Thursday, January 29, 2015

3M in the books!

Since September I have trained a group of Travis County Strength athletes to run the 3M half marathon.  Every week they had sprint homework and a long run on the weekends in addition to their regular grunt lifting sessions at TCS. You can train for a half marathon only running twice a week. These guys did it for the second year in a row!

Any human can go out and train for a half marathon. There are several different ways to do it. 

1. just say "f-it" and not train. go run and let your body turn inside out for days after. ( did it last year-would not recommend) 

2. run the old school way- at least 50 miles a week long and slow. GROSS!

3. MY WAY. lift weights, do short sprints, and on the weekend a timed long run where you haul ass and get it done. 

I prefer #3. A way to not put your life on hold while you train for a race. Still seeing your friends, family, eating normally, and not rubbing vaseline on your lady parts because you are running so many miles per week. This is the second year in a row, and I promise you it works. The days of LSD=long slow distance are, and have been, over! Just adding one sprint day, and one longer run day, and these athletes came in smiling! 

Here is some feedback from them so you don't think I am making this up:

"The camaraderie is amazing, and the accountability of having to show up to meet the group each Saturday morning helped me stick with it all those months.  And now a 7 or 8 mi run seems like NBD."

"I shaved 31 seconds off my mile PR, from 8:28 to 7:57 in the course of the program. And I also had only an 18 second differential between my first 6 miles of the half and my latter 7.1. I think that's a testament to the hill work, sprint homework, LIFT 2x a week. I think my legs were just ready for the mileage. It's the smartest, most efficient long run training I've ever done. 3M 2016!"

"I enjoyed the run group. It was fun to have a plan and great company to do the runs. It also did not feel like we were always training ( unlike most groups who run 3-4 times a week). This was the first time I have done a bunch of things:
1. Run over 10 miles. ( and do it more than once)
2. Run in rain.
3. Run in cold temperatures. The last one was at ~34. "

"I would say that the one of the best aspects of this training regimen is that it taught me that less can be far superior to more and drive results.  I have trained with other groups for races and the amount of running that we did (which I just assumed was necessary) always, always, always resulted in injury at some point in the training period.  It was hard for me to believe one distance run plus sprints would put me where I wanted to be for race day, but it absolutely did. This program is great because it allows for recovery, which I have become to think is the most important aspect of running...and one that most runners will not allow themselves.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


This blog is from Katrina. She came to me months ago from a figure background, looking for something different. I knew she would be a perfect fit for TCS and LIFT when she jumped up to the pull up bar and knocked out six strict pull ups and then said " I don't know how to kip." LOVE HER, love having her in class. She is always upbeat and ready to roll. I Just hope one day Jason buys her some suitable sweat pants. 

While I grew up playing soccer, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I committed myself to fitness. At first, my biggest motivation was literally “to look hot”. I wanted to look like the girls in Oxygen magazine and eventually compete in physique competitions. I joined Gold’s Gym, hired a trainer, and began the bodybuilder lifestyle. I was able to put on enough muscle that I could then diet down for my first bikini show.


My prep started 16 weeks out from the competition. I had 1 hour of lifting and 2 hours of walking/stairclimbing nearly every day, while eating less than 1200cals and 60 grams of carbs. And while the physical aspect sounds tough, it was the mental beating that was far more torturous. There were other girls at my gym training for the same show, and I couldn’t help but size them up and mentally tear them down. However, the person I tore down the most was myself. Every day my flaws were pointed out to me “so that I could win”. Do you know how many rear delt flies I’ve done in my life??? Every day I felt like I was ready to crack, and I finally reached my breaking point 4 weeks out from the competition.

Once the dieting was officially over, I went on the Holy Grail of Binges. WichWich, Coal Vines, Moonshine buffet, How Do You Roll, Magnolia’s Cafe, JuiceLand and Alamo Drafthouse- all in the first 24 hours. I gained 8lbs in the first week, and stopped weighing myself once I hit 15. I continued this way for 2 months before promising to start over. And then I tore my ACL.
And now we have reached the lowest of low. Overweight, one-legged, and overall depressed- I had no idea how I was going to pull myself up out of this hole. As luck would have it, I became friends with a fellow Gold’s go-er who had witnessed my roller coaster. Instead of pointing out my flaws, he focused on my milestones, showed me what a 30-minute circuit can do versus a 90-minute lift session, and held me accountable for all the extra scoops of chocolate peanut butter I had been eating. Not only did he help me at a crucial time, he is the one who introduced me to LIFT for women.

To compare my experience at LIFT to everything prior would just be unfair. But I am going to anyways :) Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could work out with females and NOT side-eye them. But when you start working out with the LIFT women, the support and motivation is truly overwhelming (not gonna lie, Calland and Tina intimated the shit out of me on Day 1). I have come to terms that I will not be as strong or fast or dynamic as some of the others, but I’ll always be sure to try as hard as them. And that is what LIFT is about. Not lift weighting - lifting each other up. What started out as a mission to look good in a bikini, I ended up finding true strength inside and out thanks to the TCS community.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Get off my tattoo

This post is not about TCS, LIFT, or the gym. It's personal. So if you are not into personal shit- you should probably stop reading right now. Blogs are for business, but sometimes also for therapy. I apologize for no words typed, and if you are offended that is on you.

I never ask anyone "what does your tattoo mean?" It's annoying, sometimes embarrassing, but most of the time when people ask I just give the blank "deer in the headlights stare". You don't want to know, and no its NOT a damn peacock.

PSA: if you don't like the answer its on you for asking the question.

There are so many reasons why people trust a complete stranger to put a drawing with a needle on their arm that will never go away. Some think its super cool to get that sun around your belly button...I wonder what those girls are doing now? And some are pieces of art, something to look "more cool", tributes to children, loved ones, military, and then there's the drunk ones you KNOW they regret. But there is another category- catastrophic life experience. The kind of shit that tears your organs apart with pain. The experience that leaves you dying inside daily and wondering when you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror again and recognize the person you see. The pain that leaves you on the floor with a gun under your pillow for three days straight wondering what day or time it is, or if anyone would ever notice if you just were not on the earth anymore. Real pain.

Real pain cannot be described. It's a daily dose of "wow I want to die, this life sucks, shit sucks."  At this point some choose to quit on life, go to therapy, whine and complain, lean on their friends until they have none, or just move and start a new life pretending. None of this works.

I sat down for a total of 12 hours and needled that pain right out of me. I always thought black ravens were the coolest birds ever. But the phoenix, that's me. It's starting over without having to talk it out with a stranger, without having my friends have to hear every single solitary day how miserable I am. It's how I dealt with ( I hope ) the worst experience of my life. I don't regret one minute. I LOVE my tattoos. Every time I look down I am reminded of how I did NOT let it get to me. How I didn't lose. I WON. I made a life for myself. I ended up respecting myself. I didn't just give up, even though that was a thought at one time. I overcame and moved on. And yes, that is what a tattoo is sometimes. It's my sort of therapy.

Recently I was judged because I had it, by my own family. It's caused me pain, and hard to handle. But looking at my tattoo is a reminder that its not that bad. They can get over it, I don't regret this amazing bird on my arm. And I have been through worse. SO go ahead guys, judge away. In the end its you that lose, because I am one of the most loyal and honest people you will meet. And I am no longer in your corner.

So next time you see someone with a tattoo don't assume its what you think. Sometimes its something that got them standing where they are today. And stop asking "what does your tattoo mean?' unless you are ready for the answer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Price of Fitness

When I graduated college in 2003 my mother said "you spent four years in school to work at 24 hour fitness?"

Yes. This is how the world views you when you say you are a "trainer." When you work at places like 24, Golds, LA Fitness, people just assume that this is ONE of your jobs and its a transitional time in your life. Unfortunately most of the time both of those things are least for me and the trainers that I worked with. Paying bills and feeding yourself on a trainers' salary.....probably cutting that pretty close to getting a second job. Its fun and rewarding to help people, and tiring to be begging people to listen to you. You don't want to be working there...because you are too distracted by the other job you have starting in six hours. Most people that attend these gyms don't want to be helped by you the expert worker outer. They want to put on their music and do their own thing. Escape their real life and come to the gym once a week (maybe) on a membership that costs $30 a month. They are happy with it, and don't mess with them.  They have hit their fitness goals and are just there to "maintain" and get away from the family. They don't want your expertise and they don't want to pay you. You are not a priority, they are just fine on their own. Which is fine because you are too tired to help them anyway, and are un interested in anything they have to say. You have to make it to the next shift at your other job, and you don't have time for them. That was me. That is what I thought the fitness industry was, and I knew I was in trouble.

Fast forward to 2014 and Travis County Strength. I pay my bills and feed myself by being a COACH to an amazing group. I love it. No longer do I walk around a gym full of people that come weekly or monthly. I am surrounded by an army of women with quads, traps, and huge smiles that I see almost daily. They LOVE working out. They ask me questions, they want to know more. Makes them feel good, alive, awake, confident, and pushes away the anxiety of daily life. These people rarely miss class...they need to be there. They need to start their day with a PR or something that made them re evaluate how fast they can move or how heavy they can lift. TCS clients are part of a community that 100% supports them. We KNOW them and their kids. I know what my girls do for a living, where their kids go to school, what their husbands names are, birthdays, all of it. We workout together, we happy hour all over town, we have dinner, and our dogs play. Yes, they are much more than clients.

There is a need for a place for people to go who put a higher price on their fitness. The highest price? No, definitely not. But more than a once a week elliptical experience. A place to be part of something fun and big! What would you pay for that?

What would you pay for :

  • A community of people that you workout with to be supportive and actually have fun when you workout? 
  • A close knit group that you could message at any point and ask for help...and they would be right there? 
  • A someone to be truly interested in your goals and YOU enough to care and want you at the gym? 
  • A body that you don't hate, that you respect,  that is less sick, that gets more sleep, better moods, fights off depression. 
  • Lifting weights daily and having your class yell and scream for your PR's, and give you respect and acknowledgment for the awesomeness that just happened.

So when you are scouring the internets looking for the cheapest gym in Austin ask yourself "what do I want, what am I willing to pay for my fitness?" You might be willing to just go once a week or once a month to another gym where you are a number, and that's OK! That is just what you are willing to pay for your fitness right now, and there is nothing wrong with that .

BUT you might need something more. Something to belong to. Something to make major progress in a short period of time. Something to wake up for. Something to change your life. Something to strive for. It's all part of knowing yourself and what you need. Decide what YOU are worth, then go for it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Erin Miller

Erin Miller: Sedentary to Athlete!

Erin Miller is fun to coach. She's one of those clients that when you see her on the roster, its going to be a great class. She is in a great mood even when she trips and falls over the rack. Loves herself enough to laugh at herself while doing it, and then shrugs it off and lifts heavy shit. She is definitely the girl I want to see in the morning! Recently she shared her background story with me, and I knew it had to be public. Here is her story from sedentary person to athlete: 

Around 2008 I gained about 75 lbs in a year and a half due to sedentary lifestyle and an undiagnosed thyroid issue. Once my disease was diagnosed and I started to feel better, I knew it was time to become healthy again. I started Weight Watchers and began jogging. I lost some weight and joined a gym and started using the weight machines. I was upset with my progress, though, I just didn't seem to be getting stronger, and had plateaued, no longer seeing results.

I joined Crossfit, which led to me to LIFT. Both were life changing. In total, I've dropped from a size 16-18 to a size 8. Once I started lifting, my weight actually steadied and though I lost 13% body fat and around 14 inches, I only lost 7 lbs because of all the muscle I gained.

 Now I don't even look at the scale. My health and well being are based on how my body feels. If I'm not feeling well, it's usually because I haven't been eating clean or have missed workouts. Food is no longer an enemy. I enjoy eating, and I eat things that don't make me feel like crap (mostly). It's weird looking back at seeing how far I come because it was a steady process with a lot of hard work. Now I'm ready to keep lifting more and reach new goals


Since starting LIFT: 
Backsquat from 155# to 205#
Deadlift from 225# to 255#
Trapbar deadlift from 265# to 280# just in the last month and a half
Shoulder press from 85# to 100#
Floor press from 95# to 115#

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest Blogger: LIFT Coach Nyki

How do we improve?  How do we get better at something, at anything?
We observe.  We study.  We implement and practice.  We consult with others more advanced in the skill than we are.  We rummage through stages of trial and error...(often many, many stages of trail and error).  We then tweak and re-tweak until we arrive at a version best suited for us, our specific dimensions, mindsets, biology, and every other minute detail that makes us unique.  These minute details that make each of us unique are also what require our skill apprehension to be unique, hence there is rarely, if ever a "one size fits all" protocol.  And even if there is such a protocol it is sure to "fit" us all differently.  Now, once we have done all of that, the good news is, to continue to improve we must continue this process indefinitely!

What is that one thing in your life you have been wanting to see improvement with?  It can be an entire area of your life or something very specific.  It can grandiose or it can be as simple as making flossing everyday automatic in your routine.  There is always  something, often a lot of somethings.  Choose one.  Let's take nutrition for example or better yet living a healthy life in general!
Get this, living a healthy lifestyle is a skill!  Often you hear people make comments such as "Oh, (insert name here), is so healthy.  I wish I could do that."  YOU CAN!  Whatever it is, you can!  People who display attributes you aspire to have did not wake up like that.  They followed a set of steps which have led them to where they are today.  Living a healthy lifestyle is a skill you develop just like anything else.  You begin small and work progression steps, continuing to mold and modify until one day you look up and you have arrived!  Quick spoiler alert:  wherever that "arrived" place is for you...often seems to never be good enough once you're there.  There is always more ground to gain, more weight to lift, greener veggies to eat and beyond.  However, I will say there is a powerful sense of momentum, integrity and accomplishment generated in being in line with your goals and values!
The ultimate question comes down to your purpose.  Why do you do what you do?  Why do you value or choose some things over others?  Are you taking the easy way out or are you choosing the grind to higher ground?  Whatever it is you choose, there is always a payoff of some sort.  Sometimes the payoff is allowing ourselves to be victim and not take responsibility.  On the flip side, the payoff could be a vibrant, healthy life full of vigor, vitality and the triumph of progress.
I urge you to choose the path of greater reward.  The path that will lead you to a life more fulfilled, more victorious and more authentically YOU!  It is a path of continuous discovery and adaptation no doubt.  It is a path where often the fruits of your efforts go unseen at times and your progress seems to all be taking place beneath the surface.  The path is not linear either.  It winds forwards, backwards, up, down, round and round.  There are stretches where you climb, fall,  stretches where you must walk and go with the flow and stretches where you must crawl.  Who cares!  It is the path to where you want to go.  So hop on and get there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3M Training starting this Saturday!

I am heading up another 3M training group, starting this Saturday. This group is open to all TCS athletes who want to test themselves out with a flat fast course here in Austin. 

I have approached this program with seventeen years of running experience....thrown out the damn window. I started running and racing when I was twelve years old. This continued through high school, college, and then several full marathons as a young adult. I wasted so many years having knee problems and joint issues. Now that I squat, deadlift, and press those are gone. I hold this group every yearly to extremely high standards. Staying home on Fridays and having healthy pre run food, getting up early, and having fun! Ok, so maybe not that high of standards. But, that is really all it takes! 

I have my runners alternate weeks with longer run, and then a 10k for time. I also send out sprint homework every week. That's it, just adding some sprints and ONE run a week. It can be done! 

This is not yo momma's run group. This is a group that wants to use as little time as possible training for a half marathon. At the same time the group will be attending TCS classes and dead-lifting, cleaning, squatting  and staying strong during training. 

Keep up with this blog to watch them along the way to the race in January! 

Contact me at if you are a TCS client and interested in joining! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

What is Friday Night SWOD?!

After becoming certified Underground Strength Coaches, Travis and I both found a new respect for the gym. It actually COULD be fun. No, I do not find doing hundreds of pull-ups and lightweight thrusters "fun", its just not my personnel preference. I knew I couldn't be the only one....right?? 

I DO find heavy deadlifts, squats, body weight moves, chains, tires, stones, logs, and kegs fun. I like seeing what I can pull around a building, or pick up under a yoke, and also adding some body weight moves with it. Mixing it up. Gymnastics, strength and conditioning, and strongman are our foundations.

The Friday Night SWOD came out of an attempt to put our Strictly Strength and LIFT athletes to the test. We wanted to pack some athletes in the gym, blare the music, and see who could life the heavy shit the fastest. Short, heavy, awkward, and intense. Just like in regular class. 

On October 3rd we are having our next SWOD. There will be three workouts in 2.5 hours. This is a community event, we want you to come and watch even if you are not participating. It's $25 to compete and the winner takes home a portion of everyone's sign up fee. The SWOD is what our programs are based on. Short fast workouts, that are FUN.

Friday, September 12, 2014

To run faster, GET STRONGER!

I've heard you attract what and who you are. So, I attract distance runners who need a change. Here came Jennifer Calland. I have been coaching her for around four years now and have seen drastic changes not only in her body but her overall athletic ability. Her self awareness, esteem and overall confidence has improved as well. She pushes other chicks and is a pleasure to have in and out of class. 

She has improved her running by NOT running. WEIRD?!?! She started lifting and making her joints and muscles STRONGER. Going out and pounding the pavement for hours four times a week will do nothing for your strength. Jennifer has learned this and is now a great example of someone who is faster because they are stronger. 

"On the left is when I was running/biking 4x a week, sometimes more. Weekends were often 3 hours or more of training just to get in long miles. I was injured a lot. On the right is running 1x a week (with some short sprints with the dog) and lifting...lots of squats, deadlifts and cleans. 
I am not injured, I am faster, I have more time and I am just happier!!"

Would you like to run half marathons without joint pain? SQUAT. DEADLIFT. PRESS. SPRINT

Monday, August 11, 2014

Congrats Taylor!

Over the weekend one of my LIFT girls, Taylor, competed in a Houston Crossfit competition to represent TCS and LIFT. This was her first ever RX competition as an individual. I was pleased to see that the competition had workouts that utilized heavy sleds and stones. The stone weight for the RX women was 115lbs, scaled was 95. This was the first I have heard of any Crossfit box using this heavy of a stone weight. 

Taylor fought and worked her way up to take second place! So proud and happy for this girl! 

I watched every second of this years Crossfit games. It was awesome to see so many strength/strongman movements utilized to find the fittest male and female on earth, including the teams. I hope this pushes other boxes as this one in Houston to include more strongman moves. They are fun, entertaining, and take pure grit to get through. I love watching and seeing people fight to the finish with every muscle they have. 


All TCS athletes work with sleds, stones, tires, farmers bars, yokes, trap bars, barbells, rings, and dumbbells. We are confident that our athletes will be comfortable with any movement competition can throw at them. Strongman and underground strength moves/equipment are not the most technical ones. It takes 5-8 minutes to walk someone through these moves and let them go. They are fun, easy to learn, and very rewarding.

If you are missing strength and odd objets in your routine or training program, contact us and drop in to try it!

So proud of you Taylor! Can't wait for the next one. 

#FridayNightSWOD coming soon!