Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Listen to Your Mind and Body

I still like to run, but I'm much smarter about it these day
Being an athlete is much harder behind the scenes than what you see on TV or social media. The grind is so monotonous and difficult to maintain over the course of many years. As a former athlete, I am fully aware of how hard it is to push yourself to your limits day in and day out. When I was going through that as a collegiate track and field athlete I just remember thinking that while this experience will definitely harden me mentally and physically in positive ways, that it will also continue to break my body down. As student in the Kinesiology program at James Madison at that time, I was just beginning to learn about the effects of over training and how it detracts from your performance. Now don't get me wrong...I loved my overall experience as a track athlete. However, that grind of constantly being tired and over trained really was difficult to work through. I am fortunate that I had this innate love of being fit so it kept me going after my collegiate running days were over. However, I can understand why so many athletes just stop exercising completely when they are done with their college eligibility or their professional career. Its hard to continue to go to the "well" so many times per week especially when that's what you have been doing for well over a decade straight. It just drains you physically and mentally. 

What's great for me now is that I train just as hard as I did then, but I am much smarter about my recovery methods and frequency of exercise. I do the one thing that I have the choice of doing these days which is....I listen to my body. This is something that I think is being totally ignored by the current 10% of regular exercisers. While we know that so many people just don't like exercise, there is a segment of the population who is crazy about it and that population is getting a lot of publicity on TV and social media. Meme's of squatting, bathroom pics in the gym and so forth are dominating our culture. Apparently being a gym rat is now a badge of honor among many groups and organizations who are big into fitness. 

However, as a long term fitness professional and someone who has a terminal degree in the science and psychology of fitness and wellness, I see the overzealous nature of hitting it hard all the time as a real detriment to the perception of fitness. More than ever people are not listening to their bodies. They are pushing through small injuries that become big injuries. They are maxing out on weights all the time or even worse lifting maximum loads for a tremendous amount of repetitions. This is a recipe not only for physical injury, but mental exhaustion/burnout. Which then ultimately leads to long periods of inactivity and misguided body image issues. It also leads to obsessive behaviors where everything else in your life is dictated by your exercise schedule. That's just unhealthy and does not promote a well rounded person. 

Listen, being fit is absolutely wonderful. I don't want people to mistake this blog entry for pushing against working hard. You should absolutely push yourself and try to reach your ceiling in terms of your physical fitness. However, it should be done in a smart and efficient way. MORE IS NOT BETTER. LIVING AT THE GYM ALL THE TIME IS NOT HEALTHY. Live a life full of rich experiences where fitness and wellness happen to be just one of the cogs of a well rounded person. It should not be your everything. You can take this principle and apply it to almost anything in your life. 

So, the takeaway...remember to listen to your body on a daily basis. Your body is a very active communication tool. It lets you know so many things regularly. You just need to increase your awareness of what it is telling you. And in the same token you need to listen to mental cues of exhaustion as well. You don't have to be a fitness hero on social media or try to be this impossible standard of fitness that you can't sustain over the long term in your life. Train hard, but more importantly train smarter. That's a viable long term approach to becoming and staying fit throughout your life. 

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, April 3, 2015

Madame Tussaud's Las Vegas Review

Its been many years since I visited Madame Tussaud's here in Las Vegas. In fact it has been about 11 years since I visited that place. I was glad that Andy from Tug Agency asked me to review the place for them. I was wowed by how much the place has changed and how interactive the facility is now. I took my wife with me on a mutual day we both had off from work. If you have been to Madame Tussaud's lately then you will notice that before you even enter the facility that there is a wax figure of Channing Tatum. We saw several tourists taking pictures with "Channing." The funny thing watching people is that they seemed to really feel like they were taking a pic with him! At first I thought that was weird, but honestly once we got into the place we started acting like everyone else! Haha! When you first enter Madame Tussaud's you get the feeling that you are about to see something very cool. And boy was I right. The first wax figure we saw was Robert DiNero. Its so amazing see these life like figures right in front of you.

You can tell that so much detail and time is put into making these wax figures look almost exactly like the real people. After seeing Bobby D, we moved on to the first big showcase floor which had a variety of celebrity wax figures. Michelle and I had a good time posing, smiling and just generally having a good time. I think our favorite part of that first area was the Hugh Hefner area. As you can see below Michelle decided to get into bed with Hef!

As we approached the next area we saw sports stars from today and yesteryear. I loved that you could fake box with Muhammad Ali, play basketball with Shaq and so on and so forth. The interactive portions of Madame Tussaud's were the best aspects of it because they were fun, but they also just made taking pictures so much more fun. I think you can tell that from our pictures. As we made our way through the rest of the facility we just found ourselves feeling more and more relaxed and having a good time laughing, joking and taking pictures. My wife and I remarked at how much fun we had with just the two of us doing this micro adventure. I actually recently read about the rise of micro adventures so this opportunity to be reintroduced to a fun part of our local Vegas culture was really awesome.

Our final stop at Madam Tussaud's was the Super Hero area. Michelle took a picture with Sue Storm from the Fantastic Four and I had fun acting out what it would be like if I got scooped up by the Hulk! Somehow the expression on my face looks like I am having too much fun. I am pretty sure it would hurt like hell to be grabbed by the Hulk! 

Overall, it was just an amazing time. I've always liked how Madame Tussaud's spends time updating and evolving their product. You can tell with things like the Super Hero area that they pay attention to what's popular in general culture. I look forward to going back to Madame Tussaud's and see how the place will continue to grow. It's honestly really impressive that they have stayed open over a decade in a town where things close regularly. Vegas is not exactly a town filled with tradition so its nice to know that this place has become somewhat of a tourist institution here in town. However, I highly encourage my fellow Vegas locals to check out this place. I promise you will have a good time and you will leave with many fun pictures to look back upon. Here's the link to Madame Tussaud's:

Until next time...

Dr. D

Sunday, March 29, 2015

PUMA Ignite Shoe Review

As a lifelong runner, I am always looking for good options for running shoes. With so many choices out there it can be difficult to know which ones will provide me with the right fit and feel when I am doing a variety of running workouts. You see for me, I don't subscribe to just long distance runs. In fact, I spend a lot of time doing intervals runs and sprints as I was collegiate track and field sprinter and those workouts just give me that extra push that I need. So, a strong performance shoe is something that I greatly value.

Recently, I was selected by PUMA on behalf of Fitfluential to check out their new PUMA Ignite running shoe. These shoes have a slick and bold color pattern with a narrow look. The first time I took them out of the box I thought they looked like a nice bridge between a running shoe and track and field spikes. They are definitely light weight, but still provide you with a nice amount of cushion in the heels which is crucial to injury prevention and running performance.

However, I would note that these shoes are not meant to be worn around leisurely all day or for very long mileage runs. These are high functioning performance shoes built for speed in my opinion. In fact, during my training I often start out with a more standard distance running shoe and then I switch to the PUMA Ignite shoe for my shorter speed endurance or speed intervals. During these types of runs the shoes feels light and it is easy for me to have a consistent stride where I can strike my feet directly underneath my hips and come back to 90 degrees of hip flexion. I actually had my fastest intervals runs I've ever done using the PUMA Ignite shoes so I greatly endorse their value as a performance shoe.

Overall, I would highly recommend these shoes for runners who are looking to truly increase their speed endurance and turnover. I would have loved to have these shoes as a transition shoe to track spikes when I was a collegiate athlete. Still, I am happy I have them know so I can push my speed endurance with a solid shoe.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

IHRSA 2015 Review

In life you learn a lot by reflecting on your past experiences. Our past experiences not only help to shape what we become, but they also give us clarity about our possible future experiences. After attending IHRSA for the past three years in a row, it is refreshing to know the trend of building a positive culture in fitness is continuing to grow. This year's IHRSA was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center which is in downtown LA. While I am not a huge fan of LA, I was happy to attend another IHRSA conference to see how the fitness industry was continuing to grow and change. 

When I first walked into the LA convention center I was struck by a gigantic banner that said "It's not the machines, stupid. Its the people." Nothing could have summed up my philosophy about working in the fitness industry better. I am a firm believer that the focus has to be on people when working with people. Seems like a simple concept, but so often we get swept up by shiny new material things. Nothing is more of an example of this than with fitness equipment. While IHRSA continues to be a very important platform for equipment manufacturers to showcase new products, I got the sense that the industry is working hard to shift that focus. There will always be a need for equipment in fitness, but there's certainly a bigger need for what makes people tick and how we can get them to incorporate fitness regularly into their lives. 

Speaking of equipment, I entered the IHRSA Trade Show Floor a little after 10am on Thursday, March 12th and as usual I was impressed by the scope and magnitude of the trade show floor. Every large and small equipment company was in attendance with their newest products. Unlike past IHRSA's where I did not have a real plan for exploring the trade show floor, this year our team (myself and our Assistant Manager at Club Ridges, Brooke Pizzo) had a definitive plan. We were going to primarily explore the recovery based products to see what we could add to our ever evolving wellness club at Club Ridges in Las Vegas. We immediately moved to the back ends of the gigantic trade show floor where smaller vendors were set up. We spend time getting some new trinkets for our stretch therapy program and discussing options for our club for rowing machines. 

And of course, we couldn't help ourselves...we participated in a few fitness challenges such as the 60 Second Power Challenge. Last year we did the Woodway Curve Challenge and that was definitely one of the most painful things I have ever done, which means I loved it! Brooke and I just can't help ourselves with these challenges. They really create a fun environment for competition while also testing out new products. Plus, the possibility of winning big prizes is fun too. IHRSA is always a great platform for stuff like that. While we didn't win the Power Challenge, I am proud to say we finished top five in both the men's and women's categories! 

After finishing our three hours on the trade show floor, we moved on to a lecture by Bruce Carter about designing the Health Clubs of the Future. This was of particular interest to me as the General Manager of a quickly growing residential fitness facility. Mr. Carter's talk confirmed to both Brooke and I the type of club expansion or addition that we need to have in the future. Mr. Carter emphasized that gyms of the future need to have lots of space that are beautifully designed with the mindset of offering fee based programs. His focus on maximizing fee based programs for maximum profit made lots of sense to me, but in our environment that money is essentially a symbol of the value of our residents using the facility. Residential fitness facilities are almost primarily amenities for selling homes so the focus is on value versus bottom line profit. Still, the concept can work in our environment as well. 

Our next day at IHRSA we decided to spend to do the morning workout on the trade show floor. Last year we did Todd Durkin's class, but this year we wanted to focus on doing our own workout on the trade show floor. At 6:30am in the morning Brooke and I entered the trade show floor and we were on a mission. This time it wasn't to explore a new product, but to workout very hard doing a form of exercise that I believed not many people were going to do. And boy was I right! Before we started we noticed that every single person was on either a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical, etc at one of the hundreds of equipment manufacturers on the floor. Just seemed strange to me that no one wanted to take advantage of all of the open red hallway space surrounding all the equipment. Brooke and I took to the hallways in the center of the floor and proceeded to to a track and field active warm up followed by sprint relays. It was funny watching all the people watch our work out and wonder what we were doing. And the shocking part...these are all fitness professionals!! Just got me thinking that innovation is sometimes most apparent when you are the only one willing to drift away from the pack. 

This was further emphasized in the State of the Fitness Industry talk the previous day by Joe Moore. What was the take away point? Sameness is not innovation. Don't be like everyone else. So much of what we see in fitness is just a copy cat of another thing. The truly innovative companies and businesses are willing to step out on a leap of faith to create something new and amazing. This was so evident during that morning workout session. Too much sameness, not enough innovation from people working out on that floor. Even so, it was good to see so many professionals in the same place being active. 

After getting some breakfast and enjoying some reflection about the conference, Brooke and I headed to Adam Bryant's lecture titled "Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEO's on How to Create a Culture of Innovation." To say that the lecture was excellent would be a gross understatement. Mr. Bryant's breakdown of how to create an amazing work culture was game changing. It was full of information, appropriate moments of humor and hope that more and more people are focusing on creating incredible work cultures. 

Probably the biggest takeaway for me about Mr. Bryant's lecture was that hiring great people often takes care of creating a great work culture. Brooke and I looked at each other after hearing that statement and it just reinforced how awesome our environment is at Club Ridges. We have worked very hard to create a place that people want to spend time at even when they are not on the clock. There's so much love, respect and hard work that happens at our club. Its made us a hugely successful club in our companies portfolio. I couldn't help but be very happy that we are moving in the right direction of the culture movement. More and more companies are starting to realize that employees who feel loved, cared for and respected will produce better outcomes for those companies. The fact that IHRSA had a lecture like that as one of their keynote lectures made me love the organization even more. 

Treat people well and watch then flourish!

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Conscious Life

When I was growing up I was fortunate to have two parents who were very intuitive and forthcoming about what life could hold for us. I remember being told so many times that I was going to college and by the time I was in high school there really seemed to be no other option. I also remember being told about making good decisions and associating with the right people. From an early age I was very conscious of how my actions could affect my future self. However, I am aware that this wisdom is often not passed down from parent to child. In fact there is a large contingent of human beings on this planet who go through life in their 20's and many times 30's without any real conscious thought related to actions and consequences.

Now in my late 30's I've come to the realization that so many people are just "waking" up to the fact that their life is not what they wanted it to be. I've seen this many times with so many people who I have come into contact with over the years. And its really hard to blame people because we are so very much a product of who we come from. Hopefully, who you come from are people who are wonderful and forthcoming about your possibilities in life. However, much of what I've seen is that that initial launch into life is often crafted by broken examples of marriage, lack of encouragement, lack of structure and direction.

So what does this lead us to? It leads to adults who are in broken personal and professional relationships, have low self-esteem and poor discipline. The cycle then repeats with their children. This is often the outcome of a life that is lived unconsciously from a very early age. So, the next part is how do we change this? Because it is fixable. You can always begin to live a conscious lifestyle and even better you can instill that into our youth so that they can be "awake" early in life and maximize their ability to be successful human beings in all phases of their life for a very long time. Here's how you can do that:

1. Instill Good Decision Making Skills

-Its never too early to talk to your children or too late to talk to your friends and family about the value of making good decisions. Discuss with children, friends and family how making good decisions leads to successful outcomes in all phases of life. Show them examples of people who have made good decisions and how those decisions have benefited them. One of the greatest examples of this is instilling good decision making when it comes to choosing a mate and thriving in a marriage. Thriving marriages are focused on long term mindful, loving and cooperative behaviors even as both people are growing and changing throughout the years.

2. Focus on Mindfulness of Actions

-When talking about decision making its important to be mindful about your actions and the possible outcomes of those actions. Mindfulness is a conscious decision making process that is vital to long term success for all people. For example, I have talked to my family, friends and colleagues about the value of having thoughtful responses. Thinking about the tone and meaning of your words before you say them to people will better reflect what you really want to say. Or at work I always try to think about what the future consequences will be if I make a certain decision about an operating cost or implementing a program. Whatever the situation, I do my best to think through what the outcome might be before making a decision. That always guides me to the best possible action.

3. Expect, Prepare and Achieve

-Don't hope to do well or wish that you will do well. Expect it and also expect to prepare ardently to do well. Lack of success in various areas of life (work, personal, social, etc.) is many times due to lack of preparation and low expectations for one self. Success is not a mistake. There is a conscious level of intensity and direction (motivation) exhibited by individuals and organizations who are highly successful.

4. Balance Oriented

-Be conscious about how much is on your plate on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. And to go deeper, be conscious and thoughtful about what things are important for you to be a part of. Ask yourself...what's sustainable and what's not? Become a well balanced person. Dive into quality, realistic and worthwhile activities that provide you with grow physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, emotionally, environmentally and occupationally.

5. Reflect Often

-Spend regular time in conscious reflection. Evaluate where you are at different stages of your life. Determine if your decisions and actions reflect your passions, interests and values at different stages of your life. People are not static creatures. We grow, we change, we morph into different versions of ourselves throughout our lifespan. You need to be tapped into where you currently are in your life socially, emotionally and so on and so forth.

Thanks for taking the time to ready another one of my blog posts. I am grateful to my audience for taking this information in and hopefully using it for good in their lives.

Until the next time...

Dr. D