Monday, March 25, 2013

RIP, Joe Weider

Joe Weider, AKA Mr. Fitness, passed this Saturday at age 93.  I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but his legacy lives on in those of us who are grateful for his contribution to the world, have been inspired by his indomitable spirit, and who, in one way or another, choose to take a page or two from his book.  It is thanks, in part, to his enterprising nature that I was able to obtain my first weight bench fifteen years ago.  Even though the damn rack bit a chunk of skin off my hands every time I finished a set and put the barbell back, I would have been lifting a couple of buckets balanced on a broomstick without it, which is not a far cry from what Joe had to work with back in his day.  I also have many fond memories of reading Muscle & Fitness Magazine, dreaming about the day that I would reach the pinnacle of physical development and studying its fitness tips.  Thank you, Mr. Fitness, for helping to make health and fitness a little more attainable for us all.
Our country thrives because of people like Joe, a Montreal native who, ironically, epitomizes American ingenuity and strong work ethic.  Let Joe be an inspiration to us all to be just half as self-motivated and productive. We need more hardworking and dedicated individuals like Joe who are willing to do what needs to be done – whether it be on the level of personal health and fitness, career and finance, or philanthropy.  This man has shown us that in America you can create your own strength, your own success, and your own wellness: that by unrelenting self-effort, there is no limit to how far we can grow.

Joe was a principled individual who took it as his duty to give to those less fortunate than himself.  His protégé, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a personal hero of mine, says he will never forget Weider’s generosity way back when Arnold was just another starving artist, putting him up in a place in Santa Monica, giving him a stipend to make ends-meet, and plastering Schwarzenegger’s accomplishments all over his (Weider’s) magazines.  He played a similar role in the career of a then-unknown Lou Ferrigno.  Weider and his brother, Ben, never stopped offering support to their native Montreal, even after emigrating, which they took as a religious obligation.   

Joe Weider founded an editorial empire during the Great Depression, with no formal education, and while working full-time as a line cook, despite a booming monopoly held by one Bob Hoffman.  Weider brought integrity to the editorial process by resolving to publish the methods that were proven by champion body-builders themselves, as opposed to the material being circulated by the competition, which was mostly anecdotal and contradictory.  By initiating the process of taking fitness from the realm of hearsay and wives’ tales and into the domain of empirical evidence, by identifying an opening in the market which he could fill, by actually being his business rather than capitalizing on a particular demographic he didn’t really understand or care about (as was the practice of Hoffman), and through sheer perseverance, Weider took the market.  His success only grew from there.  As a personal trainer and a fitness enthusiast, this is a big deal to me.  This is a man who, against all odds, made the world a better place and figured out a way to prosper in the process.  Good for you, Joe Weider, and good for us.

Mr. Fitness, you had a good run but you will be missed.  Your passing serves as one final service to mankind, as a reminder for us all to take a moment to channel some of our “Inner Joe”.  May we all resolve today to be just a little more optimistic, innovative, benevolent, cooperative, and unflinching.  May we all make up our mind to realize our own potential in some way that we have, thus far, been putting off.  If we all just make a small effort to bring even a little bit of “Joe” into our life, the world will undoubtedly become a better place overnight.  Rest in Peace, Joe Weider.

Please subscribe to continue to receive tips and updates regarding all things fitness.

Follow me on Twitter @LevelUpWellness

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Client Progress: Vik

At the time of this photo, I have been training Vik for five months. His enthusiasm and upbeat attitude have made him a pleasure to work with. We have been working toward improving all fitness components simultaneously. As you can see from his photos his body composition and posture have improved significantly. We have also seen great improvements in muscular strength, flexibility, and cordiovascular endurance. When we first began interval training to improve his running, he could run about two blocks before having to rest. He is now ready to run his first 5k, which will be in May. The key for Vik has been finding a routine that strikes a balance between being manageable enough to fit into an already busy life and still effecting consistent results. We are both very pleased with his success and I am very excited to see where he will be five more months down the road.
Friday, November 16, 2012

Building Muscle: Herbivore-Style!

In order to build muscle, you need protein. This is the basic building-block of muscle.

You also need to make sure you are eating enough of the right kinds of carbohydrates to keep up with your energy demands. Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source of the body. At least 50% of everybody's daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, while avoiding added sugar.  Endurance athletes may demand something closer to 70%.  If you aren't eating enough "Slow-burning" complex carbohydrates (starches), your body will convert protein into carbohydrates, which is undesirable. Good sources of complex carbohydrates are whole grain bread, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and any other whole grain.

Remember: You've got to eat a significantly higher volume of food as a vegetarian to get an adequate caloric intake.  If you're bodybuilding on top of that, you're looking at bringing that figure up even further.

Back to protein:         

You need 0.5g Protein/lb. Bodyweight, Daily.

Eggs and dairy products are protein rich. Qinoa (a grain), amaranth (another grain) and hemp seed are all complete protein sources. Other plant foods have some of the amino acids that can be assembled to form complete proteins in your body but need to be complemented by other plant foods that have the missing amino acids, hence the term, "Complementary proteins".  A good, general rule-of-thumb is: Grain + Legume = Complete Protein

I generally shy away from recommending soy products like soymilk, tofu, and fake meat products that are popular right now because a) 90% of all soy in the united states is genetically modified, b) soy contains phytin, which leaches minerals from the body, c) it is a high-allergen food, and d) it contains phytoestrogens which are potentially carcinogenic and are counter-productive for those trying to build muscle mass.  Even in the Asian countries who we exported tofu from, people generally only eat the stuff infrequently and in small amounts. 

That having been said, fermented soy products have traditionally been used more liberally in Asian countries without any adverse side-effects, at least not that anybody has been able to identify yet.  One fermented soy product that is high in protein, is super-versatile, and is totally tasty is tempeh.  At 20g protein/serving, tempeh is a staple for me.  Natto is another fermented soy product that is traditionally used in Japan.  It is high in protein, considered healthy, and consumed in high volumes.  Due to a slimy texture and a smell that some don't care for, Natto is something of an acquired taste.

Get around GMOs by going Organic

Another staple for me is a protein shake.  When I'm training hard, it is way easier for me to fall short of my body's protein requirement than it is to exceed it, especially being vegetarian who only eats eggs and dairy in very limited amounts.  The one egg protein shake I've had mixed easily, tasted great, and was very high in protein without any sugar.  On the other hand, it made me fart like no other.  Sometimes I do whey protein, which is the cheapest route.  As one who takes issue with the meat and dairy industry for the sake of not wanting to consume unnecessary antibiotics and hormones, I generally shy away from whey protein.  Then there are the vegan protein shakes.  Some of these are just awful.  One that warrants my accolades however, is the VegaOne brand.  That stuff is delicious, mixes easily, and is full of vitamins and minerals that vegetarians and vegans could potentially be lacking.  The downside is that this option contains the least amount of protein per serving (15 or 16g) and is the most expensive by a landslide.

Vitamins & Minerals

This is an entry for another day but there are a few points I would like to make on the matter before calling it a day.  It should go without saying that a person needs to make a point of getting all of their essential vitamins and minerals but, just in case, I've just said it.  Vegetarians and vegans are potentially at risk of developing deficiencies in Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12.  They are also at risk of becoming deficient in certain minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.  All of these, with the exception of Vitamin B12, can be adequately supplied by a varied diet high in fruits, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and orange/yellow vegetables.  There are no sources of vitamin B12 that are not animal-derived.  For that, a vegetarian can eat dairy, eggs, and/or nutritional yeast/marmite spread.  A vegetarian would have to rely solely on an appropriate multivitamin or foods fortified with vitamin B12.  Also, a vegetarian/vegan is normally capable of synthesizing Vitamin D from sunlight.  People who don't eat animal products and who live far from the equator, where there is relatively little sunlight, need to supplement Vitamin D.  This particularly applies to people in these areas who have dark skin.  Eskimos accomplished this by eating whale blubber.  Today we have the luxury of multivitamins that are readily available.

There you have it.  That's everything you should need to start muscling up without eating meat or animal products.

Good luck & happy grazing!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 Must-Have Mobile Fitness Apps

MyNetDiary - Free

Essentially, this is a calorie-counter.  As a personal trainer, I can tell you that getting people accountable for their calories is both necessary & hard to do.

Why The Trainer Likes It:

    •  "I forgot my food journal" is no longer an excuse
    • Adding what you eat is easier than ever before
      • Inline bar code scanner
      • If your item isn't already on database, it will be after you enter it once
      • Add individual food components to a "recipe" entry to track the calories in your own cooking. (goes into the database just like everything else)
    • Tracks, charts, & graphs lots of stats
      • % of total calories for each macronutrient (carbs, fat, protein)
      • Micronutrients (vitamins, minearls, etc.)
      • Weight
      • Calories
      • BMI (Body Mass Index)
      • BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
    • Creates a caloric budget based on your specific height, weight, & goal
    • Tracks caloric expenditure (calories burned)
    • Can further utilize features at


    • Occasionally, barcode scanner or database will crash
    • Free mobile/online app has all the fundamentals but does try to rope you in to various paid versions for more features

    The Bottom Line:

    This is a solid app.  The price (free) is right and it wouldn't hurt a person to shell out a little dough for MyNetDiary-Pro ($4.99).  That's what I use.  Either way, everything you really need to track a comprehensive fitness routine is in this app.


    Runkeeper - Free

    This app runs a stopwatch in conjunction with location services that track your position on the globe for the duration of your activity.  Running is one of my favorite activities to get clients performing.  With Runkeeper, I can now tell my client exactly how far he/she has run every time and vice-versa.  If running isn't your thing, Runkeeper can also be utilized for a whole bevy of other activities.

     Why The Trainer Likes It:

    • Tracks distance & time of past activities
    • Tracks elevation climb/drop
    • Notifies you when you've improved
    • Easily allows you to publish details of your activity to social networking media sites
    • Comes pre-loaded with workout plans (with option to buy more)
      • 23-week 1/2 marathon training
      • 20 Minute Easy Workout
      • 2.25 Mile Workout
      • 2 Miles with Rest
      • Set a Target Pace, etc.
    • Choose from at least 13 different activities
      • Running, cycling, walking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming, wheelchair, rowing, elliptical, or input your own
    • Set goals and track your progress
    • Shows you & your friends (if you want) your entire route plotted on a map when you're finished 

    The Bottom Line: 

    This is a solid training tool.  I have used it for some time now and haven't experienced any drawbacks.

    The content is comprehensive.  The interface is streamlined and intuitive.  It makes it easy for people to get out the door, do what they need to do, and to report it back to me quickly, efficiently, and accurately. 

    It effectively brings to the table tools that can be put to good use  by noobs and pros alike.  Cardio wouldn't be the same without it.

    Also, as usual, the $$$ price $$$ is right!  Perhaps you are beginning to notice a theme?



    Gym Hero - Free

    Gym Hero is a tool for resistance training that lets you record the number of repetitions performed and the weight that you lifted for each set of repetitions.  It might take a little tinkering the first session but, the guided walk-through should iron out most of your questions.  After 1 or 2 sessions, it becomes much quicker and much less cumbersome than carrying around a notebook & pen. 

    Once you've entered a workout, it will be pre-loaded the next time you workout.  You can store multiple workouts.

    The advantage to this is that you can easily track and see gains in strength and endurance.

    After your workout, it summarizes everything you've done at the top of the screen.  

    It is very handy for me to easily be able to look at your device and immediately see your exercise volume.  Self-reporting is notoriously vague.  


    I hope you've found this list helpful.  This info, if properly applied, will definitely make your workouts more productive.

    If you enjoyed this article, don't forget to hit the "Subscribe" button/dropdown menu either below or at the top, right.  Don't miss an update!

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Mind-Body Minute: Seated Meditation

    You've probably heard someone somewhere talking up the benefits of meditation.  There's not really any escaping it; it's a buzzword.  Studies are showing things like increased brain plasticity, neurological regeneration, improved cognitive performance, and reversal of cardiovascular disease, just to name a few practical results of meditation.

    Yoga and meditation are now common among athletes for improved performance.  Meditators of all walks of life attribute the ability to perform better in any situation, increased clarity, calmness, and reduced stress to meditation.

    I would do all these folks one better and put it to you that, while yes, these are some very common meditation fringe benefits, these are only milestones on the path to every human's ultimate destiny.  This stuff is small potatoes compared to the real goal:  Enlightenment.

    Imagine a state free of attachment and its doppelganger, aversion.  In such a state, desire has ceased to be.  One simply lives completely and fully in the moment, lovingly accepting every single fleeting thing that arises within awareness and then, when the time comes, letting it go; watching it dissolve again.  Without avoiding the things that we tend to dislike and clinging to the things that we tend to like, we are freed to see the beauty and perfection of each moment as it truly is.  We have Santosha, contentment.  We are freed from desire which, truly, frees us from suffering.

    For most people, this last part is a little out there simply because most of us are VERY accustomed to having desires and it has never even occurred to us that there is an alternative.  This message is not for everybody but at least now it's occurred to you! 

    Now that I've got all the airy-fairy stuff out of the way, lets get back down to Earth: Meditation is beautiful because whatever level of experience you are operating on, it sharpens latent skills and abilities that will enrich your experience as a human.  It nourishes body, mind, and spirit.

    "So how do I do it?"

    Being a Shaivite (a topic for another day), the method I will recommend is meditating on the initiatory mantra of my lineage, "Om Namah Shivaya" (pronounced: Ohm  Nah-MAH  SHEE-Vie-Yah).

    Sitting or lying, with eyes closed and spine straight, recite the mantra internally.  Synchronize it with the breath.  If you are feeling dull, sluggish, tired, etc.:  Repeat the mantra on both the inbreath and outbreath.  If the mind is restless and making it difficult to focus on the mantra, repeat the mantra on the outbreath only.  

    When you find that your attention has wandered to something other than the mantra, which it will almost certainly do, be kind to yourself.  Know that that is to be expected.  Simply acknowledge that attention has slipped and redirect it to the mantra.  Repeat as often as necessary.  If you have to redirect your attention 1,000 times in one sitting, that's OK.  This is a class where you get full credit simply for showing up and sitting for the duration.  Proficiency will come with practice.  This should be done for 15 minutes initially, up to 45 minutes and up to 2x/day.

    "So what does it mean?"

    The potency of the mantra has little to do with its explicit meaning.  The very vibratory quality of the mantra's syllables have an elevating effect on one's consciousness.  If the mantra is received from one who you are taking instruction from because they have already attained enlightenment themselves, the mantra can be considered even more energized; its effect more potent.

    If you must know the literal meaning, the most accurate translation from the original Sanskrit is, "I salute consciousness, itself" or, "I bow to the Supreme consciousness in which all is contained; which exists in every thing".

    There you have it, folks. everything you need to get started.  If you're interested in experiencing improved physical health, improved mental/psychological well-being, and/or the indescribably blissful transcendent state of true communion with your own spiritual essence, I would highly recommend giving it a shot.  Start right away, before you forget and give it a few weeks.  Then step back and re-evaluate how your life outside of meditation has been going since beginning to really gauge your success.  Happy OM'ing!

    If you liked this post, please hit the "subscribe" button below OR at the top, right, portion of the page.

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Grand Opening Event!!!

    What Moves You this Fall?
    Opportunity to sign up for $19.95 memberships – limited offer
    September 29, 2012
    10am to 2pm
    Fremont Health Club 3601 Fremont Ave. N
    (corner of Fremont Ave. N and 36th St)
    • Live DJ, Prizes, and fun people refreshments and more.
    • Classes: Free 30 minute classes - Belly Fit, Power Pilate's, Core Cardio, Traditional Middle Eastern Belly Dance and more.

    Join our event & "Like" us on Facebook!
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Trainer's Fitness Log

    Week 13

    I am now at 135.6 lbs; 4.0 % body fat.
    •  130.2 lbs. Lean Muscle Mass (LMM)
    • 5.4 lbs. fat.

    From Week 5....

    131 lbs.; 6.2% bodyfat
    •  123 lbs. LMM
    •   8 lbs. fat

    The Breakdown:

    Over the course of 8 weeks, I am.....
    • Down 1.8% bodyfat
    • Down 2.6 lbs. fat
    • Up 7.8 lbs. LMM

    + 7.8 Lbs. in 8 Weeks

    The smile of a man who is right on track =============>
    (Not to be confused with the smile of the man on those "Enzyte" commercials)

    Recent Posts

    twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail