Gym Etiquette 101: Please keep your shoes on…

For those who don’t know, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime, and also ridiculously juiced out of his mind, he often did several exercises barefoot in the gym. Squats and deadlifts were two of those exercises he chose to go sans footwear, and the trend has continued into 2017.

It seems almost like a daily ritual I see some guy walking around the gym in his socks. I, like many in the gym, are wondering where in the heck this guy’s shoes are. As I watch where he goes, I see him head to the squat rack where he is blasting out a one rep max of 185-pounds, and thank goodness he was barefoot to fully engage all those tiny muscles in his feet and ankles.

While Arnold swore by squatting and deadlifting barefoot, it doesn’t mean this has to occur in today’s gyms. At Arnold’s time, there was very few choices in footwear. Chuck Taylors, which actually have the flat sole many lifters long for, were popular, but many just chose to ditch those for nothing. In today’s day and age, there are a ridiculous number of training shoes which can help give people the feel they want without the the risk of not wearing anything on their feet in the gym.

You might be reading this wondering just why it is such a big deal if someone wears just socks in the gym?

First, the gym floor is a disgusting place. People sweat and track dirt all over the gym. That is hardly a place you would want to even wear just socks, let alone bare feet, something I’ve seen only once in my time pumping iron.

Second, shoes provide some, albeit little, protection for your feet. Ever witness someone drop a 25-pound plate on their toe from chest height? I have, and it shattered their big toe, while were wearing shoes. Most injuries in the gym are to the fingers and toes, so why increase the risk of injuring a toe and putting yourself out of the gym for the long term as the appendage heals?

Lastly, no one, and I mean no one, wants to be around someone without their shoes on while they workout. If you are working hard, and sweating, your shoes and socks will likely be producing a rather pungent smell. One which will only deter others from getting the workout they want at the same time anywhere close to your repulsive feet.

If you see someone in your gym participating in this practice, you can handle it a couple of ways. You could politely ask them to put their shoes on, you could ignore it and move somewhere else in the gym or you could notify the staff and see if they could post a sign, or talk to the person, about how hygiene is the utmost importance in a public facility.

Either way, save the barefoot working out to if you are on a beach, or…well, really that is the only place you should be working out barefoot unless you are taking yoga. Otherwise, keep your damn shoes on!!

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A picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes those aren’t good

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Such simple words which have been uttered a ridiculous amount of times since parents have tried to help young children realize the simple reality that what other people think doesn’t mean more than how they feel about themselves.

However, sometimes how we feel about ourselves is often the worst opinion of them all.

Whenever any of us start on a fitness quest, we are our harshest critics, hands down. We will meticulously realize whether we have lost, gained or maintained our weight, and will come down with a swift gavel as we judge just how we look in the mirror.

Come to think of it, the aforementioned quote about beauty being in the eye of the beholder is certainly true, and more accurate than you may know. The biggest difference? We are the beholder, and often see every minor issue with our bodies, rather than the bigger picture and how far we’ve come.

Let me deliver an analogy which I feel will help drive home my point…

I am a golfer. I love golf, and have been golfing since my father taught me to play when I was about seven years old. Golf didn’t always come easy, but I have worked at it and am now a single-digit handicap. In other words, I’m above average, but far from elite. However, every time I go out on the golf course, I mentally want to shoot the best round of my life. Not a bad goal, but rarely do I achieve this goal. Whenever I am frustrated, I realize how the average golfer shoots in the 100s, and it makes me realize my consistent scores in the high 70s are pretty darn good, but it doesn’t stop me from the frustration and anger which accompany my golf game.

The same can be said about anyone who is striving for something from a fitness standpoint.

From a personal standpoint, I realize I am in pretty good shape. Above average, but certainly not elite. I realize there are a lot of people who would kill to have the body I have, but that doesn’t stop me from looking in the mirror wondering what I need to do to have my abs pop more, what exercises I can do to help carve out my shoulders more or what dietary changes I can make to improve my overall appearance.

Before the readers of this article think I have some type of body image disorder, I would suggest almost everyone has some type of body image disorder, it is just how you deal with it which truly tells the tale. Some force themselves to stop eating, or to make themselves be sick, while I am someone who gets a sort of hyper focus with how I treat my body.

It is all about the quest for perfection. How you define perfection can determine how you handle the success, or lack thereof, of your fitness goals. Some people just want to drop some weight and feel better about themselves. Others will want to be perfect. Maybe that is dropping some weight, or maybe that is really focusing on your physique. It changes for everyone.

The one thing people need to realize is sometimes what we see in the mirror is anything but satisfactory. Reminds me of a poem I once read:

I look in the mirror and what do I see ?
I see my reflection look back at me,
Sad expression on the face,
WHO IS THIS ?
Who looks at me ?
It’s not the face it used to be,
I don’t know this person.

If you feel this way, and you have yet to do anything about it, realize it is never too late. You can always change your lifestyle to help change your life. If you are someone who has tried, and failed, and tried, and failed at getting fit, don’t quit. Don’t give up! There is so much more you can do to attain those goals you have set for yourself.

You may look in the mirror, or at pictures of you, in absolute disgust, but realize you are still in control of your life. There are steps in place to help you get there in a safe, and quick fashion.

My wife and I are currently on a ‘Whole 30’ nutrition plan which is all about eliminating negative foods from your diet as you get back to basics. There are no cutting carbs, or eliminating entire food groups in your diet, but instead just eating whole foods again. You do this for 30 days, and then you can start to re-introduce other foods as you please.

Is it easy? Heck no it isn’t easy! But I’ve always felt anything worth having will take hard work. Your physique, or fitness goals, are no different.

So, the next time you look at a picture, or in the mirror, instead of noticing all of the flaws, look at some of the positives. Maybe that pair of jeans which hadn’t fit for months finally fit again. Maybe you start to see the outline of your abs. Either way, success is success. I realize I need to do this in my own life as well, and if we all just take a more positive outlook on out fitness goals, we will start to see more positive results on a daily, weekly and monthly basis!

Join the revolution today!

A letter to my future self

Future Jeff,

You may be reading this thinking things are a little backwards. After all, people typically write letters to their past selves, memos of how they wish they would have done this, or done that, but I thought it was more appropriate to speak to my future self. You know, considering the future is ahead of me, and not in the rear view mirror.

Nonetheless, I want you to know what I’m doing now, this very day, to make your life better in a lot of ways.

First, I am working my tail off to help you function better. Yes, from a physical standpoint. When I turned 30 I realized my focus should turn from working out for my personal self, into I should work out to help better my quality of life today, and down the road. I truly hope you are reading this and are enjoying a life which has no physical boundaries. If not, then you must have messed up somewhere along the line! I’m kidding.

In the gym, and with this physical body, is not the only area where I am working hard. Depending on when you read this, my teaching career, although strenuous at times, has been one which has led me to a great deal of fulfillment. Sure, there are obvious pitfalls with such a vocation, but the job has done more than just pay the bills, it has given you a chance to be a huge part in many people’s lives.

On top of that, the ability to support your family has always been paramount. At this stage, I’ve done a lot just to keep things copacetic from a financial situation. Working full-time as a teacher, managing a major sports website, and even cutting grass on the sides…all to provide. Hopefully as you read this letter, the appreciation is evident from the family, and kids, for the work I’ve done all these years — for them. Hard work pays off, and hopefully my hard work now has allowed you to relax more than I am currently.

Speaking of kids, the four children you have should be treasured, if they aren’t currently being appreciated. No, it isn’t always easy, but each one of those kids has been their own joy and pleasure in your life. At this point, they are likely grown, but whenever things get rough, or you get frustrated, just remember those days when they were little. When their innocence and wonder dominated any bad attitude or smart remarks you could possibly experience. You come from a family of stubbornness, but don’t be that way with your children. Be quick to forgive and forget, but more importantly, always be willing to show your love to all of those four children, both publicly and privately.

Children are treasures which should be enjoyed. Don’t wait too long to realize just how precious and special they are. Time goes by way too fast.

Now for that ring on your left hand. And by that, I mean your wife Nicole. Regardless of which stage of life you are reading this, please understand just how important she is in your life. She is the rock you have built your house on, and without that rock the house could have been swept away years ago.

Even at 34, the age which this article is being written, don’t ever forget what you’ve been through together. The key word there is together. You’ve experienced death, divorce, unbelievably difficult medical emergencies, foreclosures, as well as purchases and selling of property, all of which you can put into the giant bag of “been there done that”. It hasn’t always been easy, but would you have had it any other way? I realized long ago it were these trials and tribulations which brought us closer together, not further apart. Keep that in mind if the waters get rough. Cling to each other to stay afloat, not drift away from one another.

In summation, I hope I have done my part, at this time, to set you up for success. Success is a word which often times has extremely rigid borders and boundaries. For instance, success in sports is usually only measured by whether you win or lose, but in this case, it is about so much more. It is about building a life. Not just a life worth living, but a life to be proud of. I know I am proud right now, and you should be proud too, if by chance you forgot how good you have it somewhere down the road.

Lastly, and certainly not least, never forget how good God is. He is the one who blessed you with that wife. He is the one who gave you those four beautiful, albeit ornery, children. And He is the one who breathed life into your body. Until that breathe leaves you, never forget all we have, and all we have built, is because of, and to honor, Him.

All the best,

34-year-old Jeff

 

To lift, or not to lift: That is the question

There are so many people who go to the gym on a regular basis, but often ignore some important aspects of their training. Not sure what I mean? Let me pose this hypothetical question to you:

If you had just 30 minutes to get a workout in? What are you going to do? Cardio, or weight lifting?

For me this answer is a no-brainer. I’m running to the dumbbells to blast out a lifting session, but I know there are those who would do the complete opposite. I asked this question on the Fit Dad Revolution Facebook page (give us a LIKE by clicking HERE), and was shocked how many said they would hop onto a treadmill or stationary bike to get a quick sweat going.

This made me start to become more cognizant of my surroundings when I was in the gym, and I noticed a lot of people who I NEVER see in the weight room area. They come in, do their cardio workout, and leave.

I understand exercise is exercise, and everyone should aim to get their bodies moving at least an hour a day regardless of what particular exercise you are doing, but to answer the question which is the title of this article, “To lift, or not to lift”, the answer is to lift.

Before you start to think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t lift, injury, getting bulky, not knowing what you are doing, etc., you should also look at the benefits of weight training. Benefits like strengthening your joints, helping to prevent injury, strengthening your bones and helping to make your body stronger…just to name a few.

The benefits far outweigh the negatives, when it comes to weight training, but before you start wondering how in the world you could pass on your usual 3 mile workout on the track, what if I told you there was a way you can boost your cardiovascular training, as well as improve your overall strength with weight training?

It is called circuit training.

What is circuit training? It is simply a series of exercises which you do one after the other without any rest. Doing this will give you a cardiovascular benefit, while also working your muscles. Now, depending on your fitness goals, this type of training is good for a couple workouts a week, but not as your main way of weight training. For instance, I use circuit training two out of my four days of lifting a week.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Circuit training can be the ideal fit for someone who loves cardio, and getting their heart rate up, but doesn’t really care for weight lifting. Even the weight lifter who loves pumping iron can benefit from this style of training, getting a cardiovascular benefit to their own training.

What would a circuit training session look like? Here is an example of a very basic dumbbell circuit:

  • Dumbbell Squats – 15 Repetitions
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Presses – 15 Repetitions
  • Dumbbell Back Lunges – 15 Reps
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Rows – 15 Reps
  • Dumbbell Push Ups – 15 Reps

You would hit every major muscle group in the body with this workout, and would certainly get your heart rate up! You would go from squats to presses and on down the list without rest, but after the push ups you could give yourself time to rest and recover.

Give circuit training a try, because when the question “Lift, or don’t lift” is posed, the answer should always be a resounding YES!

Join the revolution today!

Are organic and non-GMO foods really worth it?

Let’s be honest, in our country it is hard to tell between what are actual facts, and what someone is wanting you to hear. When I think about today’s food industry, the one thing which constantly comes to mind is the age-old saying “Ignorance is bliss”, because the majority of our country just wants to put their fingers in their ears and do this:


Meanwhile, the food industry is raping the earth, and giving us food which is absolutely horrible for our bodies.

It isn’t just adult food either, do some research on the “gems” of quality companies that make baby food put out for your young children to consume. Everything from formula to snack foods.

Just look at the big companies who bully their way into purchasing smaller, better quality, companies so they can absolutely demolish any competition. Monopoly at it’s finest, but that is the world we live in.

While I step off my soap box, I want you to realize this isn’t the true meaning of this article. The true meaning of this article is asking, “Is it worth it to eat organic, non-GMO foods?” You hear a lot about this online, and sometimes on the news, but is the benefit of the product worth the extra money, because this stuff can be expensive!

When the term “organic” started to become a mainstream term, the theory was you didn’t have to purchase organic foods which have a thick skin on them. Bananas, watermelons, canteloupes, and other foods with a dense skin. The thought was the pesticides and chemicals used on the plants wouldn’t penetrate that skin and make the non-organic product as good as the organic variety.

Well, anymore that isn’t the case. Studies on non-organic bananas are showing chemicals are leaching their way through the skin of the bananas, and therefore into the food which is then entering your body. Welcome to the pathway for chemicals to get into your body.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Are you reading this wondering if I, and my family, purchase only organic products? The answer is no, we don’t. But, what we try to do is be smart with the non-organic produce we purchase. If we are going to buy non-organic produce, we will try to purchase it at our local farmer’s market. The place where the actual farmer can tell us what he/she used on the products, etc. so there is 100-percent transparency with the purchase.

Organic foods are worth it, in my opinion, but buying local can save you money and give you a better product than that bell pepper which came from Mexico and was doused with nasty chemicals.

Now for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and non-GMO products. There is a new logo from the Non-GMO Project which has a butterfly on it and it says “Non-GMO Project Verified”.

Image result for non-gmo project verified logo

If you see this on a product it means the product has undergone strict testing to ensure there are no GMOs in the product. The thing with this is, the company has to approach the GMO Project for them to give them the verification logo. However, there is good news on this front, and that is you are seeing this more and more in grocery stores, which means even large companies are ponying up the money to get this logo on their product, because they realize there is a large group of people who will purchase a product with the logo, compared to without the Non-GMO label emblazoned on the front.

So, are organic and non-GMO foods really worth purchasing? They do cost more money, but can you really put a price tag on your health? This doesn’t mean every item you consume has to be organic and non-GMO, but the fact of the matter is our food system has made this our new reality. The foods just sitting on the shelves in grocery stores are NOT safe anymore. Therefore, we have to go above and beyond to ensure foods we are buying are safe for ourselves, and our families.

With that said, is it worth it? Damn straight they are worth it!

Join the revolution TODAY!

Yoga: Not just for girls anymore

If you are like me, and by that I mean a dude who loves to lift weights, you have laughed at any person with a ‘Y’ chromosome who has taken a yoga class before. However, it really shouldn’t be that way anymore.

About 5 years ago my wife talked me into taking a hot yoga class. Come to find out, the ‘Hot’ wasn’t referencing the attractiveness of the women in class (I’m kidding), but the temperature of the room. My first yoga class was spent in front of a heater in a room which had to be near 90-degrees with everyone crammed into a small space in the middle of winter.

There was sweat, and lots of it, but about midway through the class I reached the point where I wasn’t fighting the class, thinking how stupid it was, but decided to buy-in. To truly give the class a chance, and to improve me from a mental and physical standpoint.

Lo and behold, it worked.

I’m no yogi, probably the furthest thing from it, but if my wife asks me to go to a class, I don’t hesitate to say yes.

What caused the change? Most importantly was probably watching so many older men in my life struggle with flexibility and overall stiffness. I am 34-years-old, and I don’t want to struggle to get out of bed when I am 50. I want to be able to continue to play softball, golf, and train at a high level, and flexibility is a large part of that equation.

Also, I have learned to use the time in a yoga class to better myself from the inside out. As a father of four small children, quiet time is at a minimum, and, if you are going to a legitimate yoga class, there will be plenty of time to reflect on the class, your body and especially your spirit.

Lastly, the class freaking works! I was as skeptical as the next male taking yoga, but what yoga does is work muscles you never touch in the gym. Sure, your shoulders, triceps and chest will get a workout, but the stabilizer muscles, core muscles and smaller muscles will be in for a heavy workload, something they aren’t used to.

I honestly can say I wish I could take more yoga classes, but time, and life, simply doesn’t always allow it. However, if you are faced with the chance to take a yoga class, whether you are a man or woman, I strongly encourage you to do it. Talk to the instructor before the class starts, and they will help you out. Stay in the back of the class and just take your time getting into the poses. Don’t try to compete with the regulars in the room, this class is about you…not them. Lastly, just enjoy the experience!

Be like me…join the revolution, even if it means taking a yoga class!

Gym Etiquette 101: Do you really need all that baggage?

Throughout this series of how to properly compose yourself in a gym setting, I have tackled everything from where you put your weights, to what you wear to the gym. In this week’s Gym Etiquette article, the focus will be not on what you do, or what you wear, but what many are bringing to the gym.

Do you really need all that baggage?

For some, I feel like asking if you need all that luggage?

So, if you didn’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the gym goers who love to carry their gym bag with them as they go through the motions at the gym, but this isn’t just any gym bag. This is an assault on space due to their carry-on size bag which houses all of their “necessities”.

What would those necessities be? Let’s go through some of the basics:

  • Wrist wraps – Because you never know just when you will need to bust out the wrist wraps when your own wrists are too damn weak to hold a weight or pull something.
  • Weight Belt – When your lower back can’t handle the 135-pound squat you do, you need to look tough with a weight belt.
  • Change of clothes – Sometimes you sweat so much you have to change clothes mid-way through the workout…I guess.
  • Pre-workout mix – What would you do without the cocaine-like effects from your pre-workout shake?
  • Shaker Bottles – Your pre-workout mix, and post-workout protein shake, don’t shake themselves!!
  • Protein powder – If you don’t get your protein intake immediately after your workout you will lose some of your “gains”…hence why you keep that 10-pound jug of protein powder in your bag for all to see.
  • Gallon jug of water – Because a 12 ounce water bottle, or even a 24 ounce bottle of water, isn’t enough…you need to carry around a giant jug of water so your creatine monohydrate has plenty of fluid to bond to throughout your workouts.

The aspect of this silliness is are these bags even necessary? If you even ponder this question, the answer is NO!

You want wrist wraps? Just carry them into the gym.

You want a shaker bottle? That is fine, but you can wait until you get home to have your protein shake.

And for crying-out-loud, a trip to the water fountain, or a Nalgene bottle, will suffice for your workouts.

A lot of this is about people trying to impress others, not about needing these items. There is nothing wrong with a gym bag, many use these to carry clothes and necessities for them before, or after, work, but some just carry a bag to carry their crap around. It doesn’t bother me other than it takes up space in the gym. Many of these “bags” find their ways onto vacant benches, or benches which could be used by other members.

So, if you are one of these people, leave the bag in the locker room, or at home, and take only what you need to the gym. You won’t look like a clown, and the other patrons in the gym will appreciate it!

Join the revolution today!