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My Visit to Axiom Fitness

I was called up to Milwaukee last week for business, but that provided a great chance to tag along with my friend Laura Gainor to her normal workout spot, Axiom Fitness.  Laura invited me to a Thursday 6am bootcamp-style workout (note: her husband Brian continues to chose sleep over the AM workouts).

It was a little awkward for me to be on the business end of someone else's Thursday 6am workout, since at that same time my normal class at the Charlotte Dowd YMCA was just wrapping up their workout with a substitute instructor.  Needless to say, it was well worth the lost hotel room sleep to break a sweat with instructor Jen Wenzel. 

Jen warmed us up with a quick bodyweight GPP-style circuit, then broke us up into a series of :30 circuits.  As you can see in the below video segment, Axiom featured a great variety of equipment.  Our workout featured (among other elements):

  • Kettlebell work
  • Rope training
  • Explosive medicine ball drills
  • TRX-style suspension training
  • Sandbag work

Anyone who has either taken my classes, or read my CrossFit entries knows that I am a big fan of varied equipment and drills to keep things moving, and keep the body guessing.

Your workout is as only as good as your post-workout nutrition, so afterwards we were rewarded with great recovery drinks (also featured in the video) to refuel protein in the muscles.

As an instructor, often you trade time that would be spent on your own workouts to dedicate time and energy towards your classes or clients.  This was a great opportunity for me to jump into someone else's territory and be on the other side of things for a change.  Jen and the crew at Axiom Fitness have a great facility with killer workouts, so for anyone near the Milwaukee area I would definitely recommend a visit.  Bring your gear and be ready to sweat.



Fitness Spotlight: David Goggins

Is David Goggins the Toughest Athlete In the World?

He may or may not be, however the more you learn about him, you start to believe that he is at-least in the discussion.

His story is amazing and is captured in several quality peices online (including a Runners World cover feature).

  •  Spent four years in the Air Force, then spend a few unsuccessful years attempting to break into pro football (weight = 280 pounds)
  • Decided to apply for the U.S. Navy SEALS, however the recruiter warned that a man of his size/weight would never make it through the grueling training (also known as "Hell Week").
  • In less than three months, he returned to apply weighing 190 pounds and eventually completed SEALS training in 1998.
  • Goggins is the only member in the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEALS training, U.S. Army Ranger School and Air Force tactical air controller training, and has also faced combat in Iraq.
  • In 2005, tragically lost several friends in the armed forces to a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
  • To honor them, Goggins vowed to find a unique way to raise money for Special Operations Warrior Foundation, providing college funds for the children of fallen soldiers.
  • He Googled the 10 Most Difficult Feats in the World - and stumbled upon the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles).

The only problem was - the Badwater Ultra required approval of application by a standards committee, and Goggins had never even completed a regular marathon (26.2 miles) before.  Four days after making his decision, he entered his first 100-mile ultramarathon - and broke several bones in his feet, as well as suffering kidney failure.  For most of us, this would have sent us hurrying for an alternate fundraising plan, however for David Goggins, it only reaffirmed that his path was the correct one.

Goggins completed the Badwater Ultra in 2006,  then just three months later he competed in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. He placed 2nd in the three-day, 320-mile race, cycling 261 miles in two days on a rented bike.

Before training for the Ultraman Worlds, he’d never biked in a competitive event. Goggins returned to the Badwater in 2007, finishing 3rd. Over the next two years, he competed in another 14 ultra-endurance races, with top-five finishes in nine events. He set a course record at the 48-hour national championships,  and earning a spot among the top 20 ultramarathoners in the world. 

As of spring 2010, Goggins had earned more than $300,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  His hard work and relentless dedication for the cause are almost super-human - as is shown by his typical daily schedule.

    • 3:45am -- 15-20 mile run followed by biking to work (25 miles)
    • 8am --  begin work day
    • Lunch --  brief 4-5 mile run if time allows
    • 6pm --  bike home from work (25 miles) - weight training (with his wife)
    • Midnight --  bedtime

We all attempt to balance work life, family life, social life, and other miscellaneous interruptions.  For those trying to start 2011 off on the right note from a fitness perspective, hopefully a glimpse at the amount of training David Goggins manages to fit into his schedule while balancing married life plus the immense duties required of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces will provide some motivation.  After seeing his typical work day, setting my alarm clock an extra thirty minutes early to squeeze in a workout does not seem so heroic by comparison. 

My words cannot do David Goggins' story justice, so for better illustration here are a couple video features:




Fitness Spotlight - Regular People Volume IV

Time management is something almost all of us in the working world have to battle and manage.  It's very easy for people with plentiful free time to find a couple hours each day for workouts, however most of us struggle to fit training into our schedules.

My friend Laura Gainor has those common struggles, but has found creative ways to stay diligent in her pursuit of greater fitness. 

Laura began by taking a few cycling classes each week, but work enevitably kept impeding.  As one of the most creative people I know (take a look at her website), she found a unique way to implement guard rails into her schedule.  Laura joined a group boot camp at Axiom Health & Fitness in Milwaukee.

Not only are group boot camps a great way to meet new people, but the group atmosphere helps some people stay motivated and remain accountable.

I wanted to highlight Laura's endeavor, not because she's some workout fanatic like I am, but because she's regular.  She's a normal person with a busy life between work and family, but refused to accept the notion that it's acceptable to ignore personal health and fitness.

Keep up with Laura through her website or through Twitter - she's another example that your fitness can "fit" into a busy schedule if you want it to badly enough.


Week 2: AXIOM Health & Fitness Boot Camp from Laura Gainor on Vimeo.


Women's Fitness Spotlight - Lolo Jones

This Women's Fitness Spotlight is on one of my favorite individual sport pro athletes - U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones

Lolo won the World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles in 2008, but won even more fans (including myself) after her dignified behavior following the 2008 Bejing Olympics.  She entered the finals of the 100m hurdles as the favorite, but while leading the race towards the finish, clipped the second-to-last hurdle to finish 7th.  Instead of pitying herself or making excuses, she faced the public head-on and gave classy interviews, giving many of us an example for how to handle disappointment in a big spot.

She came back in 2010 to defend her 60m Indoor hurdles title with a winning time of 7.72 (a new American record).  She also picked up a win in the 100m hurdles earlier in September at the IAAF World Challenge meet.

Lolo Jones is another athlete that also seems to "get it" in-terms of social media, online presence, and fan interaction.  In addition to her main site, you can follow her on Twitter as well. 

If you like those abs ladies, she gave a few tips and exercises to Runner's World in a feature last year.

She's also got a pretty robust YouTube presence, here are a few sample videos:

*Lolo Jones walks us through an athlete's nutrition (try to tune out the German voice-over).

*Clap Pushup Challenge (Ladies take note!)


CrossFit 101

Some of you may have already heard of the workout phenomenon, "CrossFit".  For those who haven't it's essentially a format of workouts based around Olympic-style power lifts (power cleans, dead lift, overhead squats, etc) and Military-style functional endurance drills (sand bag carries, hill runs, pull ups, etc).  These are NOT beginner-level workouts by any means. 

I found myself putting so much energy into my fitness group's workouts that my own training was getting complacent and stagnant.  So far...CrossFit has been the answer.


I refer to CrossFit as a phenomenon since there are individual gyms and facilities throughout the nation, and the globe.  You can literally find one in almost any major city around the world.  In-fact, it's worth noting that I was originally hooked on CrossFit earlier this summer thanks to my college friend Meghan who  discovered CrossFit while she's getting her PhD in Glasgow, Scotland. (Further evidence that thanks to the internet and Twitter, the world is getting smaller.)

Most CrossFit workouts have specific names, some with girl names like "Angie" and "Fran", the group referred to as "The Nasty Girls of CrossFit".  Others are named for fallen men and women from the Armed Forces, known as "The Hero Workouts".  This helps keep track of each session, since you could literally do a different Workout of the Day or "WOD" each day indefinitely. "Fight Gone Bad" is a workout circuit fashioned after the 5:00 rounds of an MMA fight, and I've borrowed parts of this workout for a few of my fitness classes recently.

Most of the workouts are also done against the stopwatch for time as well, which aids in the competition aspect (more on this later).  It's a great way to chart your progress and improvement.

Another cool thing (this is directed at YOU ladies) is that the workouts are scalable.  This isn't just for the intense guys, the ladies can get just as competitive and hardcore with CrossFit as the guys can.

Another brilliant aspect of CrossFit-style training is that the adaptability allows for variety when equipment access is limited.  Earlier today I got an empty squat rack and knocked out a WOD of Kipping Pull Ups, Hang Cleans, Dead Lifts, and Box Jumps before I headed to an indoor track for some 400's with Burpees after each round.  A week ago, I went through a body weight WOD when all I had access to was a grass field and a nearby kids' jungle gym (though the 103-degree heat index helped).

Regarding the competition aspect of CrossFit, they actually hold championship-level Cross Fit Games each year, where the best of the best qualify to vie for the number one spot.  I'd love to make it one day, but realistically I think I'm a ways off for now.

As I mentioned, there's a littany of information available online about CrossFit chapters (both domestically and internationally).  Here are a few of the many videos available online - and if you're anything like me, good luck watching these and not feeling motivated to get off the couch and head over to the gym minutes later.