Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

What Would YOU Do with $86,400.00?

This time of the year we're all running short on time, sleep, and important stuff sometimes gets put onto the back burner as we rush around fixin' to get ready for Sunday (or whatever day(s) you celebrate your holidays).

Here's something to think about ...

... Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest: Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your personal account for your use.

However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be: Everything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you.

You may not simply transfer money into some other account. You can only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules: The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, "the game is over!"  It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted right?  Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?  Maybe even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spend it all on yourself, right?  You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?


Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank.  We just can't seem to see it.


Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we didn't do that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time.... WITHOUT WARNING.

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?

We talked about "putting the big rocks into your jar first" way back in week one of camp.  

And I think this time of year, when we really feel "short" on time, that concept is MORE important than ever.

Getting to your workouts FIRST THING before your day starts.  That's critical.  Doing so gives you more energy to tackle the day.  And, it guarantees that nothing will sidetrack you when you wait to work out after work.  That typically doesn't work so well. 

Other big rocks, especially this time of the year, include taking care of YOU!  Plan a tiny bit of downtime into your day to allow you to catch your breath, recharge mentally, and give you the energy to keep on keeping on during the holiday crazies. 

Big rocks that are also good ideas include connecting with the most important people in your life.  Planning your day before it starts (before you jump onto eamil and you're sucked into the great abyss) so you're more productive/effective, reading and writing your goals so you stay on track, and preparing your meals for the week (at least one day during the week) to ensure quality nutrition.

My guess is ... you're already doing some of these ... or you have done these at some point.  Just make sure the holidays don't derail your awesome momentum and progress.

Because our seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars.

Keep track of how you're spending your 86,400 seconds each day ... and make sure that spending is working for YOU!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Here we go ...

Brace yourself, I'm about to rant.

Close this page if you're not in the mood ... but know that I share this to enlighten you, or really to protect you from the goofballs out there.

There are some silly crazy things offered as "fitness" in the industry that we love. 

Recently a long time mentor, Juan Carlos ("JC") Santana, share a video with me which, if I didn't come to expect this level of stupidity, would have made me insanely mad.

Here's the video: .  You really don't even need to watch past the first 15 seconds to get the picture of horrible trainer ideas.  Words like "appalling" just aren't strong enough.

I wish this was an isolated incidence of crappy training.  

Unfortunately it's becoming more and more acceptable. 

By and large, trainers are uneducated and inexperienced in the areas that should have minimum industry knowledge & practice standards in order to help clients. 

Far too many trainers share information and develop workouts that are silly at best, crazy and potentially life-threatening at worst.

And recently my frustration hit an all-time high.

First, I got a call from a 23 year former soccer player after she "blew out her knee". 

She thought the knee injury was due to running 8 miles.  But this is a woman who runs half marathons, has been in Adventure Boot Camp for Women for a while, and is young and very fit.

Turns out she joined a CrossFit program when she moved away for grad school.

It should be noted that I have no qualms in general with the CrossFit concept.  Work hard.  Perform challenging compound and complex movements and metabolic circuits to maximize the workout hour.

That's what we do in Adventure Boot Camp.

However, with a growing cult-like following, it seems like some of the CrossFit instructors follow the philosophy that harder is ALWAYS better.

On day one, here's what our 23 year old friend was told to do (keeping in mind, there was no progressive warm up):

50 reps of the following (with the goal to "use as much weight as possible and go as FAST as you can" per the trainers) - kettlebell swings, burpees, roman chair, squat w/ overhead med ball throw, squat with overhead barbell press, walking lunges, superman's, pull ups, box jumps, jump rope (either 50 doubles or 150 singles) 

It was called "The Filthy Fifty".

Well, that sure was filthy, so much so our young athlete blew out her knee the next day running.  Too much stress on the connective tissue and structures created a ripe environment for a knee injury.

And instead of thinking the workout was the villain, she blamed the blow out on running.  Something she's been doing since age 6 with relative ease.

Hard, gut wrenching exercise is DUMB if the ONLY reason it's being done is because it's hard and gut wrenching. 

Education and experience are required to develop a discerning eye for proper progression, modifications, and a clear understanding that a template workout (AKA: the WOD, or workout of the day) does not fit all.  Unfortunately, our friend was continually implored to "use more weight" when she was already overwhelmed by the workout.

And unfortunately, this is just another example in a long history of bad trainer ideas.

Here's the problem ... and this IS the problem.

It is WAY too easy to become a trainer.  People do not need any formal education or training.  And MOST states do not even require certification.  And even IF someone has a certification, 98% of those are laughable (or can be obtained in an 8 hour home study course).

You surely wouldn't turn your taxes over to someone that didn't go to college but rather got a "certification" in an 8-hour tax course. 

You wouldn't want a surgeon operating on you after a weekend crash study program on open heart surgery.

So why should we trust the one thing most precious to us, our health, our fitness, and our ability to function effectively, to someone without the skills and knowledge to help us get better?

Shortcuts don't work.  They never have.  The industry needs higher standards.  Right now there are no standards.  And to me, that's SCARY!

Many of you have been a part of Adventure Boot Camp for a long time.  Some are here for 4 weeks.  Regardless, we appreciate you very much, and take your health and fitness very seriously.  For those in camp for only one session, choose your future fitness professional wisely.  Choose one that doesn't buy into the "something for nothing" philosophy. 

Rant over.  I just had to get that off my chest and let you know that YOU deserve a professional fitness experience.  Not craziness. 

Have a GREAT Tuesday ... and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Salad Starter

I'll use 5 matching sized Rubbermaid containers to make lunch sized salads for the week.  Note: this is an important piece, especially if your storage container cabinet looks anything like mine - mismatched sizes, non-matching lids, and a *very* likely chance that 30 of them will spill onto the floor anytime you open the door.

So I've made my "starter" containers a priority by purchasing ones that are the perfect size, and I use them only for salads.

On Sundays I'll take 15 minutes and prep 5 salad starters. 

STEP 1. A starter consists of a base of spinach or spring mix (but really any dark greens you like will work), chopped veggies that will keep such as carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, etc.  Add the greens and preferred veggies to individual containers.  Put the lids on and stack in the refrigerator ready to go.  

Note: Avoid cucumbers which could get slimy, and tomatoes which shouldn't be refrigerated.  If you want to add tomatoes to your salad consider buying grape tomatoes which you can just grab and throw on top and do it in STEP 2.

STEP 2: Mix and Match Salads ready in less than 2 minutes.  Do this step in the morning each day.

Take 1 Salad Starter and add the following:
·  Lean protein: Pick 1.  1/2 cup beans (any kind), 4 oz Grilled Chicken or any Grilled Fish, Canned Tuna, Canned Salmon, 1 Veggie Burger (cooked and chopped)
·  Interesting toppings of your choice: Pick no more than 2. - 1 oz cheese such as Crumbled Feta or Blue cheese, 1/2 oz raw nuts, 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 1/2 piece of fresh fruit (sliced or chopped), 1/4 sliced avocado.
·  2 Tbsp Salad Dressing of your choice.

Put the lid on the container and you're out the door.  Or if you don't want to add the salad dressing to the salad until you're ready to eat, pick up small Rubbermaid containers that you can use to hold the perfect portion of dressing.  

Why this works:

1.  The base of the salad and the time consuming chopping is already done.

2.  The starter allows for creativity and variation depending on your mood.  Want Feta cheese and sliced almonds one day but Blue Cheese and sliced pear the next?  Mix it up!  Now no more complaints of eating the same thing day in and out.

3.  And the starter will come in handy at other times as well.  If you happen to have lunch plans on a particular day, use the starter as a side salad for dinner.  It leaves NO EXCUSES!  

Brian Calkins

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cause and Effect

Recently I was doing a lot of thinking ... about my life.  The good, and the bad stuff in my 40-some odd years.

And when I look at all of the problems I've experience throughout life, the root of those problems has almost always been the need for instant gratification.

I was expecting to see instantaneous results, and it didn't happen, so I'd get discouraged and give up on something.

From age 5 through my 20's I attempted to master the piano on 7 or 8 separate occasions.  I'd love to be able to play, but I'm horrible (aside from an elementary version of "When the Saints Come Marching In" and a couple of pop songs that I figured out).

And after 6 months of running, I expected I would finish a half marathon in 2 hours or less.  Ha ha!

I also expected I would lose 10 pounds of body fat (most of which I gained during my wife's pregnancy) after only 2 months of running.  I know, nothing like ME taking responsibility for me, huh?!

When you stop to think about it, the world is not designed to give us instantaneous feedback - either good or bad.

·         You don't get lung cancer after just one puff.

·         You don't gain 30 pounds after eating just one donut, or even one donut a day for 3 weeks.

·         You don't get into financial trouble with one month of excessiveness.   

·         And don't create a lousy relationship in just a week.

So it is irrational to believe that we will unwind these problems in a matter of a few days.

The results we have in our life so far, both the good results and the ones we'd like to see changed, happened as a result of continuous, daily actions.   None of us went out and created the problems we now have overnight.  And, we will not solve these problems over night, either.

Ordinary things, consistently done, produce extraordinary results!

Remember, Cause and Effect?

Whenever the cause is missing, so is the effect.  So, whatever it is you want in your life, check to see if the Cause is in place to produce the desired Effect.  If it is, then it is just a matter of time and consistent, daily activity until you see the Effects in your life.  And remember, Cause and Effect are not closely linked by time.

A VERY big reason people struggle with achieving their goals is we all tend to fall in love with the Effect and not the Cause.

Everyone I know would love to be financially abundant and thin and in a wonderful relationship.  Those are all Effects - and they are easy to fall in love with.

But the secret is to fall in love with the Cause.  

I don't know one successful person who gets up in the morning and does what they hate.  Rather, every successful person I know is doing what they love.  They may not have started out loving it, and maybe every single little thing about what they're doing is not their most favorite thing in the world, but big picture, they love what they're doing.

Successful people tend to fall in love with pleasing results, while unsuccessful people tend to fall in love with pleasing methods.  When we don't fall in love with the Cause, we will wake up every morning dreading doing the things that will result in the Effects we desire, and I don't know anyone who can sustain themselves doing what they hate for more than a couple of weeks.  

And when you do fall in love with the Causes that will produce the Effects you want, you will achieve your goals much faster because we all perform better when we enjoy what we´re doing.

Every Saturday morning, around 5:30am, I see a bunch of very fit people running up and down Erie Avenue next to our studio.  These are people who don't need to be out there running 2 hours before the sun comes up.  Yet, they're out there because they've fallen in love with running.

Now, the first time they went out for a run, do you think they said, "ah, this AWESOME, I absolutely LOVE running!"? 

On day two they woke up sore as you know what!  And when they went out a second time it was excruciating.  Their body's screamed, "go back to bed you fool!"   

Nobody loves running the first time they do it.  No one was ever born and in their DNA was a passion for running.  Everyone hates it at first.

But 30 or 45 days in ... they started to enjoy it.  And eventually, they fell in love with running.  Their entire identity is now associated with running.  And THAT'S why they are out there at 5:30 am most mornings of the week.  They are in love with the Cause ... and now have all the Effects of being fit, health, thin and in fantastic shape.

Re-look at your goals from the viewpoint of Cause and Effect.  Are you slowing down because you are not seeing instantaneous results?  Are you waking up in the morning dreading doing the things that will produce the results you want? If so, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I believe I can make this goal come true?
  2. Do I believe it is worth the effort?
  3. How can I enjoy the things I will have to do today in order to move closer to my goal?
  4. How would the person I want to be do the thing I am about to do?

I love what General MacArthur said: "Age wrinkles your skin. Quitting wrinkles your soul!"

A commitment you make to yourself should be no less sacred than a commitment you make to others!

Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this message, it's a critical one IMO, and you're the kind of person who is committed to taking your life to the next level!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins


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Monday, April 18, 2011

"The Essentials" of Fitness Success (part III) ...

Last week we talked about creating a level of motivation that'll carry you toward fitness success. 

I gave you an audio and step by step nutrition guide so you can take all the guesswork out of what and how to eat for optimal results.

We also talked about the MOST effective way to maximize your workouts.  Seated isolation movements are a thing of the past.  Compound movements with multiple exercises put together in a metabolic circuit is optimal for burning calories, losing fat, and developing a lean, healthy body.  

And today, I want to talk about accountability, and give you another GREAT resource. 

In terms of accountability, or the critical key to the follow through, think about the MOST successful people you know.   

For me I think of people like Lance Armstrong, Joey Votto, Bill Gates, Oprah ... Olympians, US Presidents, etc.  
The one thing they all have in common is that they surround themselves with a GREAT team and great coaches. 

For example, Lance Armstrong has countless assistants - trainers, massage therapists, dieticians, chiropractors, etc.  

Every CEO has a board of directors that she is accountable to.  The President has his cabinet, as well as numerous other advisers and consultants (or coaches).

One big reason people have difficulty accomplishing their goals is they try to do all the work on their own.  In other words, they try to do everything in a vacuum, all by themselves, and without outside assistance.

Remember this: We do not get any extra points for doing life all by ourselves!  In fact, studies show you are far less likely to accomplish what you really want in life by going it alone. 

There's synergy in a group, 1 + 1 = WAY more than 2, and they have exponential power, and substantially higher energy.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is synergy.

How can you apply this to your life?  To your health and fitness?

Surround yourself with the right people.  Positive people that support you, your goals, dreams, desires, and help you get results.  In the health and fitness area of your life, you want to be around those that exercise consistently, and make quality food choices.  

We become like those that we're surrounded by. 

Put yourself in fitness programs or environments that support and foster YOUR growth and YOUR success.   

Find coaches that can see the things that you cannot (we all have blind spots, even Lance Armstrong and Oprah), and then support you in making positive change.  One of the greatest coaches of all time (John Wooden) said, "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

With the right team, and the accountability factor in place, you're WAY ahead of the masses attempting to "go it alone".  

Then add in the progressively challenging workouts, follow the 90/10 nutrition principal, and renew your motivation (your WHY) for your fitness daily ... and success will be YOURS!

Resources for you:

Here's the nutrition audio and recipe guide with your step by step calorie needs (including the 90/10 principal).
Here's the sample workout.

Here's a Grocery Shopping Tour video to help you navigate through the maze of madness (the junk) and find the foods that will support your goals.  There are 3 videos, totally about 20 minutes. 

Have a Terrific Monday!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins 
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"The Essentials" of Fitness Success (part II) ...

... Last year I wrote about a horrific experience I had. 

I described it like a bad movie playing over and over in my head.  

I shared my experience of going to a fitness center to run on their track (It was 98 degrees outside and I had to get my 7 mile run in, preferably without heat exhaustion.  :)

I spent an hour on their track, circling above the workout area below, watching WELL MEANING people do HIGHLY ineffective exercise.  

The thing that was upsetting to me was this ... there were gym trainers all around, and at least 2 gym managers (that I could see) that didn't seem to care that THEIR customers were exercising in a manner that produced results or not.

Members were doing a seated exercise, then resting, doing it again, resting again ... and that very dated protocol simply doesn't deliver a leaner, toner, healthier, highly functioning body. 

The truth is that working all day (professionally) in a seated position results in short/tight hip flexors, short/tight pectoral muscles, and short/tight biceps, due to the posture adopted while seated.   Which is the NUMBER 1 reason why Americans suffer from so much neck and back pain.

And our gym workouts often magnify the problem with so many seated machines that isolate a SINGLE MUSCLE around a single joint (very ineffective exercise). 

And even IF we had the right workout program, if that program hasn't been changed SIGNIFICANTLY in the past 4 weeks, the body is NO LONGER improving.  

Effective workouts should be done in 60 minutes or less.  They should be metabolic in nature (meaning using A LOT of calories and working A LOT of muscles).

They should combine multiple complex movements that use as many of your muscles as possible, while cranking up your heart rate AT THE SAME TIME.  

The take-home message?  We've got to continually mix up our workouts in order to get results. 
Metabolic circuits beat out the machines hands down, it's not even a close competition.

And that goes for the treadmill and elliptical machines too!

There's nothing wrong with treadmill running, especially if you're training for a race and the weather outside is bad.  And an elliptical is GREAT if you're having knee, hip or low back issues and need to reduced the impact of training. 

But all things considered, you burn WAY more calories and you develop SUBSTANTIALY leaner, firmer, toner, and better looking muscles with metabolic circuits.  

So remember, you've got to challenge your body in a fresh NEW way each time you workout.  

And you've got find something (even something small) to ENJOY about your workouts so that you can STICK to a routine that delivers the changes you're looking for.

I hope that makes sense ... if you need more information on any of this, just hit reply and I'll follow up with you.
Here's a workout from a few years back that you can do to mix things up a bit:

Have an AWESOME day!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins 
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

"The Essentials" of Fitness Success (part I) ...

Last night I was at Kids First Sports Center for a couple of hours.  Kayla (my 4 year old) does swimming and Tumble Bees there.

I'm a huge fan of Kids First.  Kids are having fun, smiling, and burning up their energy with GREAT coaches.  Moms are watching the kids and chatting with each other.  The conversations are entertaining.

And since we have a boot camp at Kids First, sometimes I run into campers.

I want to share a conversation I had last night as the first in a series of 3 emails that will give you ALL that you need to substantially IMPROVE your health and fitness. 

Here's the conversation:

Lady: You're the boot camp guy, right?

Me: [Smile, Laugh], Yeah. 

Lady:  That's what my friend told me.  I just signed up for boot camp begins April 25th. 

Me: Very cool!  I'm excited you'll be joining us ... you're going to have a lot of fun!  What made you decide to sign up for camp?

Lady: I need to lose 20 pounds.

Me: Why is that important to you?

Lady: Because I've been busy raising my kids and I just don't like how I feel.

Me: Good for you.  One of the cool things about camp is that you get your workout out of the way before the kids need you.  Why else do you want to lose 20 pounds?

Lady:  Well, I don't have much energy, and I know when I exercise at least 4 times a week, I'm a whole different person. 

Me:  Excellent!  So you're a better YOU, and thus a better mom?

Lady: Yes!  I feel good about myself after exercising, and it helps me eat better all day long. 

Me:  Perfect.  More energy, more mental and emotional clarity, better mood and self esteem.  GREAT reasons to work out consistently.  Any other reasons why you joined camp, and want to lose 20 pounds?

Lady: Yeah, my clothes don't fit anymore!  [Laughs].  

Me:  Do you have a favorite pair of jeans or an outfit that you want to get back into?

Lady: Half of my closest doesn't fit anymore.    

Me:  Okay, let's pick one outfit to use as a gauge.  I want you to hold off until Friday after week 2 of camp, but then you should try it on to see how it fits.  Then once a week keep trying it on.  I'm going to send you an audio that I want you to listen to about what and how to eat.  Then of course, show up each morning and work at your own personal best.  Okay?

Lady: I can do that!  [Smile]

Me:  Also, I'm going to send you a summary of this conversation tomorrow.  I want you to keep it with you every day you're in camp.  Promise me you'll look at it every morning when you wake up, once again before camp starts at 5:30, once on your way home from camp, and one more time during the day.  Deal?

Lady: Yes, deal.  [Inquisitive look]

Me:  You're gonna do AWESOME over these 4 weeks.  I can't wait to hear about how your outfit looks on May 20th. [Smile]

Here's the summary that I sent the lady this morning:

Why I joined Adventure Boot Camp to Lose 20 Pounds:
  • Because I have a standard of how I look and feel.  Over the past few years I haven't been optimally living that standard.  Every day that I exercise and/or eat healthy foods I live according to my standard of looking and feeling good.
  • I am a role model for my 3 kids.  They follow my actions way more than my words.  They see what I eat and how active I am, and emulate my behaviors.  Mom is the most influential person in her children's lives. 
  • Because I feel good mentally, emotionally, physically after working out. And I feel good about me!
  • I am going to look GORGEOUS in my favorite outfit that I haven't worn in over 2 years!


My guess is this lady probably has several more reasons why she wants to lose 20 pounds.  The reasons either haven't occurred to her yet ... or she simply didn't feel comfortable sharing them with a guy that she just met.

Her success rate, as well as yours, will continue to grow as she "stacks" her reasons.  Her reasons will "pull her through" when challenges pop up (and they always do). 

Other possible reasons for her, and others, include:
  • Being more productive professionally.
  • Being more productive as a mom.
  • Making her husband's head turn (or boyfriend, or guy you're interested in).  Hey, I'm just relaying what others have shared with me over the years!  It's a big deal!  :)
  • Being the best YOU that you can be.
  • I'm getting married in XXX months and want to look smashing for the wedding (enough said)!
  • Living longer, and experiencing better quality years.  Being in tip top shape when my kids have kids. 
  • NOT being a burden on my children in my senior years.
  • On my bucket list is to run a half marathon, full marathon, climb Mt. Whatever, travel the world [insert a bucket list item here which will require you to be optimally fit and healthy]
What are YOUR reasons?  I would love to add to this list (anonymously, I'll never share your name)!  

Make your own 3x5 card with STRONG, POWERFUL, EMOTIONALLY COMPELLING reasons.  Keep it with you at all times, and look at it AT LEAST two times every day to "propel you" towards your own health and fitness success!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins


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