Barriers to Success

As animals we are built to keep ourselves safe.  Safe by whatever that means to you, safe from a physical, mental or psychological threats.  These are the things that more often than not keep us from our goals and hold us back from reaching what we may even see as success in our lives.  Now, I don’t think this applies to everyone.  Check that, I do think this applies to everyone and has at some point in time in their life.

How many times have you had an idea, but held back on it because you told yourself or even better.  The people close to you told you that it didn’t make any sense or that it was stupid?  This isn’t something we run into as adults, you have probably experienced a time where you thought you were right about something but then were shamed in that moment as you were completely wrong.  Well, congratulations!  Those experiences as a child have carried over to what you do in your life from one day to the next and the decisions you make around what success looks like to you.

So, what does this have to do with exercise?  It’s simple, the same things that hold you back from reaching your goals, whether that be lose 10 pounds or increase your bench by 20 pounds at some point that process is going to present barriers that are going to slow your progress and keep you from your goal. Similar to if you wanted to start a business or change jobs.  There are certain things or “problems” that you could perceive as a threat or as uncomfortable.  These are moments that make us uncomfortable or that we perceive as threats to the safety we have made in our lives.  There is nothing wrong with feeling safe, I have a wife, two kids and a home.  It’s important to me that they feel safe and that I can provide that for them.  It’s  also important that I am around to see there happiness within that safety that I am trying to provide for them.

You have to figure out what your barriers are, it may be financial, time, family, friends.  More than likely, it’s just you.  None of those other things or people control the decisions that we make or how we feel about the work we do. Your self talk and the barriers that you put in front of yourself is what’s going to stop you from making the changes you want.  You are 100% accountable/responsible for every change you make in your life.  When you own that responsibility, it’s easy to make certain decisions.

So, I like to ask this one question every week when checking in with my members.  What is the one thing you can change today, to head toward what your goals are?  Goals can be short or long term, so 1, 3, 5 year goals.  If you make a decision that your going to try, what would you have to do to head in that direction? Make the decision, then act on it.  You may find that it is difficult but exciting at the same time.  Good Luck!


Can I get a meal plan with that?

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As a trainer/coach we learn about the basics of Nutrition.  We also know that with some certainty if you are ever going to get serious about reaching your goals that 75-80% of your efforts have to be focused on dialing in your nutrition.  If you have read any of my previous articles or are a part of our newsletter, I speak on the importance of nutrition often.  I probably release more content on nutrition information whether from me or someone else than on exercise.  This is because I understand that this is what’s going to really get the job done.

If I am coaching someone and trying to get them to make changes in their lives, but I never address their nutrition other than saying; “Eat healthy foods.” Or, If I am supposed to hold you accountable for your workouts everyday but I never check on your nutrition.  We may have a great relationship and even be good friends, but as your friend I want you to get the results you are looking for.  So, It’s my job and yours! To hold you accountable for your goals and this includes your nutrition.

Now, let me tell you what it doesn’t include.  I am not a licensed Nutritionist or Dietitian.  What are those?  They are professionals who are trained to provide individualized meal plans for those with specific dietary needs.  So they can make adjustments for diabetics, certain medications, daily activity etc.  They then write exactly what they think you should eat, down to the snacks!  This is what most people think is the answer, and for some it may very well be.  For most, changing habits and developing a better relationship with  food and why you make the decisions you do can go a lot further in the long term.

We used to work with a dietitian who prescribed all of our clients meal plans and while they were awesome to work with this is what I found out.

  1. Only one client followed the exact meal plan to the T and he only did so for the first two weeks.  Later, after some more research learned that only 3 out of 10 people actually follow a meal plan.
  2. They tend to include foods that the client doesn’t even like, so again they would not follow the plan.
  3. They did not help produce the results the clients were looking for, and not context was give around the reason why they ate as much as they did or what they ate.

Again, this is not to say that a well structured meal plan won’t work for those that need it. As a trainer/coach we focus on and have seen greater results in performance and appearance by simply working with and actually coaching others on how you can “have your cake and eat it to.”  Without actually having cake all the time, of course.  We focus on creating better habits and increasing awareness around the decisions you make from a place of education.  Personal Trainers cannot prescribe individualized meal plans unless they are licensed to do so.  This is true in most states. Examples of healthy foods recipes, etc are fine but we cannot say “go eat this at this time.” I see a lot of trainers and coaches shy away from even providing guidance, but do you want results?  You better square up your nutrition!

So remember, ultimately the information is out there to be found on how to eat to maintain your goals.  Your health and your fitness, even your results are a reflection of your efforts toward them.  If you are aware then you will progress, if not you will be right where you are talking about your goals and your dreams.  This is also fine if that’s what you want.  If you are reading this though, I bet it’s not. Always be learning and look to those with experience to help guide you to a sustainable path.   HERE is a great article from a mentor of mine on prescribed meal plans and personal trainers.  Have a look!  I’ll talk with you soon.

What’s the plan Stan?

How many of you frequently go to the gym?  How many days of the week do you train? How much time do you spend training per session?  What are your goals?  What are your weaknesses stopping you from reaching those goals? Why is this goal/goals important to you in the first place?

If you have never asked these questions and answered them honestly, this may just be what’s stopping you from reaching them.  For some people it’s a particular muscular weakness or imbalance for most it’s the lack of habits or the lack of a solid plan. Not only do you need a plan, you need one that is specific for you.  Everybody is different and should have a plan supporting that.  Let me give you a few examples:


A travel nurse, dad and husband who simply wanted to lose weight to look better and feel better about himself and be around to enjoy his life and his family.  His program consisted to strength training three times a week and interval training or cardio twice a week.  He has since gone on with the knowledge he gained from managing his nutrition to how to navigate a gym effectively without taking a bunch of time away from other things he enjoys.



A Paramedic with a busy schedule and constantly varied shifts. She has had to make adjustments in her nutrition, sleep habits and workout times. With a focus on increasing strength in the Squat, Bench and Dead lift.   She has also improved all of her lifts in preparation for her first power lifting meet. She has also had some bumps in the road and has gotten through them and come out stronger on the other side of it.  If your doing this right, then that is going to and should happen.



Is a mom of two and pretty darn strong!  She started Cross Fit a little more than two years ago and has had goals of being competitive locally and now globally in the CROSS FIT OPEN! Her programming includes a lot of skill development and aerobic/strength endurance.  She also works on increasing her raw strength three days per week. 2017 is looking to be a good year for KC!


So what do these three have in common?  They didn’t have a plan and got with a coach to help them either get going or guide them throughout the entire ride.  If you are unsure of where to start no matter what your goals are, you don’t need to do it on your own.  At Tension Strength & Conditioning online coaching program are the best way to get you to your health and fitness goals.  No matter where you are in the world we want to work with you to get you through you’re journey from start to finish!


Get after it!


So you do Cross Fit?

So, I have been asked this question multiple times since I started the venture.  So are you a Cross Fit gym?  You just do Cross Fit right?  Most people that know me, know that I have always been in shape and have always worked out in some way, shape or form.  Since as long as I can remember, I have worked out.  Is Cross Fit one of the things that I do?  Sure.  I coach at a Cross Fit Gym (Box), Sometimes the workouts I do are similar or exactly like Cross Fit workouts.  The next thing I have been asked or told is that it is dangerous to do Cross Fit.  So, trying to field these questions and statements as a new business owner and as someone who is a Fan of overall being healthy and fit has been difficult.  Not as difficult as telling people why I am different from other coaches or training programs.

Again, I like Cross Fit the Methodology and think they have basically created the fitness craze that is around now.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the reason I finally got the motivation among other things to start my own business.  I may very well affiliate one day and Cross Fit will be something that I offer to those who are looking for it but the main purpose is to improve health, fitness and teach others how to be accountable and take control of both.  I don’t think that Cross Fit is the only way to do that and neither does Cross Fit I’d bet.

So, what is it that I do exactly?  I provide the tools and information to help others change how they view and go about staying healthy and fit for the duration of their life.  I have been a Paramedic for the better part of 14 years to include time as a Medic in the U.S. Army.  I’ve seen individuals at the peak of their health and performance and I have also seen what it looks like when that is “let go” and overall health and well-being takes a turn for the worst.  For me it was like watching one person at a time slowly kill themselves to include people within my family and there was nothing they wanted to do about it.  Or, if they did want to do something the best thing they knew to do was starve themselves to lose weight with no worry of what was going on in the inside of their body.

How is it that I have decided to go about this?  This part seems to constantly be a work in progress.  Almost once maybe even twice a week, I am coming to my wife with ideas about how to on board new members and ways to keep other ones.  At times it’s discouraging because another little curve ball I may not have  mentioned.  I do all of this training right now online.  This is nothing new in the fitness industry, in fact give it some time and it will effectively take the place of the one on one personal training sessions.  However, everyone as of now want’s that personal trainer physically in front of them it has been difficult and is somewhat unbelievable when I start to tell people about it.  “How can you lose weight with a trainer if he’s not there to show you? ”  Someone even asked me one day, ” Do you Skype call the entire training session?”  Not an invalid question but I still thought it was funny.  Oh, and getting the word out on how we go about the business of getting you fit is a task I am still working on.  This business is a hustle for sure, and it’s easily gotten better since I started at this time last year.

End goal,  what I’m looking to do?  Continue to work with the individuals I have now.  They are all getting stronger and seeing great results.  Continue to grow the online portion of our business so that we are able to fund our first brick and mortar space.  Keep taking care of people.  In a nutshell, that is what I want to do. Help people find their path in defining what it means for them to be strong. Whether that means, Cross Fit, Power Lifting, Weight Lifting, competition or just staying in shape to be able to run around and play with your kids.  If we are helping others to get there, then I have done my job and I would consider the business a success.


Are You Ready?

How many of you have ever done a workout and while completing a movement in the workout, it just feels “wrong.”  Just an uncomfortable feeling, or even worse.  Have you ever felt pain?  I’ve heard people describe workouts as “painful” or they say, “Oh, that one hurt!” Are workouts supposed to be painful?  I don’t tend to think so.  Now they should be difficult or you wouldn’t get the results you are looking for but there shouldn’t be any pain or there is something wrong.  If your experiencing physical pain during a workout, whether on your own, with a group or individually with a trainer/coach.  You may want to get that checked out.  Now, this does not mean that you can’t work out and that it can’t be intense and deliver you the right results.  It does mean a few things:

  1. You may need to see a health care professional depending on if you have significant pain with the particular movement.
  2. You need to modify your movements.  You just may not be able to go into a certain position ever again. If you go to press overhead and experience significant pain during the movement, if it cannot be fixed or improved then you can modify the movement to still get similar results and get very strong.
  3. You don’t need intensity.  At least in the beginning.  High intensity training for beginners is almost always not completely necessary and for some improving your movement in your squat and dead lift can be very intense for some beginners.  However, when you are significantly increasing your heart rate and have poor movement patterns you are basically asking for setbacks due to injury.  Your body will not allow you to continue to move poorly and be uncomfortable during that movement and will eventually hurt you to stop you from doing the same thing over again.  Earn the ability to increase you intensity and increase your strength over time.

This sounds like I’m saying you should stretch and do a ton of mobility exercises.  Well, yeah.  I am.  Only to an extent.  Basic rules are if you can’t breathe increase your aerobic capabilities while improving your mobility and stability.  Running and other steady state cardio exercises are great for this.  ( Think Running, Jump Rope, Assault Bike, Rower)  Mix those up in any combination for the first 30 day along with specific mobility exercises depending on what you are having difficulty with.  During this time mix in some of  those movements because bottom line is; if you want to be good at something you have to do it often.  Combine this with decent eating habits and you are going to start to see the light toward your fitness goals within the first 30 days. Then you will be ready to add consistency to your newly found quality movement patterns and once you are comfortable with the movement now, add intensity to the movements and continue to head toward your goals.  The best part is, while this is not the short 8 week fitness ideal it will last you for a very long time as long as you remain consistent.

So before you start to work on newer movements that you’ve never done before or you haven’t done often.  Ask yourself, “If I don’t know about this movement, should I be doing it?” “Should I ask for a modification until I have adequate time to learn it.”  The time to learn is not in the heat of a high intensity workout.  Slow down and get it done right! Thanks for reading, Stay safe.


So Here It Is

Going with something different for this post.  At least for a while, I’m going to write about my journey into opening my own gym.  I’ve hidden this from most people not inside of my immediate small circle.  I have been dabbling in this for just under a year and have had some small successes and some big failures for my standards.  Such is life though and the show must go on.

I got the idea for this like most do I think.  I have been training at a crossfit gym for around three years at the time but had been training much longer than that before then.  Looking around at what I saw I felt that I could do it “better.”  That’s not to say others weren’t doing it right, I just thought I had something different to offer.  So, tested the theory and started coaching group classes at the gym I was training at.  I found that I started to become fascinated with movement, technique and ways to improve those and to explain it to others in a not so confusing way.  From what I’ve been told I do a pretty good job.

So, what now? I dove in face first! Made a website, started doing a ton of random stuff with no real order to it.  Created a facebook page and put a free workout out there to try and get people at a friends gym that he let me use for only a few hours a day. I had no idea how to 1. Sell anything and 2. Was afraid to ask people for money.  Among other things like not understanding marketing.  The only think I knew that I was doing was starting.

Went through the new year and struggled with marketing, pricing, how I wanted to run the gym.  Where would I do it? The friend at the first location had grown his business and was now doing classes at the times I had. I hadn’t paid him any money because I didn’t have any.  Hoping I didnt ruin the relationship I returned the keys.

After weeks or maybe even months of twiddling my thumbs not really doing anything to  grow the business, home had gotten a little crazy and I had all but given up on the idea. Thinking there was no interest I was ready to walk away. Then, someone I had coached in the group classes asked if I would coach her one on one.  I honestly, wasn’t excited but I enjoyed helping and training others so I found out how the personal training was and we got started. After the first few sessions I really started to think that I could make this happen.  So I went home, talked my wife and asked her to be honest. “Do you think that we can do this?” Her response while supportive always had a sound of worry.  We don’t require and also don’t have much, we did have a new baby on the way!  Crazy time to start maybe?

So fast forward, 3 months from that point and I coach a few people online and one in person.  I rent some space and pay them a percentage of what I make.  This is where the journey starts for me.

I’ve bitten the bullet and decided that I want to have my own facility in an effort to  extend my reach and help more people, along with the online coaching I am doing now. Not having one has given the impression to many that I am not a “stable trainer.”  I also have a particular way I progress individuals in the movements so I want to stay true to that.  So far it has been interesting to say the least and at times stressful to try and figure out what it is to do from one day to the next.  I’m pretty patient, at least I like to think so.  We will see what happens next.  You are all caught up now and I’m sure there will be more next week.

Own your health

I started this blog, this business because I have seen what it looks like to not be unhealthy but to be uninformed about what is going on with your health.  I have had family members go to a physician and leave not  knowing what it is they have been told moving forward with any illnesses they have.  You would think, “Why would they know?” They are not doctors right? Why do they need to know about the medication they take?  The doctor said it would “fix” the problem.  Does this happen to you in the gym?  Of course you are not taking medication at the gym (At least I hope not). You are being given a workout prescription.

So, do you know why you are given that particular piece of work?  What it is you are working on?  Muscular Endurance, Strength, Cardiovascular Endurance.  Should the workout be done at a Max Effort?  Now, I won’t say that you should know what energy system you need to be working from.  Understanding that there are different systems that your body uses to produce energy without getting too crazy. Not having a basic understanding of why you are doing an exercise takes away from you being able to prepare mentally.  To make the connection from you brain to you muscles makes it more difficult to complete an exercise especially if you are brand new to exercise.

The biggest example I have of this that I started to notice is famous Cross fit.  Have you ever heard, “Cross fit is dangerous.”  I have been doing Cross fit for a while now and I think it is a great fitness program for general fitness.  I also think that it is just one of many fitness methodologies and it is only as safe as the person performing it and their ability to be honest with themselves and the coach they are training with.  Being a good coach or rather having a good coach is only a small part of the equation.  They can help you develop a plan for your goals, hold you accountable but they cannot do the work for you.  They can also be wrong.  It is important to trust in a program, but only you know how your body feels and if it doesn’t feel safe this doesn’t mean don’t do it.  Maybe it means just figure out a way around it that doesn’t hurt as much.  Barbell push presses hurt?  Try single arm Kettle Bell Presses instead.  Also, maybe make sure there is nothing going on that exercise alone won’t be able to fix.

At some point you should start to learn something from your training, or else how will you completely benefit from it?  If you are there to just do the workouts, that’s fine too.  You  will see some results but if you take medication for blood pressure alone you will also see some results.  You may never ever get off that medication and your body may never function like it is meant to.  No big deal. At the end it is all your choice, that is the point.  You have a choice to get involved in your process and really provide the right type of feedback to your coach/coach’s.  If you are already doing this then good.  Keep it up, even spread it to other parts of your life.  If you are not, start.  That’s the easiest way to get going.  Whether it be a work, home or the gym.  Participate!  Help with the solution to your problem and don’t just wait for someone to fix it for you. We all have something to say, open your mouth and say it.