My fitness story – I have been around the fitness block so here’s my unique journey!
The Rap Sheet:
National Academy of Sports Medicine
Maxwell Certified Kettlebell Instructor
KIWK certified group Kettlebell Instructor
Functional Movement Systems Certified
Dynamic Variable Resistance Training Certified
Ultimate Sandbag Instructor
B.S. In Management, Arizona State University
Director Of Finance and Human Resources
School Of Practical Experience
Academy Of Common Sense
Working on my PHD in Life
My lifetime journey on my path to fitness & health has not always been a smooth ride to say the least! I made my fair share of mistakes chasing fad fitness programs, using ridiculous devices/gadgets, & trying every diet/eating strategy as fast as they could be spewed to the masses.
Compound this with trying the oodles of workout programs endorsed by every Fountain of Misinformation in the fitness industry and it’s a wonder I just didn’t throw in the towel due to frustration and fitness information overload. But I didn’t give up on my quest to keep improving my fitness…
Now: a refined, mature & downright loveable coach Mellohusky
addressing the fitness troops
But it wasn’t always this way……
Even though my journey into fitness was full of early pit falls & setbacks in varying degrees, I usually managed to “fail forward” and quickly improve and make better decisions more times than not after any derailment to my fitness goals. The most important lesson I have learned from this journey is the incredible perspective of looking at the “big” picture of the fitness and health industry over the years; developing the ability to gravitate toward “what works” and avoid “what doesn’t.” Oh how simple that sounds today, but I digress – please read on….
Just for the record, growing up in my wonder(or blunder) years of the 1970′s, I was your classic chunky kid between 5th to 7th grade. These years seemed to last forever as most low points in people’s lives do I guess. Looking back, It’s no wonder I was a mess since almost everything I ate came out of a box and was processed crap full of sugar, artificial ingredients and whatever else could be crammed into a pop tart, ring ding or slathered between 2 slices of white bread.
When I relay this story to people, usually the first thing they try to lay blame on is my parents and how they should have stepped in and cleaned up my eating or set me on the right path to health & a better self image blah, blah, blah…. While it is great to be surrounded by so many “know it alls” and armchair psychiatrists spewing unsolicited advice on my childhood – The fact of the matter was my parents just didn’t know any better & raised us kids as best they could which I will always be grateful for.
However, life would throw me another curve as my mother died at the beginning of 6th grade & my father had to step up to the plate to raise us kids, which he did. Yeah, this timeline of my life flat out sucked- period!
On a side note, I am part Norwegian and Polish with a little Scotch thrown in the mix somewhere so by all rights with that genetic blueprint I should have grew to seven feet tall & looked like a cross between Thor and “Polish Power” Ivan Putski.
Life had other plans in the genetics department for me, however & I was still a fat kid, but I was determined to change my lot in life. There are rare instances where folks hit the genetic lottery and have good fitness bestowed upon them, but for the vast majority of us fitness and health is not just handed to you – we have to work at it more diligently.
Lesson learned: Life is not fair- period! And learn to deal with the cards you are dealt in this lifetime.
Anyway, all this weight gain earned me a host of wonderful nicknames such as “porker”, “moon face”, “melon head” and my personal favorite invented by my older brother’s friends – “stem headed pear ass!” You would think that having your mom pass away would get you some kind of “free pass” and have everyone ease up on hazing the fat kid a bit, but no way – I think it got worse! Eventually I had enough & even at that young age I knew I had to step up to the plate and take charge of my appearance & fitness if I wanted any self respect. I can look back in amusement now, but believe me – it was tough to be the portly kid in the wilds of semi suburban New Jersey just outside Philadelphia.
I managed to clean up my diet somewhat – not perfect, mind you – I was still just a dopey kid relying on instinct & the “heartwarming” fitness advice of my peers and “concerned” adults who would always offer gems of wisdom like “What’s wrong with you? Stop eating so much- you tub of shit!” Yeah, that was some support network I was surrounded by.
I forged ahead and started to thin out a little & get more physically active by the tail end of 7th grade and liked the way I started to look and feel. But I always wanted to improve my fitness and body composition beyond just running around the neighborhood playing wiffleball, Nerf football and king of the hill while hoping puberty & genetics would kick in and be kind to me.
Fast forward to the end of 8th grade and my family moved across town into a new neighborhood. As luck would have it, my new next door neighbor, Mike “Beef” Bronsky was the strongest kid in high school who was 2 years older than me & actually trained with real exercise equipment. By this time I had bought some of those archaic, cheap, plastic coated cement weights, a wobbly bench with attached leg curl, hollow bar and an “arm blaster” harness for doing the tons of arm curls I spent WAY too much time doing. But this was 1981 and even though this set up sounds horrible – it was still more than most people were doing with regards to their fitness at that time.
There was no internet to get instant workout information, lie to millions of people about how much you bench press, or read about the training routines and ideas of whoever was at the cutting edge of fitness at the time. Hell, this was back when you had to actually pump your gas pedal before you started your car.
Anyway, I would copy all the training routines listed in Muscle & Fitness Magazine like the few other people who were weight training and wonder why I wasn’t seeing results like the ones the articles spouted. Arguably, it was better than nothing, but I just didn’t know any better. All I knew was that I needed to do something – anything!
I was so naive that I didn’t realize that most of the lifters who contributed to those popular muscle magazines were proverbial juice giants so jacked up on steroids that all they had to do was blow into their thumbs to inflate their muscles to cartoonish proportions. No wonder copying their outlandish routines of 20 sets of curls followed by 15 sets of fly’s 4x a week only seemed to burn me out & not build me up.
One day my new neighbor, Mike invited me over to train with him – this was the true start of my education in fitness & weight training! (He probably got tired of walking by my garage and witnessing my circus -like training setup & listening to me blaring The Clash, Van Halen, Ramones, U2 And other “new” bands on home made compilation tapes that probably contributed to lowering the neighborhood’s property values.) I also thought I had to scream like some wounded prehistoric animal trapped in the tar pits after every “hard” set of lifts for some ridiculous reason. A shameful display, indeed! But help had arrived…
Doing cheat curls with horrendous form
Screaming like a Loon
wearing the infamous “arm blaster”
Freshman year of high school
Mike had a real bench press, an odd, sturdy structure which I learned was a squat rack, and real iron plates! Mike explained the importance of actually doing squats & doing bench presses properly while taking appropriate rest between sets using reasonable repetition schemes. I would go on to build off of this foundation over the years, but I was now training with the big boys & I would not squander the opportunity to learn from one of the best.
Mike also stressed” real world” conditioning which consisted of us taking turns pushing his car up our street which had the perfect incline to make it a great challenge. Looking back- pushing that car a few times a week built my legs up way more than the hundreds of machine leg curls I used to do! It’s funny when I think back to all the grief Mike and I got from people while pushing that car around back then.
Neighbors, passers – by and even members of the sporting community would make all kinds of snide comments to us mostly letting us know we were “wasting our time” or questioning our sanity using all kinds of colorful expletives. We by no means invented pushing things around, but I don’t recall anybody doing this in my neck of the woods back then.
Today, you are a fitness hero or internet superstar if you advocate pushing objects around – go figure! Great memories indeed! Take a bow, Mike I owe you a great deal of thanks for taking the time to train that dopey, clueless freshman & legitimately starting my fitness journey.
I now had an acceptable base of strength & fitness to build on and was now ready to continue my journey, but it was time to wave bye bye to Jersey for a while…
The great Mike “Beef” Bronsky and the
car we used to push for miles
After high school I traveled about as far away from home as a Jersey kid could get to attend college at Arizona State University. I jumped in my 1976 brown Plymouth Duster with no A/C and drove across the country in the middle of August. Three days later feeling like I drove through a blast furnace and looking like an agitated pile of sweat and dust and all scruffy looking since I had to drive with my windows open or drop dead from severe heat exhaustion , I checked in at my assigned dorm.
Someone in the lobby quipped that I looked like the Miner 49er, which was cool since this was the first time I have ever been compared to a Scooby Doo villain. I told them that I wasn’t a desert bum, but that I am a student who just drove in from New Jersey which didn’t seem to create a warm, fuzzy atmosphere either. My education as to the ways of the world was truly beginning. I had no idea that people had such a disdain for anything associated with New Jersey- but on to the next leg of my fitness journey….
Arizona State University attracted kids from all over the country and from places outside the country I never heard of and could barely pronounce. Since this was a division 1 school, I had the good fortune to observe and/or train with some of the numerous elite athletes who seemed to be everywhere. I even remember Barry Bonds on campus when he was just a “skinny” athlete ( he was not the friendliest person, however.)
I met a lot of people from places like Texas, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Washington and Alaska that most kids back east were never exposed to. I noticed how fit and strong most of these kids were compared to most of the people I knew in Jersey. A lot of them came from farm, rural or small town type environments with extreme climates where their daily chores alone made them flat out fit & strong – even stronger still if they added any kind of weight training.
I would visit these friends during school breaks and get a chance to see how their families lived. What I found was that the entire family was usually pretty fit and strong- even grandma & grandpa! I noticed that there was always some activity going on whether it be doing chores or some type of sporting or recreational activity. Very rarely was anybody just lounging around unless they were winding down to retire for the night. Looking back, they ate mostly whole foods including plenty of meat, veggies, and fruit and not too much boxed foods.
These observations would stick with me and form my views on how to attain better fitness and health regardless of what the media hyped “diet of the day” at the time was. Maybe there were some take away lessons on how these people lived that contributed to their overall fitness and quality of life I would always find myself thinking. I still dwell on their good habits and think they are still highly relevant to this day to promote fitness, health and longevity.
I would graduate with a degree in business management and move on, but I still was hooked on learning all I could about fitness & health.
Throughout the years I kept training- never losing the desire to improve my fitness and health. I have haunted many gyms on both coasts and some in between and met many good trainers & numerous horrible ones.
I guess this is the reality in any industry, but some of the antics I see in the fitness training community have me shaking my head on a daily basis. I am by no means perfect, but the petty bickering, super egos, insane ranting, lack of respect, lack of judgement, competency issues, inability to lead, dis-respectfulness, and poor communication skills exhibited by many in this industry turn a lot of people off (clients & fellow trainers alike)
I have attended & collected more than my fair share of fitness workshops and certifications – some worthwhile , others not so great and some were just a ridiculous waste of my money & time. The same goes for the many fitness speakers & authors I have been exposed to – some very inspiring, thought provoking and knowledgeable, but a lot were all fluff & hype preferring to make a quick buck and “breathe their own exhaust.”
I only list the certifications, programs and fitness workshops I am proud of in my bio & believe in that actually deliver programming and relevant, applicable content that stands the test of time with regards to getting clients to their fitness goals quickly and efficiently. I believe I “backed the right horses” in this industry regarding my mentors and the safe & efficient programs they advocate, but I will always strive to keep an open mind, put myself in other people’s shoes and do my part to destroy the stereotype that fitness coaches are rigid, unprofessional, one dimensional, inflexible, humorless assholes.
I have lived through and experienced many fitness , diet & health fads and enough exercise gadgets to deserve their own wing at the junkyard. (Which is where I deposited most of those outlandish devices.) I remember when the Nautilus machines were all the rage, eggs were deemed to be bad for you and drinking cases of expensive colored sugar water passed off as protein drinks were a must have for every gym rat.
Don’t even get me started on the fitness apparel of the mid 80′s to early 90′s. (anybody remember those big parachute genie pants in all kinds of neon designs and animal stripes? Just like the ones that insane martial arts instructor Rex Kwon Do wore in the movie Napolean Dynamite)
While I was pretty strong & looked halfway decent, I knew something was missing. I just did not feel good or move that well and my conditioning was lacking. I didn’t like carrying extra weight around and felt heavier than I needed to be, but I didn’t want to lose my strength if that meant cutting some bulk. And to top it off, I was doing too much & not giving myself enough time to recover from my workouts which really put me behind the fitness eight ball!
My shoulders were in constant pain & my knees were communicating with me in a bad way via aches & pains with more regularity. I felt horrible outside the gym as well – my so called “gym strength” while impressive under a bench press, did little or nothing to improve my quality of life or performance in my everyday activities. It was time to reclaim my health & fitness once again and re-prioritize my fitness values and goals.
I “discovered” kettlebells in 2004 . I was amazed at how they got the excess flab off of me, got me the leanest I have ever been, made me incredibly mobile, cleaned up my achy shoulders & knees since KB’s are super joint friendly & they got me stronger to boot. All this in a short amount of time working out only 2-3 times a week without doing marathon 2 hour gym sessions – “Hmm, maybe there is something to these peculiar cannonball thingies with handles, I thought.”
Kettlebells have been in use for roughly 300 years and these simple implements have forged incredible bodies for a long time I learned. While there are many paths to get to your fitness goals, I have found that a well designed kettlebell program is one of the most efficient ways to address the qualities that most people lack in their current fitness programs.
Check out how good kettlebells are and decide for yourself
A well rounded fitness program should address the following components: safety, strength, cardio/conditioning, mobility/flexibility & with a maximal calorie burn. A properly designed kettlebell program is hard to beat if you want to address these important qualities without spending hours at the gym.
While kettlebells play a huge part in the programs I design, they are by no means the be all and end all of fitness modalities. I also incorporate barbells, sandbags, the Aerosling, TRX, bodyweight exercises & copious amounts of corrective drills & mobility exercises into my various programs dictated by a person’s goals & needs, but kettlebells do fill most of the dance card.
Fast forward to today and my training, fitness, health & teaching philosophy is acutely refined toward getting results in the most safe and efficient way possible. I have found that a well designed kettlebell program meets this criteria not only for my clients, but for my own training as well. If your goal is to become the worlds strongest man/woman, pull trains with your teeth or to be the next Mr. or Ms. Galaxy, then you would probably need to incorporate more than kettlebells to reach those lofty goals. But if you want to torch the fat, increase mobility, get lean & strong, develop killer legs, tighten your butt & perform better physically, then a well designed kettlebell based program may be for you.
It’s all about feeling good, moving
well, having the conditioning and
strength to perform your daily activities
pain-free and enjoy the life you pursue!
My fitness & health journey has been a blast thus far & I have to laugh at all the dead end programs, worthless diets, bad advice, toxic people and setbacks I have experienced. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for an easier path since they have given me incredible perspective into cutting through all the hype and blow of this industry. My journey is never ending and I will always be respectful of the greats who legitimately forged this industry, have an open mind, and continue to learn . I am comfortable with the fact that I will never know it all, but I have yet to meet the person that does!
Choose a fitness program that transfers well to performing activities you enjoy pursuing in a confident, strong and pain free manner!
The takeaway to this rather abridged rendition of my fitness journey is simply this – I never gave up and I always took some type of action to move me closer to my goals. As hokey & corny as that sounds – it is true- not just in fitness, but any worthwhile endeavor one embarks upon. Oh, and try to make a habit of learning from and exposing yourself to others with skills greater than your own in whatever you want to get more proficient in – whether that be your fitness and health, financial literacy, learning how to surf or whatever you deem important enough to pursue.
Strive to always Position Yourself For Success in any endeavor
Whatever your goals, just unplug yourself from the insanity of the modern world for a bit and think out the steps necessary to achieve them. Remember to balance planning with action, but don’t go off half-cocked and rush to failure!
These days “I consider myself an eternal student in the culture of health & fitness- always approaching my profession with an open mind and willing to apply new methods if they are safe and produce results. I take a common sense business approach to training, fitness and nutrition – Tossing out those methods that do not work and retaining those that do. I’m convinced that the Fountain of Youth does indeed exist and can be attained through the practice of an intelligent training and nutritional regimen. I have found that Kettlebell training is an incredibly efficient & fun way to shred fat, stay lean, get stronger, move better, look & feel younger & lead a quality life of incredible active longevity!
Fitness Training Specialist
I Eat T-Bone Steaks and Train With Kettlebell Weights
“There’s A Sparkle In My Eyes And Iron In My Thighs”
Seven Stars Fitness