Be realistic with your strengths and weaknesses

downloadSmoky and the Bandit is one of the best movies ever.  It is amazing on so many levels.  Don’t ask me to explain why it works it just works; I think a lot of it has to do with Reynolds mustache.  If you haven’t seen it the quick and dirty version is that the “Snowman” (Jerry Reed) is running a semi full of Coors beer across the Mississippi while “The Bandit” (Burt Reynolds) driving a black Trans Am keeps the Law; Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) off the scent of the illegal cargo.

In the 1970’s Coors Beer was only available in 11 states near its Colorado home.  This limited availability created a mystique for the brand simply due to its limited availability.  People traveling to the region would make special trips to purchase 6 packs to bring back to their home state. Residence who could get Coors regularly felt like members of a special club. That feeling of exclusivity helped with sales and brand loyalty.  Out of town guests would almost exclusively drink Coors beer while they were in a state that offered it because once they returned home they could no longer get their hands on it.  The brand became even more popular after the release of Smoky and the Bandit in 1977.

Coors did not do this on purpose.  They were the benefactor of a unique set of circumstances that altered how people viewed and valued their brand but in a very positive way.

Coors could not be nationally distributed because it was not pasteurized. It had to travel in refrigerated trucks and contains which drove the price of shipping way up, making it not economically viable for the company to ship outside of its 11 state region.

Then the worst possible thing happened to the company; they began shipping nationally.

In an effort to expand their reach, increase sales and drive revenue they did not pay attention to one key aspect that built their brand, exclusivity.

When Coors was finally able to ship coast to coast they were now just like any other beer in the US the difference now is that they were judged not by their mystique or exclusivity but on taste alone.  Sadly the taste department was not their greatest strength.  National distribution also placed the company in direct competition with the giants of the beer industry causing Coors to fade into the second tier.

Looking at yourself square in the mirror and being honest about what makes you great and what doesn’t is a tough thing for anybody to do.  As trainers and fitness professionals it is even more challenging.  We love the “Jack of all trades” badge and are always on the look for new certifications and expertise to add to our repertoire.   We have areas we want to excel in or on paper should do well in but in the end it takes the courage to look inward and assess what are true strengths are.

What do you do insanely well?

What set of circumstances have been set up for you to reap benefits from?

Recognize them, learn them and leverage them.  If Coors would have eaten their humble pie they would have seen there was something good going for them.  Maybe they would have realized they were not the best tasting beer in the US they might have had a very different future.

Be honest about your strengths and learn to embrace and leverage the special situations that are available to you.

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My Top 10 Exercises on the TRX Suspension Trainer; Single Leg Overhead Squats

Photo Sep 27, 8 15 58 AMI love the TRX Suspension Trainer, it is a tool that allows me to train an infinite variety of clients and goals using a massive library of exercises.  The Suspension Trainer is an amazing tool to train, static strength, mobility, balance and core stability all in three dimensions.  This is one of my top 10 favorite exercises using the TRX Suspension Trainer. Click Here to Join the League for Extraordinary Trainers

Guest Blogger Casey Stutzman: The Recipe For An Effective Workout

Very excited to write this guest post for Laura. She has an amazing blog for fitness professionals and I was honored to contribute.

Move and Be Well

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was one standard format to building out amazing workouts? It would make life so simple if designing a workout was like following a recipe.  Take 5 squats, add a dash of eccentric loading, a pinch of isometric hold and beat vigorously until well whipped.  Sadly this is not the case (I heard Rachel Ray tried using her cooking knowledge to become a trainer on the Biggest Loser and it was met with disastrous results.)

There is no recipe for building a great workout because every person is so different in their physical make up, abilities and goals.  However; there are certain elements that a workout must have to be effective and purposeful regardless of the person.  The secret lies in the reality that all human beings move the same.  Knee flexion is knee flexion whether someone is 9 or 90.  Muscle fibers, motor neurons…

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Trainer’s Toolbox Podcast Episode 015 – The 5 Most Influenical Books I have ever Read

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Welcome to the trainers toolbox podcast for fitness professionals where we harness the power of synergy through understanding and acheive excellence through education.  Podcasting out of Alpena Michigan I am your host Casey Stutzman, Head trainer at Bay Athletic Club, Master Instructor for TRX and an Ignite Performance Master Trainer.  On today’s show I would like to share with you some of the greatest books I have ever read
That wraps up another episode of the Trainer’s Toolbox podcast, thank you again for joining us.  If you want more be sure to head over to and click Join the brigade to subscribe to our free content list.  While your there we would love to hear your comments on this episode and suggestions you have for future episode topics.    Join us in 2 weeks for our next episode where we will be discussing my latest interaction with BOSE

My Cup Overflowith

imagesI remember my first educational experience with the Ignite 360 Training methodology.  This was about 2 years ago in Sarasota Florida in the ball room of the Hyatt Regency Hotel near downtown Sarasota on the bay.  At the time it was called Combine 360, a brand new training and testing platform that had just rolled out but not yet found its footing.  The experience was 4 and a half days of non-stop education and experience.  Each day began with a workout at 6am and ended when the dinner keynote speaker wrapped up around 10pm.  We spent days listening to lecture and participating in practical’s using some pieces of fitness equipment that were new to us to apply a methodology that was also brand new.  As if this was not enough the room was packed with almost a hundred trainers bounding, jumping and moving trying to apply this new information.

I will tell you first hand the excitement and energy were amazing but there was a problem.  The sensory and information overload with that kind of exposure were at dangerously high levels.

In the book the Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds he talks about how people absorb and retain new information.  He used a brilliant analogy of people as an empty glass.  He states that our glass becomes full with all of our knowledge and experience but the paradox is that a full glass can hold no more and nothing new can come in.  He encourages his audiences to “empty” there glass before the presentation begins so that new knowledge can flow in.  He then warns presenters against one of the biggest pitfalls we make; trying to impart the audience with too much information.  When we give too much and the glass overflows everything pours back out and most of what we are trying to share is lost.  The secret he states is to allow the audience times in the presentation to take “sips” out of their glass so more can be added without overflow.  Information needs some time to digest before new ideas can be piled on top of them, if that is not allowed all becomes lost.

In Late 2012 Ignite 360 sat down to discover their true value to the fitness industry. Through an extensive process of rebranding themselves and communicating a clear new mission they also took a major look at the certification events and how to make them more effective and impactful.  The challenging decision was made to cut the live certification events back to 2 days instead of 4.5.  A scary step for the content creators, we often have such a hard time making cuts because to us every part of the process or experience is necessary with purpose. The truth is many times less is MUCH more.

The result?

The new 2 day course launched in December of 2012 and the experience and feedback has been amazing.  The participants carry more energy and enthusiasm throughout the entire cert; it is far easier to be crazy fired up for 2 days then semi fired up for 4.

The biggest difference?

Understanding and implementation of the information has gone through the roof.  People are taking home and implementing far more than we saw in the past.  Participants are going home fired up and ready to put this info into action, their understanding of the content is much higher; understanding leads to action.  It is much easier to take action when you are not overloaded and can think clearly.

The lesson?

The old adage is true; sometimes less can lead to far more.  Be mindful of information overload; we can easily put our clients and athletes into a similar situation.  Just because something is easy to understand for you doesn’t mean it is for others.  These lessons can be used in many parts of your day to day interactions, for example; if I see an athlete doing many things wrong on an exercise I try to be mindful of info overload and only give them 1 to 3 things max to work on.  I know if I give them more than 3 cues it is too much to focus on and none of them will be address.  If I can give them just 1 or 2 impactful coaching points they have a much higher rate of success to implement them.

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Ignite Whiteboard Workout – (March 2013)

IMG_0596White board workouts are short and simple videos that help you implement great group workouts using the Ignite Performance Training methodology.  These videos will give you a brief into to the goals and challenges of the workout and explain the very easy to use format.  The formats are easy to plug your own exercises into and are great for trying to coach and connect with a group of any size.  Casey will give a verbal explanation of each performance based exercises providing the workout written on a whiteboard for a visual reference. 

When the Suitcase met the Wheel

 imagesAre you telling me it took mankind up to 1970 to finally put together that suitcases work better with wheels on them? Really!?
The “modern” wheel and axle design dates back to between 3500-3350 BC. It’s hard to imagine that they didn’t instantly look to combine it with almost everything’s their living world.
Baskets, containers and other simple forms of luggage date back as far if not further.
Early man even had the idea of the rolling suit case on a grand scale as early as 2000 BC when they used heavy wheeled transports that compare to more modern wagons.  Seriously; look at me with a straight face and try to tell me that a covered wagon is not just a giant rolling suitcase.
so with all the pieces there why the hell did it take us so long to marry the suitcase and the wheel to easy the lives and backs of travelers world-wide?  Is it that as a species we love to schlep our stuff around in the most difficult form imaginable?  I find that hard to believe; most of mankind’s history has been spent in the pursuit to make life easier so why is it that from the time commercial air travel began in 1909 in Germany using Zeppelin dirigibles until the advent of the roller board in 1970 that we chose to make life more difficult but not putting together these 2 very obvious pieces? (We would even put suitcases on wheeled carts to move the around and still could not see the connection!)
I believe that is comes down to a difference in culture and perception.
Early history of man was riddled with those who were fascinated by what could be.  We never stopped exploring and we had many brave souls that stood up to challenge authority and conventional wisdom even though it could mean death.
In today’s world we are so beaten down by what is that we sometimes can’t see the forest through the trees.  We have lost our gift of creativity, the ability to look at things and make improbable connections.  we are far less likely to question authority even though the very worst that can happen is someone calls you a jackass on twitter (far better a scenario then a beheading).
We are taught our whole lives to follow the rules, do what your told, keep you head down, study hard and everything will workout.  We accept what we see as reality and make the choice to follow along instead of stand out.
But I proclaim that we exist in a time when those who stand out and question the norms are celebrated a posed to persecuted.  We idolize those who go against the grain; we celebrate them while in the end choose not to follow their lead.
We fool ourselves that it is easy for them because of who they are or their unique situation when the reality is we all have a unique situation that presents us with gifts and opportunities.
It is time to stand up, stand out and say “this suit case should have wheels damn it!”
live outside the lines; don’t see what is, look for what it could be and you too will be celebrated by humanity.

Movement Debriefing Video Series – Stable & Mobile during a Kettlebell Swing

In the Movement Debriefing series of videos we use the Coaches Eye app to help take complex and complicated movement patterns and break them down into manageable and understandable segments with the use of great visual aids.

Photo Jan 07, 11 41 20 AM This video will break down a kettlebell swing and demonstrate the concept of stability in the spine and mobility in the hips during this common exercise.

Trainer’s Toolbox Podcast Episode 014 – The Flow Trilogy Part 3

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Welcome to the trainers toolbox podcast for fitness professionals where we harness the power of synergy through understanding and achieve excellence through education.  Podcasting out of Alpena Michigan I am your host Casey Stutzman, Head trainer at Bay Athletic Club, Master Instructor for TRX and an Ignite Performance Master Trainer.  On today’s show the final episode in the flow trilogy, how to help your clients achieve flow through fitness
How to achieve flow in coaching and programming
  • was great for a while until I ran out of ways to add intensity techniques and reorder an arm workout
  • then started learning and adding new equipment but you can only work some many pieces into a workout & there is not an infinite # of valuable tools out there
  • after you have exhausted these two options the next step is to increase understanding (skill) so you can develop specific client workouts (challenge) to achieve specific performance based goal (feedback)
I like every trainer was once a rep counter
  • after a while coaching workout became boring because after choosing an and after someone got good at it I was just a rep counter (no skills being used or challenged)
  • developing a critical coaching eye (skill) makes workout a flow experience to coach as you always look for was to imporve an exercise performacne (challenge)
    • example; learning what to look for and in all the finite movement points of a squat
That wraps up another episode of the Trainer’s Toolbox podcast, thank you again for joining us.  If you want more be sure to head over to and click Join the brigade to subscribe to our free content list.  While your there we would love to hear your comments on this episode and suggestions you have for future episode topics.    Join us in 2 weeks for our next episode where we will be discussing the 5 most influential books I have ever read

The Paradox of Compound Awesomeness

downloadWhy is it that small dish of Ben & Jerry’s Cluster Fluff is heaven in a dish but when I eat the entire pint I feel like hell?

There is indeed too much of a good thing.  It’s almost as if when it comes to ice cream the pleasure centers in your brain have different levels.  Happy, full, overflow.

We love combining awesome things.  We are constantly searching for the Holy Grail of synergy where 1+1=3 and when we hit it is magical.  It’s the divine moment when chocolate met peanut butter and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was born.

If you want plenty of examples of synergy gone wrong all you have to do is turn on late night or afternoon TV and watch the barrage of infomercials riddled with Franken-synergy.  A snuggie; really!?  A blanket and a robe? Aside for the inexplicable cultural chord this product struck (the sheer fact that even one of these products sold is a strong case for the upcoming downfall of humanity) I dare you to find one person’s life who was genuinely positively make better by owning this product.

I am still undecided on the newer phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note.  The idea is a cross between a tablet and a smart phone; sounds good yes?  But I like my phone because it is small, portable and easily fits in my pocket.  I like my tablet because it has a large screen is easy to type on and can be a smaller version of my laptop in many situations.  When I combine the two I get a phone that is bigger than I want loosing portability and pocket fitting-ness (made up word) & a tablet with a screen that is too small for the functions I want it for.  In this case 1+1 + -2

We believe; awesome + awesome = wicked awesome

Most of the time; awesome + awesome = not awesome

Fitness is a breeding ground for synergy gone wrong.

We spend so much time trying to combine fitness tools, styles of workouts, different methods and ideas.  We believe that if we take two great tools or ideas, get them together over a candle lit dinner and encourage some baby makin’ that their offspring will be the chosen one the prophesy for told of.  Most of the time their kid ends up robbing the liquor cabinet, doing a stint in juvie and gets a restraining order from the neighbor’s daughter.

I watched a video on YouTube recently for a hockey conditioning facility that had an athlete doing heavy barbell squats with toes turned way out while wearing ice skates.  I was confused because I have yet to watch the hockey game that players were doing one rep max barbell back squats on ice (usually they just fight)

Not awesome

So instead of just chucking together 2 great things and hoping to get something amazing let me give you a new formula;

(Purpose x Coaching) / Understanding = awesome

When we understand we can make things purposeful.  When we understand we can coach. When it all comes together it’s Amazing

Be amazing my friends