A good friend and mentor of mine, Danny Kavadlo, help me out with my book “The Calisthenics Quest“. Here is what he wrote…
In my years as a health professional, I’ve been a personal trainer, a PT manager, an author, a blogger, a fitness model and even an international presenter. Suffice it to say, I’ve worn a lot of hats in this industry and I’ve met a lot of trainers!
Some of these trainers are more memorable than others. Some have impressed me while others have not. But every now and again a trainer comes along who just “gets it.”
I’m not just talking about understanding the science of training like sets, reps, and human anatomy—I’m a strong believer that anyone can learn that. No, I’m referring to something larger. Love, passion, spirit and more.
What I’m speaking of is the ability to connect to people, to resonate and to change lives. Hell, maybe even change the world.
Ray and I first connected over social media several years ago. Since then, Ray has been my student at Dragon Door’s acclaimed Progressive Calisthenics Certification, my comrade as a lifelong advocate of bodyweight strength training, and ultimately, I’m proud to say, my friend.
Ray has the rare gift of being able to motivate and inspire, while never coming across as overbearing. He leaves the work to his students, while providing exactly what they need from him in terms of instruction. Nothing more, nothing less. He is a true expert of his craft.
So as you might imagine, when a copy of The Calisthenics Quest appeared across my desk, I couldn’t wait to tear into it. I found Ray Shonk’s writing to be informative yet friendly. It’s comprehensive, yet casual. He explores serious concepts with simplicity and humor. For example, when discussing the notion of challenging yourself, Shonk simply states: “It is called a workout, not an easy out. None of this will happen overnight.”
So honest, simple and true—but definitely not easy!
Whether Ray is exploring the roots of bodyweight training, sharing his own anecdotes, or explaining the details of step-by-step exercise progression, he delivers the goods on bodyweight training—and then some!
One of my favorite passages appears toward the end of the work, when Mr. Shonk discusses the character building virtues of working out. In his signature style, he explains the importance of focusing on form and quality of movement, rather than only shooting for high reps and letting the ego take over. This type of process-mindedness is at the very core of Ray’s philosophy as a trainer, a martial artist and a man. No rush here.
As Ray himself says, “This is your journey, so enjoy it.”
Change the Behavior: When you start to consider behaviors that aid in your wellness, such as being physically active and choosing a healthy diet, you may start comparing that with your current behaviors. Like many people, the odds are you are likely have some habits that are healthy and some habits that may place your health at risk. An example would be living a fit and active lifestyle but skipping meals throughout the day. It could even be focusing on your diet but not wearing your seat belt when you’re in the car. To improve your overall wellness, you will need to cultivate your healthy habits and work on overcoming your unhealthy habits. I’m sure many of you already know that changing and unhealthy habit can be much harder than it seems. When you make the decision to take on a lifestyle change, it may seem too hard, at first. When you make progress, your confidence will grow in your ability to make these healthy life changes. As these healthy changes occur, you will notice that you will have more energy, greater vitality and a much greater quality of life than before. You may even seen a curiosity of how far you can go (I know that happened to me). Before you get serious about making your healthy change, you have to know what behaviors are problematic first. To make these positive health changes you also need information about the relevant topics and issues, including what resources are available for you to help you make your change. Take a moment for yourself and ask questions such as “how are my current lifestyle choices affecting my health today” and “how will it be affected in the future?” Think about your current habits and which ones enhance your life and which ones do not. When you’re ready to begin your quest towards your wellness, start with the self-assessment, talk with your friends and family members about what they noticed in your lifestyle. Challenge any unrealistic optimistic ideas you may hold such as, “I don’t need to worry about quitting smoking until I’m over 40” or even “Being overweight won’t put me at risk for diabetes.” Health risks are out there and are significant at all ages, and building is healthy habits are important throughout your entire life. I tell many people I work with that when you start your fitness journey it’s best to start small, by choosing one behavior to change at a time and working on it until you succeed. Your chances of being successful will be far greater with a simple gold to start and this can be as simple as resisting the urge to snack all day or even adding in a little extra exercise. As you move along in your healthy changes you can start making your next goal a little bit more significant and build off of your prior success.
Gathering Your Material: it’s important when you’re looking for health and fitness sources that you do a little bit of research. First off, make sure your source is credible, find out where they gather their information and have a few other professionals are agreeing with the findings. If you’re reading up on studies look to see if there was a large number of people study and who was doing the study. Don’t just look at a single person’s findings because what works for one person may not work for another. When you’re looking through different websites for information check in see how frequently they post as well as the current date of the information. Information in the health and fitness world change rapidly so it is important that that information is up-to-date. Many things you find out there on the Internet or TV or short-term solutions to long-term problems. So when you’re gathering your own information make sure it is up-to-date and fits your needs and goals. It’s OK to be skeptical, because odds are if something seems too good to be true there’s a chance that it is.
Visualize and Self Talk: when you want to boost your confidence and self efficiency one of the best things you can do is visualizing yourself successfully engaging in a new and healthier behavior. Take a moment and imagine yourself hitting that morning work out or that lunchtime run or even giving up smoking. Now, take a moment and picture yourself enjoying all the lifestyle benefits you will gain from this change now take a moment and picture yourself enjoying all the lifestyle benefits you will gain from this change. As crazy as it may sound you can also use self talk that little internal dialogue to increase your confidence in your ability to change. This could counter any self-defeating patterns of thoughts with more positive and realistic thoughts.
Support and Role Models: getting good social support can make a major difference in keeping you motivated and also in your chances of success. It’s possible that you may know a few people that have reached similar goals that you’re striving for. Asking them for help and advice is never a bad way to go. They could potential he have information you may be missing an offer of support that you need to push through. Another great idea to help you reach is healthier goals is to find a fitness partner who wants to make changes similar to yours. You can then take an active role in each others‘ goals and create a support system. It’s always great to have someone around that can help keep you accountable and motivated to further pursue your goals. You may even want to consider looking at exercise classes, I find these classes to be motivational with all the people around pushing each other to better themselves.
Skills of Change: The moment you decide you are committed to making a positive change it’s time to create a personal plan. Your success could be put together with a well-thought-out plan that sets goals for success and plans for potential problems and even includes possible rewards.
1) Start a journal and monitor your behavior and gather data and keep records of your target behavior. Record this information for a few weeks. Take time to write down each occurrence of your behavior noting the following: what your activities were, as well as when and where it happened and what you were doing.
2) Take time and look over the information and I didn’t fight any possible patterns after you have all the data on the behavior, while looking through it see if you can find any patterns. This could be things like when are you most likely to over eat or even skip a meal? What events trigger this appetite? Perhaps you even over eat when you go to a particular restaurant. Just make sure you note any connections between your feelings and any external cues including time of day situation or even the location.
3) Be “SMART” about setting your goals. If your goals are too challenging you will most likely have trouble making steady progress and will possibly even give up altogether. Remember all of this can take time. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time.
Tips for your healthy future: The person most in charge of your health is you. Every day we make decisions that will have an impact on the quality of our life both now and in the future. By making these positive changes, large and small, you can ensure a lifetime of wellness. Take 15 minutes and go for a walk or have a fresh piece fruit instead of that candy bar. Take a few moments and think about it healthy behavior you would like to add into your life. And then once you have it go after it. Your healthy life will be the best investment you can make.
Are you ready to make your healthy change? Start here.
There have been a lot of changes going on here at Quest Fitness, with our new trainer, Erica, adding massage therapy with Margaret, and evening yoga class with Danni. The newest feature we are adding in is the ability to schedule online through Schedulicity. With this feature you’re able to schedule or reschedule appointments online or through the free app at your convenience. You are still welcome to contact us with any of your questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to continuing to offer our professional personal training, massage therapy and group classes.
In this episode of Quest For Fitness, we talk personal training. I get asked all the time, “why should I hire a trainer?” This will answer that. The video also covers what to look for when hiring a trainer.
September 2nd is the scheduled date for the grand opening of the new location. Stop in and meet the trainers, get info on classes, training discounts and get entered in a drawing to win free training. Everyone is welcome to attend!! We hope to see you there! The new address will be 4316 S. Division Kentwood, MI 49548
I get a lot of comments on photos and articles that I post claiming that, of course I can do the things that I do because I’ve been fit my entire life. But, I can tell you that is not true. In high school, and my much younger years, I was very active and outdoorsy and constantly exercising, but there was a point in which I fell out of it, and through a good portion of my 20’s I was completely off the fitness bandwagon and started putting on a bit of weight and body fat. I came back onto the fitness scene with studying Taijiquan, and not long after I got into weight training. My primary goal, at first, was to start losing that weight that I had put on. And it was a struggle a lot of ups and downs in my diet anger over not seeing results right away and wanting to give up on more than one occasion. But with a lot of hard work, and a few years of busting my butt, I lost about 20 pounds. At this time I was doing a combination of weight training as well as calisthenics. And when I was doing this calisthenic training I will tell you firsthand that I could not do one single pull-up. After continuing to work for a few more years those pull-ups started coming along as well as hitting those crazy numbers on push-ups. It is honestly been within the last four years that I’ve become more calisthenic focused and it’s not because I dislike lifting weights. It was because I found calisthenics just work better for me. Now looking at some of the crazier calisthenic moves that I’ve been doing I want you to keep in mind that for a lot of those I train for well over six months just to do it for the first time and in some cases it took close to a year just to get it for the first time. So what I’m really trying to say is that this was all achieved through hard work not something that I have always been able to do I’m still striving for new goals just like everyone else, I even continue to watch my eating habits. If you have a goal you need to push for it and there will be ups and downs, but there are people out there that are more than willing to support you towards your goal.
Ok, so now you are considering a trainer but don’t know what to look for. Sure, the huge meat head or cheerleader looks like they know their stuff, but do they?
First, is your trainer willing to answer questions? To believe everything without question is indoctrination. Your trainer should be able to answer your questions about health and fitness. No trainer knows everything, but they should be willing to research the answers to your questions.
Does your trainer make huge promises? No person is the same, so to be told you will lose a bunch of weight just like a person you saw in TV is likely a false promise. Also, if they tell you that you will be ripped like Arnold, I ask you this. Are you Arnold? No one will build the same.
Does your trainer have insecurities? If your trainer tries to dissuade you from trying new things this could be due to personal insecurities. If you want to try out that Spin, Yoga, or Zumba class, then do it. It is your fitness journey and you should do things you enjoy.
Does your trainer listen to your goals? If your goal is to lean out and lose weight did they build the right program for you? There are certain rep ranges and weight percentages to take into account for each goal. Also, if your goal is to not lift weights at all, then your trainer should be listening to this.
Finally, is your trainer certified or just a gym rat? Sure that guy that can lift 200lbs is ripped, but can he teach you to do that safely? I highly suggest researching your potential trainer. Most certifications can be looked up online for free. After all, you are putting your fitness health and goals in their hands.
Don’t be afraid to get a trainer, just make sure they are right for you.
So after a lot of uncertainty, I decided to bite the bullet and attend the first Boston PCC (Progressive Calisthenics Certification). I will admit I had no idea what to expect out of this 3 day, 8 hour a day workshop. First day in Boston I, of course, had to see the sites, because, hell! There is a ton of history here!
Day One of the PCC was a lot of push-ups and pull-up progressions showing how to advance from a beginner to advanced. I even managed to get my first one arm pull-up! After lunch we moved on to human flag progressions. Yup, you read that correctly. So, it was amazing to see how strong everyone was through all those progressions. We finished the day working on the mighty muscle-up. Yeah, I have been doing them for a while, but they showed me how to make them even more challenging by only using my wrists and going slow.
Even better was seeing all the other people getting their first one! That night I got to go out with some friends from high school that I have not seen in almost 19 years. We had a blast! It was like nothing had changed.
Day Two was all legs and core work. There were a ton of first time moves for everyone! Some getting their first pistol or shrimp squats some getting their first front or back levers, for me, I got my first Meathook and Reverse Grip Back Lever! Even finished the day with a bad ass photo with Al and Danny Kavadlo.
Day Three I got to have breakfast with Danny and Al and just shoot the breeze. In class we went a bit lighter focusing on skills like hand balancing. I was impressed to see everyone’s skill level. They were some truly impressive people! After lunch the pressure was on… we had to test for our certification. When my name came up, my heart jumped up into my throat despite practicing this test over and over for the last few months. But I nailed it! After all was said and done, there were hugs all around. We were all like family in the end. I truly hope to stay in touch with my new calisthenics family.
Now, as the only Dragon Door certified calisthenics trainer in Michigan, I can’t wait to pass on all I have learned this long vacation!