Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Philly Kettlebell Cert is a Success!

Sunday 21 September was the second in-house MaxBells Instructor certification. We gradated 17 new Maxbells instructors. We had an Iceland certification last August and are heading to the UK and Germany in the spring of 2009.

At the end of every certification, in the back of the manual, is a three-question questionnaire:

  1. What did you like about our certification?

  2. What didn't you like about our certification?

  3. What will you tell others about our certification?
We've received overwhelmingly positive reviews. There are always a few comments about what people didn't like, and suggestions to improve, and I study them carefully and take them to heart. Why are people saying such great things about this course? It's because I teach from the heart and give of myself. My vast experience in the field of teaching group kettlebell classes gives me an advantage over the others out there. My goal in teaching this course is to provide genuinely useful, practical and time-tested information about how to teach a superior kettlebell class. We touch on important subjects like:

  • Workout construction & design

  • Movement-based workouts

  • The three major obstacles in providing group KB classes and how to overcome them
The students are given the opportunity not only to perfect their own personal KB skills but how to break these same skills down and teach them to others. We identify the major faults in all KB movements and offer a tool kit of fix-its. Also covered are:

  • Payment plans

  • Using KBs in personal training

  • The client interview process

  • Goal-setting
I model sample workouts using the three different teaching styles and help trainees identify the best style for them. Anyone who wishes to become a group kettlebell instructor will greatly benefit from this course. I hope to see you there soon!

- Steve


Since you use rings in the Ultimate Upper Body DVD, I am curious about the relative advantages and disadvantages of the split Jungle Gym vs. rings.


There's nothing wrong with the rings but for my needs I find the Jungle Gym more useful. They are extremely lightweight and portable and I live in an RV and travel constantly. I basically carry a Jungle Gym in my backpack and use it with all my clients. In fact, it is the first piece of equipment I tell them to purchase. The Jungle Gym is more versatile than rings, which makes it especially useful for me. just last night, i wanted to do a workout and drove all over Westchester PA looking for a pull-up bar, which I never found, but I did find a playground behind a church where I could hang the JG and do pull-ups.

The equipment I use in the DVDs was donated by Torque Athletic in exchange for the promotional value. I have nothing against the rings, I like them, I just prefer the Jungle Gym. You can do a lot of lower body stuff with the JG like leg curls and Atomic Push-Ups, too. I really liked the TAPS unit I used in the DVD but it doesn't fit in the van!

While I can clearly see other advantages with the split Jungle Gym, can you get the grip you demonstrate on training to do a muscle up on the Ultimate Upper Body DVD with the split Jungle Gym that you did with the rings?

I've never tried a muscle up on the Jungle Gym. The muscle up is a gymnastic stunt and while it's cool, it creates tremendous stress on the elbows and shoulder capsule and it's caused a lot of injuries to a lot of people. The strength required to do a muscle up on rings or a pull-up bar is useful for doing muscle ups only, not much else.
Being good at muscle ups doesn't improve anything else in your life and the risk to wrists, shoulders and elbows is significant.
If you insist upon it, be careful, and do it on a set of rings, like the DVD shows. But there are far better ways to strengthen arms, wrists and shoulders with less risk of injury.

I showed muscle ups on the Ultimate Upper Body DVD because they are a popular exercise and people really enjoy them but unfortunately, I've seen a lot of injuries in people who weren't prepared.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sunny San Jose and Shamrock MA

On Saturday 13 September, I presented a seminar at the gym of legendary MMA fighter Frank Shamrock. Enjoy the photos in the slide show. The facility was perfect in every way for what we'd set out to accomplish. I played to a packed house--couldn't have fit in another person--standing room only. We had to take turns with the Turkish Get-Ups!

One of Frank's instructors, Jannsen, attended the workshop and he is in every way a gentleman. Several of the workshop trainees were also local fitness instructors and trainers and walked away with new program ideas for the classes and clients.

I'm rescheduled in San Jose November 17 for a MaxBells Instructors Certification, which is being organized even as I type this...if you're interested in attending, contact

Things got pretty exciting at the gym when tryouts for Team Shamrock got underway in the adjoining room. Brawny young lads from as far away as Texas had arrived for Frank's team tryouts. It was like stereophonic workouts. I don't know who got worked harder, the people in my seminar or those poor guys under the direction of Frank's instructors.

The manager of Shamrock MA, Ralph, is a gracious host and took care of our every need. Anybody in the San Jose area seriously interested in becoming an MMA fighter should check out this gym.

Some of the topics covered in the workshop were:

  • Kettlebells for mobility and injury-prevention
  • The notorious Maxercise Omelet
  • Proper workout construction and design
  • Double-bell complexes for power-endurance
  • and a slew of new exercises I've developed for abdominals, lower back and core
Everyone left Saturday afternoon tired...but happy. Like a nice full belly after a good meal...but different. I went back to my hotel and traineed my gf into a lather at the hotel fitness center, which was actually pretty good...for a hotel gym. A trainer's work is never done!

When I returned to Maxercise on Tuesday, I put myself through the paces with another fabulous metabolic conditioning workout hybrid. I used the Lifeline Heavy Speed Rope (green, 2.2 lbs) for 100 jumps as fast as I could get 'em. Then I immediately went to the high Pull-Up bar and performed 5 Maxercists, which consist of:

a) Deck Squat-to-Shoulder-Stand-to-Plow
b) roll back to Full Squat
c) jump back to Upward Dog
d) push hips up into Downward Dog
e) sit to Bear Squat
f) dive thru to Hover
g) push-up to Plank
h) sit back to Bear Squat
i) extend legs into Downward Dog
j) jump to Full Squat
k) leap up to a high bar
l) pull your throat over the bar
m) hold for 5-sec
n) lower s-l-o-w-l-y down
o) drop lightly to the feet and immediately begin again

That's one rep. Repeat for 5 reps. Rest 30-sec.
Repeat for 10 rounds.

I don't know which were more fatigued: my arms, legs...or breathing. A true systemic workout.

Tomorrow I present another Level 1 Kettlebell Workshop, then Sunday brings the fifth MaxBells Teacher Certification. The last one, in Iceland, was a big success and I look forward to certifying the next group of MaxBells instructors. Hopefully, I'll see you there!

Anyone who's been to my Maxbells certification knows that I give up some of my life's blood in every event. I stand by my work: no hype and no DuCane-ry!

In Strength & Health,

Coach Steve

P.s. Zach Even-Esh emailed to say the Gladiator Seminar DVD set is just about ready. As soon as I get my copy, I'll get 'em out for sale. This is my first self-produced (with Zach) DVD project and I'm really looking forward to the release. The seminar was a great time and you know you want to recreate it in your own garage!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kettlebell Conundrums

One of the frequent questions in my email is:
What brand of kettlebell should I buy?
When I began training with kettlebells they were almost impossible to source so I had a student custom-make me a pair of stainless steel bells which were very serviceable (and still reside in my ex-wife's backyard). When Dragon Door came out with the first mass-produced bells it was like a revelation! Compared to the crude, straight-handled, stainless steel bells (and the plate-loaded versions I'd constructed of steel plumber's pipe) they felt marvelous. Kettlebell heaven, so to speak, and what with the variety of weights available, it was all very convenient.

Soon, other companies began to produce kettlebells. Entrepreneurs located foundries in India and China where bells could be produced cheaper, while maintaining the same basic quality. Prices came down and Dragon Door no longer had a lock on the market.

The main problem came when Valery Federenko formed his own organization, the American Kettlebell Club and, for the first time, we Americans were exposed to so-called "authentic" Russian kettlebell design. According to Girya Sport purists, the only legitimate use of the kettlebell is for Swings, Snatches, Long-Cycle Clean and Jerk and Long-Cycle Clean and Press. All of the AKC bells, from 8 to 40 kg, are the same size and shape, diameter, and handles which is very important...if you wish to compete in kettlebell sport lifting. The bells are the ideal shape and design for the sport and I highly recommend them as the tool of choice for those wishing to be competitive with their kettlebell lifting. Because they are all the same diameter, you'll develop flawless technique and program the nervous system to lift the bells into the exact same groove each time. This feat is achieved by making the lighter bells hollow.

An alternative to buying a complete set of AKC bells, for those wishing to incrementally increase resistance, are the hollow Russian competition kettlebells sold by Dmitri Sataev at

These are high-quality kettlebells with a superior paint finish to the AKC bells. In the bottom of the bell is a little metal plug which screws in and can be removed to weight the bell, e.g., with lead shot, pennies or screws. The 16kg bells I bought can potentially be filled to weigh 32kg. This is very handy when you live in a confined space e.g., a van or small apartment. What I like about these bells is you can make fractional incremental increases, as opposed to big jumps in weight. The drawback? It's virtually impossible to adjust the weight up or down during a single workout and there are times you may wish to use heavy and light bells within the same workout.

More recently,a whole slew of new kids have arrived on the kettlebell block. At first, Power Systems came out with their own brand of kettlebells; K-1 brand have been around for quite a while; Everlast made some KBs and Lifeline USA has their own line. The newest addition to the kettlebell family is the MaxBell and of course, I like them the best! Anything I put my name to, you'd better believe has good quality. The rubberized paint on these bells is the best I've seen and the handle thickness is equal on each bell, from light to heavy. They are similar in design to the Dragon Door and Lifeline bells, with the exception that the 8kg MaxBell is far superior to the Dragon Door 8kg. Bonus: MaxBells are very competitively priced.

What to Look for in Kettlebell Design

What I look for in a kettlebell is:

1) A curved handle
Avoid kbs with straight handles because the as the bell travels back and forth in the hand, irritating the wrist, the curve keeps the bell centered in the hand, not only protecting the wrist from undue stress but also improving the grip.

2) A smooth finish on the handle
Which won't irritate or tear the skin of the hands.

3) A superior paint job
Which won't easily chip
(because they all chip!) exposing the underlying metal to the elements.

4) A flat base
So the kettlebell can sit up without out tilting onto the floor
. Avoid kettlebells with a raised base. Some kettlebell manufacturers put rubber bases on the bells, making them unstable and unsuitable for exercises such as:
Renegade Rows
Bear Crawls
and the delightful Elephant Walk

The MaxBells design permits smaller-sized people, e.g., women to easily handle a kettlebell. Since the majority of attendees in most group classes are women, the MaxBells design is more suitable to small hands, chest structure and shoulders of the average woman. Tha AKC bells are simply too big and too awkward for exercises such as:
Arm Bar
and even Cleans (for most women)

The AKC claims the only true use of the kettlebell is for Swings, Snatches, Long Cycle, et al., and certainly, for those exercises, it's true the AKC bells are superior for the GS Sport-type movements (unless you're a very petite woman.)

It all depends on what you're training for! If you're training GS, hey, you've got to use GS bells. If you're training fitness, sports and athletic conditioning, go with MaxBells.

That being said, I've found that for extremely large men (with extremely large hands) have difficulty gripping inside the Dragon Door-style bell. Their hands don't fit. For them, the traditional Russian sport design is also a better choice.

If you live on the East coast, around the NY-Philly-Wash DC corridor, you can save huge bucks on shipping by borrowing a pick-up or SUV and coming over to MaxerciseSports Fitness in Center City, Philadelphia and loading up some very well designed MaxBells.

No matter which bell you decide upon, the main decision seems to be "authentic" Russian design vs. the more standard fitness design of incrementally larger sized bells. I was the first person to teach kettlebells in the U.S. and I have more experience leading mainstream fitness classes than anyone else in the U.S. or abroad. I've worked with every level of client: from the extremely de-conditioned/obese right up to elite professional athletes. In my estimation as a fitness director, health-club owner and group class leader, the superior design is along the lines of the MaxBell or Dragon Door-type bell.

In Strength & Health,

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Performance Hybrid Training for Metabolic Conditioning and Fat Loss

I first learned of metabolic conditioning in the early 1970s. High-Intensity Training pioneer and Nautilus inventor, Arthur Jones, conducted extensive exercise studies at West Point. The cadets involved were varsity football players, i.e., young and in good shape. Jones found that in some of his brutal circuits,
due to a type of systemic shutdown, the athletes were unable to continue working out while the same exercises, with the same weight and longer rests were no problem. It was when the rest periods were shortened between exercises (to little to none) that the athletes experienced nausea, lightheadedness and were otherwise unable to continue the circuits. Strength-wise, they could handle the resistance required, and all of them were in good cardiovascular shape (as tested on the Cooper 12-min Run Test) so what was it that was shutting these athletes down? Jones named this previously un-described conditioning Metabolic Conditioning. Once this discovery was made, people (myself included) began experimenting with metabolic-style conditioning workouts.

When heavy strength efforts were combined with short rests plus elevated cardio stress, the metabolism couldn't handle the increased demand: the cadets suffered systemic failure. Jones, and the people running the experiment, saw this form of conditioning as a boon to athletes seeking to develop high levels of
simultaneous strength, endurance and cardio. The programmed workouts simulated real-world conditioning needs, especially those involved in intense sports such as boxing, judo, wrestling and jiujitsu. Of course, any athlete can benefit from this kind of android-like work capacity! Once the liver adapts to producing the enzymes needed to buffer the high levels of blood lactates, huge amounts of work can be accomplished in short time increments without undue fatigue. What an athletic advantage to have this kind of work capacity! You can literally work your opponents into the ground!

When coupled with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, moderate fat diet, metabolic workouts catalyze body composition changes. The tremendous metabolic stimulation stokes the fat-burning mechanism for hours. At the end of a day, you'll burn far more calories completing a workout like this than a longer, low-intensity aerobic workout. Anaerobic work increases aerobic capacity while the reverse is not true. Not only does aerobic work not increase anaerobic capacity, it may have a detrimental effect! Most sports (outside of distance running, cycling and swimming) are anaerobic-based and you'll get the biggest bang for the buck by doing the Coach's performance-hybrid workouts. Unlike straight cardio routines (performed on bike or treadmill) metabolic conditioning can add muscle while simultaneously improving cardio conditioning.

Once I "got it" in the 1970's, I ran with it. I experimented with various high-intensity metabolic routines and consider them a major factor in my successes in wrestling and jiujitsu. I've successfully trained many world-class and amateur athletes using my hybrid performance conditioning.

Another huge benefit of this kind of training is it's effectively anti-aging. Recent research shows metabolic conditioning gives a considerable boost in HGH and T-levels. For you boomers wishing to remain ageless athletes, I highly recommend you give it a try.

As a further method of raising my own T-levels, I have my ever-helpful assistant don a bikini and oversee my training whilst looking pretty. It's a well known fact looking at scantily clad women raises T-levels in heterosexual males. She counts my reps, times my sets, and provides my peri-workout nutrition. Something every guy over 40 can definitely use!

The basic idea of putting together a metabolic conditioning workout is to choose primarily whole-body movements using a lot of muscle mass. The goal is to spread the fatigue evenly over the entire body, not just one muscle group. Of course certain muscles will fatigue earlier than others in some exercises, but local muscular failure is to be avoided. Recently, I've been reading the work of Christian Thibaudeau and it's been influencing some of my exercise selections and pairings. The workouts consist of metabolic pairings in twos or threes, with a brief rest between each mini-circuit. There are usually two or three of these pairing per workout. The first movement is usually fairly heavy, followed by a body weight/whole body movement, then chased with a core-specific movement. I like to include level changes in each group and make sure to balance hip/thigh level changes, e.g., squats or lunges, with hamstring/glute/low-back level changes, e.g., heavy swings, snatches, cleans or deadlifts.

People often ask me how I combine this or that when constructing workouts and today's workout, in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, is a perfect example of how the Coach puts it all together:

Warm-up with the Maxbells Kettlebell Mobility Series
(a joint mobility series I designed making use of the KB, which strengthens and mobilizes every muscle and joint in the body)

A1) Double KB Front Squat-to-Military-press
aka Thrusters
(the difference between my move and the Thruster is I do a full ass-to-the-floor squat)
12 reps

A2) Lifeline Jungle Gym Chin-Ups w/ Bent Leg knee Raise
*start from a dead hang (JG suspended from tree limb or swing set)
as you chin yourself, bring the knees to the chest and squeeze the abs
6-8 reps

A3) Alternating Elbow-to-Knee aka Bicycles
15 reps L/R (30 total)
*hands must be clasped tightly behind head, you must touch the elbow to knee and fully extend the leg each rep

perform A1-A3 with no rest, then take 70-sec rest. That's one round.
Perform 5 rounds.

B1) Double Kettlebell Snatch
10-12 reps

B2) Bench Jumps
Max in 30-sec

B3) Renegade Row w/ push-ups
8-10 reps
*If these are easy for you, do the advanced version with your feet elevated on a bench
B1-B3 are a circuit. perform 4 rounds. Rest 60-sec between rounds.

You'll be sucking wind bad when you hit the Renegade Rows! Keep your form tight and minimize any twisting
(which is very difficult). Keep the abs engaged.

C1) Alternating Clubbell Shield Cast
20 reps per arm, 40 reps total
*I used 15# clubs but you can use dbs if you don't have clubs or see my earlier blog on making inexpensive clubs.

C2) Iranian Twisting Push-Ups on push-up board
10 reps

C3) Two-Hand Clubbell Shield Cast
* I used a 35# club
* This is a very similar movement to gadja training used by wrestlers in northern India and totally smokes the core as well as the grip
6-8 reps each side

Perform C1-C3 without rest. 60-sec rest after C3. 4 rounds.

This little routine will work you from top to bottom and your ticker as well. You'll feel an even fatigue throughout the entire body, with the exception of the last circuit which is mainly grip, wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder. It's a tough routine, take your BCAAs and your recovery drink.

After I finished, I took a dive in the local art museum fountain to cool off, then feasted with my young assistant down at Famous Fourth Street Deli with a six-egg-and-cheese omelet and a side of lox.

The above is just one example of the types of workouts I create for myself and my clients and specifically meets my needs as a jiujitsu practitioner. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think, I always appreciate hearing from you.

Yours in Strength & Health,
Coach Maxwell

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

10 Ways to De-Sissify Your Kid (and maybe yourself in the process)

1. Be a good example
Work out, at home, in front of your child. Better yet, include your kid in your workout. Kids naturally desire to emulate and copy everything you do and there's no more positive way to model fitness than doing it--living it--yourself.

One way I used to include Zak, my son, into workouts was by making miniature equipment which replicated my own. For example, I made him a little 25# sandbag upon which we drew a smiley face, and he named it "Heavy". He loved that sandbag so much he used to sleep with it at night, like a stuffed animal. You should have seen this little pre-schooler working every fiber of his being attempting to lug that sandbag up the ladder and into his top bunk, much to my glee. If you lift kettlebells, buy or make your kid a mini-kettlebell. If you lift dumbbells, get tiny ones so your kid can follow along with your next workout. My friend, Joe Egan, includes his kids in his workouts all the time, and even when we made slosh pipes he automatically made a miniature version for his youngest son.

Forget all bunk you hear about damaged growth plates from introducing weight training at a young age. We're not talking about heavy weight-lifting here, we're talking about mirroring and playing at weight training. The idea is to make it fun. Insist upon good form, light weights and plenty of body weight movements, like push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and full squats. The objective is developing technique and form, not producing fatigue or a training effect, which will come soon enough.

2. Hang a rope...and teach your kid to climb it
One of the best things I ever did for my kids was hanging a rope in the foyer of our townhouse, which had unusually high vaulted ceilings. I had them both hanging on that rope from the time they could walk. I tied a knot on the bottom so they could sit, swing and twirl on it. Kids LOVE to climb. Unfortunately, you hear everywhere well-meaning but misguided parents admonishing children to:
"Stop that!"
"Be careful!"
"Get down--you might fall!"
This instills fear reactivity, effectively decreasing your child's confidence while increasing his reluctance to explore and try new things.

Rope climbing develops incredible grip and upper body strength--both sadly lacking in modern-day school kids. As a physical educator, I remember even as far back as the 1970s, the children unable to pass simple P.E. tests, most were unable to perform a single pull-up. By the time Zak and my daughter, Savannah, were in kindergarten they could climb the rope to the top. Zak was able to climb with his legs in the L-Seat and even upside-down. My Viking friend, Gudjon Svannson, hung a rope in his living room for his three boys, as well as a set of rings. His boys were continually climbing, hanging, swinging--and otherwise supporting themselves on rope and rings--throughout the days. All three boys are incredibly fit and respected amongst their peers for their athletic prowess. This is a great example of how you can make exercise into play.

3. Make everything a game
When I used to walk my two kids to the drugstore to get a snack, I made up on-the-spot obstacle courses from anything I could think of. If we walked by the school yard with the ten-foot high chain link fence, it was:

"Hey Zak, let's see how many times you can climb up and over that fence in a minute!"
"See how fast you can run down to that stop sign--I'll time you!"
"Oh, you want a candy bar? Ok. Daddy'll tape this dollar to the top of this pole--now climb up and get it!"
Sometimes I'd put quarters under heavy weights and he'd have to figure out how to get the quarter by learning to leverage his body weight in order to either slide, lift, or tilt the weight to get at the coins beneath. I did this stuff from the very beginning.

Sometimes a nearby fabric store used to throw out large cardboard tubes--which made for awesome javelins! Or impromptu, double-handed sidewalk sword fights.

4. Make everything an obstacle course
Every chance you get, encourage your child to go under, over, around or through. Whenever my wife left the house, all the furniture instantly transformed into giant, indoor, obstacle courses. The kids would jump over couches, crawl under tables and chairs, dash up flights of stairs, evade hurled couch pillows and balance on jury-rigged beams suspended between dining room chairs. Your imagination is the only boundary. Kids will push themselves to their physical limits in games like these, not even realizing they're "working out". One of our favorite indoor games seeing if they could get up to the third floor without touching the stairs (hee, hee, hee) by balancing upon the stair railings and wedging along their small bodies, using hands and feet pressed against the stairwell walls.

5. Teach your kid to grapple, not punch
Punching (and kicking) definitely has its place in self-defense, but the surest way for your kid to get suspended from school is punching another kid in the nose. Parents frequently enroll their kids in karate school for self-esteem, fitness and discipline but the techniques taught therein work by physical aggression, e.g., kicking, punching or otherwise striking out. From a very young age, I taught my son jiujitsu, where the emphasis is upon escaping from bigger, stronger foes. I disguised these lessons in play: I'd grab him in various locks, chokes and holds (sometimes pretending to be a robot/monster) and he had to figure out how to escape. We also played Living Room Rodeo and Bucking Bronco Daddy which had me bucking, spinning, twisting and otherwise doing my best to dislodge him from my back. It's a tremendous workout for Dad, or Mom, too. Other grappling games included trying to keep him on the couch or carpet while he attempted to flee--at the last second, I'd snatch or grab him and he had to wrestle his way free. The rule was if he could get off the floor or couch, he won, but
again and again, I'd grab him at the very last second, just when he thought he'd finally pried me off. With these games, and dozens more, he was learning jiujitsu without even knowing anything of it. As soon as a kid thinks you're trying to teach him something, he's likely to shut down, so everything was always presented as play. Best to postpone formal lessons until your child has started school.

Most elementary school fights involve hair-pulling, pinching, head locks, choke holds, grabbing clothing and various forms of wrestling. Jiujitsu teaches a child to grapple his way out of such situations, building his confidence while protecting the other kid from a broken nose or lost tooth. If there isn't a jiujitsu school in your area, enroll your child in the local pee-wee wrestling league. I guarantee your kid will become disciplined, respected, and no one will pick on him while karate will likely as not get your kid kicked out of school.

6. Danger Jumping!
One of the basic human fears is that of falling, which is also referred to as ground engagement. Most young kids are fearless and later fears are conditioned into them via the parent. This begins at a young age from constant admonishments to careful or you might get hurt! Falling down is natural for small children, their bodies are pliable, resilient, and for the most part they bounce back up with no lasting damage. I often observe parents over-reacting to their child's fall, making a big fuss based upon their own fears, which leads to the kid believing something much worse happened than actually occurred. Way back when, I read about the Gracie jiujitsu family (and later some Russian articles) which described a system of "baby-tossing". In my former gym, I have a photo of Helio Gracie tossing one of his infant sons to his brother, Carlos. It's claimed this practice builds not only fearlessness but tremendous courage in a child and I believe this to be true. From the time he was able to sit up by himself, I tossed Zak high in the air, by myself or to others. I also held him upside-down by the feet and swung him around my body or between my legs in his baby seat, like a kettlebell swing. The fear of falling seriously holds kids back in contact sports. As a coach, I saw kids everyday
holding themselves back, tentative and afraid of getting hurt. Ironically, these fearful children were usually the first to get hurt, despite their tentativeness.

One way of building confidence and fearlessness into a child is a practice I call Danger Jumping! Kids who haven't yet been negatively programmed LOVE to jump off stuff. The way I worked it with my kids in our bi-level living room was I'd have the kids jumping off the dining room railing ten feet down onto the couch, which I'd covered with extra pillows to break their falls. Sometimes we'd take all the cushions off the couch, along with all the throw pillows in the house, form a big pile, and they'd jump right into that. My kids became so fearless they trained themselves to jump down nearly a complete flight of stairs...without injury. One game we'd play was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death! where I'd grab a large stability ball (so big it barely fit into the stair well) and rolled it down from the top step just behind the kid tearing down the stairs. The goal was getting to the bottom before getting hit by the ball and their minds, the ball was a gigantic granite boulder, just like in the movie, on the verge of crushing them. You've got to move quickly to get down a flight of stairs before a stability ball!

7. Encourage your kid to self-locomote
Don't be so quick to give them rides! Make them walk, ride their bikes or even run to the store. Too many parents mollycoddle and provide taxi service when the best thing is for their kids to move themselves.

8. Teach your kid to swim
Fear of water is another basic human fear. Newborn babies instinctively know to hold their breath and paddle and bob in water. They are unafraid and even comfortable in a liquid medium. Very soon, they lose that comfort, becoming more scared as young children. There are so many needless drownings, so easily prevented by teaching kids the rudiments of swimming. There are limitless fun, fitness games you can play in the pool, including diving for coins, lap swimming under water and towing things around the pool.

9. Get your city kids out in the woods
My son was a genuine city kid and had never been out in the wilderness. When he was in 3rd grade, I took him on an extended canoe trip, camping out on the river banks each night. The first night or two he was terrified of the unfamiliar noises. I realized then just how good it was for him to get out of the city and experience some of the natural world. By the trip's end he was inured to the sounds of the forest and its creatures and I know he was better for it. Take your sons and daughters canoing, camping, hiking and fishing. Teach them how to build fires, make shelters and locate water. By the same token, if you live in a rural area, get your kid into the big city and let him see and hear what life is like in the concrete jungle. As a youthful rube from Carlisle PA, I was at once attracted but intimidated by the big city life and strange ways of Philadelphia. I got street-wise the hard would have been so much easier if I'd had a parent or mentor help me with street smarts.

10. Create good health habits
Nothing will make your kid into a simpering, whiny little brat like a steady diet of sugar, denatured foods and soft drinks. You'll never prevent your kid from eating crap, so don't bother trying. By totally restricting them, you'll make treats the forbidden fruit and they'll sneak them absolutely every chance they get. Better to dole them out in limited amounts. I believe the best thing is to provide plenty of healthy foods, giving them ample opportunity to eat good stuff. This means regular mealtimes where they sit down to a table and good food is provided. And if they're not hungry, don't make them eat--but don't give them anything else. I guarantee they'll eat the next meal. So many parents are afraid to let their kid get a little hungry, instilling a fear of, and intolerance for, hunger in the child. Parents over-feed their kids and may get emotional managing their own hunger, so that the kid can grow up feeling panicky about the issue. At some of my friends' homes, so many options are provided to the kids regarding what to eat, it sounds like a restaurant and the mother plays short-order cook. I say,
"This is what's for dinner and you don't have to eat it if you don't want to but their ain't anything else."

Kids end up respecting meal time more and feeling more gratitude for it. I'm not going to expound on dietetics, but I encourage plenty of protein and fat for growing children and keeping simple carbohydrates to a minimum. Kids need plenty of saturated fat for their developing brains, nervous and immune systems. This means lots of cream, eggs, milk, meat and cheese. Get their little asses off the couch. One of my standard rules was that for every 30-minutes of physical activity, they would buy one hour of television or video games. If they wanted more time, they had to get more active. For kids playing on sports teams, this doesn't apply. They're already so active with their school sports, the extra t.v. doesn't seem to hurt them.

I don't claim to be the best parent or know everything (and much of what I know was learned by trial-and-error) but anyone who knows my son, Zak, can attest that he is truly a physical specimen and world-class athlete. What I've described worked well for him and will for you as well.


Any tips and/or modifications to improve the deck squat? I can't seem to get up from the roll yet and I'm guessing it's simply a lack of flexibility at this point OR not generating enough momentum to pull me up. What would be something to perform to help me get to the level of doing a deck squat...?

A: Try doing deck squats on something elevated: use a treadmill or some cushions, foam or a mattress, or, if outside, use the curb. That will give you a little boost to get back up.
Using a KB generates enough momentum to get back up, throw it forward and let the body follow it. Despite the name, there is a some momentum involved.

Thanks for reading, thanks for writing in your comments and updates.
Yours in strength & health,