It’s interesting that in this day and age we still look at athletic accolades in any sport like they were brought upon with will or heart. As if will itself guided an inhuman response to the increased performance of this individual. Sadly though we are also being berated with fallen heroes in this respect, such as the influx of PED’s in the cycling world, the fight community, both in MMA as well as boxing. It almost seems like what we used to look at in wonder in the athletic world, now seems to be replaced by Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s). As if Will or heart just isn’t enough anymore; anything that will take the athlete one inch further, make them a half a second faster, and so forth. It almost puts this next BLOG in the right place though when I ask, was it heart or cardio?
Let’s understand that I’m not attacking this generation of athletes regardless of the scandals that have surrounded them. Whether you look at baseball, Tour de France, or the myriad of weightlifting athletes or countries banned from Olympic competition this past year. I’m just trying to prove my point, that although we’d like to see the underdog come out on top with the will to beat his record time or the enhanced opponent in front of him/her, the reality is that at any stage of an athlete’s career, it will be his properly conditioned body that will take him further.
Cardio comes from the Greek word ‘Kardiac.’ Another way of reading this is “heart” in English. That’s right, maybe it’s not the valiant effort that pushed certain athletes over the pinnacle rather it was their conditioned heart that helped them. Now please don’t mistake me when I generalize cardio, by thinking that all athletes should be running on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike or any other apparatus you can think of. I am saying that every athlete should take their conditioning, sport specific of course, very seriously; it can be the deciding factor at the right moment in their careers.
So let me digress for a moment. I’ve been privy to conversations with coaches in the past that have let me know that their teams’ failures are because of the lack of heart on the ice or pitch. Or recently a coach mentioned that someday he was going to try these exhaustive exercises he’s prescribed to his athletes and see how tough they really are! Well, one coach is running his athletes into the ground as punishment for losing and not having the hearts to win which contradicts the science behind recovery and in season maintenance training. While the other is throwing together exercises that he thinks might improve his athlete’s conditioning without forethought or even asking why? These are examples of people that should stick to the sport specific aspects they actually are really good at, such as drills and techniques for their particular sport, and let the professionals step in and teach the strength and conditioning factors involved in said sports.
There is one caveat though and I include myself in this boat, there are a lot of strength and conditioning coaches that lack the understanding of how to properly condition athletes in many sports. I add myself in here because there was a time early in my career as a strength coach I was trying to find my bearings and allowed certain influences dictate my philosophy on what conditioning truly should be. As time passed I realized that I took for granted what I’d learned in school and later realized that the basic pillars of understanding training in all of its aspects were right in front of me; energy systems! Sometimes we focus so much on the newest and latest that we forget the basics. Mike Robertson once said recently in his Physical Preparation podcast, “you have to learn Bompa before you learn Issurin.”
A truer statement could not have been said better. I learned the hard way that to truly better these athletes and improve my performance as a coach, I needed to go back to the basics. Therefore I needed to understand that if you want to condition your athletes to the best of your abilities, you need to:
1. Breakdown the sport they play
2. Breakdown their position
3. Breakdown their playing time
4. Finally; understand the energy systems involved in that sport
That’s correct, The most important factor is understanding the energy systems involved in that sport. Here is a question to most MMA coaches, and I don’t want to pick on you specifically, but I feel that this is an ongoing problem. To simplify, in MMA, you stand, kick, punch, grapple, and groundwork, correct? Then why in the world do you persist in training HIIT or circuits on a constant basis? MMA coaches, if your fighter loses, it’s not because he lacked heart. He might not even lack the skills needed, but he did lack the right conditioning (cardio). So, I guess, in this respect, he did lack heart.
I’m 45 years old and I’ve recently just walked back into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after a 4-month break and I’m positive that a 20-year-old kid off the street in shorts and a t-shirt will give me a run for my money on the mats just because my conditioning isn’t there. So when someone says to me, I got no heart, they’re correct, but give me a little time strength and conditioning, combined with BJJ practice, and the kid in shorts and a t-shirt better pack a lunch.
When confronted with the question, “was it heart or cardio?” I have to say yes, to both as they are synonymous. PED’s aside, you take two athletes competing for the same accolade, both in perfect conditions, perfect skill levels, in a perfect environment I might say the winner showed more heart or let’s call it will. The rest of us though, need to up our conditioning, but we need to train smart and understand our sport. Because if there’s one thing that truly sucks, is injuries and in most sports, this happens in lieu of bad conditioning coaching.
My friends, if you take your training seriously and would like advice on how to up your game, feel free to contact me; email@example.com. I’d be happy to help you get to the next level of your sport. Until next time;
Stay healthy my friends, and work that heart muscle!
Seriously? Do you use ELEIKO bars in your gym? That is the question I was recently asked by a young man that was considering training with me. I turned to him and asked if his current coach was going to take him to the Olympics to represent Canada in the 70Kg weight class. He looked at me dumbfounded as if he didn’t understand the question, and then he replied in a rather aggressive manner, “that’s a weird question, of course not!” So then why do you need ELEIKO bars? I agree that yes the ELEIKO brand is by far the Rolls Royce of weightlifting when it comes to bars, and yes they are quite expensive per unit. But if you go through some historical data, you’ll read stories out of Russia, a powerhouse in the weightlifting community; had generally one, maybe two bars in their gyms and lifters used to race to win the bar. Yet they produced champions, and continued to for decades to come.
I’m writing this blog because the young man ended up at a Crossfit gym that had more ELEIKOS than I did, but no champions to name, and it was the third time that someone’s asked me this during my career, so I felt it was time to be cathartic and let the world know that there are a myriad of things that will get you to where you want, and equipment may be the last thing on the list if at all on there. Let’s start with genetics, and NO, it’s not necessarily just how strong you are rather a combination of flexibility in the right places, torso to leg height ratios. The femur to tibial lengths, acetabular depths help. And let me hit you with the fact we dare not speak of in this day and age; certain cultures have these assets in spades! I’m going to leave it there just in case this overly sensitive society decides to throw stones at me for discrimination.
Ok now let’s start at the years of training experience; I asked this young man how long was he at his gym? He said, he’d been training for roughly 2 years. I asked how many phases did he see in those “2 years,” and he had no idea what I meant by this. I asked what periodization was he working with, what sort of volume was he doing weekly, as well as tonnage, and again he looked at me like I had a third eye on my forehead. So from this part of the conversation you can ascertain that there was no rhyme or reason to his training, and sadly a major factor that was much more important than the quality of the bars they wanted to use was missing; programming… That’s right, how do you think you’re going to make it to even a city or local meet if you don’t have a proper program to follow! His age may have been in his low to mid twenties, but his training age was definitely less than 2 years, yet the ELEIKO bar was the priority? Hmmm…
Last but not least I asked him where he was being coached since it was obvious he didn’t work with a proper program. He replied, “we’re coaching each other”… Wow! So to back track the why behind this blog, it’s mainly because I’ve had this conversation a few times now over the years with college students. They’ve heard of me from here and there and when training has come up, this is a subject they want to talk about, and it’s starting to get old. To be honest I’ve never had the privilege to take a young athlete to a competition but mainly because weightlifting isn’t the most popular sport. It offers no monetary future and in this country an athlete will usually pay his own way to go across Canada to hit up a provincial meet, let alone a national meet with the slightest hopes of representing our national team internationally.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve added weightlifting within my sport programs whether for rugby, football, hockey and soccer or any other power sports requiring this type of training. I find that the neural adaptations are fantastic when added to the right phase of their programs and have seen great success in most if not all of my past and present youth athletes. But just because they are presented in increments to the athlete of a different discipline, they still have to be taught well. These young men and women have looked to me for the right type of coaching and guidance, and NO they did not walk into any of my past spaces with their buddies to train each other; sorry, but there’s a Goodlife down the street! They’ve come for the programming, because it is the essential ingredient to the success of these athletes.
In the midst of our conversation I already knew that the kid wasn’t going to train with me, but I decided why leave him hanging to fail later and offered free advice for an hour of my time at no charge. I watched him warm up, and he asked me where he should start, I told him I’m not his coach so start where ever he usually did. When the work commenced I will only say that his snatch looked like he was humping a bar, the bar did not travel up his thighs and yes I just said hump. For those of you who don’t know what that means, let’s just say the bar bounced forward about a foot from his hips which means he’ll plateau sooner than later as far as lifting more is concerned. Also he deadlifted his cleans, That’s right, deadlifted, which means his feet positioning was all wrong, he didn’t pull or push his knees during bar travel, and he was one lift away from a lower back injury since there was no real extension in his body before the catch. Oh and, he couldn’t snatch or clean, rather the whole time he was doing powers of each, which means that in all the that time spent training, he never actually learned the snatch or the clean.
At the end of the session, I gave him the pointers he needed, sent him towards some great resources, Tommy Kono, Bob Takano, R.A.Roman, and of course Catalyst Athletics Olympic Weightlifting by Greg Everrett (the fullest resource around in my opinion), etc. I finished the hour with one last dig, “sorry kid, but the ELEIKO bar is the least of your worries.” I know I should be more professional, but I couldn’t help myself, and word around town is, he’s not doing much weightlifting anymore. I hope I wasn’t the deterrent, it wasn’t what I wanted but I was tired of the same ridiculous question. Let me be blunt, if you’re a shitty driver, a lamborghini won’t make you a better driver, it actually may kill you.
Therefore take your time, learn, and continue learning more after you’re done learning, as you’re never done learning. I personally went out of my way to get a coach to help me fix what I learned on videos first and trained for 3 months with him. I later took what I had learned and continued in my gym, trained day in and day out and played with programming so that I can then hone my skills incase a young athlete wanted to walk through my doors someday and ask me to specifically train him on the lifts. I pride myself on technique because it is the only way you will progress safely; the two key words here being progress and safely. Now to answer every other kid interested in training the lifts with me; I use YORK barbells from johnedeals.com right here in Calgary.
I support local business and I do it because in my opinion he carries the best bars. They are American made steel bars proven time and again for over 50 years. They come warranted by YORK Barbell, and they have great competitive prices against ELEIKO, ROGUE, WERKSAN, Pendlay, etc. I’ll take YORK Barbell over a run of the mill Chinese bar saturating the markets today, so that I can trust what my clients work with. Also, I run a business that is still growing organically, so every penny counts. So I chose the best bang for my buck and with it, I’ve produced great little college athletes that can go forward and succeed in their discipline possibly enough for some of them to get a nice ride in secondary education. And that my friends makes me very proud. The next time you ask a coach, Do you use ELEIKO bars in your gym? Ask yourself instead, where are you in your training? What do you aim to achieve from your training? And can the coach in front of you get you there safely? Anything else is a broke down Lamborghini that drives like shit. (excuse the expletives today)
Not Even I Can Help You
We’re definitely underway the new year and almost at the end of the first month, and you have to ask yourself, where are you in your pursuit of health, success and happiness? I hate to compete with all of you, but I’m a little harder on myself and quite competitive. So I’ve already lost 12Lbs, and about 3% bodyfat and yes I did it healthy, with good eating and exercise; also let’s not forget a gorgeous wife to partner with me for support. By the way that’s how much damage you can do to a month of eating BBQ and drinking beer in Chile. Also let’s not forget the exciting new projects and prospective clients for COGO Fitness + Performance as well as Versa Movement Collective, I know, I’m a grinder but if you can’t grind doing what you love, then what would you do it for?
Now let’s talk about where you are so far since at this point the drop off rate at all major big box gyms rounding into February is sadly and statistically already about 4%, with another 14% dropping out by February; are you in that group? And have you been sincere to what you want, starting out this year? This is why it is extremely important for you to honestly state that if you’re not sincere to your pursuits, not even I can help you! Here’s the thing, and yes there is a thing; As a client of mine you’ll undergo what I like to call ‘your week in review.’ This small innocuous yet simple questionnaire is loaded with both barrels aiming at the man or woman in the mirror (sorry Michael).
I know you’re wondering how does a week in review help me break down your health in a nutshell and how am I even able to help you? You’re probably asking yourself, does this guy like his business or better yet, does he even get sales with blogs like this one?! Well I do, and I definitely do, and my client retention lies partly within these questions, your answers, your accountability to your answers, and finally the quality of attention and training. Here are a few things I need to understand before moving forward with assessments, movement screens, and programming:
1. How many hours do you sleep?
2. What time do you shut off all blue lights prior to sleeping?
3. What time do you wake up and how? These few to start to assess the quality of your sleep
4. Then I want to know what you ate the day before? At what times you ate? And the quality of foods? And trust me yesterday was a bad day for EVERYONE!
5. I need to know what your family life schedule is like? The quality of time spent, and family stresses as it dictates a measure of your happiness. Supremely important info in regards to your body’s hormonal activity
6. I then ask what does a work week look like? Hours? Occupation? How many hours do you stand, versus sitting? And what kind of daily stress do you endure?
7. Finally I ask you, how long you’ve trained in the past? How long you’ve stuck to it? And where do I fit into this picture called your life; if I even do?
‘Where do I fit into this picture called your life?’ That’s right, that last one sadly is important, because as you know for some trainers retention isn’t just based on the quality of training however knowledgeable or valuable. It’s actually rooted in the fabric of someones life and how we as professionals fit in it. I promise you that when you’re searching for a training professional, first have a look at your life and ask yourself these questions. It’ll be the sincerest moment you have to stop and really think about what needs to change to improve your quality of life.
I can ensure you that I’ve told clients in the past that if they cannot fix these previous questions, not even I can help them. Don’t forget that training albeit good for you, is a stressor to your body. Here is the kicker though; all of those questions above live symbiotically with training so for those that do want to make a change, “I can actually help you.” You just need to start with awareness and accountability and you need to be sincere in making the small changes necessary to each one of those questions; consider it a step program of sorts. Let’s take the time and do this exercise together like I’ve done with so many of my clients, for Online as well as Personal Training.
1. You average 5-6 hours? Let’s hit two birds with one stone. Let’s start by looking at the second question and let’s shut down the blue lights in your house 2 hours before bed; That’s TV, laptop, iPad, and or smartphone. On top of this let’s spend time with family, let’s dim the lights in the house a little and build some quality habits. Okay that’s 3 birds with one stone and no I’m not crazy, because what I’m trying to do is send you to bed happy, with your cortisol down, and melatonin up. You’ve stopped emitting daylight through your devices, you’ve spent quality time with your family and you’re about to have incredible sleep! Last but not least, get yourself an incredible mattress because if you’re still feeling pain the next day after a decent sleep, then that means it’s time to trade in that old mattress. This last one is in lieu of how you awake, are you relaxed and calm or does the stress kick in? All important factors to consider in regards to your sleep quality the night before.
2. So now you’ve awoken, what foods start your day? Are you fasting, do you drink water, coffee, cereal, eggs, etc? These are all factors that entail a hard look at what begins to fuel your day. At what times do you eat, and what do you generally eat, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that humans are creatures of habit and will eat the same omelette day in and day out. Also have a look at how many hours in between are you eating and why? Do you tend to over eat with larger protions? Do you graze? Are you into intermittent fasting or do you eat every 2-3 hours? these are necessary info for us to begin to analyze if food is a problem or not applicable to your training life.
3. I look at your life and I know that I was able to add to it’s quality with the first answer but to be more in depth, are you a family man or woman, or single living the life? If so how much quality time are you spending with your kids? This is actually an important factor that can go to the center of your everyday happiness, your hormonal homeostasis, your psychological balance and much more. I won’t go too deep into this answer, but the impact your family life has on your happiness and outlook on your personal health is massive. Do a little research and you will begin to understand how healthy an individual is when spending quality time with their loved ones, and I’m not talking about watching TV together either; I’m talking about QUALITY time. If you’re single you night enjoy the drink or night life way too much and that also has an impact in your sleep and therefore your happiness.
4. Finally I ask about your work life, as a trainer I can’t ask you to quit your job because then I wouldn’t have one either. But I can ask you to figure out ways to improve it. Believe it or not finding out your self worth as far as your occupation is concerned, hitting up a few headhunters and getting out there brings forth renewed self confidence in your career. Sometimes it could mean better time management at work, more planning towards projects to act efficiently, and or may open more avenues within your position or career; even simply asserting yourself within your position. I know you’re thinking what do I know as a trainer, but let’s not forget I spent 17 years in oil & gas and construction projects around the world so I might know a thing or two about all of these subjects that may require change.
Ok I know you’re thinking that we didn’t touch on your past training experience, athletic background, etc. The truth is if I can’t help you have a deeper look into what your week in review looks like and how we can begin to want to make changes, your training background helps me only in semantics. When I ask about your week in review, I’m looking at your life in review, and I do this because you’ll need to have a hard look at what it will take for you to take that first step and stay accountable to yourself, and through each step after that. Remember that training is a commitment, and an investment in the most valuable commodity you have, and that’s your health. If you can’t be sincere to the improvements needed in your life, I say it again; not even I can help you.
Take that first step, and along that road; stay healthy my friends…
Your Coach, Franco Gomez
The 2017 year has come and gone and we’ve all seen the highs and lows. The question is did you learn just as much from either of those experiences? Welcome to 2018 and let me recap some of the great moments I was privy to in 2017. COGO Fitness + Performance celebrated its 6th year in business and what a steep climb it has been. The difference though, this last year I was honoured to have worked with special populations. I got to work in a great clinic with some wonderful clients that gave me the opportunity to share some of my knowledge and experiences as well as learn new technologies that are here to help neuroscience.
I also worked on adding a new conditioning coaching certification under Joel Jamieson at 8WeeksOut. I was also invited to a great workshop within the same certification where I met some very interesting coaches from around the world and learned a ton about myself, my business, and my dreams; this also gave my wife and son an opportunity to join me on a family road trip, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love road trips. I also began my Precision Nutrition Coaching level 1 course which I hope to finish in the next few months; I’d gladly recommend it to all of my colleagues in the industry. I’ve added all of this continuing education in hopes to bring more value to my clients, personal and online. On that note I’ve started to grow my online training, I can’t speak enough of my online clients as I see some real perseverance, I tip my hat to you all followed by a big internet hug.
As I welcome 2018, I think back to 2017 bringing me the greatest birthday present a father could ask for, the birth of my son. We share a birthday, smiles and facial expressions, more importantly I feel we share the same silly sense of humour. I work harder and laugh more because he’s in my life, and what can I say, having the love of my life at my side helps me get up in the mornings and want more for the both of them. I find that 2017 has helped me become more imaginative in my craft once again. Keeping with my philosophy on training but opening doors to so many facets of training to try and improve my clients health with the help of science. With the recent holiday trip I was able to introduce my son to my parents which was huge since we live continents apart, nonetheless, being back in Chile over the holidays with my wife and son, and meeting new family was a beautiful experience I believe will be cherished for the rest of our lives.
I decided to put a different spin on accountability within my profession and clients this last year, I feel that my industry falls short because we are so bent out of shape when it comes to only training and what we eat. Unfortunately science tells us differently and learning from some great mentors I went back to the books and began relearning my schooling. Aside that, I truly feel that we aren’t actionable enough when it comes to laying down the roadmap for our clients and it goes beyond exercise and food. If you allow me a moment on my soapbox; you’re just not digging deep enough into why your clients can’t stay accountable. Well we’ll leave that for another day, for now let’s keep reminiscing on 2017 and see how COGO Fitness + Performance is going to improve in 2018!
I can tell you that one improvement this year is going to start with the inception of Versa Movement Collective, a new company and incredible project that I’m working on with some fantastic health professionals who I now call friends. You can find us on all social platforms and at www.versamc.com to find out more about us. This is the company which will stop separating our professions individually, rather we bring forth a holistic approach to an individual’s improvements in their respective sport or general lifestyle. At the moment we’re specializing in golf as well as long distance runners due to two of our team’s professionals, but as we grow we would like to invite top professionals from all sport disciplines. For now we are working towards finding a facility, continue our VMC Education videos on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to add a little knowledge to those interested in adding to their programs; and mainly starting to create the buzz that there’s a new Sheriff in town.
2017 was about building foundations and education from school, mentorships, workshops, etc. I’d like to take a small moment to give thanks to a very special friend of mine, a mentor, and part owner of BioPod (please checkout this product, it is at the forefront of ecosystem technology). He flies in from all over the world to impart business wisdom where he can, and I believe it has made me a better business owner, friend, father and husband. I’d love to thank my wife for putting up with me working from home as she is on Mat leave, in my underwear at times, and my moods, as well as the odd pot shot from the cheap seats. What I’m truly thankful for, is that I get to see my little monster man grow up while I work from home.
2017 helped me to mold values into my company. My love for what I do and my love for my clients past and present, is beginning to define itself in what I do, my training and my approach to how I treat others. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, do you want to be loved and respected by someone that puts so much time into your health, or do you want to simply workout. I personally feel that 2018 is the year where developing long lasting relationships will not only sustain my business as well as my life, but also grow substantially in regards to understanding my surroundings and the people in it. I’ll stop there, but with open arms I’d like to welcome you all to 2018, let’s leave the resolutions aside and become resolute towards the things and those we love the most.
Hey 2018! Stay healthy my friends…
Your Coach, Franco Gomez
VERSA MOVEMENT COLLECTIVE; my new journey, and although I’m writing from the COGO point of view, I wanted to share a new experience that I’ve taken on; a new business, new friends, and a new journey. I’ve always been a fan of people, companies, or entities that inspire change. Think back far enough and you’ll remember names that were part of many revolutions, whether revolts against empires or technological advancements that moved the world forward. Wherever you look you will always find a name, a person or a community that’s come together to make a difference in this world. I believe the choices we make are etched in history, it sounds bold by saying this considering that you might think I’m just a drop in the ocean; but I believe it. I believe that the way you speak to someone, your mannerisms, your voice and your posture can inspire a bold courage in people. It can change someone’s outlook and more importantly it can move a community into talking about what it is you did for them. It can inspire a journey, and all it took was a conversation.
I met one of my partners for Versa Movement Collective in 2013 after my motorcycle accident. It’s interesting but our city had just experienced a flood a month prior to that event. I was just starting a conversation with the love of my life, and my business was in a very uncomfortable stage where you’re trying to move forward but the catch 22 of needing money to make money, to put money into a business; that was learning the hard truth about business. The storm hit Calgary that late spring and it didn’t stop, the water came and our city came to a resounding halt. Nat and I would ride our bicycles in areas downtown and it looked like the zombie apocalypse had hit it as the streets were bare and some of them underwater. We lent a hand here and there when we could and in the midst of things we got closer then we had expected; it was the best rollercoaster life ride I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The first night of that years Calgary Stampede, I’m out for a ride on ‘The Black Mamba’ (my Harley Night Rod) visiting a friend’s bar in town, and on my way home I get bumped off the road and into the back of a parked taxi. In one second the lights went out. I remember waking up on my hands and knees, blood coming down over my eye from a cut on my brow, and my arm hanging as it was dislocated. I remember my legs hurt as well as my knees but I thought at least I’m standing. I grabbed my right arm and put it back in, a very painful process I might add, and after the chaos of cops, ambulance, firefighters and the nurses that were around the corner just happening by, I headed to the hospital. My dear old dad sleeping in the chair next to my hospital and me thinking how the hell did I end up here, either way, it was time to move forward.
I remember looking at a business card the doctor gave me in the hospital, telling me I was going to need physio at some point. So as it happens I met my first physiotherapist, he was very knowledgeable young man and very attentive, to be honest, regardless of having been my first ever physio visit in my life I was very impressed with the treatment. This physiotherapist is not my business partner though, No my business partner stepped in when the other headed to help out in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Equally knowledgeable, excellent treatment, and the conversation seemed unforced and comfortable. We spoke science and training, and shared stories of athletes we were working with here and there. We even began referring back and forth over the next few years, he was such a professional it came natural to work with him. So I have to say I was more than pleased to hear the message on my phone asking for a business chat and a coffee this past summer.
After banters, and meetings, and really working on our company’s vision, we realized it was time to invite a third partner; someone that could bring business development to our team. I was pleased with my second partner, great experience in the fitness community with her own franchise at one point, I felt she could bring some clout to our game. And so, this is how a conversation led to the birth of VERSA MOVEMENT COLLECTIVE. We are not a Physio company, we are not a training and performance company. We are not a fitness company or a personal training company. We are the start of your journey, we want to be a huge part of your experience from the moment you walk in to see us, to the moment you step onto the pitch, the ice, the road, or your office. We want to complete the holistic circle of what health really is. When I was approached for the first time, and after the proposal was on the table I said one important thing that I hold dear to my heart. “I’m in on one condition, we’re not just another physio clinic with training services, or vice versa; this city has enough of those.” We are a human performance company, and like that the wheels were in motion.
I was introduced to two top professionals in their field; Jay Miren a Golf Performance professional with more experience in his field and assessment technologies that I truly believe Calgary will have its first golf tour professional in no time. Then I met Malc Kent of MK Performance, a running coach whose knowledge of the sport and his clout within the industry is unsurpassed. Having worked at EXOS and consulted with NIKE as well as Red Bull he brings a myriad of training methodologies for the long distance running game. Again I believe we may begin building Olympic calibre distance runners, especially when living so close to the mountains; personally I believe it’s time we up our game in Canada. Now as the company grows we are definitely looking to expand our team with proven professionals that will add a compliment to VMC, but for now I believe we have a great foothold in the door.
Now we can take performance to the next level, we can take an individual and walk them through their journey by helping them with injury prevention, skills, and strength and conditioning. I know right now you might feel a little vulnerable and think that this might not exactly fit in with what you do. Maybe this might sound intense and all you want is a physio, or maybe you just need some personal training. Well don’t forget that this is your journey and we want to be your guides. You want to succeed in your local squash tournaments, then there’s still a need to experience our expertise. You still need to look at your movement efficiency, your mobility, your strengths, speed and conditioning. We also want to look at your week in review, your work, your eating habits as much as your sleep habits. Life is holistic, it’s a circle that needs to stay closed and we want to teach you how.
Imagine if you will, if I was to draw a circle on a board, and I asked you a slew of questions but we’ll keep to the simple ones. First you went through our TPI, or FMS and/or SFMA assessment; and you were also capable of doing our VERSA Conditioning test. Now we came into the room and we erased the first line off that circle; the first line was for a lack of mobility in your shoulders and ankles, then we erased a little more because your ergonomics began to fail under duress in the conditioning test. Then we took more off because your sleep habits were very erratic.Your diet wasn’t bad but it could definitely have some improvement due to your daily activities, so a little more came off the circle. You look at the board and you don’t see a circle anymore. The circle’s been broken, and it gives us a starting point to work from. When we say we want to improve your life, as you can see we actually mean it.
At VERSA MOVEMENT COLLECTIVE we don’t look at you from a fitness point of view, or a physio point of view. I personally don’t look at your programming from an exercises point of view. As a team we want to know more about you and what are the cause and effects that make up your daily life. It is the only way to help improve the woman on the golf course, the kid stepping on the ice for his Junior A tryouts, or the law office about to enter this summer’s corporate challenge. We want to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to an individual’s improvement, teaching them the very foundations of what our company stands for. There is a science or method to our madness, and as you can see journeys start in different ways. Mine was different then my partners, not better and not worse; just different. Imagine wanting and believing in something so badly that you know if given the chance you could change the world. You could inspire change in a mindset that needs change, you can become that revolutionary company and hope to sit alongside the Apples and Googles and all the inspirational leaders you looked up to. Welcome to VERSA MOVEMENT COLLECTIVE, this is my journey, we want to know yours…
Your Coach, Franco Gomez
The mats are soft and padded but like an eraser rubbing it’s way across paper, I try my hardest to turn and gain the advantage. The gi gets heavier as you struggle and heave at each other increasing the vat of sweat building up on your body. And the eraser gets harder to move and I’ve got a 27 year old, 6’ 1 – 175Lb kid trying to twist me, and yank at my joints. He presses his weight on me when necessary to pancake me down, and it feels like all you could hear in the dojo is the heavy breathing of a 44 year old man. It’s loud and laboured and it’s the only survival I have left in this rolling session. 3 – 5 minute rounds and an average of 3 – 5 opponents; survival is the key word in this sentence. Not because my life is at stake but more so because as much as I was lucky to have a natural affinity to the sport, I feel slightly outmatched from a few different perspectives, and all that’s left is a broken ego. What can I say, boys will be boys, gracefully entering their forties
So let’s have a closer look at these perspectives for a moment, first off there’s a massive age gap, which benefits my opponent based on a comparison of heart rates, resting heart rates, and heart rate variability which are major components that aid the much younger opponent. Give hm 6 inches in height and 10 pounds and I have a problem! Here’s the thing though, give him the weight and height difference, even out our skill level (he happens to be a higher grade) and give me back 15 years and this young lad has a challenge on his hands. Needless to say, I was chocked out twice, and experienced a few armlocks. But he was kind enough to share some insight on my jiu jitsu skills and strategy on my way to the next opponent, so all was not lost.
One in particular that I recall was in regards to my breathing and the lack of control I was experiencing. Of course this young man doesn’t know that I’m a trainer and that I understand what the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are. Or that I also know that I need to work on my own strength and conditioning, specifically conditioning. Maybe spend less time on the laptop and more time on technique, breathing, my autonomic system, and yes, I get it, my conditioning needs more work.
I know that at 44 years of age, I’m not at retirements door but there’s definitely a change in my body type now (my fault), and there’s a definite change in my metabolism (age), and here’s the big one which I can’t bore people enough about. There is a definite change in my recovery time and it doesn’t help that once again, my conditioning needs more work. Now we’re not just talking about recovery heart rate after intense training, but more so recovery the day after. It’s interesting but as of late I’ve been hearing the same tale of the tape. Old friends approaching me because they want to get back into shape again, they walk around in pain, or can’t play a simple game of basketball with their daughters; some entering their forties and others already there.
You hear the traditional expressions, ‘boys will be boys,’ ‘men are all boys inside,’ ‘boys never grow up.’ We do grow up, as kids though we just enjoy playing hard, we taunt each other and tease, then we get older and the jokes get wittier, and still think we can roughhouse the way we used to. Well we still can, we just don’t get out of bed with a spring in our step the next day like we used to. Our hormones start to change, for example we produce less testosterone, our muscles begin to atrophy a little, our V02 max decreases which means we have less conditioning performance, which also means we recover slower from training and sports.
Yet we still want to hike a little faster, ride a little faster, and play a little harder. Ok maybe this blog is a little bit more about self realization, and the understanding that there is the ever fragile male ego in contention on top of the performance aged disabilities. That’s right, we seem to forget that inside all of us men, there lies that daring boy waiting to peak his head and challenge us to do the unthinkable still. And we take these challenges without a care in the world, even with families to take care of, or jobs that we need to punch into, and any other general responsibilities life has us doing. At some point we need to take a step back and realize that our game has to get smarter, not harder.
My body’s a storyboard of injuries, let’s do a top to bottom and I won’t delve into every adventure attached to the injuries because some come with R-rated stories and it was in a different time of my life. Let’s begin with the scar on hy head, the one above my mouth and the bridge for front teeth. The rubber neck, the shoulder dislocations that are in double digits. Broke my left elbow and left wrist, and cracked six knuckles in both hands with dislocated thumbs. The scar in my back, both knees with sprains and tears, ankle sprains and turf toe (I hate turf toe). And the coup de grace, right achilles tendon rupture. I know, you’re thinking how is this guy still prancing around, but I am and enjoying my life with family and a new business on the horizon.
The difference these days like I mentioned earlier, is I need to play a smarter game. I do this by listening to my body when it comes to training and sports. There’s no medals to be won, only pyrrhic victories with scars and pain to remind you of your squandered youth. Rest is a welcome sight, training my mobility and core strength within a session is now a must, and not at the end of a program if I have time to get to it either. My training is full body and sport specific so I have enough juice in the tank to grapple with the young fellas. And let’s not forget that there’s a brand new little man in my life now that I love to roughhouse with, which means if he’s half as crazy as I was growing up, I’ve got my hands full.
Finally there’s my wife as well. Let us not forget that us men in our forties, are performance through and through, and I don’t just mean weekend errands. That’s right guys, you can’t just sit on your laurels and hope that the memory of your slimmer sexy physique is what keeps the wives happy. Our performance doesn’t just stop on the court, the turf, or the mat. No, we also need to perform in all aspects of our lives, don’t forget the saying, “happy wife, happy life,” and yes read into that statement as much as you need.
We want to be boys and we want to play hard all of our lives, and no one can tell us differently. But humans like life, we are ballistic and dynamic, we’re also static and sedentary, with ups and downs and it moves some of us to be adventurous or relaxed. I’m not saying we need to stop playing sports, or training too hard, rather we need to play smart, we need to listen to our bodies and rest when needed, and we need to have the energy to perform in the right moment. Personal training has become popular once again to those in these same predicaments, I train men in their forties and a little less to feel young and proud and energetic so that longevity becomes important once again. You now hear the term ‘dad bod,’ and although funny sounding it comes with a little sting. A small reminder you’re not the man you used to be; but maybe, just maybe, you can be that man once again. With him brings the boy you and everyone loves, who knows, maybe tonight instead of a beer and watching a game, head upstairs a little earlier and; well, you get the picture…
Stay healthy my friends!
Your Coach, Franco Gomez