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Mississauga, Ontario
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Mother Russia

posted by coach Jay D

Those Russians and their crazy antics, again.

No Bosu balls wanted.

Break Your Mirrors (They Lie)

posted by coach Jay D

Aside from possibly falling in love when staring too long, there are some reasons why I am personally against training in front of a mirror, that I’d like to share with you.

Read over my reasoning, think about it, apply the solutions to your own training for a month and see how much stronger you’ll be and how much better you’ll move.

Beyond all of that, you’ll learn a ton about your body’s relationship to the space around you and how movement should feel.

Break Your Mirrors (They Lie)

1) It’s Terrible Feedback
Whether you squat, kettebell swing or God-forbid, bicep curl in the mirror you’re looking at it from all the wrong angles, literally.

Movement, especially when dealing with heavy loads that can kill you, are best judged from the external view of an experienced coach or training partner who can correct you, accordingly.

Kinesthetic-Awarness, Joint angles, Spine-alignment, lever arms and many more fancy (yet important) biomechanical variables must be observed religiously – not only to be technically sound, but to get stronger without possibly dying or injuring yourself.

2) It’s Distracting
There are too many things moving all around you; girls in tights dancing around in their Zumba class or stretching in really suggestive manners, the idiot on the other side of the gym doing his interpretation of a Frank Zane pose, the stray medicine ball that’s rolling around, the maintenance man cleaning up, the televisions featuring the demise of your stocks and many, many other visuals that take your mind off the task at hand – your training and survival.

3) Feelings
I’m not talking about the warm, tender butterflies that you felt towards your 1st highschool love, I’m talking about feeling how movement should feel.

Bruce Lee in “Enter The Dragon” said, “Don’t Think; Feel”.
He was referring to flaws in movement being too mechanical and thought-driven. Whenever performing a new lift for the first time, we commonly ask ourselves:

“Is my back straight?”
“Are my eyes up?”
“Do I breathe on the way up or down?”
“Am I following through?”
And a slew of other technical considerations.

This terrible habit is made even more terrible when looking at a mirror for answers.

Mirrors have their place during training once in a while, but they’re more useful where they belong – in the locker room.

Practice your training and seek to improve your technique primarily by feel. Athletes observe this law to perform better, so why aren’t you?

If you’ve ever successfully snatched a kettlebell for the first time, you know how a perfect snatch feels (snicker). The same goes for any other movement from bodyweight squat to a golf swing. Let your movement be natural and organic; not mechanical. It might not come overnight but that’s the essence behind the training journey.
When you get it, believe me, you’ll get it.

Like my man, Bruce said, “Don’t Think — Feel.”

Solutions To Your Mirror Woes:
- Find a landmark and keep your eyes on the landmark when lifting/moving/practicing
- Film yourself during training, playback the film and look for the holes in your training.
- Face away from the mirror, towards the centre of the gym
- Hire a coach to learn proper lifting technique; it’s a valuable investment that will repay itself over and over again for decades
- Break your mirrors or the gym’s mirrors
(don’t tell them i told you to, though)

Don’t just look Strong and Fit, Be and Feel Strong and Fit.


Don’t be a Bird – Scrap the mirrors.

Bruce Lee’s Library

posted by coach Jay D

Nobody gets access to my books — I don’t care how long we’ve been dating, how many intimate dinners we’ve had, if you’ve saved my life or how many times you’ve carpooled me — not a soul gets access to my library.

Did I ever mention that I pride myself on my personal library?

Yes, I know that there are tons of books at the nearby public library and within the libraries of universities in my area, but some books I absolutely need.

Beyond that, I’m one of those manic and obsessive people who expands, writes, underlines and sketches while reading. When I read, it’s an experience that’s limited to anything but simply moving my two eyes left and right millions of times over.

Below is a recent clip of Shannon Lee giving us a never before glimpse into Bruce Lee’s library. The man read everything surrounding the topics of kinesiology and training to philosophy and world religions. I knew his library was well stocked but had no clue it was that well stocked.

When I open my own little temple of physical culture (aka “a gym”), be very honoured if you find that you’ve been given access to my periodicals and resources — they’re my heart and soul. I can understand why Bruce’s goods were kept far from sight for so long.

“Empty your mind and expand your life – when there is a particle of dust in your eye, the world becomes a narrow path – have your mind completely free from objects – and how much this life expands.”
- Bruce Lee

Why Your Coach Got A Coach

posted by coach Jay D

I’ve had group instructors, been to workshops and seminars, visited classes, but I’ve never had my own personal coach. That recently changed. I’ve been working with my own strength coach for the past two weeks now.

This move was made for 3 simple reasons:

To Learn
It’s always important to approach whatever you do from a different perspective. I might know a bit; I might know more than a few; but I definitely don’t know it all. There’s this saying in the martial arts world that you should always approach training with a student mind, regardless of how long you’ve been training. As long as you approach training and life in this manner, your ability and thirst to get better and acquire new knowledge is infinite. By addressing the fact that I don’t know it all, I find myself being able to welcome more knowledge regarding the topic of strength, on top of constantly fueling my passion for this stuff. It’s like I’ve been in a relationship for years, but have been given the option to meet and mingle with new people. Having the best of both worlds, how can I not enjoy that? It’s very fulfilling and makes my journey in strength enriched as hell.

To Acquire Modesty
The iron humbles you. I know my own limits but it’s a rarity that I let myself go beyond that. As long as I’m failing now and then, I know that I’m trying hard enough with every attempt that I make.

Working under the guidance and watchful eye of a coach places myself in the position of where my athletes and students stand – whether novice or experienced. It’s easy for me to get frustrated when you can’t execute or understand the finer points of a movement, but I sometimes forget that these movements are all I know; they’re my life.

If I, myself, can coach yet be able to step outside of my watchful coaching perspective for a moment and train from a student’s point-of-view, then I can not only respect your journey in strength as a learner, but also learn to respect my own ability and power as a teacher. It’s a win-win situation.

To Find Discipline
Everyone thinks trainers love to train. And when i say “train” I’m not referring to training our athletes, I’m referring to training ourselves; training our own bodies. This is falsely assumed.

I can’t speak on behalf of all trainers, instructors or coaches, but I’ll speak for myself, here. Although I love movement and training to become superhumanly strong as a way of life, I’ll admit – it’s easy to get lazy and slip.

As i see it, when accountants have finished crunching their clients’ numbers for the day, the last thing they wanna do is go home and crunch their own numbers. It’s not so much that they hate crunching numbers, but rather – they need a change of environment at some point in their day. It breaks the monotony and keeps them sane.
The last thing you want, is for me to lose my sanity.

The same can be said for us trainers. Despite popular belief, we don’t just train ourselves during our downtime (if there’s really any “downtime”); we like to be leisure and lazy, too. I enjoy a good sleep or read; I go on facebook and waste time, too (just not on farmville).

By meeting with a trainer I am placing myself in obligation. An obligation not out of the chore to train, but out of the respect towards another person who has set aside their time to teach, encourage and push me beyond my limits; gifts that few are able to give, let alone sacrifice.

Again, it’s an obligation – an honourable obligation between student and teacher.

I’ll keep you posted on how my journey progresses along. Although it has started through some jagged terrain, I can only imagine how sweet the destination will be.

“It is a sign of strength, not of weakness, to admit that you don’t know all the answers.”
- John P. Loughrane

Parkour (Point A to B)

posted by coach Jay D

Parkour is everywhere, and I love that.

To the untrained eye, Parkour is merely a bunch of wreckless, young punks bouncing off walls, seeking attention, but there’s more to it than that. Much more.

The art of Parkour can be seen in everything from spots selling insurance, cheese snacks and detergent ads on T.V. to posters in the subway and gameshows on MTV, but it’s all too often misunderstood.

Although I have never practiced Parkour or Free Running, myself, I can appreciate the strong marriage between mental-discipline and physical movement. I have the utmost respect for Parkour and its artists because we see eye to eye on many levels.

Parkour, similar to what’s been stated in my philosophy, strongly encourages all of us to express ourselves through movement – whether that be jumping across buildings, moving a heavy object or holding a certain Asana in yoga.

After all, what good is training if it didn’t change you both physically and mentally?

The idea behind Parkour is to get from point A to point B in the shortest distance and time possible. Like skateboarding without a skateboard, PK artists and Free Runners use their urban landscapes to push the boundaries of human performance.

Beyond all of that, Parkour artists truly, and rightfully, feel that the barriers they’re able to surmount symbolize the the obstacles that we face in our everyday lives — something we can all learn from.

Enjoy the videos below.


Train Hard. Live Easy.

Will, Can’t And Won’t

posted by coach Jay D

Recently, I came across an important quote that I’ll be adding to my “Tell [Ask] Yourself This Often” quote list.

Before we get into the quotation, I should briefly mention how important this list is as it contains a collection of words that I actually live by and not merely remember for the sake of sounding like some kind of pseudo-intellectual (Jay D keeps it real).

The list includes things like:
“Are you living within your means?”
“The Samurai makes their decision within the span of 7 breaths.”
and
“The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.”

As you can see, my list of quotes is to the point and rarely, if ever complex or abstract in thought. Without further adieu, here’s the latest quotation, previously discovered, that will be added to my list:

“There are 3 types of people in the world:
The Wills.
The Can’ts.
And The Won’ts.

The first accomplish everything;
the second oppose everything;
the third fail in everything.”

As i think deeply about this quote and strive to be one of “The Wills” as much as I can while living my life righteiously, I’m forced to think about why throughout my personal history, I’ve mimicked the Can’ts and Won’ts so often.

My Answer: Fear and Laziness.

I’m either scared of what might happen or simply too lazy.

From here on, and moving forward – both in training and in life, I will always ask myself if I’m being the best “Will” that I Can be.

In closing, ask yourself, are you one of The Wills, Can’ts or Won’ts?

Motivation For The Heavyweights

posted by coach Jay D

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. If life were based on that principle alone, how would any of us get anything accomplished in life?

For me personally, if I’m not failing in a lift or in life every now and then, then I’m not challenging myself hard enough.

Training is Hard but Life is Hard, too.
Challenges are opportunities to improve and test our limits.

One of the most important skills that I strongly encourage others to train is their chin up, pull up and any form and shape of vertical pulling. There’s nothing quite like the raw strength accomplished with being able to pull and even climb yourself up to a higher elevation; it’s a tradition that lives within all of us dating back to our hunter-gatherer roots.

I often brag about how I train females (and in some cases – women in their 60s) in their pulling strength development. Big guys are often impressed when they see myself being able to move around my own bodyweight too, but at the same time discouraged.

It’s true, a lighter bodyweight is easier to move around than a heavier one. It’s simple physics actually, but again, that should not discourage you from training the movement. It merely means that it’ll take a bit more time.

Yes, I have trained some of my 200+ lb students with all forms of bodyweight training and successfully in their non-assisted bodyweight, dead-hang pulls, i might add. Accomplishing this so-called “impossible” feat is merely something to add to your training to-do list.

Below is a video of a heavyweight 300 lb heavyweight literally pulling his own weight in life.

Whether you weigh 90lbs or 900lbs, enjoy the journey of the training, not just the destination.

Above all, don’t forget Training is Hard but Life is Harder.
Has training prepared you for the for the rigors of life?
Look at any challenge as an opportunity to improve.
And if you fail, so what?
With enough persistence, anything is achievable.

Have a Strong Day.

UFC’s Belfort + Yamamoto Training

posted by coach Jay D


One reason why I love spending some of my time training out of Kombat Arts, is the environment. Combat athletes, whether on the competitive or casual fitness level “get it”. They put their performance at the forefront of their training rather than mere aesthetics – yet they have some of the best bodies. period.

On the other hand, if you look at my background in the fitness game, it stems from roughly the past 5 years in a corporate, big box, franchise gym setting where Weekend Warriors, Bodybuilders and plastic women go to “tone” their mirror muscles and mingle. Although I, along with a few other trainers left our “functional” and strength training mark at that gym, i feel people just didn’t “get it” and today, still don’t “get it”; real world fitness and true strength can rarely, if ever thrive under conditions of shiny mirrors, chrome and plastic ferns. It’s true.

Back to this post, today marks the day of yet another Ultimate Fighting Championship involving two of my favourite fighters – Vitor Belfort vs. Anderson Silva and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Demetrious Johnson.

I always thoroughly enjoy watching how fighters train. What we see on T.V.’s fight night is just a brief glimpse into the preparation that goes into combat sport. There’s a famous saying that dictates:
“Train Hard, Fight Easy.”

This means that your toughest challenges should be faced during training, not on fight night; If you train hard then you’ll fight with ease.

As you can tell from the following videos, Vitor and Kid give it their all during training. It’s just a matter of time to see whether they’ve prepared themselves enough for tonight.
Here are some old clips of the two training:

Vitor Belfort Training

Kid Yamamoto Training

Remember, “Train Hard, Fight Easy.”
Or
“Train Hard, Live Easy.”

Have a Strong Day and enjoy tonight’s fights.

Child Obesity Linked to Working Mothers

posted by coach Jay D

My mom is my hero. Why? Not because she raised me to be the handsomely strong creature that you know and love, but because she was and still is STRONG. Not strong for a woman, but strong for a human, period.

When i speak of strength, of course, i’m not talking merely about training to be physically strong (although i am obsessed with strength training, so you’d be excused if you assumed that) or being able to pulverize granite with bare hands, I’m speaking of her discipline, mental fortitude and strength – all qualities that are just as important as physical strength.

Before retiring a few years ago, she worked as a registered nurse for some 4+ decades on top of finding time to come home to 3 sons, spend some quality time with them and ultimately, prepare some of the finest masterpieces to ever grace a kitchen table. A great woman she was and still is.

But unfortunately, not all kids during that era were as fortunate as I was. Fast forward to today, and you’ll realize that even fewer to no kids have the luxury of having their mothers spending time at home, let alone have them around to prepare quality home cooked meals. It’s a shame, and although I am in no shape or form knocking working mothers or demanding that they quit their careers in order to stay home and cook, I am demanding that mothers ensure their children have access to quality easy-to-prepare food during time periods when they are away at work.

But enough talking based on my personal assumptions – here’s a recent study conducted by researchers out of Cornell University that was published in the Journal Child Development. The study associated a relationship between childhood obesity and working mothers that we all kind of figured, but has now been backed by actual empiricism (fancy word for “scientifical research”).

The research focused on more than 900 children in more than 10 American cities. In conclusion, the researchers found that the total number of years the children’s mothers worked had a cumulative influence on their children’s body mass index (BMI) — the weight to height ratio used to measure if a person is overweight or obese.

In other words, mothers who worked longer hours had the tendency to have children with higher body mass index values. This can be attributed to a few reason such as:
- mothers spending less quality time to play and be physically active with their children
- children not being monitored or told when to get off the computer/tv/video game console and be more active

Most importantly, however the reason for the increase of the children’s BMI values was related to a lack of having mom’s home cooked meals available. Instead, children had access to processed snacks and junk as their afterschool food of choice.

Couple this with the tired, overworked mom who comes home and doesn’t have the time or energy to prepare a quality meal after a long day’s work, and you find processed or fast food options as the preferred main course.

It’s then a no brainer to see why kids become obese as their mothers work longer hours. The answer: more access to quality food, or pre-prepared quality food (easily reheated for dinner time after work) and more fathers should be making the home’s meals. Shoot, start cooking and grocery shopping for your tribes, fathers!

Anyhow, to read more about the study visit here

“The Iron” by Henry Rollins

posted by coach Jay D

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.

I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time.

As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say s–t to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr.Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone.

It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

This article originally appeared in Details Magazine; an important article that i turn to almost weekly to refocus on why I Train. Thank You, Henry Rollins and the Iron for teaching us all so many endless lessons that only few will understand.