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
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
The Cheat Day
Tan, Tan, Tan… Historically people have been trying to add a cheat day to their diet, always telling themselves that this is the day that they can eat whatever they want, so that they can fool their minds into believing they’ve been good all week so they deserve a cheat meal, or day to satiate their mood…
So let me ask you this because to me cheat days are simply cruel and unusual punishment; what types of food are you eating that you need to have a cheat day?! This takes me back to when I was a younger man working as a welder and training to stay healthy and strong, playing football in Edmonton on the weekends and just starting to scrape the surface as far as learning about athletic training and diet. So a friend and teammate of mine, we decided to visit a very popular trainer who specialized in bodybuilding and physique competitors, because truly we didn’t know any better and the internet was just starting to peak. So after an assessment and questionnaire I walked out of there with a monthly diet, shopping list and recipes. We headed straight to the supermarket and shopped in a strict and driven manner because this diet was going to take me to the promise land!
I remember I finished cooking, sat down to eat, sprinkled some of that flavoured Mrs. Dash, took a bite and thought,”this is how I’m going to eat from here on in?!” HELL NO!!
I come from an upbringing of flavours and colours and spice. Being brought up in Canada I’m always grateful for having such open minded parents when it came to culturally tasty delights. As an adult I realized I loved hot and spicy, but every culture brings something different to my table. I realized back then I needed a cheat day because eating, one of many human enjoyments, was a bland and sometimes terrible experience! I called it my cardboard diet as there were times when I would walk past a cardboard box and wonder, “if I licked that, would it taste better than my dinner?”
People tend to forget that living a healthy life is an experience that brings fulfillment to you and others that surround you. Life is a collection of experiences, a tapestry of moments in which we constantly strive for happiness. As north americans we always see pictures or movies or media about gatherings in the rest of the world sharing meals, music and moments together in envy as we try plowing through our dry spinach and chicken breast. My coworkers will ask me at times, what’s that delicious smell in the kitchen, and I’ll spout out, home made chilli, or eggplant lasagna, or sweet potato-carrot soup with chicken meatballs. You see eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavour. I haven’t needed a cheat day for a long time, but I also put a little effort into learning how to cook long ago so that I can enjoy those marvellous moments at the dinner table.
Unfortunately I’m one of those who adds a dash of this and a sprinkle of that as I cook, I don’t necessarily rely on recipes. I’ve always seen a meal on TV and guessed how it was made and try making it; sometimes a success, and if I fail, there’s always the little Indian takeout joint by my place. We forget though at times that we live in a world of information, and I constantly get berated with questions on how to make this, or that, or what should I eat…
My answer is simple,”if you can google fabulous workout wear online, why can’t you google healthy chicken recipes?” Horrible aren’t I?
The truth is you spend so much time on your phones finding out what Trump supporters did, but you can’t google a chilli recipe?!?! So getting back to the subject at hand, if you have a cheat day, it’s time to rethink your food choices, and use google as a tool that’s actually useful. At the end of the day I won’t tell you what the best diet is because I don’t know you or any of your underlying issues and I’m not really qualified. But I can tell you the best diet is the one you enjoy most, and share with friends and family. Enjoy a glass of wine this weekend, and stay healthy my friends…
Simple Rules To Programming
Interesting isn’t it but with the inundation of workout fads, DVD’s, magazines, phone apps and philosophies it’s hard to understand why it’s still not a simple task for the general population to figure out a program. Ok so everyone wants the secret to the six pack, or those elusive wonderfully tight glutes, and even a pair of great biceps!
The reality is that in this article you will get a little of what COGO Fitness + Performance’ training philosophy is and for those that want a hand learning a little about how to program on your own. Before I start I want to dispel a few things that people constantly use in training and where we at COGO differ. Generally people like to train body parts where we prefer to train movement. People train core with crunches, sit ups or V-twists we prefer planks, anti-rotational cable work, or hip dominated med ball work as a few examples. The reason we stay away from specific body part training is because the human body doesn’t move in one plane rather many planes of motion. Also to add insult to injury (no pun intended) working one body part at a time generally causes imbalances in muscles and joints that lead to overuse injuries such as tendonitis, crepitus, impingements or joint ruptures.
Ok ladies and gentlemen, here are a few rules we use at COGO Fitness + Performance to program for you, but more so influenced by how a body moves, and the technique necessary for this movement:
1. Big muscles before small muscles, for example back, chest, or legs come before your biceps, triceps, or calves
2. Joint mobility/stability (depending on the joint), core stability and muscular strength and flexibility, which means full range of motion in all movements.
3. CORE, CORE, CORE, CORE and stop doing CRUNCHES!!!
4. Hip hinge movements such as squats, deadlifts, reverse lunges, etc.
5. Knee stability such as a split squat
6. Vertical push or pull such as shoulder press, single arm kettlebell press, pull ups, or different pull down variations.
7. Horizontal push and pull, like a bench press, or cable row
8. All upper body push/pull variations vertical or horizontal must be led with a scapular retraction or in layman terms, squeeze those shoulder blades low.
Well there you have it, turn some of those workouts into a superset, and you now know our secrets, or do you? the hard truth is there’s obviously more to this depending on mobility issues, sport specifics, or simply what your goals are that you want to achieve. In the mean time I hope that this might be a good start to learning how to program, rather than running your old high school program for the guys or being so confused in the gym that you run to the nearest Zumba class for the ladies. We at COGO Fitness want you to ask as many questions as you can because the more we teach the more education you’ll want; we don’t benefit from keeping secrets rather we benefit from sharing what we know. Remember that performance is for life and in the mean time;
Stay healthy my friends…