing technique and not wishing you knew how to push through your hips or that you had a stronger grip.

sometimes you have to court failure. to experience a little fear. it keeps you hungry and it keeps you humble.

it is never too late to start.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death By Success

one thing punk rock taught me is a healthy distrust of success.

healthy insofar as defining success as a moral victory as much as a financial one; as an internal struggle first. to beat their game by our rules.

evolving can be frightening, it can be stressful, and is, by its nature, uncertain. but without it, with out the struggle and the desire to grow, we will stagnate....

i am only half joking when i say i am motivated by fear. fear of not measuring up, fear of letting people down. this fear has served me well. propelled me to try harder, to listen better, to sideline my ego and try and learn something. this fear has kept me watchful and kept me hungry. mastering your emotions does not mean not feeling them, it means understanding their message and utilizing their energy.

i restructured my life a year ago. cut my last ties to a steady paycheck to pursue my passions without distraction. after a year of effort there is another evolution on the horizon. papers have begun to shift hands and it looks like THE STATION will have a permanent home. a new space, a larger business plan, and a renewed commitment to the people who have made it possible.

i thank you.

on a related note, there is a "support" page now where you can purchase a small token of our project.


-the station

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


do it for a fucking reason.

it is a common statement, and when applied to every aspect of training, will yield more results than any piece of equipment, any fad-diet, or what you would get by following anyone elses training program.

having a goal is the first part. it is easy to understand that a goal functions as the "why?" it is why we eat a certain way. why we get up early. why we go to sleep at 10 pm instead of going out. but once you have a solid and specific goal it will also shape the "how"...

what is required of your goal? what skills? what weight is ideal? how strong do you have to be? how fast? how much power? how much endurance? what movements drive this task? what are the common injuries you need to avoid?

these are not hypothetical questions. make a fucking list. do research. add to it often.

now: self assessment. the goal is outlined, time to find the starting point....

if you can, have someone help you here. someone who is not afraid of telling you the hard and ugly truth. do this without ego. lies at this stage are hurting only yourself. this must be ruthless. it should be humbling. the task is deceptively simple: where are you in relation to the goals?

timeline. triage. how long will this take? what goals can you train at the same time? what other factors are involved? what are you willing to take on? what are you willing to give up? what kind of diet/recovery/work/travel schedule will be required? how much are you willing to spend?

be honest. be thorough. ask questions and the path will begin to form.

what root goals are other goals based on? what steps are most important? what goals can be worked on in parallel? what problems can be solved in the gym? what corrections yield the greatest benefit? what psychological factors will play a role? what pitfalls am i headed for and how am i going to deal with them? who has been there before and how can i learn from them?

do work, and do it for a fucking reason.

explosion from a fatigued/compromised state

grind down, build up the acidity, learn to hang on and explode from it. fighters can immediately see the use of a skill like this. train the ability here so you can focus on the timing during your fight training.

CV recovery under a load.

initiate panic breathing - rack as much weight as you can handle and hang on. learn to control it. to contain it. and to recover under the load.

30' of 3" rope. 30# of chain. sprint the rope straight, pull it (and the chain) to you hand over hand (use your hips) repeat 4 times. rest while your partner does the same. repeat.

grip. hip/hand coordination and engagement. CV power. muscular efficiency and short term recovery practice.

mid-section stability. shoulder flexibility and control.

here we build the tools.

send a message. tell your body what you want it to be able to do. tell it clearly and tell it often. recover well. work smart. don't quit.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the fight.

it is a good one.

there has been much work done so far this year, with many new things on the horizon. a potential building to be purchased, small business loans, new web site, new tools, and new t-shirts. this is the good fight. this is scheming. problem solving. the whiplash shift between near fanatical attention to detail and the big picture. the willingness to wield the knife, to cut out what is inessential, to drop dead weight and become the perfect tool for the task at hand. i have been putting more energy into the space, we have been focusing on details, on goals... and reaping the rewards.

the fighters have been a pleasure to work with. not just because of their willingness to work, but because the requirements of their craft. ju-jitsu is a skill game. it is hard on the body. the gym, their work with me, is supplemental. secondary. their tasks are tailored to their goals, their test places their flesh on the line and with fights on the horizon we have not the luxury of "free time". each task is presented to correct an imbalance or to encourage a trait. shoulder and knee work to help avoid future injury, constant pressure and compromised rest, explosive power from a confined and fatigued state...

ball slam to roll out.
dynamic-isometric back squat.
knee jumps.
deadlift to box jumps
russian twists, cauldron, shoot lunges...
recover in rack position, in front plank, under the slosh pipe....
the airdyne...

everything for a reason.

there is so much to be said in these pictures. the fight. the fear. resignation. a realization that the work is harder than you thought, longer and your fatigue deeper. the realization that you chose this. sought it out. fought for it. that you are here. now. and all that is left to do is press on.