Hoo-Rag Review: Is it a better bandana?…

My skin has become a little thicker since moving to the Sierra Nevada mountains however I still need a little something extra to keep warm as the temperatures dip. Luckily I came across a lightweight and effective product that helps keep your head and neck warm (which is where most body heat escapes) – the Hoo-Rag.

The Hoo-Rag is a seamless cotton-polyester blended micro-fiber that’s moisture wicking. There are tons of choices when it comes to style so I’d recommend scrolling through their “Rag” offerings and choose something that jives with your personality and wardrobe. Hoo-Rag’s are small (about the size of two kleenex tissues put together) and easy to keep in your pocket or in your sports bag to pull out when necessary.

I’ve been using mine when shoveling snow off the driveway, skiing, hiking, snow-shoeing, doing yard work (keeps out dust and debris!) and sometimes I’ll wear one on my neck all day. Here are my favorite three styles to wear however there are at least five more ways to rock your Hoo-Rag:

This one is great for overall head warmth!

full head and neck coverage

full head and neck coverage

If the wind picks up or my nose/ears are getting cold this is very effective!

face and neck coverage

face and neck coverage

I’ll rock the Hoo-Rag this way often…it’s a great way to stay warm!

full neck coverage

full neck coverage

Here is a short video that showcases a variety of ways to wear the Hoo-Rag. You can see why it’d be nice to have one, or two or three handy!

The funny thing is, you don’t realize how often you’ll wear a Hoo-Rag until you have one. Other products I’ve tried don’t breath well and cause your face and neck to get too hot and sweaty. That’s not comfortable…however Hoo-Rag is plus it’s so thin that you can add layers on top of it if you need to (i.e. beanie, scarf, hat).

Thanks for reading and please check out Hoo-Rag. It makes for a great accessory and/or gift idea…and at $14.50 you can’t affort not to buy it. Note: I am NOT an affiliate for Hoo-Rag nor am I affiliated with the company or its retailers in any way.

Wholesale Superfoods and a $100-value Holiday Perk, Free Membership

A few months ago I took a chance on a new online source for my superfoods with  World Health Club.  The store is comprehensive (fish oil, vegan proteins, Omega-3, cacao, maca, greens and much more) with high quality superfoods and it’s the closest thing to paying wholesale you will find.  I’ve looked…and when you get a peak at how low WHC prices their superfoods versus other stores (especially for members) it becomes obvious that some serious savings can be had.  The cost for annual membership is $100/year, I know it sounds high, HOWEVER I’ve saved $264 in just 4 orders over 3 months. This is exciting savings and I can’t rave enough about the products or the owner, Russ Marchewka. Russ has built relationships with and sourced his product offerings from the most reputable companies practicing green and sustainable manufacturing.  Russ provides video explanations of everything on the site to help you make informed decisions. Not many people have the passion for health and sharing it with others like Russ. Just check out this short clip on Superfoods.

Because of the prices and savings, I keep trying and enjoying new products while my membership gets paid for over and over again.  When something like this happens I can’t help to brag about it and share it with others.  Trying new things can be a risk however it’s great adding to your superfood arsenal for optimal health.  For example, I tried using goji berries on salads, in baking recipes, in cereal and on yogurt/oatmeal.  They’re really inexpensive, tasty and super-healthy…plus they add flavor and nutrition to foods that I already eat and love.

Now, to the reason I wanted to write this blog post in the first place. There is another perk with WHC going on right now.  Russ is giving members like myself the generous gift of a free one-year membership to someone I designate (or you designate if you’re a member).  Russ just asks for the contact email and he takes it from there.  Here is what I sent Russ in an email with a CC to my designated free membership recipient:

“Hi Russ and thanks for extending a free one-year membership to World Health Club for my brother in law, Joey.

Joey, this one-year membership trial is a gift to you and there is no risk, cost or obligation involved. In fact, you don’t have to use it at all however I think you’ll appreciate the wholesale pricing for high quality superfoods that get delivered to your house. I actually paid $100 for my membership and I’ve already saved $264 in just three orders. I usually order vegan protein powders, greens, goji berries, fish oil, oxylent, cacao, maca, hemp seeds and other superfoods. Check it out and feel free to let me know if you have any questions. Russ is a great guy supporting great products and companies and I’ve enjoyed supporting him and saving money in the process. :-)
Merry Christmas Guys!
Chad”

Within minutes, Russ replied:

“Hi Joey,

Pleased for the introduction.  Shoot me an email and we’ll figure out the details when we can schedule a time.
Russ”
Is this the kind of personal service you want from a company? I do!

I chose to share this gift ($100 value) with my brother in law who is the produce manager at a huge co-op in Eureka, CA. He is a foodie like myself and is always seeking ways to have better control over his food.

Making healthy items and superfoods accessible in rural parts of the country through easy to use online sites like World Health Club is part of this country’s food infrastructure that I’m happy to support. People like me who live in the mountains near Yosemite need reliable sources for food and other items that support our desire to live a healthy lifestyle.

This season, I highly recommend becoming a member of World Health Club.  It’s a gift that will serve you and your health well for the rest of your life.

Video of me receiving my first order from World Health Club. Click HERE to watch video.

Superfood Online Store Review – 1st order with World Health Hub

Vitamins and supplements have been around for a long time. As consumers, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just whats on the label that matters but what went into the product that’s in the bag or bottle in the first place. In some cases you can deduce that higher price equals higher quality…however is that “quality” product from a company dedicated to using organic, fair trade foods and environmentally conscious practices? Not sure?…this is why the superfood store at Wolrd Health Hub appealed to me. The owner, Russ Marchewka, has done a tremendous amount of leg work to find the best products available from the most responsible companies in the world. I encourage you to watch a few videos  because Russ personally explains each products nutritional benefits, how to use it and about the company it came from.

How many times have you pulled off every vitamin option from the shelf in an attempt to figure out which one to get? It’s always your choice to buy something or not…and I encourage you to listen to Russ as part of your due dilligence and self-empowerment. Your health, vitality and pocketbook are worth the investment!

Here is a list of what I bought on my first order after signing up for the annual membership (note: you must become a member first in order to see/buy products at these special prices):

Item (click on the name to see more)                   Member Price    Non-Member Price  Savings

120 ct. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D+            $21.17                   $45.00                 $23.83

16 oz Cacao – Raw Chocolate Powder                          $10.99                  $16.00                   $5.01

16 oz Navitas Naturals Gelatinized Maca Powder    $14.99                   $22.00                  $5.01

8 oz Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds                              $6.59                     $9.00                    $2.41

16 oz Navitas Naturals Goji Berries                             $12.59                   $18.00                   $5.41

Vibrant Health’s Rainbow Vibrance                            $23.48                  $35.00                  $11.52

Oxylent Multi-Vitamin Variety Pack                           $17.48                   $30.00                  $12.52

Growing Naturals Organic Rice Protein Powder      $13.30                   $22.00                  $8.70

Totals                                                                          $120.59              $197.00              $76.41

Check out the WHC Membership here!

I took this short video 2 minutes after my first order came in. Check it out!

I recently moved to Twain Harte, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We are situated on a couple of acres just west of Yosemite and just south of Tahoe. It’s a beautiful place however there aren’t too many stores carrying high quality superfoods. As someone looking to always eat healthier by incorporating more nutrient dense foods into my diet I’ve been on the search for reasonably priced options for buying my superfoods online.

World Health Hub is the best online store I could find and their new membership option offers consumers an opportunity to pay wholesale prices (plus tax) and save hundreds of dollars per year. My ROI on this investment will likely save me over $400 per year. It feels great to eat better, live well and save money while supporting companies that operate in a responsible and sustainable way. I like having the power as a consumer to vote with my dollar. By buying foods like what World Health Hub has to offer I’m supporting good people and the only planet I’ll ever live on. Where is your hard earned money going and what are your purchases contributing to?…are you making a positive difference for yourself or the earth?…something I think about often!

Please check back with my blog often. I’ll be posting new blogs and videos weekly on how to use and incorporate superfoods into your diet!

“Let food by thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food!” – Hippocrates

If you like superfoods you’ll love my blog post and video on How to Make the Ultimate Acai Bowl

Special Labor Day Promotion on TRX!

So, you’ve been checking out TRX online, at the gym, using it with your trainer or are just ready to take fitness into your own hands with the most effective, lightweight and portable piece of fitness equipment on the planet - TRX!

This is your chance to save some mullah while doing a very, very good thing for your personal fitness.

Here’s the deal: For 7 days from August 31st – September 6th, Fitness Anywhere is offering $20 off a TRX Pro Pack, a TRX Pro Pack + Door Anchor, OR a TRX FORCE Kit. To Purchase, go to www.VirtualWorkoutPartner.com and click on the banner ad.

No coupon code required at checkout!

FULL OFFER DETAILS:
*Offer valid 12:01AM 08/31/2011 to 11:59PM 09/06/2011 Pacific Time. Good for $20 off any TRX Suspension Trainer (TRX Pro Pack, TRX Pro Pack + Door Anchor, TRX FORCE Kit). Free shipping valid on ground shipping to orders of $150+ only to your order’s “ship to” address anywhere in the US. If you choose UPS 3-day or UPS 2nd day air shipping options additional charges will apply. Not valid for cash or cash equivalent. No adjustments on previous purchases. Offer is non-transferable and subject to change without notice. No price adjustments will be provided on previous purchases. This offer cannot be combined with any other offers, and is not valid for any purchase of 5 units or more per SKU per customer. Fitness Anywhere reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized, altered, or ineligible use of discount and to modify or cancel this promotion at any time.

Enjoy your new TRX and check out www.VirtualWorkoutPartner.com for tips and resources to maximize your TRX experience.

River Rafting the “T” with Sierra Mac

When I find a shirt that I like it’s not uncommon for me to buy it in a few different colors. Afterall, I’ve already done the work to pre-qualify the shirt as awesome because of factors important to me like being easy to clean, good looking, wears nicely, matches clothes I already have and the price is agreeable. I’m the same way when it comes to food, fitness training and vacations among other things. I just can’t seem to get enough of things like Acai bowls in my stomach, TRX workouts under my belt or Hawaiian sun on my skin…and for the last few years, river rafting the “T” with Sierra Mac.

As someone who enjoyes having a good quality of life and going on outdoor adventures, river rafting down class IV and V rapids on the Tuolumne River with Sierra Mac is about as good as it gets. There is nothing like being with an awesome group of experts that guide, cook and entertain throughout the entire 2-day excursion. This year, our 4th in a row, we’ve invited some friends and family to join us and share in the good times.

We have a total of 10 people going on the 2-day trip that includes overnight camping next to the river. All we need to do as guests is pitch a tent, lay a pad and roll out a sleeping bag. Sierra Mac takes care of the rest…from cooking, cleaning and hauling food/gear to facilitating fun, sharing stories and caring for everyone’s safety. Not too bad being a guest with Sierra Mac!

The first thing you’ll come to understand on this trip is that safety is the first priority. A comprehensive pre-trip safety course is administered before anyone is allowed to step onto a raft. Don’t worry though, it’s waaaaaaay more fascinating than your run-of-the-mill pre-flight airline safety schpiel and your adrenaline will start pumping a little bit as you come to the realization that things can and do go wrong on the river. For example, they explain what a “strainer” is and why you want to avoid getting caught in one. Also, the biggest and not-so-obvious threat to people on the river is people themselves who are on the raft with “T-bar” paddles that have been known to knock out teeth, crack skulls, and cause huge welts and bruising all over the body – so be a good student right off the bat and follow the guides advice to ensure a safe and good time for all. OK, now more info about the fun stuff!

With a renewed sense of respect for the river and mother nature we get into the raft and practice our paddling strokes and listen to commands in a nice calm pool of water. It’s cold-to-really-cold water but that balances out nicely with hot temperatures and the mid-summer sun overhead. On that note, stay hydrated my friends! Once everyone is dialed in and in synch with the guide we begin down the river. The first few hundred feet of travel across the water gives a feeling like when you’re riding a motorcyle for the first time and getting used to the feeling of steering, propulsion and timing (mostly to avoid obstacles)…it’s a cool, anxious feeling that let’s you know you’re alive. First thoughts include “this trip was worth it”…and it’s only just begun.

The best way for everyone to enjoy the day is to abide the guide. They will let you know when it’s ok to talk, and when to be quiet in order to listen and respond to commands. In short, this is a working trip and when you’ve got a call to action it’s for a reason so just abide the guide and all will be right as rain. The guides do a great job of telling you what’s coming up next, what to expect, how we’ll navigate it and perhaps a funny story about the pending rapids to make it that much more interesting of an experience…worste-case-scenario stories however are usually reserved for after they’ve been successfully passed (i.e. getting stuck, wrapped around a rock, or flipping).

One of the commands the guides use is “All In!” which means you must leave your seated position ASAP for a low and stable position near the center of the raft. You’ll typically only hear this command once or twice during a trip such as down Clavey Falls on the morning of day 2. I want to advise you to keep your head up and enjoy the view during the All In command because it’s a great thrill. I have to stress this because the first two years we did this trip I completely ducked into the raft with my head down and missed the action and beautiful scenery. What the hell was I thinking?!? On the third year, last year, I kep my head up and it was spectacular! A wise person learns from the mistakes of others….just saying.

Going over Clavey Falls

Another mistake I made was wearing a baseball cap under my helmet that had what our guide called a “pain button”. It was indeed a pain button because that little knobbie on the top of my hat drove into my head and caused some serious smarting on my dome. The macho guide helped me out by taking my hat and biting off the pain button with his teeth! He handed it back saying, “it doesn’t do anything for the hat anyways”. I can only imagine how resourceful these guides are as they seem to have a river-fix for everything…and they love what they do. By the way, don’t try biting off your pain buttons at home, it’s freaking hard to do and not worth the dental bill should your teeth not be made of granite.

If you’ve wondered or been worried about potty breaks while on the river, let me break it down for you. For number 2, you pretty much need to wait until we get to camp so don’t down a pot of coffee and six bran muffins before getting to the meeting place. I’m sure if it’s an emergency however the guide will have a river-fix for that too. If you’ve ever wanted to pee your pants in front of other people you are going to love this trip because that is encouraged…hopefully your in the river while relieving yourself…but hey, sometimes you’ve just got to go! The guides set up facilities at camp where you can do your business, and the view is spectacular. Just remember to take the paddle with you to denote occupancy, unless you want some company to share that view with.

Day one’s activities of rafting (and sometimes surfing) rapids, swimming and jumping off rocks into pools of water below is broken up with a nice guide-preppared lunch next to the river (where else are you gonna go?) and ends at a camping spot where you set up your gear. Time to put on your exploring gear (or you can just go barefoot with a swimsuit on – but the rocks can get mighty hot so it’s best to wear footgear that can get wet) to hike up the Clavey river for swim holes, natural slides, body surfing and water falls to enjoy. This water comes from an undammed source and is warmer than the T. Just beware of snakes. You’re almost guaranteed to see them but just hold true to the golden rule, don’t bother them and they won’t bother you!

Last year we brought a mask in order to look under water in some of the larger swim holes. Not only do you get a clear view of fish and the terrain underneath, you might even see some “river booty” like a swiss army knife or jewelry of some kind. Whatever you decide to do exploring-wise, be sure to go with a partner for safety.

By the time you’ve had enough sun and your fingertips are getting wrinkly it’s time to roll back into camp where you’ll be welcomed with an awesome happy hour that includes several appetizers and libations – and nobody has to be a designated driver! Plop down on a chair (provided and also waiting for you in a circle format to entice conversation) next to the river and enjoy the serenity, the views and the great company amongst you…these are truly good times. Take your time and sink into the peacefullness while the guides clean up and prepare a fabulous dinner. Of course they’d appreciate the little things like putting cans in the recycling bin, trash in the bag and dishes next to the sink. Do unto others!

The nights are spectacular. It’s wonderfully tranquil next to the water and under the stars. You can even see satellites racing across the night sky. We’ve had some great nighttime adventures with other rafters and/or guides on several occassions. These are the sorts of things not stated on the website or in the brochure but they just happen as a byproduct of the environment and the people you’re with. It’s an unscripted party of sorts where sponteneity, curiosity and adventure reign supreme…respectfully, of course. If only the canyon walls could talk. N’uff said.

Day 2 begins with some nice leisure time in the morning to enjoy breakfast while the river “wakes up” and rises to raftable levels again. You can skip rocks, explore more terrain or go back to your favorite spot, swim, read, fish, sleep, hang out or do yoga. My favorite thing is to simply drink a hot cup of coffee while gazing into the water. It’s amazing how calming it can be to stare at the flowing water or following a fish as it swims around and jumps for food above the surface every now and then. What will you get lost in?…

Cruising down the T

The adventure continues with more of the same activities experienced on day 1 but now you’ve got a feel for the river and overall enjoyment steps up another notch. Some things like new rock jumps, surfing the rapids and jumping out to enjoy “whirlpools” in the river or even floating down one of the calmer rapids on your own outside the raft (with feet up and in front of you to protect from rocks) keeps the experience fresh and exciting – if you opt for it, which we do.

Rock Jumping into Tuolumne River

You are now a savvy paddler and stresses of the real world have well-melted off so basking in the day feels natural and looking at your watch is the last thing on your mind. Permagrin has overcome you and your cheeks just might be the sorest muscles in your body in the coming days. Playing in the river for a couple of days is like time-traveling back to when things were simpler. It’s nice to appreciate this feeling while being catered to by Sierra Mac and enjoying the luxury of their service. Truly a nice way to spoil oneself!

At the end of day 2 we let out under a bridge and the rafts are lifted out of the water by crane. It’s a cool thing to witness…especially with a cold drink in hand. A truck takes you back to the meeting place where you can say goodbye’s, exchange info with new friends, tip the guides and view/buy photos that were taken by kayaking photographers on the river. You’re pretty exhausted at the end of the trip and the best thing to do is take a shower, eat a big meal and reflect on the trip until you pass out and have some of the best sleep of your life. When you wake up you start thinking about planning the same trip again next year with the outfit that pre-qualified themselves during the trip – Sierra Mac. I’ll probably wear the same shirt as last year but in a different color, just to be extravagent.

Work Backwards with TRX to Move Forwards

When it comes to staying motivated with fitness there is nothing that works better for me than setting personal goals. I like using short-term, attainable goals. Sometimes I’ll just refer to them as carrots because I like to dangle them in front of me to keep moving forward. One trick I’ll do is mark certain event (i.e. vacation, tournament, contest, hike) dates on the calendar so that I can work backwards from that date in an effort to maximize my enjoyment and/or performance. A little preparation goes a long way towards success, whether that means winning or having fun or both, as well as preventing injury and reducing recovery time.

I’ll be turning 40 next month and I’ve found that using short-term goals enables me to shift the focus of my fitness regimen in accordance with shifts I experience in my life. In general, I stay relatively fit and healthy and I do so by consistently being active and working out regularly. Depending on what kind of event is circled on the calendar, I’ll make tweaks in my training to accommodate for what I’m going to be doing so that I’ll have the right body and the right mindset when the time comes.

For example, I have two things on the calendar coming up that I want to be prepared for. My wife and I are going to Maui next week for 8 days/nights and we intend to stand up paddle board as much as possible. We learned how to “SUP” during our last trip to Kauai and now we have the bug to do it at every opportunity. SUP requires a lot of core strength so I’ve incorporated several plank, squat and upper body exercises to strengthen the muscles I’ll need to SUP as well as protecting the muscles that will be stressed, such as the low back.

In addition to Maui and being SUP-ing fools next week, I’ll be competing in a beach volleyball ProAm event at Huntington Beach pier on March 5th. The event is for charity and I’m playing with my good friend David Fischer for the second year in a row. Last year I believe we lost in the quarterfinals and we hope to do better this year. This is an event that I’m intent on having fun at…and winning would be nice also, so I’m getting my legs, core and lungs in shape. In addition to strength training, I’ll be doing more cardio work so that my stamina will be solid.

Since I’m on the road and away from home (and my home gym) so much I’ve learned dozens upon dozens of great exercises to do on the TRX Suspension Trainer. Having an arsenal of TRX exercises at my disposal has empowered me to maintain my fitness and when needed able to make adjustments. For example, the “Tone Up with Ten” workout I’ve posted in the past is my core whole-body workout template. I know that workout up, down and back again…so it’s easy to add to or modify on the fly.

In this video below I briefly discuss setting goals and then I explain and demonstrate a few TRX exercises. See how I use my TRX and try out these exercises for yourself. Come back here to my blog or website  www.VirtualWorkoutPartner.com for more tips on mastering the TRX and being fit for life.

Using TRX in Hotel Rooms and While Traveling

I spend 45+ weeks a year on the road and TRX has been a godsend for my fitness. Not only do I like to train so that I’ll be fit well into my golden years, I love to play sports and am a weekend warrior who plays beach volleyball at every opportunity. Using TRX improves my strength, posture, core and stamina while fortifying my frame against injury so I can keep doing what I enjoy.

I was recently in Las Vegas for 3 nights and it was a perfect example of why and how I use TRX in a hotel room and while traveling in general. For starters, to use the gym at Caesars Palace is $25/day! That was so high I didn’t even bother to check it out to see what it looked like. Rather, I pulled out my trusty TRX which weighs 2 lbs and is the size of a boot so it’s highly portable. There were adjoining doors that made for a perfect set up area to anchor the TRX.

Another perk about having TRX right there in the room is I don’t have to get all dressed up to workout. Heck, you could workout in your underwear if you wanted. Who’d know? Also, you can get in a few sets while something is loading, downloading or buffering on the computer and give yourself a little boost and some blood flow in the process. Use it or lose it! It’s also nice to get in a few sets during commercials while watching TV, and loosening up right after checking in. Often times I’ll be stiff after traveling and nothing feels better than banging out a few easy exercises that work my whole body.

At $25/day for gym fees, it would only take 6-8 workouts to recoup your investment in a TRX (depending on the product you choose…I recommend the ProPack with Door Anchor, it comes with a great DVD to help get you started and includes the accessory that enables you to hook up the TRX to a door – so convenient for use at home or in hotel rooms). I’ve been using the same TRX for 3+ workouts/week for over 3 years now…average that out and my workouts cost me about 25 cents each, and they get cheaper with every workout.

Other benefits of using TRX for workouts in your hotel room include being able to shower right after, no travel time, no parking, no unfamiliar surroundings and/or fitness equipment (that may or may not work), and again – no gym fees!

Enjoy!

Other workout videos can be seen on my website, www.VirtualWorkoutPartner.com

Finding Motivation as an Athlete, a personal take on ESPN’s 30 for 30 on Marcus Dupree

Tonight I watched one of ESPN’s 30 for 30 films, specifically the piece on Marcus Dupree, a football player with a crazy up and down life and career. It’s a touching story that sucks you in. The most moving point of the film for me was when Dupree teared up when asked about his disabled brother. The emotion on his face and in his body language was intense, real…and close to his heart. Dupree unveiled that his deepest motivation throughout his athletic career was to perform at his highest level because his brother was not able to do so. Truly, this is a cord that may very well strike anyone with a family member dealt a hand less fortunate than others. For me, it’s my brother Kevin Convis.

I immediately identified with Marcus as he explained through the tears on his face that his brother was the deepest inspiration in his athletic journey to becoming a professional football player in the NFL. Kevin didn’t have cerebral palsy like Dupree’s inspiring brother, Reggie. My brother had Down Syndrome and he was able to perform in activities like bowling. He competed in a league and even in a few Special Olympics - where everyone wins. In short, he understood, in his own way, how sports can bring out the best in you and how much fun they can be. As kids, we’d play games in the living room that we’d make up with various balls and they’d involve things like tossing, rolling, batting and catching. These activities are at the root of my own athletic development and played a part in why I eventually chose beach volleyball as my sport of choice. Diving, jumping and swatting at things is what I was used to doing with Kevin so it makes sense. I was pretty good at golf, tennis and baseball as well but chose the sport that was the most fun, even if it was the least lucrative of all major sports…and I would do it again.

I could always tell that Kevin admired what I was able to do in the realm of sports and I can only imagine how much he would have liked being out there as my Big Brother doing it right, and then taking me under his wing to show me the ropes. As it were, however he was completely happy and content with his life and had the strength to endure a childhood in and out of hospitals. In fact, doctors predicted that he wouldn’t live past 14 years old…he passed peacefully at age 41. How about them apples?!? Kevin’s fortitude and roll-with-the-punches attitude along with his sense of humor made him an instant buddy to anyone meeting him for the first time.

Growing up I played mostly baseball, tennis and golf with the later two sports dominating most of my time. This is where I learned about sportsmanship (and won an award for it), fair play and having a good attitude. By the time Kevin’s spirit motivated me to train hard and perform at my best, it also manifested in the form of having fun while doing so (playing sports). My first serious beach volleyball partner, John Hancock and I took this to such a level that we had a Harlem Globetrotter-esque feel to our warm ups (insert whistling)…circling around the court with fancy passes  to each other (to loosen up), and passing down-balls (during pepper) with our hips/butts instead of our arms – it looked funny, and once in a while we’d pull it off.  This kind of approach we took to training and play led us to our pro debut on the AVP Tour in Hermosa Beach, CA…and it’s also the source of my eventual nickname “The Big Happy.”

Beach volleyball in the mid-late 90’s was very different from today’s game. We not only played on a bigger court with different rules, which meant a game could go on for hours, we also were largely on our own as athletes. Players (especially lower ranked guys like me) didn’t stay with partners for very long, if someone had points enough to get into the main draw as a team then that’s who you went with. Very few player’s had coaches, trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors or agents…which is pretty much the arsenal of support that many of the top athletes have today. We were responsible for ourselves and became our own trainers, coaches, nutritionists and travel agents, for example. Personal motivation was (and is) a critical element in those who want to make it to the professional level.

Since Kevin wasn’t able to run, jump and play at such high levels as I was blessed to do, I felt it was my privileged to do so for the sake of us both. I’ve done extra sprints, lifted more weights and endured more pain with Kevin acting as my motivation more than anything else. I do it because he cannot. My motivation is deeply personal, meaningful and strikes to the core of my being…so it’s as strong and stubborn as it’s very inspiration (41 years!).

One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned by having a brother with Down Syndrome is how important it is to mentally walk in someone else’s shoes before making judgement on them (not that I condone judging!). Seeing my brother being called names and getting teased as a kid hurt me as if I was the one their cruelty was directed at. In some form, I took on that pain myself but I couldn’t possibly imagine what it would actually feel like to be manipulated into doing things or being bullied with the R-word. These are the sorts of horrible things he experienced in life yet he never showed bitterness, anger, or hatred towards anyone. He was made with the sweetest, kindness soul and I’m thankful he had this ability built-in to protect him. Please note that Kevin was NOT in a constant state of attack, it was not often that kids or people were douchey towards him. Other than a few select incidents I bore witness to, he had a happy life and was treated with love and kindness from the masses…including two of his heroes Clint Eastwood (Kev loved his movies) and NBA star Chris Mullin, who admittedly doesn’t have a big attention span but always gave Kevin his time and enthusiastic smile. I’m grateful for every bit of kindness ever bestowed upon Kevin. It makes me smile (OK, cry) when I really think about it.

Kevin loved to watch me do just about anything and I always felt compelled to “show off” for him, and have fun in doing so. I saw that it made him happy to watch me play, and it felt good to give him that joy…for perhaps he’s thought to himself “I wish I could do that.” Even if I’m totally off base, I like to think that by pursuing the best that I can be, in Kevin’s honor, that I could make the most of both of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive and want to win as much as the next guy. I’m simply saying that finding motivation as an athlete is a profound thing that should not be taken lightly. The more personal and deeply meaningful the motivation is the more unshakable it will be…and it will undoubtedly become a stong force in your life for all things good.

I’d like to thank Marcus Dupree for his emotional outburst at the tail end of the film (it’s worth a watch). The out pour reminded me of my own inspiration and moved me to share one of the strongest forces behind my own athletic pursuits. I did make it to the professional level of beach volleyball on the AVP Tour and played for 6 years while having the time of my life in the process. My career is far from noteworthy however thanks to motivation I was indeed able to reach my goal of becoming a pro. Thanks bro!

Hanging out

TRX Orientation Video Series

I’ve recently been urged by several friends, family and VWP’s (virtual workout partners) to produce instructional videos catering to new and would-be TRX-ers. The goal is to expedite TRX competency for each and every user in terms of understanding and applying suspension training principles, tools for success, detailed exercise demonstrations; workout plans and much much more.

Most people would agree that “TRX-ing” isn’t an intuitive thing (including me)…it’s very much experiential. In other words, you have to do it to understand it…and once you get it you’ll have a fitness tool for life to serve as your vehicle to fitness and conditioning success – whatever that means to YOU. TRX has become my ultimate training tool and has helped get me into the best shape of my life…and I’m just months away from my 40th birthday!

I’ve decided to answer this call and share with you (via video!) all the secrets on TRX-ing that I’ve acquired over past several years. My work with TRX is extensive and dates back to the launch of Fitness Anywhere (makers of TRX) when I was their PR guy responsible for essentially giving birth to the TRX in national media (including military outlets). The TRX, as a product I knew for 3 days, inspired me to re-certify myself as a fitness trainer (first certified in the mid-90’s to improve my training as a professional beach volleyball player), which only helped me to further spread the gospel on TRX for what it was – the epitome of functional training for the whole body within a single, lightweight and portable station…and by the way, it was invented by a Navy Seal. Not a bad story to pitch, eh?!? We did quite well (worked with a great team!) with story generation and quickly garnered placements in the LA Times (yours truly demoed TRX w/the reporter), the New York Times (first story to name “Suspension Training” as a fitness genre of it’s own), and Sports Illustrated (showcasing Drew Brees who used TRX extensively in his torn labrum rehabilitation with elite trainer Todd Durkin). Conveying TRX in all its glory to media with limited resources like telephone and email (for the most part) was a big task since it was a three dimensional device (with no seat) capable of working through all planes of motion – which most all equipment is not capable of doing. Needless to say, we pulled it off…and I’m hoping to “pull it off” with these orientation videos so that you’re able to have a consistently beneficial relationship with your TRX for years to come.

Please enjoy these videos and share them with others who may be fitness enthusiasts, needing fitness in their lives or those who lead busy lives with limited time for working out, or even getting to the gym at all.

Work that Body!!!

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