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
Today I’m going to talk to you from an inspired entrepreneurs point of view. I recently got back a couple weeks now from an epic road trip with my wife and son. And at almost 6 months my son handled the ride like a champ I might add. Interestingly enough it wasn’t the sort of epic road trip like the ones I took with my mates back in the day partying through the mountains with our final destination being Vancouver for shopping, drinking, eating and of course chasing the fairer sex. Those were adventurous days where the word responsibility didn’t really exist in our vocabularies. As long as we barely made the rent and had room for beer in our maxed out credit cards, the rest was just us being Marines, improvise, adapt, overcome!
This time around, our road trip was epic in many other ways, my wife and I got to see each other reacting to minor pressure, navigating through freeways, setting up campgrounds, dismantling campgrounds, where to eat, change the baby, feed the baby, soothe the baby, and keep on keepin on. Accompanied by an array of playlists on the noise box setting the moods for conversations and laughter. I love road trips for these very reason though; you open up different avenues of conversations and dig deeper into your relationship, and coming out more in love on the other end… Well at least on my end of course.
We packed the van on a Friday morning and headed out, first stop; Flathead Lake Big Fork Montana. People have referred to Montana as God’s country, aside the smoke, it was a friendly atmosphere, an amazing lake to share with the ones I love the most. We get out of the van and sitting right where the tent goes was a couple of deer as our welcoming committee feeding on the shrubs and dipping their lips for some lake water. I knew at that moment that this was going to be a magical roadtrip. We left the next morning rebounding for a night in Lake Easton Washington, towards Grayland State Park where we spent the next three days chilling out in Westport on the Washington coast. Every day was something interesting and new to do but I’d have to say my favourite was kite flying and crabbing.
Now, I love my wife for amongst other things, her tenacity. When she wants to try something new I follow along for the ride because whether it’s hit or miss, it’s always an adventure. She wanted to fish for crabs and after an evening debacle of searching for equipment, the next day we headed to rent the equipment, got the fishing license, got our grocery store raw chicken thighs and off to a pier we went. She marched so proudly and ready to hopefully hit the record books and get her picture in the Westport Gazzette holding 50Lbs of the largest crawlers she could wrangle; the day went a little differently though… So here I am enjoying a day on our very own pier in Westport, brown bagging a super duper can of Banquet Coors in one hand, and holding my little monster man in the other. As I wait for the festivities, instead I get to watch my Nat screaming after her first catch but realizing she has to actually pick them up to put them in the can and they have long reaches!
First catch of the day, she catches one large Dungeness crab! She’s excited and screaming from happiness as well as fear. But it was worth trading the baby and beer to help her get that delicious creepy crawler in the can. Unfortunately she caught one and we forgot that our camping pots wouldn’t fit our ocean dinner, so as a gesture of kindness we gave it to the nearby couple and headed out for some delicious sea food. I think that will be an experience we will always remember. Next time though, we’ll have the big pot ready to go!
The second most favourite thing we did was fly a kite, and actually teach Nat the nuances of how to fly the kite. What some of you don’t know is that part of my upbringing was in Chile and every Sept 18th, as part of our day of independence the children build kites by hand, get our special string and it’s off to war! Kite battles; cutting each other’s string and sending your cousins racing down a hill to fist fight over fallen kites. What can I say a bloody nose or black eye was worth the keepsies! In the midst of those savage years though, there’s definitely one thing I knew how to do and that was fly a proper kite. So off to Ocean City State Park we go!
The day was sunny and there was a pacific wind hitting our faces with gusto, we parked the van right on the beach and began the process of preparing our little dollar store kite for his maiden voyage. With stringers and rainbow colours I took it out of the van and, I dub thee, Pride Kite! Without very little assistance, the powerful wind carried it high flying that rainbow coloured flag, I made the kite rise so high as I slowly gave it more line. He climbed and climbed, and I’d tell Nat to pull for a good climb as the nose aimed upwards, and if it starts to nose dive just give it more slack and let the wind do it’s job.
We were so happy, as my son sat in the bjorn relaxing and enjoying all the different and new sites he was experiencing. As I took pictures to record the moments I asked myself, “how can I strive to make our lives better then this simple yet beautiful moment?” I’ll answer this question in a moment.
As the day ended, the last two days of our road trip was for the workshop I was headed to so we headed towards Seattle; our final destination, a campground in Bellevue Washington just outside the big City.
I’ve always said that being amongst my peers, has always made me a better trainer. But this trip made me want to be a better trainer, a better entrepreneur, and more importantly better husband and father. I had recently taken on a coaching certification to add to my repertoire and because of it I was recently invited to this workshop where I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Jamieson the author of MMA Conditioning.
Amongst the professionals I was privy to, were Luka Hocevar who helped us with business and marketing advice as well as being the owner of Vigor Ground Fitness and Performance. Nate Green who was once a team member at Precision Nutrition, who helped us with business and marketing as well by putting mirrors in front of us to take hard looks at ourselves as individuals. And as an added surprise we were introduced to Dr. Gerry Ramogida, Chiropractor for the Seattle Seahawks and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Talking about the science and benefits behind joint pumping and how to apply tem with our clients whether performance or gen pop.
So going back to answering that question as to how will I improve the lives and experiences of my loved ones. I have to say, I can’t take myself too seriously as a trainer, enjoy my relationships and look forward to the experiences I will share with my clients. Empathy is a word I’m starting to understand, and revamping my clients entire training experience is the start to continuity and longevity to their education as well as our training relationship. I’m not trying to be rich, I’m loving my career path, and I’m passionate about my continuing education, because I’m passionate about teaching. I come home from work not worried about company politics now, rather I look for my wife and my son so that I can hold them, kiss them and hug them, and I know that this is the start to to improving their lives as well as mine.
I talked with my wife all the way back home reminding myself what was said, what was important to look at, or where drastic changes need to be made. The more I repeated the conversations I began to believe the changes that needed to be made in my life for my new business to succeed. Oh that’s right; I forgot to mention that I’m entering into a new partnership where our focus for all of our clients will be an entirely holistic experience from walking through our doors to possibly never leaving us, so watch out Calgary; we’re setting the bar extremely high. But I’ll leave that for another blog. I will leave you with this little question to ask yourself if ever you’re stuck where you are. “If you had a choice in life, would you take the safe ’good’ route and future if it meant doing something you didn’t enjoy. Or would you sacrifice the safe route to be great at something you love, knowing that the only way you’ll succeed beyond a safe future, is by working harder than you’ve ever had to…?”
…Think about it..
To yours and mine my friends,
Your Coach, Franco Gomez
Recently this past weekend I was privy to doing my Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Certification Level 1 and 2, and being amongst my peers was not only fun but very inspirational. I looked around the room with such admiration at the variety of education and backgrounds all coming together to learn what it takes to help people move better, move often, and just simply move. As most of those who know me, know that my motto is ‘Performance is for Life.’ I always iterate that performance is not just at the elite level but rather in all walks of life! What people don’t understand in this day and age though is that performance at all levels will fail you if you’re not moving properly.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself in a long white smock as you’re building your first Robot! Think of it’s brain as a computer and it’s body is a steel mechanism of moving parts. This robot is run electrically through the wiring from signals sent from the computer to move the robot’s joints and parts. The computer sends signals to keep the joints oiled and lubricated so that the robot learns to move freely with out obstructions, creaking, or the steel body binding. The computer learns motor patterns so that the robot can move efficiently, and effectively within its tasks. But more importantly, the robot now begins to understand movement as it’s artificial intelligence continues to learn all the patterns necessary to strive in this world.
Ok now take that robot which you just took the time to teach movement within the span of it’s short life, and sit him in a chair for 8 to 10 hours a day. Now you’re noticing the robot is a little slower at moving and there’s a little more steel sounding movements due to the oil in the joints drying up and collecting dust. The robot’s body isn’t looking very shiny anymore, and instead starting to collect the odd rusty specs of dust here and there. Also because of the lack of usage you find that for some reason the wiring from the computer isn’t firing signals fast enough or none at all and the steel in the joints are starting to bind a little so the robot isn’t moving very efficiently throughout it’s daily tasks.
You wonder and study the problems and you try rewiring, and you reset the computer and nothing seems to be happening; you’ve broken the robot… The human body spent the first half of it’s existence or more moving. As you’ve heard before we were hunters, gatherers, warriors, etc. and for this last third of human history we’ve become more and more sedentary. Our careers demand hours and hours of sitting around in front of the computer typing, mouse surfing, reading and all other wonderful things that our borne of our jobs. We are now that broken robot but the difference is we are slowly learning how to reset that computer, we are learning mobility drills, flexibility exercises, myofascial release, and so many other fantastic techniques that are putting us back together. Unfortunately in this society We just have to want to move more then wanting to move at any cost!
Lately we’ve been living in the world of low attention spans and high regard for social media and all the poisonous fruit that comes off that tree. Things like 30 day challenges that push the metabolic envelope to sickness, promises of beautiful bodies at the cost of your health and general mobility and let’s not get started on the nutrition fads; that’s a Blog in itself! I was once asked by a very important man from a company I was working at if I just took down people’s goals and built programs for them to work on. I just gave him a blank stare and told him that goals are secondary to me if the people can’t move properly. I need to see how they move and find out what weaknesses lie within and why. I need to see people’s asymmetries and distinguish what sort of corrective exercises need to be applied and how, I also need to assess their strengths so that I can formulate a few of their goals into a program as well to compliment the fixes needed to move better.
This is why I felt that the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) was an important tool to add to my arsenal, and this is why I still feel that those 7 simple movements in the screen can tell so much about a person and what lies within. This past weekend working with friends and colleagues just reaffirmed that I’m on the right path. Clients don’t need to lose 50lbs tomorrow, they need to lose 50lbs intelligently through a program that incorporates their strengths, considers their asymmetrical issues, compliments their weaknesses but still is able to challenge them physically. I always say, ‘do the exercise right and not only will it be harder but will also make you stronger.’ The fitness world is starting to follow in the elite footsteps and move towards function and specificity, and I believe that the the Functional Movement Screen is a great starting block in assessing a client, so that they can get to their goals in healthy fashion. Well friends, I hope I was able to open your eyes like mine were this past weekend; and now for my next assessment; stay functional (healthy) my friends…
Are you tough enough?
In the past I introduced this Blog with the Smart Principle; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The truth is I’ve noticed with certain clients just want to jump in the water with both feet never testing it, never asking questions, never considering the consequences of what a hardcore attitude might do to your body or your mind. On the other hand I have those that want more than they’ve put in and start to wonder if the training is even worth it. As trainers this can become quite frustrating considering that we lay out guidelines, support, education, and the training. There’s an old African proverb that says, “Never test the depth of the water with both feet.” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007)
In Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge it talks about experimenting and risk taking, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First I’d like to start by asking you that simple question, “How’s that new years resolution working out for you?” I’m guessing that there are a high percentage of you that have fell off the wagon, or have become too busy, or never really saw the results they assumed they would achieve in such a short period, and finally you’re just bored of the same routine since January. So back to Kouzes and Posner, where they state that to create a climate in which the norm is to experiment and take risks, it is essential for leaders to:
Generate small wins
Learn from experience
Generating small wins is an excellent way to begin tracking your performance and goals in your every day life, whether family, work, fitness, etc. Again, this is where SMART can come into play, and helping you refine those small wins; setting milestones is a small step-by-step process for progression. Unfortunately we live in a society that caters to the, “Go big or go home,” with that said 90% are sitting at home! Remember that achieving those small wins will result in success.
Learning from our experience is crucial to our mental toughness, our resilience to obstacles, and to our eventual success in any of our goals set. As humans we are programmed to learn from childhood on until the imminent. Unfortunately taking another shot at society, we often find ourselves being lazy and letting someone else take over the reigns; let them learn it, let them do it. Well now they’ve just become your boss, beat you in a race, or achieved their fitness goals before you! My question to you is, “will you quit because you were beaten? Will you quit because you never reached those goals?’ You have to ask yourself , did you learn anything? Are you mentally tough enough to persevere? Do you lack the fortitude to continue?” I say you are, I say you can learn to be; you are smarter and you can become tougher just by taking that small step forward you never did before. You can pick yourself up and continue, because it is instilled in us the will to live, to move, to run, to jump, to love; so what’s holding you back? You have a resolution to continue, one small win at a time. Track your progress people, you will have something to work for always.
Stay Healthy My Friends…