Monday, February 24, 2014

FMU Champs of the Month: John, Blake, Mike & Patty

This little hockey stud is one of the coolest kids to be around. We let him into our program at only 5 years old because of how mature he is. The first day he came into the gym, I looked back after talking with his mom for a minute, and he was already at the top of the rope climb!  Just turning 6, he's still one of the youngest in our programs. He does an excellent job listening, following instructions, being kind and helpful to others, and works hard every session. And he has no problem nailing our fitness challenges! In fact, he just earned WHITE Level Wristband already.   But what we love most about him is his personality. Character is everything, and this little guy has a lot of it! Congrats John for being our Inspire Champ of the Month.

Blake is in 7th grade at Westlake Middle School. What I love about Blake is he loves to have fun but he also knows when it's time to take care of business---which serves as a great example to kids his age.  As soon as we released the Wristband Level System, he was all over it. He was our first YOUTH in all ages to earn the first wristband. He is at his Grey 1 and almost at Grey 2 already.  I've caught Blake multiple times helping other kids during our workouts and you'll always catch a SMILE on this guy's face. So glad he's apart of FMU. Congrats Blake for being our IGNITE Champ of the Month.

You have to see these two in action----they prove that age DOES NOT MATTER.  They have no problem sharing that they are one of the oldest in the group, but you would never know. They keep some of us young bucks trying hard to keep up with them!  They've been working out with us for about 2 years now.  Their story is really cool. Before they came to us, Patty wasn't doing much for exercise and she said she was extremely nervous to try out our classes.  Mike at one point had such bad back issues that he was literally immobile on his bed, not able to move.  Not too long after Patty started, she eventually encouraged Mike to give it a shot. He came in, and they've been with us ever since. Let's not forget how awesome it is that as a couple they attend consistently, 3x a week, to work out together. They are also very involved with our church and do a lot for others. AN EXAMPLE they are to all of us. God bless you guys. Congrats on this long overdue #CHAMPSTATUS.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

the 3 running workouts that you need to do

Running is paramount.

I love running and consider it an essential part of getting in excellent shape and conditioning.

Running doesn't always have to be boring though.  There are plenty of ways to spice it up and make this ancient form of exercise challenging, stimulating, and most importantly, extremely effective for cardiovascular health & performance and fat-loss.

Here are just three of some of my favorite types of runs:

Find a big, steep hill, or set the treadmill to a 13% incline. Run up as fast as you can for :15 seconds. Walk down, or if you're on a treadmill jump to the sides, for :45 seconds of rest. Rest is critical. You want your heart rate to come back down so you can explode back up the hill full speed again. Complete 15-22 times.

2. MEDIUM INTERVALS: 3 min on, 3 min off.
Run as fast as you can for 3 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes of rest. When I say fast, I mean it should be to the point where you can barely make it through the last minute.  If you need a longer rest after some of the reps, feel free to take it.  Again, you want to feel ready to go hard at the start of the next interval. Complete 4-6 times.

Or also known as long and steady Aerobic runs.  Head out for a comfortable, relaxing, 30-60 minute run. Even though it's hard to go slow, because our mentality always wants hard and fast, this is where a lot of magic happens. In general, your heart rate should never go higher than 150.  If you don't have a heart rate monitor, an easy way to measure is what we call "conversation pace." You should be able to talk to someone at this pace.

If you notice something about these workouts, they provide variety and tap into all of your energy systems. You'll reap so many benefits from mixing up your routines like this. These workouts are great to mix in on your off days from our classes. 

Realistically, with hectic schedules, you may only hit 2 runs each week.  In that case, I would recommend #3 as a guarantee, then pick between #1 and #2.

My new running system helped me run faster than ever last year. I beat my times in all of my races, including my fastest 5k since high school, at 60lbs heavier.  It's why I outlined all of these runs, plus more, in MYFASTEST5k Program.

It's that time of year.  If you want the entire program, check it out at:

Life is not about me,
Coach Theo

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I love physical challenges like Pull Ups For Zoe because you’re taken to places you never expect.  Grinding things out when you’re empty and depleted opens up opportunities to truly transform who you are at the core.
This year during my “defeated” phase (after a few hundred reps when reality set in that I wasn’t hitting my mark) I started reflecting on relationships.  Not too many people have my back through the good and the bad, wins or losses, champ status or chump status.

But my family does. 

They are there for me no matter what.  And I want them to always know that I'm there for them too.

So here are two immediate ways I plan to BE A BETTER HUSBAND:

These darn IPhones, I’m telling you what, can literally be the best things ever invented and at the same time the most self-destructive. I find myself checking texts and emails just to check them. It seems like it’s in my hand all day, and it gets in the way of communication and attention to my loved ones right in front of me.

So we created a concept last week called THE PHONE BIN.  From now on, the phones are in the PHONE BIN while we’re home.  We can’t pick them up unless during allotted work time blocks of 6-7am; 1-2pm; and some nights from 8-9pm.  It may sound silly, but with phone distractions out of the way, my focus can go on what’s important. I can look for an opportunity to play with my son. I can answer the question that my wife asks from the other room. I can break bread with my family with my undivided attention on how their day went.

It’s a lie when I think people can’t wait for a response. I know they can because they get it, they’re busy too.  It’s interesting how we can come up Customer Service rules of getting back to customers as soon as possible at the workplace. If you can do it at work, you can and should do it at home. And in my opinion, if I haven’t connected with my wife in 15 hours, then I should start with her before anyone.

Date nights are something I’ve been trying to get better at for years now.  The problem here is not enjoying them, it’s planning them. For some reason it means the world to Amber if I initiate the idea and arrange details---babysitter, restaurant, movie, time, day, etc.

It’s funny, as a business owner I create and organize many things---training sessions, workouts, charity events, speeches, birthday parties, you name it. But yet I seem to fail at planning family activities, especially something that’s essential to a successful marriage. 

For us, we have to be creative.  It may mean date breakfast or date lunch since we coach evening workouts and have a newborn that we’re still not comfortable leaving at bed time. It may only be an hour or two, but the escape to be one on one, remembering we are still a couple before anything else, is crucial.

I'm not saying I’m right. I’m just saying these are two areas that I identified as needing major improvement on my part. I’m not saying I’ll nail these right away either, but I’m going to give it my all out effort.

I like to air my dirty laundry because it holds me accountable. You have my permission to check in with me about if I planned those date nights! And who knows, when I put myself out there, it may help freshen another’s dirty laundry too.

When we got married our pastor said something that we'll forever hold onto.  He said, “Theo and Amber, I don't want you guys to have a GOOD marriage. I want you to have the BEST one.”

It may be a long journey, and sure as heck no fairy tale, but we’re fighters and we’ll continue to work on making our marriage better together.

Because at the end of the day, it’s the one thing we know without a doubt, is WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

Life is not about you,
Coach Theo

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pull Ups For Zoe Raises $10,000, Must See Pics

Part of an ActivPrayer requires you to SHARE your inspired action, with hopes of then inspiring others to take action too. Pull Ups For Zoe 2.0 was a huge success on Friday. We hit our goal of $10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Once again, this community rises up and answers the call.  They never cease to amaze me.  In this article I will share with you just a touch of the magic that unfolded.

A jam-packed gym. Team Pull-Up competition. Raffles, music, and more.  Spirits were lifted and the emails and Facebook messages are flooding in about the impact people felt.

Nine hours earlier, a once shy girl walked into the gym.  She hangs out for a little bit watching the pull-ups. Not too long later she heads to the turf to play. During a few hundred pull-ups I catch a glimpse of Zoe playing games of catch with DJack. A dodge ball toss around the back, off the wall, and catch in mid-air, he shows.  I’m glad I caught this.  It reminded me what this day was all about.

Earlier, it almost became about me. Bicep tendinitis and an aggravated bicep injury from last year’s attempt tried to defeat me before I even walked through the doors. It was game day though. I had to show up and at least see what would happen. After the first 5 reps I was done. I knew it wasn’t a good day to do pull-ups. I actually told my brother that I wanted to quit. My pride got in the way. Anxiety kicked up. This wasn’t the plan. So I processed, prayed, and reflected through the first few hundred reps. It took me some time to let go and remind myself---“You’re not in control of the plan Theo. You’re just a part of it. Do your best, with what you’ve been given, on this given day, and forget the rest. This isn’t about you.” I looked out to the turf and saw Zoe playing again.

From that moment forward every rep became intentionally completed for the cause. No more worry about a number. I just wanted to dedicate as many reps as I could to Zoe, CF, and all the kids facing this disease. While 1,000 during training is typically easy, these 1400 pull-ups would be the hardest workout I ever completed. But without a doubt, they were the most fulfilling.

Thank you to everyone for making this day so meaningful.
Thank you to Porter---7 years old with Cystic Fibrosis. For coming out and letting me dedicate pull-ups to you.
Thank You to Dieken---32 years old with Cystic Fibrosis. He came with intentions of dedicating 50 pull-ups to all CF kids, to remind them to never stop fighting. He ended up doing 200 instead.

Thank you to my wife----my backbone.  They say behind every strong man is an even stronger woman. I have a different saying, "behind every descent man, is the best woman." Because that's all I am; and that's everything she is. You may see me in the forefront a lot. But just know that nothing gets spurred into action if it weren't for her.

Thank you to Matt Akers---freshman. For coming out and doing pull-ups with me and raising pledges for the cause. He did 560 of them by the way.

Thank you to Big Mike for coming out and sharing your spirit with us. 100 pull-ups for you buddy, and 10,000 reasons for why you deserve it!

Thank you to my team:

My big brother. He never leaves my side. End of story.

David Jack.  The fact that you take time out of your busy schedule to fly in from AZ, to be in your words, "of service to me," leaves me speechless.

Dan Bednar.  Always there no matter what. You don't even think twice. Awesome job running the team pull-up competition man.

Susie Akers.  Another one who just doesn't even hesitate. She made me green smoothies all day, she counted reps, she stayed again until the end.

Mo Loesh, Emily Quayle, Hallie Good (PR/Marketing), Ally Pesta, and Nanci Ickes for stepping up to the plate and really turning this day into a very special event.  Way more I need to say about you guys.

Dave Anthony and Chris Brown who bring all the IT to the mix among the most important, prayers and support.


Thank you to every single person that donated, spread the word, and/or came out to support the cause.


To the bar.  For making me a better person.

To Zoe---for writing this.

A banner filled with encouraging words from others hangs on the wall.  It's three days later before I even see it. I walk into the gym, still embracing what went down on Friday. A gripping song playing in the background. This message from Zoe pops out first. I can't read any others. The emotions catch me off guard.

I want to encourage anyone reading this blog to NEVER HOLD BACK. Never doubt your influence. Never doubt that your idea isn't good. Never doubt that your passion isn't needed.

Who am I?  A nobody Italian guy from Youngstown, Oh that has never accomplished anything big. I have no major accolades hanging on the wall. I have no means. I have no right.

I do have passion and I do have purpose. I encourage you to find and use yours. If I could do it; anyone can. What a great disservice you're doing to the world, if you don't.

I have become great at failing at my attempt to break a record, but victorious with AT LEAST TRYING. I will continue to go out on a limb for Zoe and all kids with Cystic Fibrosis.  Because I'm learning first-hand.....that's where the fruit is.

Now get out there and pull-up FOR and WITH OTHERS today. It's an absolute game-changer.

Life is not about you.

Coach Theo

Some emails from families:

"Dear Coach Theo,
I would love to thank you from my whole heart. My nephew also has cystic fibrosis and will need a liver and double lung transplant in the near future.
I pray when we need angels to help raise the money for his transplants we get a lot like you. The insurance will only pay for one so we need to raise 444 thousand.
So thank you and your gym for helping young people to get better, it means a lot."

GOD Bless You

"Paul and Amber, 

I stopped by your gym this morning to drop off a donation in support of Paul, your crew, Zoe and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I shared with you that my grandson, Cole, has CF, and that I, along with my family so appreciate your efforts! You responded with a sincere a desire to dedicate some "pull-up" time to Cole. You touched my heart. You are shining brightly with the light of Christ. When you get a chance, please check out Cole's support group, Cole's Cadre, on Facebook ( My daughter, Cole's mother, is calling for support and prayers for you as you offer your God-given gifts and talents in a creative, extreme way in service to God and to help CFF beat CF. Thank you, Paul and Amber! May God strengthen and protect you that you may meet your goals, and bless you with great joy in doing so. Please let Zoe know that she is in our daily prayers along with Cole and all who have CF." 

Our sincere thanks, Susan and Cole's Cadre