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IN A NUTSHELL WEIGHT-LIFTING CARDIO-KICKBOXING A FEW THOUGHTS ON STRESS MEDITATION EXAMPLES  
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Photos by Rob Wilson and Samira Buaou  

IN A NUTSHELL:

I've been a trainer for 19 years.
Here’s what I know: highly successful people are not keen on working out too hard.

Why is that? Because they already work extremely hard at their careers, which means being able to afford and enjoy gourmet food, fine wine, and expensive cigars. Unsuccessful trainers withhold these hard-won pleasures and put their clients in the pain house. Such trainers usually don't make it past 3 months. I keep my clients for decades.

Why? Personal training is like psychology; it IS rocket-science, but it doesn't have to sound like it, and it’s best approached as common-sense. Unfortunately, common-sense is not common. Many trainers are doctor wannabes and like to speak "trainer-speak.” They say things like, “We need to work on your scapula-retraction." This scares people. Saying, "Pull your shoulders back,” makes everybody relax.

Getting in shape is actually pretty easy. The most effective methods are always the simplest. Fads like "Tae-bo Freestyle Funk,” Gyrotonics, or any bootcamp thing aren’t necessary. That is, unless you enjoy working out so hard that afterwards you can’t raise your arms in the shower, and have to squirt shampoo on the wall and rub your head against it. Definitely get the ex-Navy SEAL for that. I’m addressing those of you who are not fans of excessive pain.

I don’t do pain house, but you WILL get in serious shape. You don't need a "Pilates Reformer," all you need are a couple of adjustable dumbbells, and a mat, and you can work out in your apartment. If your apartment building has a gym—that’s gravy.

Main thing: your work out must be fun! It must be an enjoyable time! You MUST SEE RESULTS.
This is all easy to do, without the excessive pain (and boredom).

WEIGHT-LIFTING:

The essence of what I do is based on the fact that the simplest way is always the most effective. The New Warrior Fitness workout is therefore simple. I train you for strength. Period. This is the most effective method for fat-burning, and overall fitness—bar none. Lift heavier for fewer reps. Minimal time in the pain-zone. World-class bodybuilder Dorian Yates won the Mr. Olympia (the highest award in professional body-building) six times, with just such a routine.

Train smart, not hard—save time. Strong muscles need energy to maintain strength. Where do they get that energy? From your fat supply! Yay! When all muscles are in great shape, after a night’s sleep, you’ll wake up two or three pounds lighter. Your muscles have been burning fat while you sleep. :)

Note to women: strength-training does NOT equal bulking - you need testosterone for that. And to win the Mr. Olympia, you need steroids (MORE testosterone).

CARDIO-KICKBOXING:

Aerobics are not necessary for weight-loss. However, as an enjoyable stress-busting option, you'll find hitting and kicking pads very cathartic. if you're having fun ducking a fake punch, it takes the focus off the fact that you’re actually doing fat-burning squats.

And, unlike generic aerobics, the techniques are real-world applicable; you learn punching, kicking, knees, elbows, & blocking. You learn the rudiments of self-defense, and get to hit your annoying boss (I play the boss). Clears bad moods right up.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON STRESS:

As New Yorkers, we need to have a stress-management routine. We no longer have 1970s New York type stress of junkies, muggings, switchblades, pimps, and dog-crap—but we still have stress.

The subways are more crowded than ever. We need to get rid of stress. We live in a culture that says that anger is a bad emotion, which is like saying red is a bad color. This can lead to heart disease. In counseling, some therapists use the bat/pillow technique. When asked about how catching their wife cheating makes them feel, many men feign stoicism. When the therapist suggests they hit the pillow with the bat and yell—they immediately go berserk, and the toxic, negative ion-generating, bottled-up emotions drain out.

Stress builds up in the physical body, usually in the form of upper and lower back pain. These two areas of back pain are so prevalent that they've worked their way into our language - things are either a "Pain in the neck,” or a "Pain in the ass.”

Stress also registers as tension-headaches, "chronic" migraines, stomach aches, TMJ (jaw pain from night-time teeth-grinding). It may further express itself as arthritic shoulder and elbow joint twinges. Acne breakouts. Hair-loss. Stress also behind Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a highly uncomfortable back-&-forth of diarrhea/ constipation. Stress disturbs our sleep—do you wake up at 3:00 am, toss & turn for hours, and then start getting drowsy 10 minutes before you have to wake up at 7:00? Are you exhausted all day?

I recommend Dr. John E. Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain," which maintains that the body is a perfect machine, but does not function ideally in today's stress-ridden world. Anyone remembering the 60s remembers ulcers. Everybody had ulcers, nobody ever talked about back pain; ulcers were a sign of the times. Then we learned to cut out stomach irritants like alcohol & cigarettes, and stress had to express itself somewhere else—now everyone has "incurable,” “chronic” lower back pain.

Lifting weights and hitting focus pads are better than the bat/pillow routine, because in addition to draining stress, you also lose weight. :-)

MEDITATION:

Meditation is the greatest stress-dissolver of all time. I have studied Eastern forms: Burmese Vipassana, Korean Dahnhak, Chinese Nei Gung & Falun Dafa, and Western: Native-American Sacred Silence, and Rudolf Steiner's 8-fold path.

I’ve also done many Native-American Vision Quests, which are, essentially solitary 4-day meditations inside a ten-foot circle in the wilderness, with no food or means of communication whatsoever, or distractions like books. No nothing. Just water.

It has now been scientifically proven that human beings absolutely should meditate daily, to achieve optimal health, energy, clarity, balance, and serenity. I teach meditation for free. It’s all the rage, and it’s the one thing that’s definitely NOT a fad.

 

EXAMPLES OF COACHING FOR COMPREHENSIVE STRENGTH:

I coach for strength in all areas of life; physical, emotional, spiritual, creative, and career. I once began getting certified as a creativity coach, but it’s another discipline that tries to be rocket-science and is best treated as common sense. I happen to have it. I’m a natural creativity coach.

 
1) So here’s an example: I once worked with an insurance salesman; a self-made millionaire—we’ll call him John. We lifted weights, he got strong. One day he tells me, “I was paying my psychiatrist $475.00 an hour. I fired him. Know why? You’re better than he is.”
One day I told him, “John, I get the feeling you’re a frustrated poet.” He said “Nah.” I said, “Yes, yes. You must write—look at you, rewriting all your daughter’s 10th grade papers and spoiling the crap out of her.” He said, “You might have a point there…”
I said “You should write a book.” He was pals with a fading rockstar, who wanted his biography written with a ghost writer. I said to John, “Here’s your opportunity. Tell him you’d be happy to write his biography.” And so John did. John wrote a book. There was an after-party at B.B. King’s on 42nd street, Southside Johnny was there, Chubby Checkers was there, said rockstar was there. My client was celebrated. You can find his book on Amazon.com. I got a reference in the book. John found his true strength as a writer.
 
2) I also trained John’s daughter, starting when she was 15. She was very overweight. She got to college, dated a little schlemiel of a boy in her dorm; thought he was a good catch. I said, “You could do better.” She said “Nah.” He cheated on her. I said, “Looking good is the best revenge; let’s work on losing 30 pounds, and you can date the hot guy in the next dorm you pine after.” She said, “Never gonna happen!” (she’d text me from Syracuse). Wrong. We got the 30 pounds off her; she transformed from a chubby duckling into a drop-dead gorgeous swan. She’s married to the hot guy now. She's a strong, confident, young woman.
 
3) I once had an 82 year old client name Seymour Wiener (may he rest in peace). I thought his secretary was joking when she called; thought she was telling one of those 6th grade book jokes, like, “Brown Spot on the Wall,” by Hu Flung Dung. I thought it was another book joke: “Your Fly is Open,” by See More Wiener. No, he was an actual guy. Old school. He’d be warming up on the treadmill, singing Frank Sinatra: “That’s Life!!! That’s what ollllll the people say…”
He says to me, he says, “Mark, I like ya! Yer a mensch! You know mensch? We say in Yiddish, you’re a very haymische mensch, very mubatische! You know, I feel like you’re my fawthah—I wanna please ya! I wanna do these exercises right!” 82 year-old Seymour went from no sit-ups to 50 sit-ups, holding a 20 pounds dumbbell on his chest. Strength-training. It works! :)
 

4) I had a frenetic, super type-A, high-powered corporate lawyer. She had chronic back pain and stomach problems, from having her hand in the cookie jar of stress, and not wanting to let anything in the stress-jar go. So she couldn’t (wouldn’t) pull herself out of stress. What was in the cookie jar of stress? A high-maintenance, workaholic husband, two high-maintenance kids, the pressure to get them into Ivy League colleges, being on various high-powered boards, running her own high-powered consulting firm, lots of travel, hectic-hectic-hectic Manhattan-elite schedule, and taking two high-powered, exotic vacations per year, not to mention lots of entertaining, cooking, wine, martinis, and black-tie events.

I said, “You should learn to meditate.” She said, “There’s no way I can sit still and think no thoughts for a half hour.” I said, “You can sit down and be quiet for one minute. Yes you can.” That’s where we started. Two years later, she was sitting in full-lotus, with very few pesky stressful thoughts, for a half hour. Sitting in a place of strength. Yes she could. You can too.

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