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Robin Williams Made Me a Better Trainer


Robin Williams Made Me a Better Trainer


I’ve wanted to write this post ever since I learned of the premature passing of Robin Williams, but the timing just wasn’t right for me. I wanted to give it time to not only sink in, but also for all the waves that his untimely death created to subside. Although I hardly think that the impact of his passing is actually settled just yet, tonight, I just felt it was time to put this out there.


Fortunately, I grew up in the 90’s. I say that, because during that decade Robin came out with some pretty fantastic movies and characters to watch. He was not just the comedic genius we all came to love, but I found that his more serious roles were just as awe-inspiring and captivating as his comedy. Since his untimely death, I’ve taken time to think back on all his movies I watched growing up and I realized that many of these films actually taught me life lessons, if you will, that have helped me grow into a successful personal trainer. So without further ado, I’d like to spend the next few moments illustrating just how Robin Williams made me a better fitness coach.




Let’s start with a different take on one of my favorite stories of all time, Hook. In the film, Robin plays an aging Peter Pan who has abandoned his home on Never Never Land and is now an overweight, corporate Joe-Schmo who works too much, avoids time with his family and has absolutely no recollection of the boy wonder he used to be. Hell, Peter Pan is even afraid of heights as an old man now! The boy who vowed to never grow up did just that, and not in a good way. And that’s my point. Your age should never matter, as long as you’re remaining a kid at heart. Taking time to enjoy life, to enjoy adventure and to be around those you love more often than not is the true key to happiness.

As far as training clients go, I can tell you that both the client and the trainer (me in particular) get more of out any session and any program when we’re all having a good time. There’s nothing worse than a clipboard holding, coffee worshipping, rep counter for a trainer in my book. I love getting in their and not just coaching but taking that 45 minutes to have a GREAT time and honestly just be a kid again while we’re working out. The session is much more enjoyable and is therefore much more effective. I mean let’s face it, some days you just don’t want to go get your ass kicked by a trainer… and vice versa… some days I’d much rather stay in bed than wake up at 3:45 AM to get downtown to the studio and train. But, I know, and even more importantly my clients know, that once we get settled in and once we get into the hard part of the workout, no matter what else we both have going on outside of that session, we’re going to have a damn good time for the next 45 minutes! Now, and you can ask my clients about this, this doesn’t mean we’re going to just goof off and not workout! Quite the contrary! But it should be and needs to be FUN! Why else would you put yourself through burpees and kettlebell swings on a regular basis?




Next, and on a more serious note, not just one of my favorite Robin Williams’ movies, but one of my all time favorite flicks is Good Will Hunting. This drama has a complex storyline but is eloquently written by and stars, along with Williams, Ben Afflec and Matt Damon. There’s one scene in particular when Williams and Damon are sitting on a park bench after their previous, explosive therapy session wherein Damon challenges Williams to the point where Williams snaps and literally pins him against the wall with a fire in his eyes like he’s about ready to pummel this man. But that’s not it. As a trainer, it’s not my job to pummel my clients. In fact, that would be bad for business! But in this particular scene, when the two are seated on the park bench, the soft spoken Williams just tears down Damon’s character’s walls by telling him nothing he wanted hear, but EVERYTHING he needed to hear at the time. Really digging into the core of the issues he’s facing and not bullshitting his way around it to make him feel better.

This is where Robin helped me as a trainer. You see, sometimes the necessary conversations, although hard, are exactly what is needed. I learned, from this film, and in my own experiences, that the harsh truth will help someone find their own path much more effectively than sugar coating everything to “keep a client happy.” When I first started training about 10 years ago, I always told the clients what they wanted to hear as to not upset them in fear that they would discontinue working with me or whatever. I was there to make them feel good all the time. Well this “feel good all the time” approach didn’t necessarily give them the information or motivation they needed to get the results they desired. In that regards, it was my fault. I avoided the uncomfortable conversations and therefore did not challenge them to make the necessary changes needed to achieve the results they were seeking. In the end, without having these types of conversations and not setting them up for success, despite my best efforts to keep them happy and not lose them, the lack of progress would cause them to leave anyway and who could blame them.

About 6 years ago I decided no more! I will not simply cater to being comfortable and therefore not challenging my clients to constantly seek improvement by sugar coating things. Now, I ‘m not a total jerk about things, but nowadays, if I see a client is not showing up for his or her workouts, or is not eating how I’ve coached them too, or is spending more time on his or her phone than actually working out during the session; I’m more equipped and more confident to approach them about it. I know that if I don’t have the necessary conversation with them than I’m not only doing them an injustice as their trainer, but I’m also doing myself an injustice as a fitness professional. Again, I challenge you to not seek confrontation, but don’t fear it either when you know that the regardless the outcome, you’ve done all you can to set that person up for success in the future.




Finally, Patch Adams. Need I say more. I love, LOVE this movie. And just like in Good Will Hunting, there’s one scene in particular that stands out to me. It’s the final board-hearing scene near the end of the flick where Patch (Williams) is defending his right to practice medicine and become a doctor. In the scene Williams states, “Treat a disease you win, you lose. But treat a person, and you will win every time!” In training, no one client is just like the other. Therefore, no workout should be  just like the other. Now there may be some similarities, as you know from reading my blog I focus on essentialism when it comes to training and getting rid of the fluff aka “functional training” bullshit.

But each client needs a different level of motivation. Each client needs a different way to be held accountable. Each client has different stressors ready to pounce on them as soon as they leave the studio. Each client is an INDIVIDUAL and should be treated, coached and trained as just that, an individual. I don’t have cookie cutter, pre-designed programs. I do have tested and proven theories and programming notes that work. So I use these notes and mold them to fit each client specifically rather than trying to make the clients fit my style of training. Our goal as a team of trainers is to connect with each person who comes through our doors on a personal, individual level no matter if they’re a private or group training client. It’s all the same, when you come to FT, you’re unique and we’re going to train you that way. Period.


I could literally spend hours writing about Robin Williams, as I’m sure many of you could too. He was such a talent. A comedic genius who could also pull at your heart strings at the same time. I hate that he was plagued by so many personal demons. But I’m thankful for the impact he made on my life and hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe.



The ULTIMATE Weekend Workout!

OK… so we’re re-introducing our Ultimate Weekend Warrior Workouts!

Each week we’ll upload a new video workout including all the demos and rules, etc you’ll need to tackle it from the convenience of your living room or at the studio. Our challenge to you is to

  2. Post your “Scores” to our Facebook Page!

Let’s work to improve 2% every week!… Look for the first workout video later this week! Until then, enjoy me making a total ass outta myself over, and over, and over again!


Little Goals

small steps

Everyone loves setting big goals. One hundred unbroken push ups. Deadlifting 2x your bodyweight. A twenty minute 5K. Improving your time on a workout by over a minute…

We’re not so good at figuring out how to get to those big goals. The bigger the goal, the more exciting it is. It is easy to see the victory parade at the end, to imagine the feeling of triumph, to envision the accolades and admiration. But the longer it takes to reach that goal, and the further those rewards seem, the easier it is to get discouraged.

So what do we do in the meantime?

We need to get better at setting little goals. These tiny steps are what take us forward toward the big goal. These smaller achievements may not be parade-worthy, but they keep us going from day to day, or from moment to moment.

There is no goal too small. In the hardest of workouts, the tiniest goals can be exactly what we need to make it through. Just keep going until the next chorus of the song. Just keep going until the next light pole. Just keep going for the next five seconds. Every one of those can feel like an achievement. Put enough of them together and the workout is done.

Twenty unbroken pull-ups is impossible… What about two pull-ups without a break? And then four? And then six?

And we must learn to celebrate those small goals. We must learn to announce the small triumphs and to applaud and reward our successes.

The big dreams may be the reason we get up in the morning, but the little goals are the ones that help us make it through the minutia of every day.

Set a small goal. Aim for it, and then do it all over again, and again, and again… That is how to reach the victory parade.

Go get yours!


Minimalist Leg Training— Get rid of the Clutter!

arnold leg day


If you’ve read some of my posts prior to this one then you’ll know that I’m a big believer in getting through the clutter in just about everything… especially when it comes to training and programming. In fact, I’ve been quoted saying the easiest way to pick out a newbie trainer in the gym is to watch how “complicated” or “functional” his or her workouts are… I mean… what’s “functional” about squatting on blocks or or doing barbell thrusters while standing on a BOSU ball (unless of course you’re a professional downhill skier or something)?

Look, there are tried and true methods of training that have been around since even before Mr. Arnold here and you know why?… Yep… BECAUSE THEY CONTINUE TO WORK!

No fluff needed.

Just pushing, pulling, squatting and lifting weights. Overloading your system in some shape or form that will MAKE it adapt they way you want it to; and achieve the desired results you are training for.

An elite trainer or workout session can help you achieve these results via minimal glitz and glamour but through just plain sweat and hard work.

Let’s take my latest leg workout for example. Now, if you don’t know, at FT, we don’t have (nor do we want) a bunch of machines doing the work for us… we want to move our bodies as the weight machines and overload our systems that way.

Here’s a leg day workout I pulled from a website recently for comparison:

1a. Smith Machine Squat: 3 x 10-12

1b. Air Squat 3 x 10-12

2a. Deadlift: 3 x 10-12

2b. BB Hack Squat: 3 x 10-12

2c. Eccentric BW Leg Curl: 3 x 5-6

3a. Plate Mover BB Sumo Squat: 3 x 10-12

3b. Smith machine Calf raises: 3 x 45-60

4a. Lunge Pass Through: 3 x 5

4b. Lunge Sprints: 3 x 5

5a. Smith Machine Leg Press: 3 x 10-12

5b. One Legged BW Squats: 3 x 10-12

6a. Bench Jumps: 3 x 10-12

6b. Bench Sprints: 3 x 10-12

WOW… seriously… that’s a lot for one given training session… do you think you can maintain the level of intensity, focus and motivation to make it through:

  • 39 sets
  • over 150 reps over compound leg exercises
  • and probably 2.5 hours of straight leg training?

C’mon! This is insane and IF I ever saw at one of my team members trying to pull off something like this with one of our clients…. I may just slap them on principle. Ha!

Now, compare the above to my workout from today: (Note, Yes there are some super high rep sets included, but believe me there are less than subtle changes when compared to that beast above)

My minimalist leg workout:

  1. Back Squat: 20, 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2
  2. Walking Barbell Lunges: 50, 26, 16, 8
  3. Glute/Ham Raises: 4 x 10-15

And Done! I was able to get PLENTY of quality reps in as well as increase my load each consecutive set on each exercise thus stimulating muscle development, strength gains and priming my body for continued calorie burn throughout the day.

All this over a total of: 15 sets vs 39 sets …. ya feel me?!

All this to say, or reiterate the point, most of the time people tend to over thing EVERYTHING including training and nutrition. I suggest, instead of the “more is better” philosophy, do what I did and find 3-5 compound exercises that work best for you in producing your desired results and go full tilt on those! Hammer away, make your body change, but don’t waste your time doing a whole lotta BS that is just “fluff” for the trainer’s ego.

Minimize the Clutter!


How Can You Spend $84,600 in 24 Hours?!


What’d ya think?

I love the point Elvis makes when he compares seconds in a day to having money in the bank… “there’s no interest, it doesn’t carry over” so how would you spend it in its entirety in only 24 hours?

I’ve been fortunate to learn from Tulsa’s own Dr. Steve Greene here lately by attending his weekly breakfast lectures at Cedar Ridge Country Club every Thursday morning at 7:30… (side note: you can learn more about Dr. Greene’s lectures HERE… but if you’re a business person or entrepreneur or anything in between, I HIGHLY recommend you check out Dr. Greene’s breakfasts… it’s like getting a PhD. in marketing, system building, and time management and so much more…)

In these seminars, lately we have been really hammering time management… or better put… energy management throughout the day. The ability to get highly prioritized tasks completed during your “peak” hours of energy throughout the day and relying on off peak time to get the other “have-to’s” out of the way too.

Which all makes sense right?

Well, just this morning, I was meeting with a good friend/mentor/colleague of mine over coffee and both of us had our laptops out, both had our schedules in front of us and Bill looks at me and says “OK, Mike, what’s your one thing you’re gonna get done today?” The one thing that is high level priority that requires your total focus and energy…

And my response, “Dude, I don’t even know that I have one thing, but a ton of little things that HAVE TO get done… AND, we’re shorthanded at FT, so I’m booked through 7 pm training to cover sessions…”

Bill, could tell the hesitation and worry in my voice…. so he walked me through it… we got today planned and he’s even going to text me at 10 PM tonight to make sure I got my ONE THING done today.

The point of all this is that despite the business of today; and depsite the worry of not getting EVERYTHING done that I “needed” to, I have set myself up for success to get my ONE BIG THING done. I have the systems in place including:

  1. a schedule… I know from 3 – 4 pm today, All I’m doing is my ONE THING to get it done.
  2. I have someone holding me accountable to get it done and who cares enough to check on me to make sure it’s done.
  3. I am fully cashing in my $84,600 (seconds) for the day with no carry over needed.

In fact, proof of my cashing it in, here’s today’s schedule:

  • Wake up: 3:45 am
  • Commute to FT Downtown (listening to new audio book along the drive): 4:40 – 5:00 am
  • Training Clients: 5:15 – 9 am
  • Meeting with Bill: 9 am – 10:30 am
  • Training clients 11 – 12: 45 pm
  • Blog: 1 – 2 pm
  • Workout: 2-3pm
  • ONE BIG THING: 3-4 pm
  • Training: 4-7 pm
  • Commute home: 7:15 – 7:30 pm (listening to audiobook)
  • 7:30 – 8:30: Play with Kiddos, get them to bed
  • 8:30 -10 pm: conversate with my beautiful wife
  • 10 pm: G’nite y’all

Without this schedule in tote, I would surely waste seconds, if not hours between tasks, eventually getting NOTHING done. No high level or low level tasks at all.

Whether it’s a workout, a business meeting, or just getting your to-do lists scratched off, I encourage you to schedule it! Make a priority for that given time of your day. And to cash in your $84,600 that you’re blessed with everyday.

Make it count!