Oh Oh, Don’t Say The F Word

So…did you make it? Was this the year you promised yourself your best body ever and it came true?

What am I talking about? Well, be it January’s New Year’s resolutions or the first crack of nice weather we had in April that made you realize summer was just around the corner…either way you set yourself a goal to look, perform or be a certain way by this time of year (~mid July).

 

So I ask again: did you make it?

 

The truth is that it doesn’t matter. You either did or didn’t. If you did, kudos, it must have taken some serious work and sacrifice and I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey thus far! If not, don’t beat yourself up about it. Consistency is key, get to doing that more than anything else. This going hard for 3 weeks and taking the next month schlepping it is bunk; it ain’t working.

 

But let’s look forward.

 

Life has a lot of patterns to offer. They are like sign posts that tell you what’s likely to happen if you continue on the path you’re on.

 

In the gym world, the aesthetic vs. life game I know August is a very important month. And I offer the best piece of advice I can after 6 years of watching this happen:

 

DON’T GET FLUFFY IN AUGUST!

It’s patio season. Barbeques. Family vacation. The calm before the September storm when kids go back school, your boss at work looks at your mid-third quarter and freaks out their yearend projections are off target, traffic gets extremely mental again and generally speaking life just gets busy. September is EXACTLY like January in the training/gym world. And I know that best intentions of getting right back on the horse come September 1st are just never going to happen. It’s more like the third week in September you’ll get your life in order.

 

So again: DON’T GET FLUFFY IN AUGUST!

 

If you gain 5lbs of fat in August it’s going to be the end of October before it comes off. So while I understand your plight during August and its call to live life, I VERY highly suggest you plot out some damage control for the weddings, parties, poolside adventures and trips to Vegas you have written on your calendar.

 

Let’s talk damage control:

Keep up with your workouts. I say this all the time: we are our own best dumbbell. Any excuse to not workout other than physical illness or serious family situations is quite simply a cop out. Have you not seen the infamous ass-in-the-air YouTube videos of Bodyrock.tv?

Have you not been introduced to a kettlebell? I have a bunch of YouTube videos for zero equipment, pressed for time situations such as being stuck at home or in a hotel or at a campground. Here, Here, And Here

Worst case scenario ask your trainer to step up their game and add in that element of damage control if you know you have dietary stuff coming up that will affect your weight loss/gain. We dig a challenge.

Other methods of damage control:

Fasting read about that here

Cardiopick higher intensity methods and perform them 2-4 times a week. I give tons of options here which include as little a time commitment as 4 minutes!

The last one is a trick I use often in times like this (and December): focus on strength training. Break down some serious muscle in the gym. Forget the making-a-smaller carrot/apple/pear shape programs you’ve been doing up to this point.

You either made your July body or you didn’t. Let’s focus on the future. So, why strength training?

Think about this: If I make you do my leg workout which today consisted of 13 sets of 3 reps of front squat followed by 8 sets of 3 reps of sumo deadlift followed by a finisher of 95lb barbell parking lot lunges (194m parking lot which equates to 180-190 lunges) are you going to be sore, broken down and walking funny for a few days? I invited a friend out today to do it so I’ll let him comment on that when he crawls out of bed 4 days from now.

What do you think your body is doing with calories the following days when you’re that broken down?

You’re building. This most likely means that the calories you take in are going towards repair, regeneration and building of new muscle. That’s a costly process. So the calories, even if slightly excess will LESS LIKELY end up as a muffin top. This is not an excuse to eat like shit and get away with it. It’s just a mindful approach to life vs. training/aesthetic goals.

 

I know I’ve repeated myself a whole bunch in this blog. I intended to do that. Because this needs to be beaten into the mind:

DON’T GET FLUFFY IN AUGUST!

The Consultation: Perhaps the Single Best Client-Trainer Relationship Builder

Was reading on Facebook the other day a quote by another trainer which said something to the tune of:

“In the training world, when it rains, it pours…”

She was speaking of how one referral tends to lead to a dozen within just a few weeks. I’ve witnessed it myself. One minute you think you can take on more clients, the next day you have more phone calls, consults and assessments to work through than you can possibly handle.

That’s why some of us must utilize a wait list.

I think a lot of the time the general public truly doesn’t understand what they’re implying and saying when they convince themselves “I’m going to hire a personal trainer!” Even if they’ve met the one they have in mind, or have seen his/her videos or read their blog it doesn’t mean they know how the breakdown from the first phone call to the first training session is going to go down.

Because there is stuff in the middle, all sorts of communication. I will be so bold as to say that if you call up a trainer one day and they book your first workout after a 10 minute conversation be warned that this is not a good trainer.

A good trainer collects a HUGE amount of information in a small amount of time (about 45-90mins). Before I take on a new client I need to know their entire training history, injury/health stuff, they need to know my policies, pricing, we need to work out our schedules and discuss important topics like physical, emotional, habitual, and sometimes even spousal barriers we are going to run into.

The point is you don’t just simply call up a personal trainer (a good one anyway) one day and start working out tomorrow.

It’s the equivalent of finding out there’s a job available (your goal and your commitment to it now) and you’ve literally just handed the employer (trainer) your resume (your goals) and after just a quick 10 minute conversation, with zero reference check, well, you have the job and you start tomorrow, end of phone call.

Tell me you aren’t left with a dozen questions you should have asked before accepting the job. What’s the pay? What are the hours? What’s the benefit plan like? Must I travel? Who do I report to?

You are hiring a trainer and a trainer is investing their time in a business relationship with you so….

Before you accept this journey you think you are ready to jump into I ask you to take my advice (both potential clients and trainers alike): get to know just whom you’ll be working with as much as possible before you hire them/take them on.

This is where, I believe, the consultation process is hands down the single greatest client-trainer relationship building block that leads to long-term clients who achieve fantastic results and eventually refer all their friends and relatives.

What is a consultation? What should the format look like? Should I have to pay for it (potential client)? Should I charge for it (trainer)? In all reality it’s 100% up to the trainer how much they want to invest upfront with their potential client.

At the level I’m at in this industry, I personally choose to keep this a free service (whoopee, it’s an hour of my time to change someone’s life) but I will also say (trainers pay attention): this is also why I have a 90% sell ratio out of this process.

Pay It Forward

When people call, email, or hunt you down for the trainer experience it’s up to you (the trainer) to do three things:

1) Sound or better yet, actually, care about their goals and helping that person reach them. I’ve venture so far as to say that us trainers need to admit when a clients goals are not our style, that we won’t be the best option out there for their needs and have a list of other trainers you trust and can recommend. Potential clients: I don’t care how much your cousin RAVES about this trainer you’re in front of, if you feel like they are not going to care about you reaching your goals, walk away! If the consultation sounds like all they care about is you purchasing their 50 pack of sessions…WALK AWAY!

2) Sound like you know what the hell you’re talking about. Potential client: Does this trainer sound like they have experience helping others achieve goals similar to yours? Do they have testimonials, before/after pics or anything that “proves” they are capable of the job. Ask the trainer if they have a back up (should they get sick, be on vacation at an inconvenient time for you, etc)? Do they have referrals to physical therapists, chiro, massage, naturalpath MDs for any other needs that you may have or run into in the future? If they don’t sound confident, don’t sound like they’ve built a system of any sorts I’d be leery. The reason I say sound is because there is much debate in the industry as to whether education, certifications, etc really “proves” that this person is qualified to handle you and your goals (I thank the super coach, Dave Parise, for really pointing this out). A trainer may sound super confident, book-wormy, and even look uber buff yet still be a complete twit when it comes to teaching the principles of training. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SHOP AROUND! You would if you were buying a car…this is your body we’re talking about here, it should be more important.

3) Have time for you. I struggle with this myself as I’m just in the position where 50-60% of the business being sent to me I quite simply do not have the schedule for. I know you’d love to workout at 5:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but those spots weren’t available 3 years ago and probably never will be. I’m at the point in my career where it’s time to build a team of other qualified trainers that can help me help others. If a trainer flips through his schedule book and pauses for 3 minutes and comes back with a “Well, I think I have every third Tuesday of every 2nd month” ask for a referral to a less busy trainer. When I had 5 clients and only 5 clients I absolutely must admit I spent more time and energy on those 5 clients. I’d go WAY out of my way and beyond my pay grade to make them happy. These days I do my best to be the best trainer I know in the area, provide service still beyond my pay grade and ask that if for any reason you feel lacking/wanting in the client-trainer relationship you simply dictate to me what your needs further require. Don’t be offended however, that I may simply not have the time and we need to recognize that you may be better off working with a less busy trainer at this point in time. Food for thought.

So…now that’s out-of-the-way, let’s talk about what actually goes down in a consultation or rather, what information I (the trainer) needs to collect from you (the potential client).

1) Your history. Exercise, health, sport and any other information that may hinder or speed up the results you may have. It’s not a surprise when a 30 something year old guy freely admits he’s on a cycle or has done as cycle of vitamin GH and vitamin T. I don’t judge, but it is very helpful to know. FYI, in my opinion it’s your friggin body, put in it what you wish but be smart enough to advise your trainer when you’re “on” something.

2) Your injury history. Do you have any nagging injuries that we need to be mindful of, refer out (physio, chiro, massage, etc) to, or concerns you have such as you think you have a weak lower back and your job requires you to use it quite a bit so you want to be careful there.

3) Your availability. Pretty simple. Optimally, a newb needs to train 2-4 times a week. There is some stat out there that people achieve 50% more results when they switch from training 3x/week to 4x/week. Maybe that means I see you twice a week and the other two you’re simply following a program I’ve laid out for you to complete on your own.

4) Your goals, deadlines, timeframes, etc. Always work backwards for everything you want in your life. The “one day I wanna have a six-pack” is about as specific as “one day I’d really like to be a millionaire.” If you have a goal to lose 50lbs in 6 months, math would tell me you need to lose ~12lbs a month which is about 3.75lbs/week which any good trainer will tell you that’s not the normal rate of change (unless you’re quite overweight). Maybe you need to adjust your goals vs timeframes.

5) Map out a strategy. I’m a big “mind stew” person. I like to have a conversation (even if it seems I wasn’t fully paying attention to you; trust me I heard you and it’s my way of processing) then let both myself and the potential client sit on it for a couple of days. The sheer amount of realism that gets presented and brought to your goals via the consultation can really smack a client right between the eyes. Wow, I’m really doing this. Or wow, I didn’t think so much went into it. Or wow, I’m maybe not ready for this level of commitment yet. There are lots of things that happen after conversations such as these. Give it time before making a decision. I rarely book a client or sell them sessions immediately after the consultation (unless they just look so damned excited they wanna hug me till I pop like a balloon). I like them to go home and get back to me when they’ve had a chance to mind-stew over it. If I don’t hear back from them in two days then I follow-up and ask if there’s anything I can do to help get them going on their goals.

Some trainers I know prefer to have a client fill out a 20 question document, some have a process that’s definitively laid out from first call to consult to assessment (if any) to first training session. Personally speaking, I prefer the in-person sit down, 45-90 minute conversation in front of my white board, at the gym (the exact space you’ll be training in so you get a feel for it and me) because it’s worked for ME so well  and I get a lot of feedback on it being incredibly helpful to that person, even if it doesn’t lead to the sale and beginning of a client-trainer relationship.

Are you still feeling lost as to what a consultation means, well, today I decided to film a unique one where I will be teaming up with Will Turner over at NoPainNoGain.ca for a “quarter life crisis” project he’s titled: The Good to Great Project. Essentially he turns 30 in 6 months, gets married in 7 and wants to be in the best shape he’s ever been in but is also in it for the experience and will be blogging (and writing in his associated newspaper: F.I.L.E.S. each month) for all to benefit from.

I apologize up front for the crappy sound of this 45 minute video, both Will and I are soft-spoken and the gym was somewhat busy and noisy around us. With the volume up a bit I’m hoping you’ll take away what my consultations look like (how casual yet informative they can be) and learn how to map out your goals in greater detail.

There is a TON of great info we talk about in this consultation and lots of take away tips.  View that video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgpFU-rGJxA

Again, go check out Will Turner’s: The Good to Great Project over at NoPainNoGain.ca and watch for more information here as well.

Any questions…feel free to post in comments below

The Brain Candy Experiment – Part 3/3 (Original/Caffeinated Version Wrap Up)

View Part 1 (the intro to the project) and Part 2 (the full review of a month’s worth of Adrian vs Brain Candy {the original, caffeinated version}) to better understand what I’m talking about below.

A story:

The very first nootropic I really ventured to try was actually ginkgo biloba.

It was over 10 years ago. I took the suggested 60mg x 2-3x/day for a month and by the end I was proclaiming “Bah, it’s crap; doesn’t work worth a damn.”

But then I went “off” of it.

About two-week post ginkgo supplementation I started feeling slow. Words didn’t connect together as easily. I chalked it up to being tired. Quite simply, I felt DUMB! Was I always this dull, slow and lacking in cognitive function? In all reality when you use a nootropic to truly understand it’s power and effectiveness you need to give it an earnest go (about 30 days) and then go off of it for a good 2-4 weeks. So I went back on ginkgo to see what happened.

Well, within 2 weeks I was feeling the mind clicking again. I wasn’t fumbling for words. I could concentrate on school. I love ginkgo; think it works well (watch out for blood thinning effects!). It’s been my go-to for years when I have periods of time where increased neural function is required.

Next came a novel supplement called phosphatidylserine (PS). It was touted as being a great post-exercise cortisol reducer (which used long-term would equate to greater muscle gains). Main problem was it was WAY too expensive (we’re talking $5 a workout) as it required 4000mg of phosphatidylserine complex to yield 800mg active PS. As a side effect I noticed that it made me genius like just as ginkgo did. I looked into it further and it turns out PS helps protect the brain. They use it on old people with memory issues. The cool thing was that for neural effects you only need 100-200mg a day (a much more affordable option). I will as I age begin taking PS as a way to protect my brain from the effects of aging. But at my age (33) I’m more inclined to spend my money on nootropics aimed at optimizing and increasing my brain power.

Next came a fantastic product called Cerebro (this was before the X-Men movies BTW) by Syntrax.

Cerebro had a pretty powerful blend of bacopa monniera, huperzia serrata, rhodiola rosea (with a 10% rosavin content; unheard of at the time and still unmatched except for Biotest’s version), and vinocetine. While it worked extremely well and was well priced it didn’t sell well as Syntrax tends to suck at marketing anything other than their Nectar proteins, so it was taken off the market. Later on I would learn it’s also not good to use rhodiola rosea (an adaptagen sorta like ginseng) continuously.

Next came Biotest’s Power Drive.

I love Power Drive. Everything from the taste, to it’s powerful effects (most especially in bringing my brain back from the dead post workout) and I’ve suggested it to every student I know as a stimulant free way to increase the effectiveness of your studies. I still keep a small stock around. But it’s also been on the market probably 5+ years now. We had to have come up with something with a little more horsepower by now…

Enter Biotest’s Brain Candy! I’ve already covered the pros, cons and all the details in Part 2 of this series. But I left y’all hanging with a close out of my final opinion of the original, caffeinated version.

Brain Candy works. At least 5-10x better than ginkgo. At least 5-10x better than phosphatidylserine and at least twice as good at Cerebro ever did. I’m not so sure I can compare it to Power Drive as they really seem to work well in their respective categories, Brain Candy for true cognitive function increases and Power Drive for performance/CNS & neurotransmitter recovery in hard training. I do not like Brain Candy for workout performance. It can work but it’s just not ideal. Power Drive wins hands down here.

Now that I’ve been off Brain Candy for a good month or more when I fumble for words or just don’t sound as clear and confident as I did not so long ago I get teased by clients “Clearly, you’re off the Brain Candy.” “You were better on that stuff.” These are just a couple of the comments I get. Let’s just be clear that’s pretty much the equivalent of your wife saying: “you know honey, you were just better on Viagra.” Ugh.

MY problem is that I can’t hack the 300mg of caffiene that the original Brain Candy version (and only current publicly available version as of this date) as it absolutely destroys my adrenal/energy system. Plus I want to be able to use what caffeine I can tolerate as I see fit (pre-workout mostly).

Apparently there are a few people who agree with me. Part 1 and Part 2 have stacked close to 2000 views, mostly search engine (Google, etc) driven. Or others just want to be able to have their coffee in the morning and not risk tanked adrenals with use of the product.

Anyway, the point is, I have never been as productive, clear, stress-free (read: able to handle near everything) and at home within my own brain as I was when I tried the 30 days of Brain Candy. I then did a wash out of a month without. Then bought one more case to try 15 days to see if truly, like my original ginkgo experience that it was the Brain Candy and not some made up effect (placebo).

Now if only Biotest would stop with the tease and release the caffeine-free version already!

Pretty please with a cherry on top???

WHY you might ask (as I completely realize I just sound like a nootropic addict at this point)….

Because I have big dreams, insane amounts of ideas and quite simply my day burns me out to the point when I get home and I have time to work on the business of business or life planning…my brain has fizzled by that point.  I want the horsepower to boost me to new heights. That to-do list is exponentially growing with so little of it being tended to.

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com