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My Strength and Conditioning Gym: A Prologue of Things to Come in My Life

  Jun 10th, 2012

Opening My Gym - The Next ChapterIt’s 5am. At a time when most people are sound asleep with nary a thought of the day ahead of them, I’m stirring in my bed excited about the training sessions I have planned for my clients at the gym I own down the street.


After going through everything in my head, for what seems like the hundredth time, I finally jump out of bed. Yes, I jump out of bed! Why not?


I’m getting ready to start another day of doing what I love doing most: motivating others to improve their appearance, get stronger, build confidence and achieve a new level of physical fitness.


What could be more exciting than that?


I start my day off right by reading my Bible and spending some time in prayer. I write a quick post for the RippedOut Facebook page and Twitter feed, drink a healthy sized glass of water, and head off to my gym.


The trip is short and I arrive in less than 5 minutes. It’s 5:45am; fifteen minutes before my first training session of the day, where I’ll be working with a handful of men and women on strength and conditioning.


As I’m walking in, I look up at the sign on the front of the building. The first feeling I have is one of pride, but it’s followed shortly thereafter with a sense of responsibility. 


I have dozens of people I’ll be training today and all of them are trusting me to show them how to improve their bodies and provide them with the motivation and instruction they need to succeed.


My apprehension is quickly squashed and excitement takes over as I walk through the doors and realize how incredible it is to have the opportunity to influence others to live strong, fit and healthy lifestyles.


I go over a few notes and organize my small desk in the corner of the modest 1,500 square feet that is my gym.


The Equipment Setup

Rogue Gymnast RingsPeople are often taken aback at my setup. I have several power racks, a few sleds, a set of gymnast rings to go with each power rack, pull-up bars, speed ropes, heavy ropes, a couple of heavy punching bags, and a few other miscellaneous pieces of equipment.


A question I’m often asked is, “Where are all the treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines?”


My answer: right where they need to be – not in my gym! While I have a treadmill and elliptical machine in my home gym, this is mostly because space is limited and I don’t have room to push a sled in my basement or jump rope with the ceilings being 7′ high.


Now that I have a gym, however, the focus is where it needs to be; on strength and conditioning through concentric muscle building cardio, functional movements like jumping rope and punching a heavy bag, and using body weight and compound lifts to build muscle and strength.


In other words, my gym is all about strength and conditioning through progressive overload and intensity.


If you want a gym where you can go to socialize, walk on the treadmill for an hour, and continue looking the same month after month, it’s time to pack it up and head to Club Fitness down the street. That crap has no place in my gym!


Motivated People OnlyIn addition to the equipment, there are a number of posters with bodybuilding icons and motivational quotes – some of which are my own.


The gym is clean, but rustic. The type of place that’s inviting, yet doesn’t make you afraid to throw some weights around and get amped up. If the visual ambiance doesn’t fully give you that impression, the hard rock on the speakers will.


Alright. Back to my day…


After organizing my desk, it’s time to set the mood. I throw the ipod on the stereo and hit shuffle. Fittingly, the song that comes on is AC/DC’s For Those About to Rock.


The first clients of the day start rolling in, half awake, coffees in hand. There’s still a few minutes until the session starts, so we have some light discussion about nutrition and I answer any questions they have before we get started.


A few of us morning people sing along to the song with a, “Fire! We salute you.”


I look at the clock. It’s 6am and time to get some.


The Training Session

I start the session with a quick reminder about the importance of feeding the body for success and we get right into some light warmups: 5 minutes of stretching, 50 jumping jacks, 10 burpees and 3 sets of 10 jump squats.


We’re about 10 minutes in and the energy level appears to have gone up ten fold. Everyone’s heart rate is elevated and their muscles are warm and ready to be worked with intensity.


I split the clients into 3 groups by relative strength and we start by doing ring pushups. The beginners use a wide split stance and maintain a pronated grip, lowering themselves until their hands reach chest level.


The more advanced trainees have their feet together and rotate their hands to a fully supinated position at the bottom of the movement, with their hands going as far back as being parallel with their shoulder blades.


Each group rotates quickly. As soon as one set is complete the next person jumps in. I walk around critiquing form, motivating the clients and ensuring a fast pace and high intensity. When deserved, the occasional high five or fist bump is administered.


This continues until every person in each group has performed 5 sets.


Without hesitation, we move into super-setting standing shoulder presses and pull-ups. I take a quick moment to review proper form on each lift and everyone gets started.


The groups operate like a finely tuned machine: each person completes their set of standing shoulder presses, moves on to a set of pull-ups (assisted with a spotter if they have yet to develop the strength to do a proper pull-up), and continues with this process until every person has finished all of their 5 sets of each exercise.


We’re now about 35 minutes in. It’s time to squat. I give a quick demonstration for those who need it, talk about the importance of consistently stretching the hip flexors when it comes to squatting with good form, and we’re off and running. The groups rotate through completing their sets and spotting the others in their group while they rest.


Sled Pushing Conditioning ExerciseAfter squats, it’s time to finish the session with 15 minutes of conditioning work. For this particular session, I split the clients into 2 groups. One group will be jumping rope in intervals with speed ropes and the other will be pushing sleds. After 7 or 8 minutes of performing the first activity, the groups switch positions for the other conditioning exercise.


Though it seems like we just started the session five minutes ago, this completes the first session of the day.


At this point everyone is visibly winded and physically spent. I make a mental note of anyone that looks like they might have a little left in the tank so I can give them some “special conditioning attention” the next time they’re here to train.


Clients are already arriving for the next session, so I quickly wrap up with some final words of motivation, answer a few questions and move right into the next training session.


Coming Soon to St. Louis, MO…

This post is a result of the time I’ve been spending as of late doing research and crunching numbers to see if my dream of running  a strength and conditioning gym would ever be a possibility. Well, as you can probably tell, this has gotten me fairly excited.


What used to be a pie in the sky dream of owning a strength and conditioning gym is now looking like a very real possibility for me. God willing, what you’ve just read will be a reality in the not so distance future.


Don’t worry. I love writing for this site and will continue doing so even if my dream of owning a gym comes to fruition.


My goal has, and always will be, to help as many people as I can to build muscle, burn fat, get ripped or just look better in the mirror.


While my gym will be a great way for me to reach those in my community with one-on-one instruction, this site gives me a worldwide reach, with the potential to extend my message to millions more.


Thanks for taking a ride with me as I reflect on what it will be like to have my own gym!



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