It’s July 1st.

Your son or daughter loves rowing.

When they came home after their first “crew” practice, they were excited. You were so proud. You remembered that “crew” was the sport that the Winklevoss twins did in the Social Network.

Ivy education here we come.

Four year later, your athlete has their first phone call with a collegiate coach because they want to row in college. As your athlete takes the phone call upstairs, you and your spouse try to focus on something else as you wait in anticipation.

20 minutes later your athlete comes downstairs with either their head down or crying.

“What happened?”

“The coach says I need to drop my 2k score…”

There is no app. There are no Cliff Notes. There is no tutor. It is not something you can buy at the store or have dropped by a drone via Amazon. You can’t negotiate with the coach, the Athletic Director, or even the rowing machine itself. You have flashbacks to your glory days of “three-a-day” football practices, early AM swim practices, running “suicides”, baseball or softball double-headers, soccer tournaments, or line drills in hockey. Dreadful moments that you hoped your athlete would not have to go through with rowing. What do you say?

“Um, just do your best…??”

Cue the familiar eye roll, exaggerated sigh, fountain of tears, and even the custom exaggerated statement:

“You don’t get it!”

What the hell is right…



If you have been a rowing (not crew) parent for a few years now, you have already been through this script. When your athlete comes home frustrated and upset from rowing practice you know that 2k season has begun.

2k season causes chaos in the household.

You make a wonderful dinner, and it is ruined because your athlete won’t eat (needs to make weight/or just can’t eat). You spend the entire evening getting stressed about it because your athlete won’t stop talking or moping about it. And they have to talk about everyone else on the team as well.

This 2k test determines where your athlete ranks on their current team, and will be scrutinized by some collegiate coach or national team coach you have never met or spoken to.  Coaches dangle an unreachable “carrot” that your athlete wants to reach, reminding you of the carnival game where you try to land the quarters on the glass plate. It might not even matter what your athlete pulls for their 2k score, because coaches tend to be like “Superdelegates.”


If you truly want to help your athlete, and not cause 2k Anxiety, then realize they already understand the task they have before them. It is your perception of the situation that gets you into trouble because it is based solely on what you know.

If you were never an athlete, it will be difficult for you to relate to their physical and mental stress. If you were an athlete, then you have some experience with pregame “jitters”, but it’s not exactly the same in rowing.

If you were a rower, you will probably give the worst advice…



Below are things you don’t say to your athlete before a 2k test. You mean well, but what works for you may not work for them.

Don’t say:

Why don’t you just pull as hard as you can?

My father said this to me back in 2003, “Why don’t you just pull a 2k everyday, and try to beat your time each time?” Makes sense Dad, why didn’t I think of this? Setting a simple, lofty goal does not work, especially if you aren’t providing a plan to get them there. You also need proof that it would work. The thought of a personal best is overwhelming. Even if your athlete likes to be challenged (see 2k anxiety) you have immediately added more adrenaline to an already tough situation.

Don’t say:

“Hakuna Matata…”


Ugh. Telling your athlete not to worry about a 2k test, is telling them their goal is not important. Their goal could be to pull a personal best, and now you are telling them not to worry about it. Now they are hesitant to push forward and achieve it, and your nonchalance is only reinforcing that. For those athletes who have a solid goal in mind you must acknowledge this goal. Otherwise, you are telling them that they don’t have a chance, and they will try to spite you by going out too fast or too hard, just to prove you wrong.

Don’t say:

You can do it! If you believe in yourself and you try your hardest…”

STOP. It is okay to try to connect to your athlete emotionally, but the 2k test is a painful experience. If you believe that your athlete will be able to remember your advice to “believe in themselves” with 1200 meters to go,  then don’t be around when they curse your name at that moment. There is nothing inspirational about a 2k test. The harder your athlete pulls the more it hurts, the slower your athlete pulls, the more it hurts.

Don’t say:

Just do it…”

Easier said than done. If you truly want to be inspiring, then you should actually get on a rowing machine and pull a 2k test. Just make sure you don’t eat anything beforehand. You believe you are being tough for your athlete, but they don’t need you to be tough for them. If you don’t acknowledge their emotional roller coaster, then they won’t acknowledge yours the next time you give them a hard time about them missing curfew or not their doing homework. Sport clichés worked in the 1980’s and 1990’s…that was over 20 years ago

Don’t Say:


Asking your athlete a list of questions is going to create two outcomes. Either you will overwhelm  or overstimulate them. In your quest for information, your athlete will become a deer in headlights, and will question their preparation and even their plan of attack.  If you feed their adrenaline by checking in with more questions they will be inconsistent and unpredictable in their training for the 2k test. Remember who is causing all this turmoil with a million questions – you. This isn’t about you.

Don’t Say:

“Why don’t you just do a 2k tomorrow?”

“A time to laugh… and a time to weep. A time to mourn… and there is a time to dance.” Thank you Kevin Bacon. There is a time dance, and there is a time to do a 2k test. That is what a training plan is for. If your athlete is following a training plan, then it is important not to encourage them to stray from it. Training programs are designed to help athletes peak at the right time. Therefore, if they take a random 2k test, then they are more likely to fail. You wouldn’t appreciate your athlete asking you everyday when you were going to do your taxes or start drafting your will.

Don’t Say:

“You should…”

See “Just Do It” above. Avoid telling your athlete how they should do anything.  Unless you happened to be an elite rowing coach or Olympian, you are going to lose your credibility immediately. “Should” is a powerful word, and should be used in situations of expertise.  If you know little about rowing your athlete will not listen to you. They will either ignore you or do the opposite. Literally, a better way would be to say Do you think you should…?”  It allows the athlete to feel they have control, and you are not just telling them what to do.

Don’t Say:

“Don’t forget that you have to…”

Don’t distract your athlete from their mission. Right now the number #1 mission is to drop their 2k score. If you remind them of other things that they need to be doing (schoolwork, chores, standardized tests, etc) then you are taking their athlete “hat” away and forcing them to put on their student “hat” or son or daughter “hat”.

Moral of the story

It’s July 1st.


“How the hell do I help my kid drop their 2K score?:

I don’t know…

Just kidding. I do know.

“The coach says I need to drop my 2k score…”

DO Say:

“What do you hope to accomplish?”

“I am hoping to pull a person best.”

“I believe that is a good goal. You certainly have trained hard enough for it, and you should feel confident in yourself.”

Providing positive reinforcement without telling them what they should do, and how they should do it will open the door for them to have a discussion, and maybe ask for some more advice.

And you’ll have something to give them.

First, have the right training program designed to have the correct balance of training components – aerobic, anaerobic, mobility, stability, strength, and power – which are all important to the sport of rowing. The Functional Movement Screen is the first step in revealing which of these components your athlete is missing, and establishing a baseline.

Second, understand what kind of athlete your son or daughter is. You need to know their strengths, and what truly motivates them. The AthleteDISC profile is an excellent tool and resource for your athlete to improve their mindset in training, racing, and performing well on a 2k test.

It’s July 1st.

You can start today. It doesn’t matter if your athlete is from the United States or is an international athlete. It is worth it. Technology is amazing. It allows us all to connect quickly and safely with the click of a button.

Click below to set up your your initial Mindset and Mobility Session. Your athlete will go through an initial Functional Movement Screen and Assessment and will take the AthleteDISC profile to establish their mindset. Once you register on Regatta Central, allow 24 hours for processing and instructions.

new button

Remember there is nothing wrong with wanting to help your athlete be successful.  We brought our children into society to make it a better place, and are responsible in guiding them through life. We certainly did our best in trying to change the world, but our children are much stronger and smarter than we are.  We can only watch in amazement at all they accomplish. Every once in awhile,  we manage to say the right things, so remember…

If they somehow walk away satisfied with your advice…


These are the hilarious jokes you think of at 2am when you have two daughters…

For more information on Strength and Conditioning for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or follow me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.





















“The 12 Things in Fitness That are so Insane to Me”

This is the most wonderful time of the year. In just a few days we will begin shifting our focus to “Peace on Earth” and “Auld Lang Syne”. We will be exchanging holiday gifts, connecting with loved ones, and taking time to appreciate what we have.

However, there is still time to poke a little holiday fun at things that we cannot stand…

Which leads me to my favorite holiday movie line of all time:

“Take it Russ”

Russ reminds us that are just some things that we hate and would rather do without. There are just some things in fitness in my opinion that should just go away; therefore I would like to add my own spin to one of the more beloved songs of the holidays.

12. “Twelve” Different Biceps Curls

 In anatomy and physiology, we learned about the joint actions of muscles or the primary movement. The Biceps Brachii or “Biceps” have one joint action they are primarily responsible for.


That’s it. That means the one exercise that make the Biceps independently bigger and stronger are Bicep Curls. I am okay with Bicep curls, yet everyone seems to love biceps curls. They love them so much that there is actually over 50+ “different” Bicep curling exercises.

For the purposes of body building, it is important to “work all the angles” to get the “maximum pump” for the muscle. For the general public, energy might be better spent teaching people how to incorporate the biceps into full body exercises that will help them get fit over all.

 “Talkin’ about the Cayotes…”

Yeah, we don’t need a million different ways to work the Biceps.

11. “Eleventh” Session Free














Big Box gyms want to sell you personal training sessions. In their incentive to get you to buy more sessions, they will tend to throw in 1 more free session.

A few years ago, I went to LA Fitness to do some research. The personal trainer there sat me down to find out my goals, as well as sell me some personal training sessions. As he went over the personal training packages, he said, “The more sessions you buy, the more free sessions you get.” He continued to describe the benefits, and I realized that he was selling me 30 minute sessions.

Therefore, even if I bought ten 30 minute sessions, it would only really be at total of 5 ½ hours of training.

I don’t know about you, but it takes many of my clients 15 to 20 minutes just to warm up (mobility, stability, flexibility).

“Just need one rep…”

 Maybe that’s all we need…

 10. $10 a month

A recent article on UPROXX regarding Planet Fitness has been circulating on Facebook. The article describes how gyms may target individuals that will pay the monthly fee, but never set foot in the gym. This comfort of knowing they have a good deal on a membership is enough for individuals to keep paying, but never-ever going.

For 2016, I suggest you look for the quality of training you could receive, rather than the quantity of money you may be saving.

“Crushed it…”

There is no price on your health.

9. “Nine” DVD’s

 "13 DVD's"

“13 DVD’s”

"11 DVD's"

“11 DVD’s”

"More Options?"

“More Options?”

“How many DVD’s does your set have?




We Love our fitness DVD’s. Every time a fitness infomercial is on, I find myself lulled into watching. For the most part, I want to see if there are any new concepts that these fitness entrepreneurs are bringing to the table.

As I wrote last week –  They aren’t

But they are great at marketing.

Seems like you can’t get fit unless you have the complete box set of DVD’s.


“I guess it looks as if you’re reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?”


“No f***ing way.”

Why can’t they just put all the content on one single DVD or Flash Drive? DVD’s are like records people. All my CD’s are down in my basement, and I occasionally take them out, dust them off, and put on All-for-One.

Otherwise, they stay in the basement.

8. “Eight” Accredited Certifications

“I am kind of a big deal.”

I can be accused of this as well. In my quest for training knowledge, I have found myself with quite a few letters after my name. Enough that I cannot fit them all on a business card.

However, my clients and fellow fitness professionals really don’t care how many certifications I have. The letters after your name only mean something if you apply what you have learned. I still need to list all the letters in my bio so potential clients can see my experience, but I don’t wear it like a sign on my chest any more.

There are also too many certifications out there. In the world of Kettlebells, there are two that stand out. The SFG (StrongFirst) and the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certification).

 Now another Kettlebell certification is coming out through Strength Matters – the SMK, and it involves former trainers that used to be SFG and RKC.

“These are O.R. scrubs.”

Now I have to spend more money to get more letters after my name…wonderful!

7. “Seven” Minute Abs

The fitness industry has done very well in creating content that just involves the core. However, if you train the full body, you incorporate the core into every exercise.

The first thing we teach in Kettlebells training is how to utilize and engage the core. The core connects the lower and upper extremities, and is critical to moving well. Therefore, it really isn’t necessary to just do crunches and sit ups at the end of the workout, because you should have already taken care of that earlier in your session.


Why train the core, when you can get this!

6. “Six” Workout Selfies

six selfies

Workout selfies. Hmm.

As a competitive athlete, I never thought of taking photos of myself working out. I never wanted my opponents to know what I was doing anyway.

“I can barely lift my right arm ’cause I did so many. I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.”

 People should feel good about themselves. Just make sure to get a workout in!

5. No bare feet (“Five Fingers”)


I hate wearing shoes. Ever since I became a Kettlebell instructor, I cannot train with shoes. As a rower, I didn’t wear shoes either. Now shoes hurt my feet. I only wear them to make public appearances, and because my wife makes me.

I really do like the Vibram Five Fingers. I can buy into minimalist footwear. The thing is that they cost over $60, and I refuse to pay that much for shoes. If you train a lot, then you wear your shoes out in 3-6 months. I cannot justify spending this much, just so I can workout for an hour a day.

However, gyms will never go there because of liability.


Whether I am wearing shoes or not, if I drop that amount of weight, I am going break something…

4. “Four”Quad Stretches


“Hold on, I need to stretch…”

If you have a limited range of motion, then you should relax and stretch the muscle. Stretching before training should only be necessary if you cannot get your body in the proper position to train.

Wherever I go, when people are “warming up”, I will see them do the “Standing Quad Stretch”. It is the symbol for all us middle-age athletes trying to “get back in shape”.

Check out the Knee Pain Explained website.

Most of us learned to do it wrong, and we are probably causing more bad than good.

3. “Three” Sets of 10


I can honestly say that the first time I have met with an athlete and client that has experience with strength training they always say the same thing:

Me: “How many reps and sets have you been doing?”
 Client/Athlete: “Well, I have been doing 3 sets of 10…”


Every client. Every athlete.

I believe it is time to retire 3 sets of 10. Whomever patented that program should be collecting royalties. “3 sets of 10” is on par with common fitness phrases like, ” “Feel the burn,” “No Pain, no Gain”, or “Burns up Carbs”…

2. “Two” Calf Machines

Calf machine 813GVCKG+IL._SL1500_






Why are there only two calf machines at any gym? Actually, why are there Calf Machines period? For some people the calf muscles are an attractive feature, however, there does not need to be a giant Hammer Strength Calf Machine taking up space in the gym, just so you can do this:


“One, Two, Three…”

Here is a great way to work your calf muscles, and you do it every day…

Yes, walking up, and running and down stairs works the calf muscles just the same. And you are using your body weight…

1. One “Shake Weight”

When I was still competitively rowing and going to school for personal training, my wife mentioned that QVC was looking for fitness models to advertise a new product called the “Shake Weight”.

I looked at her and simply said,


When she looked up the product. She looked at me and said,


Moral of the Story

 Don’t be a fitness model for QVC and model the Shake Weight.


Happy Holidays to everyone!

(Sing to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas”)

The 12 Things in Fitness

“That are so Insane to me…”

Twelve Different Biceps Curls

Eleventh Session Free

$10 a Month

Nine DVD’s

Eight Accredited Certifications

7-Minute Abs

Six Workout Selfies

No Bare Feet!

Four Quad Stretches

3 sets of 10

Two Calf Machines

And one Single “Shake Weeeighttt”


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

Also check out the DISC2K – Philadelphia Seminar on January 9th, 2016!

Online consulting and Skype sessions also available.


Where have the Jedi Masters gone?

I am excited.

In seven days one of the greatest movies of all time begins a new chapter.

I was born the year that the original Star Wars was released; therefore I have a personal connection to the series. I played with the action figures, I read the post Return of the Jedi novels, and I know that Han-Solo shot Greedo first.

"We all know who shot first..."

“We all know who shot first…”

Though I have not dressed up and attended a Star Wars convention, I believe that I am living the Star Wars life every day and following the “Jedi Code”. As a fitness professional, I believe that my peers and I follow a similar code when it comes to changing the lives of our clients.

I also wonder if some of my fellow peers and mentors have forgotten this:

“Emotion, yet peace”

“But I was going to Tosche station…”


On the internet, people like posting themselves training and working out. Perhaps they just want the attention or perhaps they are looking to inspire others to do the same. Either way, the internet response will be positive or negative. Recently, a video was posted on Facebook in which a person was attempting a Kettlebell Snatch at a regular gym. It is apparent that person most likely learned their technique from the internet or a book instead of with a qualified fitness professional.

My first reaction was “Ah, he had better be careful and not hurt himself.” Others reacted differently. It would be an understatement to say that there were a lot of negative comments. What was more surprising was that some of the negative comments came from fitness professionals. As one continued to scroll down, the comment section was filled with jokes and opinions until someone finally suggested that perhaps the person posting the video should offer to assist this individual.


“Ha, Ha, Ha?”

“Or Help?”

Obviously the person in the video was trying to perform the exercise properly. He may have even thought he was doing a good job. He needed guidance. Our competitive nature drives us to excel at everything we do and be better than everyone else. Therefore it is easy to give into our emotions and enjoy watching GYM FAILS.


 “Our Focus determines our Reality”


As Fitness professionals we are not emotional. We strive to move everyone towards optimal health and fitness.


“There is no emotion, there is Peace.”


“Ignorance, yet knowledge”



Since 2007, I have continued my education to learn as much as I can about the human body and how it responds to different type of training. I enjoy learning new training concepts, and really enjoy becoming part of an expanding network of amazing peers.

“Are You gellin’?”


I have worked under some amazing mentors or “fitness” gurus that have brought about innovative training ideas. The fitness revolution is moving in a good direction, and the general public is becoming more aware of how they should make their health and fitness a priority.

Fitness gurus are like Jedi Masters. They possess the knowledge and the power to change millions of lives for the better. It is almost as if they have learned how to harness this “force” and use it for the good of mankind. Every year, I join thousands of other fitness professionals and pay thousands of dollars to learn new training techniques and concepts from these Jedi Masters. As the Jedi Masters travel the world spreading their message through certifications events and social media their students or “Padawan” flock to them to learn more.


“Think Good. Feel Good. Do Good. Good Things Happen!”


I have traveled to different parts of the country to listen to my Jedi Masters and have noticed there is an underlying theme:

They are all saying the same thing.

This is not a bad thing. It means that many brilliant and unique fitness authorities are coming up with similar theories and conclusions at the same time. Like philosophers, they may deliver the message differently, but there may in fact be an underlying force that links them.

 “There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge.”


 As Fitness professionals we share our knowledge. We also acknowledge that there are other members of our community that share similar fitness philosophies and beliefs. It reinforces the message we are trying to deliver.

 “Passion, yet Serenity”

Since the Jedi Masters around the world are teaching similar concepts it would probably make sense for them to get together and create some kind of “Jedi Order”.


Not so much.


 “If one is to understand the great mystery, one must study ALL its aspects…”


An enormous amount of time and energy is spent on debating on which certification or training modality is the best. In some cases, various groups actually look down upon other groups and try to convince the general public that they are not as great or even “dangerous.” Whether that is true or not is really up for the general public to determine. Any person that can benefit from the training and teachings of a particular training modality is living a better life.

“Primal movements” are the most recent innovation that has become integrated into all training modalities. Rolling and rocking are basic fundamental movements that everyone should be able to do in some capacity. They provide the foundation for us to potentially crawl, kneel, stand and eventually walk. I spend a lot of time teaching my clients and athletes how to roll and rock again whether they are “fit” or not. Whatever I give the name of that rolling/rocking/crawling movement is irrelevant.





Yet, Jedi Masters have many different names for the basic movement – “crawl”, “Natural Crawl”, “Beast”, “Bear”, “Quadruped”, “Quadrupedal”, “Scorpion,” “Lady Bug,” etc. – it really does not matter. It also does not really matter for the client either. They are the ones that have to do it, and it is challenging no matter what you call it.

It would be great for our Jedi Masters to start actually listening to one another. If it is our job is to make our clients’ lives better – make the human race better – then we are all trying to do the same thing.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”


Fitness professionals share their passion about the type of training they are experts in – WOD’s, boot camp, spinning, yoga, etc . Yet, they understand and take solace in the fact there are other forms of training that can also make a difference.

“There is no Passion, there is Serenity.”


 “Chaos, yet Harmony”

It is tough to make it in this business. At the end of the day, I do need to support my family. It is important for me to promote myself to make sure I have clients available to train. As my business grows, I want to make sure that I can keep up with the demand and clients that need me.

“She’s rich…”


Social media has allowed Jedi Masters to promote themselves all over the world, and in a short amount of time. I subscribe to all of their blogs and newsletters because I don’t want to miss any new piece of information or tidbit of knowledge they may introduce. Not every new fitness entrepreneur is savvy on all the latest social media tools, and it has created new business for marketers who know how to maneuver the social airwaves.

Yet it seems social media has created chaos for the general public. They are inundated with fitness catch phrases, trigger words, free reports, and manufactured “fears” that encourages the general public to make impulse decisions.

“The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.”


In my desire to stay relevant, I have had to spend a majority of my time staying on top of my competitors. I wish I could just live off the land, win the lottery, buy my Boathouse, and train clients for free!

There is a fine line between selling yourself and selling yourself.

“Everyone who lives here will be strong and healthy…”


We cannot forget why we got into this profession in the first place.

We wanted to help people.

“There is no Chaos, there is Harmony.”



“Death, yet the Force.”

 “He who dies with the most toys, still dies. No FEAR.”


I bought that shirt when I was in high school. While everyone was wearing the “Big Johnson” shirts, I bought this black NO FEAR shirt above.


"Remember this?"

“Remember this?”

Although I was given a hard time about the No Fear shirt (a little deep for high-schoolers) I always liked the quote because it reminds me that what we do in life and our career is only reflected upon after we are gone.

To my Jedi Masters, I ask you:


What kind of students do you want to leave behind in your legacy?

In your individual quests to deliver your message did you remember that what you are teaching and preaching to us now will impact future fitness professionals when you are no longer with us?

"Original ending ALL the way."

“Original ending ALL the way.”

Will you finally acknowledge one another. combine ideas, and create an even more amazing fitness revolution?

We will continue to  be your students, but remember that we want to be great students and even greater teachers.

“There is no Death, there is the Force.”


In seven days, the new movie comes out and I am excited.

This upcoming week I will be able to watch the original movies with my 5 and 3 year old. I want to enjoy the look on their faces as they watch the movie that came out the year that I was born. I want to answer their questions about the Jedi Code, and why Darth Vader, though a bad-ass, is really not the person they want to be.

“There is still good in you…under ripped and Paleo grass-fed beef ab muscles…”


We all can be Jedi and will restore the universe to its natural order.

Let’s be Jedi and rule the universe as father and son…



Damn you Dark Side….

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

Also check out the DISC2K – Philadelphia Seminar on January 9th, 2016!

Online consulting and Skype sessions also available.