Sergeant Tony's Blog

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Do You Know Joe?

May. 20th 2017

Let’s make some money!
We’ll have to be a little unethical, white lies mostly, maybe a little slight of hand.
It won’t hurt anyone. Not really.
In fact, it might actually be kind of good for them.

Here’s what we’ll do.
We’ll develop a nutritional supplement.
Maybe a pill or a drink or something to eat.
It’ll have healthy ingredients.
Or at least the kind of ingredients we think of as healthy.

We’ll give our product a cool name.
We’ll make some pretty bold claims about it.
It’ll make you faster.
It’ll make you stronger.
It’ll help you recover quicker.
It’ll help you lose weight.
The claims may or may not be true.
Some people will feel better.
Some people will be faster.
Or at least they’ll think so.
More than likely it’ll be the placebo effect.

We’ll market our cool product and get well-known people to endorse it.
We’ll make a lot of money.

I don’t know if this is how the shelves get filled with the latest snake oil. (It may be worse than this.) Or the process may be slightly less benign. It depends on the product and the people.

What’s the consumer to do?

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of products sold by drug stores, vitamin shops, online stores, and friends selling stuff through hundreds of multi-level marketing companies that don’t measure up. The majority of those products are nothing more than the same kind of vitamins and minerals and other health foods that have been around for years. Some products are good sources of vitamins and minerals, to be sure. But some products just produce expensive urine. The vast majority of those products are grossly overpriced and unnecessary.

I bought my first plastic bottle of snake oil in 1977 and have been studying the claims and effects of those things ever since. What was in that bottle I bought in ‘77, you ask? The label said, “predigested protein” and was sold by a company owned by the legendary Joe Weider. (I was a young Corporal in the Marine Corps, lifting heavy and running 6 days a week, and was looking for nutrition to help me recover quickly.) If you were involved in health, fitness, weight training, and bodybuilding in the 70s and 80s, you knew about Joe Weider. He was a master marketeer, entrepreneur, salesman, businessman, publisher, and “father” of modern body building. His name was on everything you could think of in fitness and exercise. Trump probably took branding advice from Joe. But Joe wasn’t a scientist and the products that bore his name were usually little more than repackaged products already available from other sales people. But you were buying the Joe Weider name.


What exactly was in that bottle of “predigested protein”?

No one really knew. I certainly didn’t. I was no food scientist. But I CAN verify that it tasted NASTY! And I CAN verify that I couldn’t say with any degree of assurance that the product did what it said that it did. It might have worked. I couldn’t be sure. And the FDA was no help.

The FDA isn’t involved in dietary supplements. Period. Let that sink in.

There’s no requirement for the supplement industry to publish the ingredients of their product nor to prove their claims. Anyone can sell anything and call it whatever they want and make any claim they want. The companies are left to police themselves. Let the buyer beware. It truly is the Wild West in the supplement business. Snake oil in the modern world.

Every week, it seems, I see a new product introduced on social media or someone tells me about some something they’re taking or selling. It’s almost impossible to keep up. And so MANY people want me to sell it. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve told a friend or acquaintance “no” when they asked me to represent some product they stumbled on.

So, what is the consumer to do?

First of all, and this applies to everything, not just dietary supplements: get out a copy of your resume and check your areas of expertise. What does your formal higher education and experience say about what you’re an expert in? What subjects do you have a graduate or terminal degree in (a masters or doctorate)? What skill, trade, or area of research do you have 10,000 hours or more in? That is what you’re an expert in. Everything else is outside of your “wheelhouse,” not inside your “silo.” Everything else will require the consultation of those people who ARE experts. If I have a toothache, I don’t Google “toothache” to see what I should do. I go to the dentist. If I’m considering vaccinating my children, I don’t ask a Hollywood starlet for advice.

Since the FDA isn’t involved in dietary supplements, the consumer has to rely on the experts. The consumer has to do their homework and research the work of experts in the field. We have to depend on science, demand proof, and expect transparency.

Imagine that you and I want to develop a product, but we’re going to operate above board and are going to produce a genuine and effective supplement. We want to produce a product as effective as Gatorade or GU. These are some of the steps an honest developer might go through.

1) Research what the needs are in athletic performance and endurance, general health, or recovery from workouts or illness.

2) Gather experts: Registered Dietitians, PhDs in Food Science, PhDs in Exercise Science, PhDs in Human Performance, etc.

3) Secure research funding through grants and other science investments. Receiving a grant requires a lot of work and details related to your project. About 99% of all grants are intended to advance the human race forward, not make a profit for unnamed investors or stock holders. (I recently took a grant writing class and wrote two grants and can tell you that an organization or individual who receives a grant has done their homework and have convinced a panel of evaluators of the merit of their project.)

4) Develop and test the product. Over and over and over again.

5) Conduct double-blind comparison and contrast research of the product.

6) Seek out peer review research into the product.

7) Make necessary adjustments to the product.

8) Repeat #4, 5, and 6 until satisfied with the results.

9) Secure additional funding. Step 1: Apply for grants, Step 2: Ask the experts from step 2, Step 3: Seek investments from those who fund evidence-based research and science.

10) Secure patent and legal ownership of the proprietary intellectual rights.

11) Seek FDA approval.

12) Manufacture finished product.

13) Promote product through advertising and marketing that relies on science and field success, depending on the testimonials of those involved in the research, development, and assessment of the product. Since the product is designed for athletes, the testimonials would include athletes, coaches, trainers, and other sports professionals. Think Gatorade.

Anything that doesn’t rely on science and research, and doesn’t promote those things with expert testimonials is, AT BEST, suspicious. (I’m obviously impressed by products that were initially funded through grant money.) And you can almost certainly bet that a supplement or product that is as good as the claims isn’t going to be marketed and sold by a multi-level marketing company. Gatorade, developed in 1965 by members of the faculty of the University of Florida (Dr. Robert Cade, Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. John Lloyd, Dr. Harry James Free and Dr. Alejandro de Quesada), isn’t being sold by the University of Florida. In 1969, the developers entered into an agreement with Stokely-Van Camp, a canned food packaging company, to produce and distribute Gatorade. After being acquired and sold a few times since then, Gatorade is now owned by Pepsi-Co and accounts for 75% of all sports drink sales world-wide.

In my experience, if a product designed for health, fitness, and athletic performance is, after 3 to 5 years of its development and introduction to the market, still being distributed by people selling products out of their garage or in booths at expos, there’s every reason to believe that that product doesn’t do anything significant in the area of health, fitness, and athletic performance. Every pro athlete and pro sports team in the world, every college team and athlete are ALL looking for an edge and will quickly adopt any legal drink, paste, pill, ointment, bar, supplement, meal substitute, or piece of equipment that will give them that edge. Think Gatorade.

The internet has made “experts” out of people with no expertise. When you go to their websites, their education deficiencies are hidden behind adjectives and claims that mean nothing. “Life Style Expert” isn’t a real thing. Neither is “Food Enthusiast.” Nor is “Exercise Guru.” Look for graduate level degrees, earned doctorates, and post-doctorate research and experience from accredited colleges and universities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve researched the claims of someone only to find their education is bogus and their “degrees” come from a paper-mill and not a legitimate accredited university. (There is a well-known “celebrity trainer” whose only certification was from a paper-mill in Dyersburg, Tennessee.)

Look at your resume.
If you aren’t an expert, ask one. Do your research.
Demand evidence!

Caveat Emptor!

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The Fitness World Is Setting You Up For Failure — 4/26/2017

Apr. 26th 2017

Do you struggle with not feeling good about your body, your progress, and your results in the gym?

Chances are you’re looking at the wrong goals, and because of this you are constantly feeling unaccomplished, which leads to feelings of failure and never getting to where you want to be, it becomes extremely challenging to motivate yourself.

Does this sound familiar?

All those people in magazines, at competitions, and filling Instagram with their awesome workout pics are the small percentage of the population who are intrinsically motivated. Who are able to suffer and sacrifice based on some internal psychology. What’s important to note is that the majority of the world is not like this, maybe YOU are not like this, AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!

Most people suffer along thinking: Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I like fitness and working out? Why is this so hard for me? What is wrong with me? Will I ever get to my goal? Why don’t I have abs? Why am I even doing this?

What is the secret?

The secret is to truly change your entire mindset when it comes to your health and fitness. You have to change your goal. You have to change your understanding of what fitness is, and only then will you become successful.

First off, success is not just about losing weight, looking a certain way, or fitting into smaller clothes. These are not good goals; these are byproducts of adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Secondly, your fitness isn’t a 6-week program. If you think you can achieve a healthier lifestyle in 6 weeks, it means you think you only need to commit to your fitness for six weeks and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

What is success?

Success is participating in regular fitness and physical activity until you finish your program.

When do you finish your program?

When you die.

This is the secret to fitness.

What have you been told by fitness marketing over the years? Decide to ‘make a change’ and fit into different clothes or look a certain way or lose X number of pounds and then embark on a regimented program to get to those “goals.”

We forget that humans are motivated by the now. Not by things in the future. So, if your goal is to drop 2 sizes or to lose 15 pounds, every day before you hit that goal you have failed. Every day. Hence the proliferation of ‘quick fix’ programs and ‘4 weeks to a new you’ sales pitches!

Traditional fitness marketing is constantly trying to get you there faster, so you feel accomplished.
But rarely do people have the time, energy, coaching, or drive to do what it takes to hit that goal in a fast enough time period to have them feel accomplished. Those people I mentioned above who are able to accomplish this — that small minority who are on the magazines, go to the Olympics and compete in advanced challenges, they are the MINORITY who are able to be motivated by long-term rewards.

Note: minority.

So, what can you do as you struggle with this?

You are doing it.

You have taken your valuable time to read this message, and the next step is to reach out to a community and coaches for support. This is step number one. Humans are social creatures and need support.

Next, you MUST reframe your idea of what success is. At our brick and mortar business, and with our online business we promote the same message — frequency of training leads to success!
Frequency of training is THE only goal you should EVER be focused on. Add physical activity to your lives daily, and focused fitness to your life 2-7 times a week.

The little things all add up. Yes, take the stairs instead of the escalator. Chop your vegetables for dinner instead of buying pre-chopped. These are your daily physical activity goals. Then do a focused training program 2-7 times a week depending on what you can fit into your life.


What did we tell her? You just accomplished your goal. YOU ARE a success.

Will this make someone drop a size by next week? No.

But if a person continues incorporating training and more activity into their life over the next 20 years – I PROMISE you that it will have a huge impact. They will be able to hike, travel, play with their kids and grandkids, and enjoy life!

If you try a 6-week program and drop 15 pounds and then stop doing fitness (which over 85% of people who have short term goals find themselves doing) then 20 years from now you will be doing the exact same thing; trying to figure out how to find motivation and how to hit your short-term goals.

Stop the cycle.

You have to be active until the end of your ‘program,’ which means the end of your life!
There is literally NOTHING more important than that. Nothing.

So, don’t stress if one week you only train once. That’s ok. Next week hit two workouts. Over 50 years that won’t matter. Regular and consistent physical activity is everything.

If you can recognize this and truly change the way you look at fitness and health you will have a better life. Seriously, I promise you.

How do you deal with your current struggles? One step at a time. One day at a time. One flight of stairs at a time, and set your new goal and timeframe – forever!

(This post originally appeared in Huffington Post Canada. On Fridays, I don’t ask if you lost weight. On Fridays, I don’t ask you if you’re using heavier weights? On Fridays, I ask how many times that week you were on the Quarterdeck. I do that on purpose. This article explains why.)

— 30 —



Many thanks to those who brought and invited friends to come this month. Thanks, everyone!


Our next MT. FUJI WORKOUT will be Tuesday, May 16th & 23rd.


What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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“Watermelon, Watermelon, Watermelon Rind …”

Apr. 22nd 2017


My professor asked the class last night about scoreboards. “How do you keep score in your life, in your profession, in your organization? How do you know if you’re winning? How do you define ‘winning’?”

Who can forget Charlie Sheen’s crazy video rants from a few years ago? “WINNING!” became a catchword for a while, said in Charlie’s tone of delivery. Though we repeated it sort of as a joke because Charlie clearly was NOT winning at the time.

In his book, “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose,” Matthew Kelly said: “Albert Einstein wrote, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, ‘What is your genius?'”

I have to admit, I keep score when I play sports, play chess, and engage in thumb wars. Outside of that, I’m not too competitive. I lived happily and successfully in a Marine Corps barracks, eating in a Marine Corps chow hall, and driving a horrible little 4 cylinder Mustang II. What you live in, where you eat, and what you drive is of zero importance to me.

I don’t judge you on those things. I judge YOU on how I judge MYSELF. How do I know if I’m “winning” or if I’m successful?

For me, it’s the answer to a few simple questions: “Did I live with passion today? Did I help someone become healthier, fitter, or happier today? Did I make someone laugh today? Did I make someone think today? Was the corner of the world I live in made better by what I contributed to it today? Did I learn something new today?” If I can answer “yes” to those questions, then for me, that’s winning. For me, that’s success.

In a conversation I had with some boot campers last night, I was reminded that our fitness experiment is a “superior product” because we’re the only program that addresses ALL FIVE aspects of fitness: 1) Muscular strength and stamina, 2) Cardio-respiratory strength and stamina, 3) Flexibility, 4) Balance, 5) Agility. And though it’s not recognized by exercise science, I like to add 6) Comedy.
Some programs are heavy on weight lifting (no pun intended), others are cardio intensive, and still others are all about flexibility or balance. But there is no other program in our corner of Memphis that does what we do. And for me, that’s winning! That’s success!

I like what Steve Jobs said in his commencement address at Stanford: “Your time is limited; so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Living with intention, living conscientiously, and keeping score my way is how I approach life. How do you know if YOU are winning? How do you keep score?

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Going Native! — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 4/19/2017

Apr. 19th 2017

It turns out that I’m bi.

Who knew?

I took some graduate level cultural anthropology classes when I lived in Richmond, Virginia just before I moved to Japan. The University of Richmond professor challenged us to think about the process of cultural expression, culture shock, cultural differences, cross-cultural exchange, cultural conflict, cultural acquisition, and ultimately becoming bi-cultural.

If I was going to live long-term in another country and immerse myself in the culture of that country I had to become something of an amateur cultural anthropologist. I had to understand academically what I was about to know experientially.

The Professor cautioned that becoming bi-cultural comes with a price. There are pros and cons, we were told. One of those cons would be a constant longing. “When you’re in your adopted country you’ll miss your home country,” he said. “And when you’re in your home country you’ll miss your adopted country.”

Ashley asked me recently if there were things about Japan that I didn’t like or that irritated me. Living in Japan was one of those epic times in my life that has shaped the man I’ve become. And mostly, she’s only heard me speak lovingly of Japan and my 10 years there. So she was curious if there were things I didn’t like as well. And of course, there are.

I hated that so many Japanese men smoke and that their culture, at the time, seemed to have a laissez-faire attitude toward it. There were no “no smoking” sections in restaurants and coffee shops.

Things in Japan are expensive, about double the cost of things here.

Everything in Japan takes time. I used to say that the entire country swims in molasses and paperwork. Have to renew your driver’s license? Expect it to take all day. If you’re lucky.

I could go on. Every place has its pros and cons. I might still be living in Japan had it not been my father’s terminal cancer that brought me back to the States.

One of the things that impressed me about the Japanese people was their resilience and their commitment to doing their best or doing their duty. They have a word, “ganman,” that I really like. There really isn’t a good English word that translates the meaning of ganman. And like most words, context tells a great deal about what a word’s nuances are supposed to convey. And context is everything in Japanese.

The verb form of ganman could have a casual meaning of “do your best,” or “good luck.” For example, before a child plays his piano recital his parents will say “ganbatte kudasai.” Meaning, “please do your best.” “Good luck” in that case would be a pretty good translation.

In the days following the tsunami and flood in 2011, there were 50 workers who stayed on at the doomed nuclear reactor in Fukushima. A reactor that threatened to become a meltdown with an almost Armageddon-like effect on the Japanese people and the environment that would be felt for decades to come.

These workers, knowing the risk to themselves personally, did not abandon their posts. They knew that if they didn’t stay that a nuclear disaster was inevitable. They also knew that they would more than likely suffer and die because of their exposure to such high concentrations of radiation.

The wife of one of those workers was interviewed on Japanese television. She was asked about her husband, with whom she’d just had a telephone conversation. They wanted to know how he was and how she was holding up. Calmly, but visibly shaken, she explained that he was fine and that he was doing his duty. She said that he had explained to her that he was prepared to die in order to prevent a disaster. He was prepared, if necessary, to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. This was an engineer speaking, not a soldier in combat. But none of what he said was surprising to the Japanese interviewer. And I dare say that it wasn’t surprising to the 127 million Japanese who watched that interview. I watched it with tears in my eyes.

Japanese people expect everyone to do their best, from the counter worker at McDonald’s to the Prime Minister. (If you ever go to Japan, go to a McDonald’s and then prepare to be amazed!) Japanese adults don’t complain or whine. Everyone is patient. There are no riots or looting after an earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami. Everyone knows that everyone is in the same boat and that everyone has to pull together and work as a team for the benefit of all.

When asked what she told her husband, the wife said that she told him “ganbatte kudasai.” She did not tell her husband, who would most likely become a casualty himself, “good luck.” In that context the meaning is much more like this: “please do your duty to the very best of your ability, do your very best to accomplish success for yourself and for all of us who are dependant on your bravery and courage. Do not give up. Never give up. Do not fail to persevere. Do not do anything that would bring shame or embarrassment upon you or your family name.”

There is a deep sense of honor and duty, as well as shame and failure in the Japanese people.

During World War II, there weren’t many Japanese prisoners of war. Advancing Marines in the Pacific Theater found, after months of fighting on one horrible little island after the other, that the remaining Japanese soldiers – knowing they were fighting a losing battle without reinforcements or resupply — committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner. They fought to the last man. The shame of defeat, the shame of being taken alive as a prisoner was too great to endure and death would be preferred. “My enemy will not have the pleasure of seeing my face lowered in shameful defeat.”

Failure to do one’s duty is a shameful thing to the Japanese. And the sense of shame and “losing face” is so strong among them that it would be impossible to overstate it.

On Monday, I watched the Boston Marathon on television and there in the crowd were Japanese people holding a sign to encourage Japanese runner, Suguru Osako. The sign said, “Ganbatte kudasi!” in Japanese. With the eyes of his country on him, Osako came in 3rd … in his first marathon!

Ganbatte kudasai, y’all!




This is in honor of the late Tom Farrar, my former CPA who died of a heart attack in March 2007.

I hope you can get your friends to join you. They can visit for a whole week for FREE!




What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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Apr. 1st 2017

Goooooood Saturday Evening, Everybody!!

I hope you’ve been able to get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather! Isn’t it awesome?!

I wanted to share a part of an email I just sent a lady who joined us in February, only to have to drop out after a couple of days because of a serious illness of one of her children and then the sudden death of her father. She’s planning on coming back next week!

You may know someone to whom this might apply. Perhaps you can encourage them with this. This is part of what I wrote:

“Quite honestly, over the past 17.5 years, had it not been for USMC Fitness Boot Camp, I’m not sure how I would have survived the loss of both of my parents, a divorce, and the 7 deployments of my Marine son, still on active duty since 2000.

When we grieve and struggle, we need physical activity and exercise even more than at times of ease and comfort. Thousands of studies show the mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of exercise and I hope you’ll discover the same things as you restart!”

You have to try hard to avoid seeing published articles, almost daily, explaining the far-reaching benefits of exercise that go beyond the physical! Toward that end …


In honor of my friend, Tom Farrar, who passed away in 2007 at the tender age of 54. Tom was my accountant and a great guy, but he did NOT take care of himself.

As an Air Force vet, he enjoyed chiding me for being a Marine 24/7 and always staying in shape. “All of that running around and sweaty exercise is good for you Marines, Tony,” he’d say, “I’m more of a fine wine and dining sort of fella!”
No matter what I said, I couldn’t convince my Type-A, overweight, high-strung friend to exercise and lose weight.

Tom had a heart attack and died in his front yard picking up his newspaper one morning in the spring of 2007. He would have joked that The Commerical Appeal was responsible for his demise.

Ever since Tom’s death, a death I think was preventable, I’ve designated April as the “TOM FARRAR MEMORIAL BRING A FRIEND TO BOOT CAMP MONTH.”

You can bring a friend for a week for free! No strings attached, no pressure to join! I won’t gather their contact info, and I won’t do anything but make them feel welcome with absolutely no sales pitch, guilt, or veiled attempt to sign them up. In fact, if they decide to continue after their free week with us, they’ll have to contact me first. And I won’t be mean to them! I reserve that for YOU! 😉

You guys aren’t clients or members; you’re family and friends to me. So thank you for your continued support. If the program has been beneficial to you, invite a friend to join you for a week, especially a sedentary friend. Let them come and enjoy a week on the Quarterdeck at no charge!

If you no longer live in Memphis, but your friends and family are still here, send them to me for a FREE WEEK!

If you’re injured and unable to exercise with your friend, go ahead and send them to me. You don’t have to be with them. Your referral will be enough.

And if you’ve been in Turdville and need to get back on the Quarterdeck, c’mon! I promise NOT to guilt you or give you a hard time! I don’t care if you’ve gained weight or you’re out of shape. Don’t be embarrassed! I’m not going to shame you or make you feel bad. I’m always so happy to see you! You’ll be met with a hug or a hearty handshake and a “welcome home” reception!

Since I don’t advertise, you guys are my sales staff, so please share this post and tag your friends in the comments.

Have a GREAT weekend! I’ll see you Monday, a new quarter with some changes in the routine!

Sgt. Tony

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Feb. 5th 2017

It’s half-time of the Super Bowl and a good time to remind you that we’ll be working off the wings, the pizza, the Rotel dip, the pigs-in-a-blanket, and Moon Pies tomorrow on the Quarterdeck!

This week is a NO WEIGHTS WEEK on the Quarterdeck. You won’t need any dumbbells this week. All of our exercises will be body weight exercises!

February is also Heart Health month. More women die of heart related illnesses than ALL cancers COMBINED and so many of them are preventable with exercise and proper diet.

In recognition of this, you can bring a friend to Boot Camp for a week for FREE! No strings attached and no one will contact your friend. I won’t. Ashley won’t. If your friend is interested in joining, they’ll have to shoot me a message and say so! All are welcome!

See you on Monday!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Jan. 15th 2017

Tomorrow, Dr. King’s celebration day, all classes meet! That’s me doing something for you! You’re welcome! See you on The Quarterdeck!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.20.07 PM

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SNOW DAY! 1/6/2017

Jan. 6th 2017

Memphis city schools (Shelby Co.) have just now closed. We will be standing down today. My apologies if you’ve already left your house. So very sorry. Y’all be safe out there!

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What is your why? 1/4/2017

Jan. 4th 2017

We had a GREAT morning today to start 2017! Thanks, everyone!

If you read my recent post about Relevance, Significance, and Purpose, you might be interested in another word that I’ve written in my journal lately: Intention.

More specifically: being intentional.

This new year will see a shake up and a new approach to some of the things we do. Here are a few of the things you’ll see:

* Abbreviated stretching time
* Shorter huddle up times with some days none at all
* Ashley’s nutrition talk biweekly or monthly
* Thursday’s workout (BOGA) will be the only day with an assigned workout
* The year will be broken down into quarters with themes
* Every 6th week will be devoted to exercises without dumbbells
* All classes inside during the first quarter: no need to check the weather
* New workouts will be incorporated into the rotation
* No Mt. Fuji workout during the first quarter

It’s easy sometimes to get the airplane to altitude, point it in the right direction, and turn on the autopilot. I must admit that I’ve done that to some extent. But I can do better and I’ve taken us off autopilot!

Being intentional.

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Jan. 3rd 2017

I’m reading another biography about Benjamin Franklin. History nerd behavior.

Franklin moved in and out of a vast and diverse circle of friends and acquaintances with ease. He was comfortable with the tradesmen of his day, and equally at home in the audiences of Kings and Queens. Franklin was a scholar among scholars, a scientist among scientists, and he helped draft both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was an able diplomat and served as our first Ambassador to France.

Benjamin Franklin ran away from home at 15 and never had the money or opportunity to attend college at a time when the majority of Founders graduated from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and William & Mary. He was self-taught, and didn’t attend school beyond the age of 10; the living proof of being able to get an education for “a dollar-fifty in late charges at the Public Library.” He actually started the first lending library in the Colonies. Franklin received honorary doctorates from both Harvard and Princeton.

As a young printer in Philadelphia, he made a list of eight cardinal sins in conversation.

1. – “Talking overmuch . . . which never fails to excite resentment.”
2. – “Seeming uninterested.”
3. – “Speaking too much about your own life.”
4. – “Prying for personal secrets.”
5. – “Telling long and pointless stories.”
6. – “Contradicting or disputing someone directly.”
7. – “Ridiculing or railing against things except in small witty doses.”
8. – “Spreading scandal.”

I won’t enlarge on Dr. Franklin’s list. I think you can easily get the meaning and application. But what I wanted you to see was how easily and readily your eyes and interests were drawn to the list. How eager you were to receive in bite-sized portions some wisdom from one of the greatest minds and personalities in American history, without wading through a 600-page biography.

We like lists. We like bullet points.

And we like secrets. Franklin had to warn himself in #4 from the great temptation of prying into other’s hidden details.

To this end, I offer up a list of 10 Dirty Little Secrets of the Fitness Industry. Actually, they’re probably not that dirty and probably not that secret, but it sure sounds more titillating if I call them so, don’t you agree? Here we go:

1. 80% of your weight loss and weight gain are both diet.

Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.

So the latest exercise craze that makes weight loss claims is lying. Some of them get around the fraud by telling you in the fine print, or during a 15 second bit in a 30-minute infomercial, that you have to follow a low-calorie diet.

Exercise plays a minor role in weight loss. Diet is 80% of your weight loss success and failure.

2. Being sore doesn’t mean anything.

Being sore simply means that a muscle or a muscle function has been used or loaded in an unfamiliar way. You hear it all the time though: “Man, that was a great workout, I was so sore!”

Anytime you tax a muscle differently—a different kinesis—you’ll get sore. Take a world class tennis player and put them through a weight training workout or a swimming workout or a cycling workout and that world class tennis player will be sore.

It’s a different kinesiology.

When I coached basketball, my players who were also on the football team, would literally go from football practices one day to basketball practice the next. Without fail, they’d be sore and moving slow and these were young men in their prime, already conditioned from months of football practices and weight room workouts.

It’s a different kinesiology.

There are trainers who’ll purposely have their clients do exercises just to get the clients sore so the client will think they had a great workout. As an example of this, I sometimes get you all to do “Windmills” just to prove that point. (But at least I tell you this ahead of time!) Make a muscle group do a lot of work they haven’t been doing and that muscle group will scream. And that is true of every person on the planet irrespective of their fitness or athleticism.

It’s a different kinesiology.

3. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet and you can’t exercise with a faulty one.

This is similar to #1.

So if you eat 6,000 calories in a day, you’re screwed. Unless you’re a YOUNG professional marathon runner or a professional cyclist who’s burning up a ton of calories all day long on the road.

And you can’t exercise with a faulty diet.

That is, if you aren’t consuming enough carbs, you can’t exercise. Period. Your muscles need it for fuel. Exercise isn’t fueled by protein. (Muscles are repaired with protein.) Low carb diets are one thing, no carb diets are no bueno.

4. Heart-rate monitors are a waste of money.

Let me qualify that.

I’ve owned some form of a heart-rate monitor since the early 90s when they first started to appear to the general public. I own one now!

But the data of the heart-rate monitor means little to the general public. The HR means something to me because I’ve been at this for a long time. But for the majority of exercisers, the numbers on the monitors don’t mean much. The formulas that the heart-rate monitor makers and enthusiasts use to calculate heart-rate ranges are hardly better than guess work. Poor guess work, actually.

You buy a heart-rate monitor and the first thing they tell you to do is to calculate a number of heart-rate ranges based on taking the number 220 and subtracting your age from that number. That figure is mostly meaningless. That figure takes no account of:

* body weight
* level of fitness
* gender
* metabolism
* daily medication
* daily rest

All of which can affect your heart rate. Outside you’d have to include heat and humidty.

However, if you go to a sports performance lab where they put you on a treadmill and run a stress test with your nose pinched and you breathing into a mask with hoses attached as they measure your heart-rate and your VO2max as they increase time on task, along with the speed and angle of the treadmill, THEN you’ll get some usable and valuable data. That is, usable for YOU at THAT moment in time and condition of your life. That day! All of which can and will change.

“Perceived effort” can be a much more usable indicator of what’s going on. During my most recent Marine Corps Marathon training, I had runs where my heart-rate was over 170 and I felt fine. On the other hand, I had runs where my heart-rate was only 140 and I felt HORRIBLE!

What accounted for the differences? Heat, humidity, hydration, nutrition, and the amount of rest I’d gotten the night before. Or the phases of the moon. Sometimes you just don’t know what accounts for such changes and variances.

In the more than 25 years that I’ve used heart-rate monitors, I’ve been up and down the ranges of readings and had inconsistent perceptions of effort and exertion per the numbers on the monitor.

That said, if you wear a heart-rate monitor to bed, and if it will give you readings of your heart-rate as you sleep at 1 minute or 5-minute intervals throughout the night with an average measurement, THAT would be useful data!!! An elevated heart-rate while you sleep is an indication of overtraining. And overtraining is bad. Overtraining is the last stop just before Burnout.

5. The “talk test” is better than a heart-rate monitor.

For the reasons I listed in #4, and for your own practical application, the “talk test” is a much better indicator of your effort on THAT day under THOSE conditions. If you can carry on a conversation without difficulty, that’s an easy run. If you can carry on a conversation but it’s labored and a little difficult, but doable, that’s a tempo or training pace run. If you can’t carry on a conversation at all, that’s interval and maximum effort running.

6. More than likely you need heavier weights and more intensity in your efforts.

You get out what you put in.

You’ve heard me say this before. I’ve had people in the program who consistently, over months and even years, work like crazy and get the full benefit of the program. I’ve also had people come and half-ass the workout while using LIGHT dumbbells and complain about poor results.

Conversely, the same workout I lead that works for the person next to them, someone working hard and not chitchatting with their neighbor and who’s using heavier weights and are attempting to do EVERY repetition, is having a totally different experience.

You get out what you put in.

The value of our workouts is completely in YOUR hands! If I’m kicking MY own ass, but you walk away with a “meh” … well, that’s on you! Sometimes our boot camp friends are great and sometimes not great at the same time. We love them so much and enjoy their company so much that we engage too much in socializing to the detriment of our workouts. And it’s distracting to other boot campers around you.

7. The health clubs want you to join; they don’t care if you come.

This is generally true of the majority of health clubs that have contracts and automatic drafts from your bank account or credit card. I’ve worked in commercial health clubs and it’s almost always about new memberships.

The health clubs know that if everyone who joined actually showed up, there’d be lines longer than the ones for the newest Disney theme park opening. They’d have to install some velvet ropes to keep people in a zig-zag queue just to get into the building.

8. There is no ultimate fitness program because there is no ultimate fitness definition.

In fact, there is no agreed upon definition of “fit” or “fitness.”

The fitness industry doesn’t know the definition. Even exercise science hasn’t come to an agreement across disciplines.

There are as many definitions of fitness as there are “fit” people.
Is Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter, recipient of the Medal of Honor, more fit than triathlete Jan Frodeno, winner of the Hawaii Ironman?
Is Jan Frodeno more fit than power lifting champion Ray Williams?
Is Ray Williams more fit than sprinter Usain Bolt?
Is Usain Bolt more fit than swimmer Michael Phelps?
Is Michael Phelps more fit than soccer great, Hope Solo?
Is Hope Solo more fit than Chicago Blackhawks member Conn Smythe?
Is Conn Smythe more fit than Olympic decathlete Ashton Eaton?
Is Ashton Eaton more fit than ballerina Misty Copeland?
Is Misty Copeland more fit than Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson?
Is Adrian Peterson more fit than tennis great Roger Federer?

I could keep going. But you see what I’m talking about.

There’s no definitive definition of fitness. And how could there be? Fit for what? That’s the question. Minimal fitness for the Army isn’t the minimal fitness for the Marines. Minimal fitness for basketball isn’t minimal fitness for lumberjacks.

It’s easier to define was ISN’T fitness than to define what is.

9. People who fail at fitness are people who generally have a history of failure at other things too. They tend not to stick to things, finish things, and complete things that require discipline. My grandparents generation called it “sticktoitiveness.” (But what would they know about that? They only defeated the Nazis and Imperial Japan to win WWII!)

People who succeed find a way. People who fail find an excuse. Finding an excuse takes no great detective genius. Giving up is effortless. Rationalizing poor life-management is simple. Lack of self-discipline is a habit. Talk is cheap. Blaming others is easy. Negative self-talk is debilitating.

I wish I could get back every man-hour I’ve wasted trying to talk someone into success who was determined not to succeed. People always countering with reasons why they couldn’t do something that they had the ability to do. Winners find a way, quitters find an excuse.

10. There’s nothing new in fitness and exercise, there are only new ways of marketing and packaging.

I recently ran across a blog by Canadian fitness coach, Taylor Simon, who said:

“Sure we repackage things and create flashy new titles for the same old same old. The zone diet has become the paleo diet. Ab workouts became core training, which is becoming functional fitness. Warm-ups became prehabilitation, which is becoming movement training. It’s all the same stuff at the most basic level. When you actually break it all down to individual components you will see that it is all basically the same thing. Except the new versions are making a lot of money for those who are able to get creative and do the repackaging.”

The body moves in predictable movements in time and space. Joints bend and rotate, muscles contract and relax in the same way they always have since our species learned to walk upright. You’re either taxing a limited number of muscle groups through work and overloading in predictable patterns, and/or you’re taxing the heart and lungs through cardio training and challenges. That’s it. Everything else is marketing and packaging. Or smoke and mirrors. Light shows and house music. Snake oil and hocus pocus.

Senator John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for over 5 years, relates stories of how he and his fellow prisoners, mostly all in isolation from one another, used Morse Code to communicate and boost one another’s spirits and to encourage each prisoner to maintain a daily schedule. Marines and sailors refer to it as “the plan of the day.” One of the things they did in their schedule, alone in their small cells, was exercise.

When they were finally released and flown home, the former POWs were found to be—with the exception of those who’d been injured in their plane crashes or through capture or torture—in remarkably good health and reasonably fit from doing daily body-weight exercises in their small cells.

It’s possible to get healthy and reasonably fit through any number of exercise modalities through any number of programs, equipment, trainers, coaches, and facilities. And if American POWs in the “Hanoi Hilton” could achieve a level of fitness in a prison cell in South Vietnam, you can too . . . with your eyes open, your mind made up, and your commitment to find a way to give 100% consistently and regularly. Consistently. Regularly. A lifetime of lifestyle commitments making health and fitness a permanent part of your day to day life.

One last thing: This is the time of the year that many of our friends and family decide to get healthy and fit. Maybe they’ve done this before . . . every January. And then quit before Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to make jokes and poke fun at them, I’ll admit. If you can, and with a straight face, try to offer up some encouragement this time. Maybe it’ll stick!

And if you’re a “lapsed boot camper” and it’s been a while since you were on the Quarterdeck, come on back! I promise not to make fun of you or give you a hard time. What I usually do when someone comes back is to smile real big, like when you haven’t seen a friend in a long time, and then say, “Hello! My name is Tony Ludlow!”

Our assault on the new year begins tomorrow, Wednesday, January 4, 2017! Join me!

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