Getting to know Coach Madison

Caring | Honest | Driven
These are the values we hold as a staff team.

Madison is dedicated and kind. She loves to help her athletes push to their highest potential. Super smart and a team player, we are lucky to have her on the team. Madison helps introduce new members to fitness at The Hill and she runs our High Intensity Interval Training class: Red Line on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Madison is a lady with many talents as you’ll read below, from stage to sport. Movement with grace and precision has been a theme throughout her life.

Let’s get to know more about Coach Madison!

Fill in the blank: I wanted to be a _ when I grew up. I wanted to be a performer on Broadway or a Technical Director for a big theatre.
Where did you grow up? Shawnee, Kansas.
Favorite class or activity in high school? My favorite classes were Drama or Choir. I actually lettered in Advanced Choir! Woop wood!
Voted in high school most likely to…? Or known for ? I was definitely known for my platinum blonde, Lady Gaga looking hair. Other than that, I was known for being a dancer. I also like to think I brought back the Chuck Taylors in my high school.
Most interesting part time job? I loved working at a veterinary hospital as a technician assistant. However, the most interesting was being a part of a murder mystery dinner theatre.
Movie or show you can quote? I can definitely quote most episodes of the TV show Friends. Season 3 Episode 2 is my all time favorite: The One Where No One’s Ready. Fun Fact: The episode takes place solely in the girl’s apartment.
Got any hidden talents? I was a dancer for about 18 years. Tap dance is my favorite style. I can also play the piano and ukulele. Also for the past year, I have worked part-time as a burlesque performer in Lawrence, Kansas with the group Foxy By Proxy.
What do you like about KC? I love KC because there is something for everyone. The culture, food, and all around atmosphere is overall inviting. I love that I can get online, search for local events, and find a concert, performing arts show, or food and drink event to attend all in the same weekend.
Coaching: Your Job Title at The Hill. Certified Personal Trainer and RedLine Instructor
How & when did you get connected to The Hill? It was time to finally decide on a passion I wanted to pursue. I used to do dinner theatre and would drive by The Hill every weekend. In January of 2018 I decided to join The Hill and have not looked back!
How long have you been coaching? (here or elsewhere) I have been coaching for about 9 months!
Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? What motivates me to coach is the mere fact that I have the privilege to motivate and empower others. I feel like I am still getting to meet all of you wonderful athletes and staff. I get to listen to your stories about your journeys, past and present. I get to learn about motivates you to show up and remind me of why I show up!

We try, we fail, we learn, we try again, we succeed, and then we are faced with a whole new level challenges. That never-ending “”KEEP GOING”” attitude is strong at The Hill and I am so excited to watch it continue.

You all motivate me. You are the people I want to continue to surround myself with. And I hope I can motivate you as well! “
What do you love about your job? (can list a few if you’d like ) I love that I get to walk through the doors of The Hill almost every day. The positive people and energy are infectious. Not to mention, I definitely don’t mind that I do NOT have to get all dolled up like I do at my other jobs. Come as you are, show up, and let’s go to work!

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? Associate of Arts: JCCC
I am most proud of my certification from the Cavalier Leadership Development Program from JCCC.

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing? (if applicable) In the next 7 months I will hopefully have completed my continuing education units to maintain my current CPT certification. I think I have narrowed it down to Nutrition or Behavior Specialization.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? “Small changes equal big differences. If you can make one small change each day to better yourself, then you will surely experience the change you desire.

A recent quote I came across on social media has seriously resonated with me on my own personal journey. It reads, “”The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.”” I love that so much.

Be patient. Be good to yourself. Give yourself a break. Above all, love yourself. “
What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? I am working on having more courage and less self-doubt. Instead of talking myself out of the tough situations and workouts, I will ask instead “What if it works out?” I also want to continue to improve my technique in gymnastic skills.
What is something you are looking forward to? I am looking forward to this year! I am excited for my future coaching experiences and for the what the future holds for RedLine!
Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and supportive as I start this new career and chapter of my life! You are the best community of athletes and human beings!

Getting to know Mark Campbell of Core Strong Fitness

We might be two unique fitfams sharing space, but we also share the same core belief that caring about people comes first.

Mark and Matt agree that if you don’t care about people, you shouldn’t be in the fitness industry. Get to know Mark and why we are so glad to have his TRX fitfam under The Hill’s umbrella.

Mark is a super effective coach and with an IG following pushing 25K @trx_core Plus, he’s super patient and kind and we love having him at our staff meetings each week.

“Mark at CoreStrong Fitness has been amazing at coaching not only TRX, but also overall lifestyle changes. I have changed my mindset, have learned how to love myself more, and that eating healthy and exercising can be a form of that self love. CoreStrong has provided an outlet for stress as a crazy graduate student that truly as more like a family than a gym.”
– Carly Kempf
Core Strong Fitness Athlete

Let’s get to know more about Mark!
Fill in the blank: I wanted to be a _ when I grew up. Paleontologist

Where did you grow up? Independence, MO

Favorite class or activity in high school? Anatomy

In high school known for? Being an Eminem look alike. LOL!

Most interesting part time job? Abercrombie and Fitch

Movie you can quote: Dumb and Dumber

Got any hidden talents? I can whistle like a bird.

What do you like about KC? I love the growing community of startups, coffee shops, AMAZING BBQ and actives to do trough-out the week.

Title: Owner CORE Strong Fitness @corestrongkc

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? Just over 3 years through coach Bri who I knew from the Chiropractic I use to work for.

How long have you been coaching? (here or elsewhere) I became a certified Personal Trainer in 2010 and started training at a wellness clinic in Lee’s Summit.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? I love to help people MOVE better, get stronger accomplish task in their daily lives that may not be huge feels of strength but help them live a better life and be injury free by build resilience and healthy habits.

What do you love about your job? (can list a few if you’d like ) Watching other gain a stronger sense of self confidence and self love through challenge and adversity.

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? NSCA CPT, Black Ranked TRX Coach ( First one in the Midwest to achieve this), Barefoot Training Specialist, RockTape FMT Certified, and Postural Respiration Certified.

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing? I am currently taking the Precision Nutrition Course and I am planning on taking my level 1 DVRT Sandbag Certification, along with StrongFirst Bodyweight course and Kettlebell Certification within the next year.

How would you describe your coaching style? I am a stickler for form and helping people do things better to reduce risk of injury and get more from the exercises the athletes are performing but I like to have fun being my quirky self.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? Less can be more. It doesn’t have to take a full time commitment to better your health, just a more conscious effort at the foods you put into your body and the simple extra things people can do or not do to advise their health.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? I just recently got into rock climbing and bouldering, so trying to improve my climbing skills and technique and breathe control.

What is something you are looking forward to? The next time I get to climb.

What else should we know about you? I LOVE coffee and I love to talk about coffee like people talk about wines. I probably drink too much coffee but I love the taste and flavors and the buzz! LOL

We’ll Fail Our New Year’s Resolutions This Week… Here’s Why.

It’s no secret that New Year’s resolutions rarely last into February let alone March. Unfortunately most people believe this is due to a lack of willpower or drive. This feeling of inadequacy will drive some to push harder, but negative feelings can only serve as your key motivator for so long. So how can you find motivation to stick to your resolution? Let’s start by asking why it’s so difficult to stick to a resolution…

You’ve never thought this far into the future.

Really think about your work or school life on a daily basis. Where do you spend the majority of your mental energy? On long-term planning or on hour-by-hour tasks? If you had someone over your shoulder every second of every day I would guess that 60% or more of your time is spent reacting to various inputs. An email, a question from a team member, or a phone call. 20% of your time is likely spent on a time-specific project. These usually last 8-12 weeks. Maybe — and this is generous — 20% of your time is spent on long-term, strategic thought. And even then this 20% is probably directed by a Supervisor or Standard Operating Procedure.

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz described his job as “to protect and preserve the health of this company, to create opportunities for our employees.” Pretty open-ended job description, isn’t it? Until we’re faced with duties and check-lists that are as blank as that, we’re never required to “flex” our open-ended, long-term thinking brain. We often mistake the importance or complexity of our jobs with our ability to operate in open-ended systems. I’ve done business coaching with over 200 first-time entrepreneurs. The worst entrepreneurs are — by far — physicians and former C-Suite execs. Why? They’re jobs are incredibly complex and important, but very closed-looped. There are checklists, schedules, and daily activities with a clear path and historical accounting.

“I want to lose 20 pounds.”

This is the most common New Year’s Resolution I’ve heard. Let’s use it as a point-of-reference.

If you’re losing weight you should be losing body fat. Body fat can be lost at a rate of one to two pounds per week, depending upon how much excess body fat you have. If you’re looking to only lose 20 pounds, let’s assume those 20 pounds will allow you to achieve a healthy body composition. 20 pounds of body fat will take you 20 weeks to lose. A 20-week project with no supervision, benchmarks, or accountability is likely the longest, most open-ended project you’ve ever worked toward. Of course you don’t know how to do it.

Feel good naked.

“Look good naked.” is probably a term you’ve heard if you’ve dabbled in health and fitness on any level. I heard a great quote the other day: “If you ever expect to look good naked, you must first feel good naked.” When someone first comes in for a Discovery Session, I ask this question: “Imagine you spend the next year diligently working on your nutrition, fitness, and mindset. How does that person feel a year from today?” The reason I ask how losing 20 pounds will feel is because we can tap into those feelings long before the “goal” is reached. Most people report that they’ll feel more confident, energized, and happy. Will getting your first pull-up elicit those feelings? You bet. What about strutting into the office after a full week of 6:00am workouts? Hell yeah.

Happiness is NOT on the other side of achievement.

I heard a story this week about the one of the most joyful men a friend has ever met. His entire family was killed by gangs in Honduras. He was granted political asylum in the United States but chose to remain in his neighborhood. His joy is infectious.

There are a lot of lessons in there, but let’s stick to one. His happiness is not dictated by circumstance. Your happiness won’t change by losing 20 pounds. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You must change your definition of happiness before you’ll be able to lose 20 pounds. You must find satisfaction elsewhere, then the 20 pounds will be a breeze.

Don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress.

My New Years Resolution was to write for 20 minutes a day, five days a week. I’m sitting at 80% so far. I’m trying my hardest to see 80% as a “B” and not an “F.” But, it’s difficult. I can rationalize the shit out of calling 4/5 days a failure. I can justify not pursuing this goal because of my busy schedule.

Success is not binary. It’s fluid and should be full of failures. I learn way more on the days I “fail” than I do on days I complete my resolution. But I don’t let the failures define me. The day isn’t ruined.

When it comes to losing 20 pounds, I often see people “cheat” on a given day and then throw the day entirely out the window. A bag of M&M’s on a stressful afternoon doesn’t mean that you failed. It doesn’t mean that you need to crush a cheesecake for dinner as punishment. It is what it is. It’s OK to be disappointed in yourself; there’s a good lesson in disappointment. But don’t let it turn into shame. Shame will lead to self-destruction.

“The type of person who…”

This has been my most powerful mantra of 2019 so far. When I find myself justifying a reason to not write, I simply ask myself “Am I the type of person who will ask people to do something I’m unwilling to do myself?” That something can be anything — being hard on myself, rationalizing, or simply being hypocritical. I think it is so powerful because it forces me to build my identity on behavior, not outcome.

Going back to our 20 pounds example, you may find yourself at the vending machines on a stressful Thursday afternoon. When that shame spiral pops up, just ask yourself: “Am I the type of person who would teach their kids/friends/staff to hate themselves over something as silly as M&M’s?”

Whatever your resolution, remind yourself that you’re on open waters without a compass. Radical change — like the change most of us save for resolutions — is astronomically difficult. It’s against our base nature. But it is possible with a little awareness and a shit-load of grace.

Getting to Know Joelle Gosda

These are the core values that we hold as a staff and coaching team.

Joelle is incredibly passionate about taking care of people. She is willing to learn and open to anything that will improve her current skill set.

“Not only is Joelle the one who has dramatically stepped up the social media game at The Hill but she is also the smiling face who greets everyone each night. I have had the absolute joy of getting to know Joelle and her family over the last year plus at The Hill.

I have also witnessed Joelle’s care and compassion for people shine through in quiet moments when our members need a sympathetic ear after a hard day, a hard week or even a hard year. We are incredibly grateful to have Joelle as a member of our fitfam and we are very excited for her to welcome the newest member of her fitfam.”


Let’s get to know Joelle…
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
All I wanted to be was a mom and a singer.

Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.

Favorite class or activity in high school? I was surprised to win the Fine Arts Award for my class. If it was music related I did it all. Musicals, plays, played the trombone in jazz band, pep & marching band, and french horn in concert band. Competed at all the state singing competitions, madrigal choir and plays, and show choir. I was even in the A/V club with all the greasy awkward boys, running cameras and teleprompter. And sometimes they’d let me fill in to report the daily school announcements.

In high school known for? I was known for playing the Innkeeper’s wife in Les Miserable my Junior year. I played opposite one of my best friends and we were disgusting. It was so much fun.

Most interesting part time job? My first real job was at a Movie Magic video rental store. VHS & DVDs for rent when that was a thing.

Movie you can quote? Don’t sit next to me while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding unless you want a quote-along. One of my favorite lines is, “Keep your mother off my lawn, out of my basement and away from my roof!!”

Got any hidden talents? I’ve been practicing the baritone uke for a few years. And I have a handful of original songs that I’m always working on. Also I know way too much about Star Trek, Harry Potter, and I’m ashamed to admit…Twilight.

What do you like about KC? I like how the history of KC has shaped the present. It was the gateway to the West.. and ever since moving here in 2012 I feel the “land of opportunity” spirit in the air.

Your Job Title at The Hill: Social Media Curator & Front Desk Lady
How & when did you get connected to The Hill? Caitlin is a friend and told me about the front desk job. She encouraged me to put in my resume and I was lucky enough to join the team in November of 2017.

How long have you been the Social Media Curator?
I’ve been running the social media for The Hill since January of 2018. Matt saw my potential and created the role for me.

How do you approach creating content for Social Media @thehillkc? It’s all about our Athletes. You guys are so much fun to celebrate! When I look around the gym I see so many stories of ordinary people overcoming challenges and improving their lives. It’s continually inspiring. I see them helping and encouraging each other every day.

What do you love about your job?
I love our team.
We are growing together and it is so much fun to see how each one brings their talents and shares their struggles. We support each other. We learn from each other and are free to try new things. Plus I just like each of them a lot.

I love our members.
I love how our community has proven over and over that they are so willing to serve others and give back to Kansas City. When we ask, you show up and it makes a difference for real people.

I love CrossFit.
I am a socially motivated athlete. In highschool the most active I was while playing on the volleyball team. I loved that it required us to play as a team (bump, set, spike!) and being a setter was so fun. But I dropped it when it started to conflict with musicals. CrossFit at The Hill feels like a team sport. You never workout alone and the Coach is right there setting the goal and helping you win. This is the most I’ve ever worked out in my life. I am proud of how consistent I’ve been and the skills (and muscles ha)  I’ve gained. 

When I took the front desk job, I had never touched a barbell and had to google what a ‘WOD’ was. All the coaches were so patient and encouraging to me as, not just a new member of the team, but a brand new CrossFitter too.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? You don’t have to feel stuck. You don’t have to run in circles. You can see your body and your view of yourself change. And you don’t have to figure it out alone.
What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally?
Now that I am pregnant and my body is changing, I’m working on being confident that no matter what the workout says, there will be a modification that I can do with the class. I don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else. I just have to keep moving and listen to my body (and to the baby’s kicks!).
What are you looking forward to? I’m looking forward to meeting the new little person that I’m growing, this summer. And I’m looking forward to seeing who I’ll be next year. I can’t imagine her or her life no matter how hard I try. Life in general and especially parenthood, is an act of surrender and sacrifice that requires you to live and do your best with the 5 minutes you’re in. 
Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? When I think of you, I am filled with gratitude and joy. I love you all. And having the honor of celebrating you is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Getting to Know Coach Leyton

Caring | Honest | Driven

Leyton is a great addition to the coaching staff at The Hill. He has new games to play and a southern charm that you just can’t teach. Leyton loves CrossFit and it shows. With a low-key and approachable attitude, Leyton’s ability to provide individualized coaching is outstanding. He takes the time to explain the small things and help each athlete improve.

Let’s get to know Coach Leyton:

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Lawn and Landscape worker like my Dad. I often would say that I wanted to be a lawnmower. But often my teachers would say I couldn’t actually be that. Haha!

Where did you grow up? Greenwood, AR

Favorite class or activity in high school? Football.

Voted in high school most known for ? Known for being goofy and easy going.

Most interesting part time job? Demolition for a contractor during undergrad.

Share a movie or show you can quote and/or list songs you can rap/know all the words to etc.. The Lord of the Rings, Dumb and Dumber, Christmas Vacation, The Office and I know all the words to most Blink-182 songs.

Got any hidden talents? I can get 1 tee remaining on the triangle peg board game every time. (commonly played at Cracker Barrel.) I can walk on my hands thanks to CrossFit. I also have a pretty good Gollum/ Smeagol voice. 

What do you like about KC? You don’t have to travel that far to do anything. It’s a way larger city than I am used to, but it isn’t too big.

Your Job Title at The Hill: Coach

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? I dropped in to The Hill the summer before my senior year of undergrad when I came to look at graduate schools.

How long have you been coaching? About 4 years.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? I love to teach people new things. I love seeing people realize how much they are really capable of.

What do you love about your job? I love getting to interact with people and build relationships. I also love to see someone do something they have never done for the first time. (ex. 1st pull-up or muscle up).

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? CF-L3 and Gymnastics; definitely most proud of the CF-L3.

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing? I am currently in Physical Therapy school at Rockhurst University. I plan to attend the CrossFit Competitors, CrossFit Masters, CrossFit Aerobic Capacity, and CrossFit Gymnastics Level 2 at some point.

How would you describe your coaching style? I would describe my coaching style as very individualistic. I enjoy to getting to catch up with each person in my class each day and learn what motivates them. I am also very relentless. I continue to ask for more from my athletes.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? That it is the most important long-term investment that you can make. Paying for a CrossFit gym membership and healthy foods will save you lots of pain, time, and money in the future. Also, that it’s a process. Start by “getting off the carbs and off the couch” then go forward from there.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? I am currently trying to rehab my knees to where I can squat pain free again.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? I am looking forward to the launch of The Hill KC 2.0!!! I am also looking forward to my first clinical rotation in PT school.

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? The Hill has truly been a blessing to Hannah and I both. We have truly found an awesome group of like-minded people to share life with. We feel like we have been working out here forever! The Hill family rocks!

Are Keto Diets Healthy?

Are Keto Diets Healthy?

Keto diets are popping up in newsfeeds and headlines everywhere. Keto – or Ketogenic – refers to a restrictive diet that consists primarily of dietary fat, little protein, and nearly zero carbohydrates. The Keto diet was initially used as a method to treat the symptoms of epilepsy in the 1920s. You can read more on that here.

To determine whether the keto diet is “healthy” we need to define what we mean by “healthy.” For the sake of this discussion, let’s use body fat loss as our metric to define “healthy.” I’m not suggesting that losing body fat is the essence of health, but excess body fat remains to be the #1 risk factor for most lifestyle diseases.

How does one lose body fat?

Here we’ll make the distinction that most people can’t seem to grasp: weight loss is NOT fat loss. You may know this in the conscious part of your brain, but we’re always pulled back to the scale as our measuring tool. We love data and numbers so the scale becomes the least expensive and readily available measuring stick for progress. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

What did life look like before a keto diet?

This is the first question I ask of anyone who has seen rapid weight loss on a keto diet. More often than not, the answer involves junk food, a ton of sugar, minimal protein, and zero plants. These foods have an inflammatory response (bloating). They’re also typically very high in sodium (water weight) and contain little to no fiber.

A keto diet — by nature — limits inflammatory foods, “empty” calories, and encourages you to eat vegetables. So right off the bat, you don’t feel bloated, you’re losing water weight, and you’re consuming WAY more fiber and micro-nutrients than before. Combine that with nearly zero carbohydrates (carbs transport water to your cells), and you have the perfect recipe for rapid weight loss. But is that weight fat? Probably not.

Is “fat burning” mode a real thing?

The keto diet reports that your body enters a state of using fat as fuel through your body’s production of ketones. This can be difficult to measure without some pretty sophisticated and very expensive equipment. So we resort to the scale as our measuring stick. But, we’re still humans on earth and bound by the pesky laws of physics. Therefore, fat can only be lost at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. Regardless of the diet you choose, if you’re losing more than 1-2 pounds per week you’re losing some combination of water and muscle.

The carbohydrate debate – what does real science say?

Carbs are the most hotly-debated macronutrient in all of nutrition. But what does science say about carbohydrates? Not theoretical science but actual peer-reviewed, repeatable, controlled-study science. Wait for it… CARBS DON’T MATTER. 

That’s right. And it should be expected if you really understand how hard science works. Hard science moves at a glacier’s pace. It’s slow, incremental, and builds upon itself. There have been no scientific “discoveries” as ground-breaking and game-changing as your Instagram newsfeed reports.

You can check out this meta-analysis of all the high/low carb studies. Here’s another study that shows that calories, not carbs are the #1 factor in weight loss.


Keto diets aren’t inherently healthy or unhealthy. The fat loss benefits of keto can be achieved with other methods. But, some people like the “rules” associated with keto. And that’s fine if it’s sustainable for you. I hope your takeaway is that there is no magic bullet for fat loss. There’s no secret diet that you’ve yet to discover. Sustainability is the key to any diet you choose – keto or otherwise.

Here’s a challenge: If you’re considering a change to keto run a little self-experiment. Instead of going from junk food to keto go to a diet rich in plants, varied carbohydrates, healthy fat, and adequate protein. Science shows that you’ll see the same fat loss results as a low-carb, high-fat diet and chances are it’s a lot more sustainable.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried keto?

For more info and tips, watch this video with Sabrena Jo – Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise:





Getting to Know Kim Lacy of Premier Nutrition

Caring | Honest | Driven

Having Kim offer Nutrition Coaching at The Hill is such an asset to our community. Plus she’s a dedicated CrossFitter and we love having her on the team. Kim recently launched her business Premier Nutrition KC and offers simple honest and informed advice for people living in the real world.

Let’s get to  know more about Kim…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A veterinarian 

Where did you grow up? Omaha, Nebraska.

Favorite class or activity in high school? I loved my marketing class and being apart of DECA. I actually went to nationals one year too!

Voted in high school most likely to? To succeed (hopefully it comes true!)

Most interesting part time job? Worked part time at a Cryotherapy company. Was able to do the cryo booth for free every time I worked, and I actually think it worked.

Song you can rap? Pop Bottles by Birdman ft. Lil Wayne.

Got any hidden talents? I’m really good at the limbo. 

What do you like about KC? I love how it has big city attractions and things to do, but doesn’t have big city traffic.

Your Job Title at The Hill. Nutrition Coach.

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? Started coming to the Hill in October of 2016.

How long have you been a nutrition coach? 5 years.

Why Nutrition? What motivates you personally? I love when I’m able to positively impact someone’s life. And make them feel their best!

What do you love about your job? I get to talk about food! I love food!  Oh and making people healthier and happier 🙂

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? Precision Nutrition Level One, ACSM Personal Trainer. 

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? Dieting is terrible for you and doesn’t work! Slowly start to removed the common processed foods in your diet with whole foods.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally?  Working on improving my pull-ups, and maybe getting a muscle up in 2019!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? My business!  I recently switched full time jobs so I now have more time to service clients and create new content.  Hopefully by the end of the year Premier Nutrition KC with be my full-time job!

Is there anything you would like to say to the team or #fitfam? I appreciate you guys so much!! I would not be able to do this job that I love without the support from all of you!!

CrossFit probably isn’t for you… but you’ll be surprised why.

I’ve been professionally involved in the healthcare industry for 14 years now. I’ve worked in medical transport, long-term care, and health policy. About a decade in, it became abundantly clear that health coaching, fitness, nutrition, and mindset was the path to solve our healthcare problems. Furthermore, I’m convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that lives are changed not through willpower but through relationship; relationship with community, coaches, and those that come from a different walk of life.

When I left my career in traditional healthcare, I asked myself the following questions:

  • Where are adults learning new, difficult things?
  • Where are adults meeting new, diverse people?
  • Where are adults practicing new physical skills under the guidance of professional coaches?
  • Where are adults doing all of the above for several hours per week, for years and years?
  • What is the most economical way for people to access all of these?

I ended up with a “C” word.

You guessed it. To be honest I thought CrossFit was the dumbest thing in the world. Bad form, douche bags, cult-like behavior, and injuries galore. Turns out, CrossFit is more like the Wizard of Oz than I thought. From the outside it’s this intimidating, insular group of super-fit, shirtless 20-somethings with under-trained instructors screaming “one more rep!!!!” But a peek behind the curtain revealed a group of highly-motivated professionals, generous community leaders, and an environment that looked more like “Cheers” than “Full Metal Jacket.”

CrossFit probably isn’t for you, though.

I say “probably” in the strictest, most statistical sense of the word. Statistically speaking, roughly 3%-5% of the population of the United States gets the recommended amount of physical activity, eats vegetables, and gets adequate sleep. CrossFit requires that you pay attention to all of these things. Well… your body requires that you pay attention to all these things. And CrossFit requires you to use your body functionally so the two go hand-in-hand.

Why you think you can’t do CrossFit.

Most people will say they’re unable to do CrossFit because of their age, physical abilities, schedule, family, or history with exercise. I’ve yet to meet the person for whom that is true. If you peel back the onion, there’s typically self-doubt or fear underlying those reasons. Combine that with negative messaging from a now-disrupted traditional fitness industry, and you see why this thought is so pervasive.

Who is CrossFit for, then?

I think we should first define what is CrossFit. The textbook definition is “constantly varied functional movement performed at a relative high intensity.” There’s quite a bit that falls into that definition. You could fit Zumba, Yoga, and Powerlifting all into that single definition. And — across the world’s 14,000 some-odd affiliates — you’ll likely find all three.

But said differently, I describe CrossFit as: “the best practices from every discipline of fitness made accessible to the masses by professional coaches.” At our gym we do bodybuilding courses, powerlifting classes, yoga classes, nutrition coaching, half-marathon training, and the “CrossFit” you’ve likely seen on YouTube. We take the approach that anything that has a grounding in peer-reviewed science is fair game as long as our coaches can learn, master, and teach the skill.

But most people will still shy away. The sad part is that they’ll project some inner inadequacy as their reason for not trying it out. “I’m too old. I’m too fat. I’m too ___ and I could never do that.” I’d retire for a dollar every time I’ve heard that. But the truth is that CrossFit isn’t for everyone because it requires you to face those pre-conceptions about your own ability head-on. It requires that you expose yourself to failure. If you’re really really strong, there will certainly be a day in CrossFit when you’ll need to run a 5k and be humbled. The reverse is also true. I’m 10 years into this thing and I’m routinely humbled.

But, the growth I’ve experienced from repeated exposure to new and difficult things has changed my life. In my career alone, I’ve developed a confidence and tolerance for difficulty that was never there before. I’ve learned that meaningful relationships are borne of overcoming obstacles. And that doesn’t even take into account the biological benefits of regular exercise.

Probably not for you and that’s OK.

My preference is that people wouldn’t beat themselves up with negativity when they say they “could never do that.” Whether it’s travel to a foreign country, quitting a job you hate, or starting a new exercise routine you CAN do things that seem scary. Millions of people before you have done it. My hope is that your default reaction to anything that you want but are afraid of is to move toward it. More often than not, that fear is a healthy indicator that you should probably give it a go.

How to come back to the gym after a break

Whether the break was 1 week or 25, coming back to the gym after some time off is really really difficult. It is more difficult than starting for the first time by what seems to be a factor of ten. But it’s a new year and you’re ready to get back at it. This re-start is a pivotal point in your life of fitness. It’s really important that your re-start is done strategically. Here are some tips:

Define terms

For the sake of this post, let’s define a “break” according to the minimum recommended training schedule. Let’s say a “break” is six or more weeks of less than 90 minutes of vigorous activity. You can actually maintain a substantial amount of fitness in just 90 minutes per week or three 30 minute sessions. Even if you had a week or two of consistency broken up by weeks of not-so-much consistency, we’ll still call this a break.

Get brutally honest about the break

Maybe you needed or wanted the break. In that case, nice work! Seasons are super important in life and fitness. It’s actually beneficial to take a week off or take 12 weeks of going easy, yet consistently. But let’s say you didn’t plan the break. What are the things you told yourself about the break? Did they have to do with external factors? Or maybe you just simply beat yourself up. In either case, that’s the wrong approach and won’t serve you. It’s a great habit to get your mind in the zone of ownership. Our brains are particularly good at justifying past actions. It’s a defense mechanism against physical danger, but doesn’t serve us very well in the modern world. Here’s an example of one of my own failings:

I wanted to write more in 2018. I didn’t write as much as I intended. But I was really busy. I started building a new gym, launched a new software company, re-structured our organization, and started a nonprofit. Plus I wanted to stay as available as possible to our team and members during this time. 

It’s a convincing argument, right? And it’s a justifiable argument if my goal isn’t as important as my other prioritiesMeaning, I say writing more is important. But if I don’t actually write more, I need to ask myself a new set of questions:

  • Do people busier than me write as much as I would like to? Yes
  • Is writing important enough to me that I’m willing to be inconvenienced in other areas? Yes
  • Can I wake up earlier, watch less Netflix, or outsource an activity to find 3o minutes a day to write? Yes

You can look at this exercise one of two ways: I’m blaming myself (negative) or I’m taking ownership (empowering). By taking ownership of the situation, I’m not only more likely to achieve the desired goal but I’m practicing a skill that will serve me in other areas of my life and work.

The mind of a noob

When you first started working with a coach, you were probably entirely bought into the process. This is due to a combination of fear of something new and the accountability of working 1-on-1 with a professional coach. Adopt that mindset again. Pretend like it’s your first time working out, ask questions of your coaches, and take it slow.

There’s no making up for lost time

There’s a great saying that’s often used in health and investing for retirement: “The best time to start was yesterday. The second best time is today.” Just like sleep, you won’t be able to work out “extra” and make up for the break. Remember the movie “50 First Dates”? Pretend like your first day back is your first day altogether. You’ll be tempted to zero in on how fit you used to be. This is wasted mental energy. You’ll probably event comment on it to people around you. DON’T. Don’t let vocalizing a poor mindset define your actual mindset.

You are at your highest risk for injury

Our #1 red flag for injury potential is not the brand new I’ve never exercised in my life athlete. It’s most certainly the but I played football in college and lift weights all the time I don’t need to be coached athlete. If you’re coming back from a break you may be teetering in the camp of “I know how to do all this.” You are now equipped with the mental toughness and technique you gained when you first went through an intro program. Because you already have these skills, you’ll be tempted to ramp it up too quickly. Keep the weight light, the gymnastics simple, and the intensity low. Build them up until March. Then set it loose.

Prioritize most important things

Sleep is more important than nutrition and nutrition is more important than exercise. If you have limited time, focus that time on the things that will have a compounding positive effect on the others. If you’re going to eat like garbage but work out 5 times a week, just work out twice and meal prep the other three days. Those two workouts will have a much better result than the 5 with poor nutrition.

Go easy on yourself

We’re not wired for delayed gratification. The fact that you even adopted a healthy lifestyle change in the first place puts you in the vast minority of people. Celebrate that! Remind yourself that you’re doing something good for your future self and family. Find tiny milestones along the way to celebrate your progress. Grab a buddy and keep each other accountable. Aim low with how many times you commit to the gym or meal prep, but aim for consistency. And — as always — reach out to a coach for an assist.

Your Brain and New Years Resolutions – What’s Going On In There?

I’m often pegged as the “anti-Resolution” guy. Not the case at all. I’m definitely the “anti-Resolution that will make you feel like shit” guy though. To understand why your New Years Resolutions end with you feeling really crappy come March you’ll need to understand just a little bit about how your brain chemistry works.

Your brain on Drugs.

The turning over of the calendar and seasons has been an important part of our development as a species. As we look back on all records of ancient civilizations, we see that humans have been obsessed with the sun, stars, and seasons ever since we stepped out of the cave. Looking ahead into the future with hope and optimism is an important part of the human experience. Without the confidence that the sun will come back tomorrow, this can be a pretty scary world.

This innate desire to look ahead with hope is so important to our survival as a species that our brains have evolved to make us feel really good when we do so. We have a built-in drug that’s better than anything you’ll find at Coachella – dopamine. Dopamine is released when we think on potential positive outcomes. It’s the butterflies you feel after a surprisingly normal Tinder encounter. It’s what you feel after getting offered that dream job. It’s the perfect combination of optimism, opportunity, challenge, and healthy fear.

Your brain on Resolutions.

Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of the holiday season. It also marks the beginning of a lot of biological factors that contribute to an all-time low production of the miracle dopamine drug. Days are approaching their shortest of the year which means you’re getting less Vitamin D, going outside less, and your sleep cycle is all jacked up. On top of that, your routine is thrown off with weird work weeks, weird food habits, and financial stress. Compound all these biological abnormalities with increased alcohol consumption and family dynamics and you have the perfect recipe for feeling like a heap of shit.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! You see your schedule normalizing, holidays are in the rearview mirror, and there’s a new year ahead. You commit to get your shit together, spend less, drink less, workout more, and eat a piece of broccoli.

If you’re a coffee drinker and you’ve ever taken an extended break, you know that first cup off the wagon will knock your socks off. That’s your dopamine right now. It’s been at an all-time low, so feeling it for the first time in awhile is like a huge jolt straight to your jugular. So what should we do with it?

Put it in Context.

Use the drug – don’t try to be “too cool for school” and act like you don’t feel it. But, remind yourself that it’s a biological phenomenon and does not determine if you’re a good person, a driven person, or a disciplined person. You’re just a human with a biological body that is affected by seasons.

Know you’ll develop a Tolerance.

Just like with any drug, you’ll develop a tolerance to dopamine. It will run out in about 6 weeks. Plan on it. And plan for it.

Write down the things you’ll Tell Yourself.

This is the tough part. Once your tolerance for dopamine goes into effect, other parts of your brain will take the driver’s seat. These parts of your brain are much less concerned with the future than the dopamine part of your brain. Remember, dopamine exists to give us hope and plan for the future. Once it’s gone, the simpler — but more developed and stronger — parts of our brain will take over. Here are some things that the more short-sighted parts of our brain will say. I’M GOING TO EMPHASIZE THIS AGAIN IN HOPES THAT YOU REALLY LET IT SINK IN… YOU WILL TELL YOURSELF THESE THINGS AND THEY WILL BE VERY CONVINCING BECAUSE YOU ARE USING A DIFFERENT PART OF YOUR BRAIN. THEY WILL FEEL LIKE REALITY.

  • I’m too busy to ____.
  • Family obligations got in the way of ____.
  • Work is very _____ right now.

I know it is really hard to conceptualize competing ideas. For example, “My kids’ soccer schedule makes it to where I can’t work out.” Certainly a valid point, right? Especially valid because I get to be the “hero” that places my kids’ needs above my own. Their soccer certainly needs to take precedent over my health. Fast forward 5 years when you can’t even kick a ball with your kid because you’re too tired or out of shape. Fast forward 50 years when your kid puts their family’s lives on hold because your health has become so degenerative that you can’t live on your own.

Or “work is so busy I can’t work out.” There are mountains of evidence that show how regular, intense exercise makes you 20% more productive at work and increases your cognitive abilities three-fold. Science actually says you’re too busy to not work out.

Try this Instead.

The part of your brain responsible for delayed gratification — the main driver of your resolutions — is also the most under-developed part of your brain. The vast majority of resolutions will be some version of “exercise & diet.” These are the hardest resolutions to stick to because your brain will not be rewarded for its effort for several months or even decades.

Think of it like flossing your teeth. When are you most likely to floss? In the week leading up to your next dentist appointment, of course. Why? Because the rewards from flossing are just a week away but the consequences are decades off. Hopefully the flossing analogy helps put into context the “I’m too busy” things you’ll be telling yourself mid-February. You objectively have 60 seconds a day to floss, but most people don’t. It’s not because of time, it’s because the rewards are too far off and the consequences are even further off. Your health is the same way.

Instead of a “get in shape” or an “eat healthier” resolution, choose a skill that you’ll need in order to achieve those two. There’s an added bonus if the skill helps you in other areas of your life since the rewards will be more immediate, cementing the positive behavior deep in your brain. Here are a few “resolutions” that will not only help you get healthier but will also have positive benefits for your family, your stress levels, and your productivity at work:

  • Pack a lunch (it can be anything… even junk food) at least 4 days per week
  • Cut the average number of times you hit “snooze” in half
  • Get out of bed within 5 minutes of your alarm going off
  • Write down 3 things for which you’re grateful each morning
  • Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Spend 5 minutes foam rolling each night

There’s no doubt that you’ll have the ability to do one of these things each and every day for the next year. Remember: consistency is the key to anything. Begin to build consistency in the tiny things and you’ll see the massive trickle-down effect it’ll have on your overall health.