Time Has Come Today

It’s 2am and you’re are sitting in front of the boob-TV, suckling the latest information about how to transform your body in as little as 5 minutes a day. Oh so tempting to pull that credit card out and make the purchase in the hopes of the All-American quick fix to six-pack abs. I’m telling you now, there is a better way.

The Time is Now!

One of the biggest “reasons” I hear for not getting into better shape is, “I don’t have the time” OR “that’s too difficult ” OR ” I could never do that!”
It’s really the first one that gets under my skin the most. There are 24 hours in the day, right? You really don’t have 15 minutes to get your heart pumping?! Did you know that your heart secretes ANP thus dropping blood pressure and calming your nervous system? I can’t think of a better antidote to combat the daily stresses that we all face.

WHY?! There are so many distractions in this modern world we live in. People are constantly being inundated with messages from the mass media via TeeVee, the interwebs & all the other screens and billboards we see everyday. All these distractions sap our time and create the illusion that we don’t have any time. Very few people are tapping into their own minds as a source of creativity and power because we just don’t give it a chance. In many cases, it’s just a matter of writing it down or putting together a program on paper. Try the following over the next month and tell me if your life improves.

1) Get 8 hours of sleep – Easier said than done, but getting the rest will provide the energy you need to get through the next day with a positive attitude.
2) Keep a journal close at hand to write down ideas that come to mind. This includes the foods you are eating and the exercises you completed.
3) Find a quiet place and meditate for 15-30min
4) Drink a tall glass of warm/hot water first thing in the morning – your body has gone 8+ hours without, so drink!
5) Complete the 5 Tibetan Rites – This is my go-to warm-up these days. Start slow. You may not be able to complete the entire 21 reps per exercise right away. Just do the best you can and make notes in your journal as to the number of reps you completed. You will get better with practice!

5 Tibetan Rites

6) Complete your main training session for the day – go for a run, swing kettlebells, bike, deadlift..whatever floats your boat. Now, I’m an early-bird, so the sooner my routine is complete, the better I feel. You know your biorhythms better than I!
7) Introduce one new vegetable a week into your life – for me, kale is my latest rage.

At night..read a book, write or do something that stimulates the mind! Now looking at Frank Zappa in this next clip, you may want to consider picking-up an electric guitar, perhaps some improv, or maybe even the glockenspiel…but don’t succumb to the slime coming out of your TV set! Turn that TV off! Take it away Don Pardo!

You will now have the energy required to have a very positive day. Don’t forget the biggest muscles you should be exercising throughout the day is your smile. Try an authentic smile for strangers throughout the day. Time Has Come Today!

A Close Shave in the Windy City (RKC Chicago 9/11)

Epic Chicago Skyline

Ah yes, The Windy City, City of Broad Shoulders, Paris of the Prairie, The 312, Chi-town. For any kid growing up in the Midwest, it’s a beacon that calls out that there is a bigger world out there. I originally signed-up for the RKC in St. Paul, April 2011, but I was nowhere near ready to participate when the time came. Maybe subconsciously I knew that I wanted to play the Chicago card. Five years of my life had been spent in this awesome city. I graduated from college here (Loyola) and first laid eyes on my future wife on the corner of Grand & State Street.  So I postponed until the next available opportunity, Chicago. My good friend, Aaron Fletcher, a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and former Navy EOD ninja, hit me with a Napolean Hill quote, “a goal is a dream with a deadline.” It hit me like a ton of bricks..it was now or never.

Where to turn? Yes, Dragondoor.com to find a local instructor that would get me on the right path. Cecilia Tom’s profile appeared. She had great experience and some great testimonials so I scheduled a handful of sessions with her. It didn’t hurt that her last name was Tom. That is where the first quantum leap in my kettlebell practice occurred. There was also the issue of implementing a program that would allow me to make significant gains in a short period of time without injuring myself. I implemented a workout plan from mbodystrength.com that called for heavy swings, squats, cleans, presses and my personal favorite, sprinting.

Everything felt so right boarding my VirginAmerica flight from SFO – ORD. I ended up in the same row as Dragon Door TV videographer Spencer O’Hara. That was good omen #1. The DragonDoor forum helped me land a room-mate, a blues guitarist/financial planner from Cocoa Beach, FL by the name of Matthew Sams. Matt wasn’t on my RKC team, but was a friendly familiar face throughtout the weekend. He provided ample support, encouragement and multiple doses of Cornhuskers lotion.

The key moments that will stick with me forever:

Dr. Mark "TGU" Cheng

1) Asking Dr. Mark Cheng for help with the hip bridge on the Turkish Get-up. Not only did I get the help that was requested, but it was demonstrated in front of 140 comrades. He really locked me in on all facets of the movement. The lesson? Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help!

36kg - 80lbs for the PR!

2) Personal Record in the military press (36kg) – it took three attempts, but perseverance and great coaching from Ken Froese and Kelli O’Neil helped me succeed.

3) Snatch test -I had only attempted the snatch test two or three times prior to Chicago..never attaining the elusive 100 reps. Nine days prior to the test I completed 82 reps with a 25kg kettlebell. A fellow RKC, Ari Harris, said in so many words that I was in deep s$%t. Once again, nothing like a dose of reality from another human being to light a fire under my a^$. Two days later I increased the rep count to 92 in 4:50 & that’s how I rolled into the Windy City. I had 10 seconds, about three less pounds and the knowledge that I would be getting my kettlebell technique refined the first two days, working in my favor. There was very little sleep the night before. There was way too much adrenaline flowing through my body. I was the first person to enter the ODEUM Complex that day. I meditated, stretched, paced back & forth like Foley’s are known to do, and prayed. Most importantly, I kept ALL negative thoughts at bay and only concentrated on the positive. The result, 100 reps in 4:55!

The Gift from Comrade Patrick McNally - Go Irish!

4) Being sent a  Merkur Heavy Duty Classic razor in the mail, from my RKC partner for the weekend – Patrick McNally. I will forevermore remember these awesome events with every shave that I complete. A very thoughtful gift from my fellow Irishman!

A weekend of kettlebell magic, and delicious steaks, ended in those three letters..RKC. Two years of training culminated in the transformation of a ‘paunchy’ sales guy to a respectably fit 40-something. It was one of the most gratifying accomplishments of my life.



The Winter of My Content

..and how could it not be? 74 degrees in early January! The temperatures never really vary that much in the Bay area and that’s why I like it here. Cool Mediterranean is the perfect climate for swinging kettlebells, and in my opinion, outdoors has always got to be the first choice whenever training. Fresh air and Vitamin D are part of the fitness package in the 510. Throw in a Redwood or Oak tree, a body of water (Lake Merritt, SF Bay, Pacific Ocean, Russian River) and you’ve got a recipe for sanity in this all too connected world.

I’m grateful to have experienced much harsher climates in my life.

I was born in a land of “the frozen tundra,” where an NFL Championship game, forever known as the “Ice Bowl,” was played. I always remember January being an especially rough month..day after day of sub-zero temps. Throwing blankets on car engines to keep them “warm.” There wasn’t anything like computers, cable TV, Smart phones, etc to slow us down. We took advantage of the environment by playing football in the snow, X-country skiing, ice skating, tobogganing and a “pure” form of skitching — grabbing a bumper and riding on one’s heels down snow-filled streets.

Rocky & Butkus

Those memories are firmly etched in my soul, but there will be no going “home,” or Back East as my native Californian friends like to say. The Bays (both Monterey & SF) have been my friend for 18 years and for me it’s where my heart will always be. Snow is just a three hour drive away..and that’s the way I like it!

The Metamorphosis of a Salesman

Strongman ornaments on Christmas Day- Marina Green, SF

My metamorphosis from a corporate salesman to a personal trainer takes another big leap forward in 2012. It’s funny how life events can come full circle. It was 25 years ago when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had switched majors for the second time and found myself taking classes in nutrition..& human anatomy. Learning the ins and outs of the human body, while studying cadavers, was a memory that I will never forget. I was yet too wild in my youth to fully pursue this interest of mine. I fell back to what every Foley knows how to do..sell anything. Yes, my life turned into a scene straight out of Glenngarry GlenRoss – Pardon the “french” in this video, but it’s proven fact that salespeople who curse a lot tend to have higher sales numbers 😉

Fast forward 22 years. The kettlebell is introduced to me by a good friend, Aaron Fletcher, a purple belt jiu jitsu & former US Navy EOD ninja. We were at Berkeley Ironworks. There was a 50lbs kettlebell sitting alone in the corner of the gym. I went straight for it and haven’t stopped swinging since. Two years past that time I completed the Russian Kettlebell Challenge in Sept. ’11. The physical accomplishment of becoming an RKC was very satisfying. The new friendships & opportunities formed have been immeasurable.

So what now? The next three months I’ll be focused on expanding my knowledge of that which I started 25 years ago. I’ll be learning methods to help athlete’s perform better and gain strength to allow them to excel at their individual sports. Z-Health’s Essential’s of Elite Performance and Pavel and Dan John’s Easy Strength workshop in Reno, NV are the next steps that lay ahead. My path to deepen my knowledge, build my strength community, and forge new friendships will move forward with reckless abandon! Power to you in 2012!

Festivus For the Rest of Us

December 23rd took hold of me this year like never before. That’s right, Festivus! I know, you are thinking that it was just another silly Seinfeld episode, but to me it was much more. The fact that this was a holiday that began in my birth year – 1966 – further signified that this was a special day. The Solstice had just passed and now was the time for personal renewal and FEATS OF STRENGTH!

Fitting right into the plan was the December All-ups Challenge. Most of the folks participating are newly minted RKC’s, and RKC’s-to-be. We are on a quest to greatly improve our chin-up and pull-up capacity. One way that I found to make great gains in this area was to practice more bottoms-up pressing (see photo below). This is a kettlebell movement which I never paid much attention to until recently. Better late than never because it has become a personal favorite and one that I do in my cubicle everyday at work!

I concluded that for me Festivus was not a one-day deal, but a three day reflection on my progress for the year, and my dreams for 2012. The third day, Christmas, was capped off in beautiful Festivus form. Eight kettlebellers congregated at Marina Green in San Francisco. My own personal kettlebell mentor, RKC II Cecilia Tom, was leading the charge that day. The Golden Gate Bridge was set in a haze projecting an ephemeral beauty. Kettlebells were the religion and nature was our sanctuary. PR’s were attained and new goals set. Set your calendars now because this will be a tradition that you will not want to miss! Power to you in 2012!