It is a simple question. Are you committed to yourself every single day? As part of my profession I am expected to be there for my clients and my athletes. Training sessions are the time my clients and athletes are expected to make changes both in their life and their sport – physically and mentally. Lately, I have noticed that my fellow trainers, coaches, athletes and clients are not all the way there. Everyone seems more focused on what is going on around them and spending an enormous amount of their energy being vocal and opinionated about what they cannot control.

The only thing that we really have control of is ourselves.


“Coach Rufo, circa. 1998”

“I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid… I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that.” – Shawshank Redemption

Are you Ready?

Are you ready to go? I have learned this first hand in Kettlebell training. You cannot screw around with a Kettlebell because it demands respect. If your mind is somewhere else then you are going to get hurt. During one training session, I was swinging a 36 Kg (80 lbs) heavy Kettlebell with one arm. I was not putting 100%  of my effort and focus into the movement. The next morning, I had pain in my lower back. I found out later that had pulled a groin muscle, and my right Glute muscle basically shut off. Shame on me. I cursed at myself, because I forgot that if I am going to commit to training myself, then I need to be fully present.


“The Kettlebell demands respect…”

Are you Present?

Are you fully present? I am big believer in author Mark Sisson’s “80/20” principle. We try to experience everything 100% and put in 100% effort, but unfortunately we are setting ourselves up for failure. We cannot experience each element of our lives at 100% because we won’t have time for anything else. I cannot be the best rowing coach and trainer in the world because it would require me to sacrifice everything else – my wife, my family and my friends. I cannot be the greatest husband and father in the world, because if I don’t take care of myself then I won’t be around for my wife or my kids when I am older. I cannot be the healthiest and strongest person in the world because life is too short to deny yourself the simple pleasures in life that we are fortunate to be free to enjoy.

*WARNING  Explicit Language*

Lately it seems that we can’t even put in 80%.

Are you IN? Or are you OUT?

Are you committed to training and going fast? There are many other ways you can “exercise” and get fit without having to go out in the cold weather, splash around for 90 minutes, and pat yourself on the back. We all have that “rowing fix” we need to fulfill, but rowing is unique sport that requires you to be mindful of a lot of things. Rowing is similar to skydiving or surfing in the sense that even though there may be no immediate danger, you are still risking your life when you go out on the water. Every day that you train with your team or in your single, there a risk that you may be injured or you may capsize or collide with something. You do realize you are looking backwards?

The main reason I continue to coach is because I enjoy watching athletes go fast on the water. I enjoy guiding them in making subtle technical changes. I enjoy putting myself in their shoes (and seat) to visually help them make those changes. I enjoy watching how they physically respond to training, and try to understand how it affects their stress levels and mood. My athletes want to race. They come to practice when they can. Many of them send me training results, because we don’t meet every day. The athletes that are following the training program will continue to improve.

Some athletes  only come every once in awhile. Life gets in the way. I understand that there are things that keep them from coming to practice, but if they are not at practice should not be upset about not performing well. They are “out”. They are not committed to the task they are about to take on. It would be like me going to one pottery class and being upset that I cannot create the perfect sculpture. It would be like me never spending time in the kitchen and expecting to cook perfect lasagna the first time. Rowing is a skill. We have to practice it every day to improve. Athletes that are successful rowing are ones that train in some capacity every day. The same with strength athletes. They will lift in some capacity every day.

Moral of the Story

I blame myself. I wanted to be the type of coach and trainer that inspired people. I sometimes see flashes of this in my training sessions. When I am passionate about coaching I can usually find the same passion in my clients. Unfortunately it isn’t all the time though.

I can admit that I am not all there either.

Attitude reflects leadership. If I continue to be okay with my own mediocrity then my athletes will be okay with their own mediocrity. A leader must rise up.

A few ground rules:

  • I am not afraid to fail.  I realize I will make mistakes, and I am okay with people telling me so. In the past I have been too worried about pleasing everyone.
  • I don’t know everything. In the past, I have been afraid to speak up because I wanted to make sure I had all the facts. I have quoted Geoff Livingston – “There are no experts, only more experiences.” This is true in rowing and in fitness. My role models are well respected, and I continue to refer to them when I run out of answers.

Here is what I know. You can do it. You can do 80%. If you are rowing, then be present in the stroke and what you are trying to accomplish. Be present in your training session instead of watching Jerry Springer on TV or reading the latest health magazine while you plug away on the elliptical. I challenge you to not go out there and half-ass it. If you half-ass it, eventually you will get hurt, or you will hurt someone you are training with. If you are not willing to lay it on the line for your teammates then it may be time to purchase a canoe or kayak and go for a pleasure cruise. A rowing shell is not designed to go slow.


I am inviting you to become part of my training group. The training group is for clients and athletes that have run out of answers. It is an opportunity for you to join a growing community of clients and athletes that are ready to commit to training. Whether it is rowing or strength training, it is okay to find support within a community of like-minded individuals. There is no judgment here, because all that I ask is that you are committed to yourself.

If you are committed to yourself, it will be easier to find the answers.

If you are committed to an outside goal, then you are just focused on the external goal. Success is then only based on whether you pass or fail.

Instead allow yourself to experience small successes and build upon them.

It’s time to change the world.



Here I go Dad…

For more information on training programs for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, DISC, and Process Communication like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

Last chance to attend the KB2K – Philadelphia – Kettlebell Seminar on on November 29th, 2015!

4 thoughts on ““ARE YOU IN? OR ARE YOU OUT?”


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