Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Summer Camps are here and I get to work with all kinds of kids again---all ages, all levels, general to athletic, girls and boys---it's the best time of year.  I also get to connect with many of their awesome parents too. As I spoke with some of them this past week, it reminded me it was about time to put out this blog.

We all know that some youth sports are starting to become absurd.  A lot is demanded of schedules, much is required of commitments, and striving to be the best is heightening the pressure on our kids. Are we doing more harm than good?

The best stance I can always take is the one I will take with my own children. Knowing what I know about training and the mindset and overall social development, there are certain boundaries and parameters I will put on their involvement with sports and other activities as they get older. I learned a lot of things the hard way, I see a lot of mistakes being made with my younger kids, and I hear a lot of horror stories from my older ones.  Burnout and injuries don't have to happen. Quitting doesn't have to either. Enjoyability and positive learning experiences can ALWAYS be a part of youth sports, and they SHOULD. That's when sports are intentional and meaningful and have a greater impact. When we teach our kids about things like hard work, team work, how to handle losses, and even better, how to bounce back from them and play better the next time, then we're creating true champions. When we focus too much on winning and trying to make them professional athletes at only 12 yrs old, and then make them feel terrible about themselves when they're not, then we're making a huge mistake and quite frankly, should be ashamed of ourselves.

(yes you're right, they may not even want to do sports, and that's ok.):

I want my kids to learn how to move well in multiple ways and movement patterns.  All around athleticism will come from participating in a range of activities, not just the same sport, all year, every year. Even if Gio wrestles like I did, I want him to learn how to jump properly like basketball players and enhance his foot and agility skills like soccer players. That's why we program the way we do at FMU. We have our kids do target practice even if they're a swimmer. We have them run through climbing obstacles even if they're a baseball player. Exposing them to other stimuli enhances coordination, connects the mind to the body, and helps learn better control over their limbs.

My plan is to get Gio into gymnastics to learn unreal body weight strength, flexibility, and control, then hopefully get him involved with wrestling and let him dabble into other sports of his choice. At the end of the day, I want him to be able to throw, kick, run, crawl, climb, sprint, swim, skip, you name it, before he even thinks about specializing into one sport. Let's wait until maybe college for that.

A big mistake I see is kids playing the same sport all year round.  I don't think I'll allow my kids to do that.  You all know what it's like when you retreat for a few days from the office---you come back better---more refreshed, more focused, with a better, more objective point of view of yourself and your performance.  There seems to be this fear that we're going to lose something if we pull our kids away for a few weeks from competition.  But in my opinion, when done right, getting away will only lead to gains.  We know we can't perform at 100% all the time.  It's good to walk away from the sport and focus on some good ole fashioned general strength and conditioning. One of the best things my athletes can do is take a few weeks to spend at FMU for the summer. They get to play, do obstacle courses, work on fundamental movement patterns and speed and agility skills and most importantly, HAVE FUN with no stress.

When I ran the Men's Health Urbanathlon last year, the winner absolutely crushed the competition.  I was 24th place and he smoked me by 15 minutes. After the race he talked with my friend who was the host of the event.  My friend asked what he did for training to become so fast and the guy said one of the best things he did was TAKE A BREAK.  He said he ran track and cross country through college and finally got burned out.  I believe he said he took YEARS off and when he finally came back to it, he was fresh, strong, injury free, and had a different perspective.

I'm not saying this happens all the time, but it's just a solid example that getting away can be good. It may just be a few weeks out of the year. Maybe it's a few months. It will look different for everyone. You'll have to test it out and find what works best for your kids.

3. PLAY.
However we can do it, we have to mix it in.  Free time. During practice. Inside. Outside. We can't neglect the power of old school games like tag, kickball, dodgeball, tug-of-war, capture the flag, the creative game that you made up with your friends with a stick and some rolled up tape. Sometimes during our youth workouts we just stand back and let the kids create.  Watching what they come up with is incredible. This is when they own it and stir up motivation inside that they may have not known existed.  My good friend D Jack says "you have to force kids to do fitness, you have to stop them from playing."  #boomshakalaka

4. REST.
Rest is where training becomes results. It's during the recovery phase that one recoups, re-energizes and rebuilds.  So that 70-day stint where we never took a day off from practice or meets probably wasn't a good idea.   Kids need rest. I know they have tons of energy and sometimes seem like they'll never stop moving, but they need to be encouraged to do so. For this, I always fall back on the fact that God commands it (#4: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.")  I'm guessing he knows what's good for us.

The message I will drill home to my kids is that "Sports are a part of your life, not your life."  So I have to set the tone as the parent around what I allow and don't allow each week, so they understand what this looks like as they grow up. For example, other than special circumstances, we can't do things every day of the week. We will need to pick at least one day where we do absolutely no sports or activities. Right now for us, our family days are Fridays and Sundays. Nothing can interfere. We just signed Gio up for T-Ball on Friday nights and had to really think hard if we should. We considered it a "special circumstance" because it's only a few weeks long.  So we went for it. But this is where many coaches and parents will get mad at me when Gio has to miss a game or practice.  Some things just have to take precedence though. Church and family are some of them.

This goes back to really enjoying the process more than the outcome. You won today, awesome.  You lost today, awesome.  What are you going to learn from it? Either way it's going to build you up to be a better person.  Most of you would agree, we probably learn more from our defeats then we do our victories. So let's not miss the opportunities we can gain from reflecting on some powerful takeaways from the experience itself.

And no matter what, "I LOVE WATCHING YOU WHEN YOU...."  This is a phrase I stole from a research study that looked at what motivated kids to perform well. When they heard their parents say this, it positively reinforced a winning mindset.  I love watching you when you play, when you try, when you gave it your all, and most importantly when you had fun.  Make this a staple phrase in your language and it assures your child that you love them no matter what. Tell me that doesn't relieve some pressure.

I think it's great to get your child around athletes of all levels. Not so much to train with, but just to be around and learn how they train, act, and carry themselves. It's good to see that even the best are just humans and face the same struggles and trials. When I was in high school I was so afraid of the big-whig wrestling schools. I thought their kids were robots or something. Then when I went to Cleveland State and wrestled with some of the best in the state and nation, I realized they put their pants on the same way I did.

I'll get Gio to watch college and professional athletes train and compete at a young age. I'll find some good role models that he can "follow."  I'll expose him to what it takes to get to the top, and let him decide if he even wants to.

You may not think this has anything to do with performance, but performance is all about the mindset. Getting kids involved in service opportunities is a great way for them to see the bigger picture and change their perspective.  And when you change their perspective, you change their game.  When you see another part of the world with hurting people, starving people, vulnerable people, you realize that "big game" is really not that big of a deal. In the grand scheme of things, even if you do become a professional athlete, there's a bigger mission for you to fulfill. So when the time comes to step up to the line, you get ready to fulfill your role, but because it's no longer your identity, you know you're not leaving defined by whether you win or lose. (does that even make sense?)  Talk about more pressure being relieved though. And from there, performance continues to sky-rocket.

Coaches have an amazing opportunity at their hands to craft and develop strong, wise, and wholesome human beings. To miss that point would be a great disservice to everyone in their care.

I just want to take this time to encourage parents to be careful about who your kids play for.  If the coach is one of those coaches that just misses the point, this could create a very negative experience for your child. Some can shake it off, some can't.  I have high school and collegiate athletes who's confidence was completely destroyed from negative coaches, and they left the sport(s) because of it.

I know it's hard, but just remember, just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean it's right. Just because our kids can do it doesn't mean they should.  If there's a better way, we need to find it.

You know I'm here to take a stand with you.

As always, this is all just my opinion. I'm not saying I'm right and I'm not saying I won't change my mind on some things.  I will continue the search to look out for what's best for my kids, and all kids that come under my guidance.

Because the bottom line is.....

It's not about me.

Never can be.  Never will be.

Coach Theo

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Here you us demonstrate an exercise of the week. We have no time to prepare and just :90 seconds to rip it out.  See what happens.

No matter what....

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

SHOULD GUYS COACH GIRLS' SPORTS? Something to think about.

I had a really cool conversation with some of my kids today (three freshmen girls and one twelve yr old boy) about their experiences with coaches.

Unfortunately, they weren't that great. We talked about the loss of "FUN" in sports and the drill sergeant push for "WINNING" by coaches, which creates bad experiences and pushes kids away from wanting to even participate.

But on another level, we discussed MEN coaching GIRLS' sports?  It was really neat to hear their perspective on this topic.

Do men know how to relate and change their approach for young girls?  Do they need to?

Here's some stuff to think about:

1. Do men understand how to communicate with young girls?

2. Do men understand the emotions of young girls?

3. Do men understand the physical stuff that girls deal with?

I tell you what, it really got me thinking. Girls are different. Heck, there are numerous of books trying to help men better communicate with them. After all, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  I still don't know if I even have the equation right with my wife Amber. I know there's a lot of work I'll have to do with my daughter as she grows up. At 7 months old, I can already see the difference in her needs vs my son's!  Plus, the physical stuff of periods and all the emotions that go with it! Let's face it men, we take it for granted.  Explain how we can expect to play our best in a game when that time of the month just completely rocked our body and altered our moods like no other!  Practice is cancelled today girls, let's just talk. Actually, we can't even do that because you know nothing will come out right.

I don't know the exact answer but I will say this, it can be done, but definitely not by the average Joe. After having this convo and thinking about what my young athletes have said, I'm really thinking a lot of girls are getting messed up out there by unprepared male coaches. I have a lot of girls in my fitness programs, and one in fact is ALL 8th-9th grade girls. I definitely have a different approach and I'm definitely more sensitive. But I promise you, it helps having Amber give me advice and my assistant coach is a college-bound female. They get it and they'll steer me right.

So even though it can be completely detrimental to have a male coach for a girls sport.....

I bet some of you will say it could actually be better?

I'm not saying I'm right. It's just my opinion.  I'd love to hear yours.....

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Friday, June 13, 2014



I stole this term from my good friend Matt Parks---a true game-changer in many ways.

"The mental game is everything."  You hear things like this all the time. Through many life experiences, trials and tribulations, successes and accomplishments, you really realize what it means, and how true this phrase is!

You can't neglect the mental game. It is the cornerstone for altering the course of your life. Just like your body, the mind can and needs to be strengthened, even more so.  Do so and you'll move mountains. Let it wilt away and you'll stand at the bottom looking up.


  • Reading 
  • Writing
  • Self-talk
  • Praying
  • Listening
  • Watching
  • Being Coached


  • Stronger
  • Positive
  • Dedicated
  • Committed
  • Focused
  • Calm

It always comes down to perspective.  Once it changes, so does your life.  I want to invite you to a MENTAL MUSCLE WORKOUT NEXT WEEK where the one thing I hope to do, and only thing I can do, is help change yours.

It's my part of my "IT'S NOT ABOUT ME" Challenge Series.  I'll be giving a jam-packed 1 hr speech at John Knox Presbyterian Church in North Olmsted, Oh. June 18. 7pm.  And the amazing thing is our host John Knox is making it absolutely FREE to the community (light refreshments will be served).

I'll be sharing some really important things about my life motto:

  • The difficulty: how sometimes I want to throw a fit like a little kid.
  • The need: how it changes behavior and actions.
  • The power: how freeing and fulfilling it is.
  • The results: how you'll accomplish more than you can ever imagine.

I promise to be real. I promise to be practical. And I promise to base it on TRUTH.

Definitely come join us on Wed night for a fun and meaningful time.

It may just be an absolute game-changer for you, and everyone in your life.

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Men's Health Next Top Trainer Episode 1

Here it is: Episode 1!  Let the games begin.  Wow---looks so much more intense than it was, and it was intense on set!  Check it out and see what happens. My "Its Not About Me" attitude may not be the right attitude for this!  You can watch every Monday night for the next 8 weeks on Men'

No matter what happens though.

It's still not about me,
Coach Theo

Monday, June 9, 2014


1700 kids have been in my audience at least once over the last six months.

I guesstimated this number after adding up my training programs, assemblies, school events, youth obstacle races, classroom visits, and charity events that we've had since January. This is a rough number and it only counts each child once, even the 150 that I see regularly through my weekly programming.

1700 kids have sat in front of me, participated in an activity with me, listened to a message I shared, and/or watched something I've done.

That's a big number.

That's an immense responsibility.

That's heckuva an opportunity to create IMPACT.

Let me take this a few places though as I think about impact creation:

I used let numbers affect me. If only three were in my workout did that mean I wasn't a good trainer?  If only ten were at my speech did that mean I wasn't a good speaker?  When hundreds more walk through my gym does that mean I'm now successful?  I had to squash this thinking real fast. One, because I don't like to stress about stuff like this, it gives me a headache. Two, because it doesn't really matter.

Yes, it's great to be in front of a lot of people. It means your reach is expanding and your platform is growing.  It could mean you're doing a really good job and more people want to be around you. If you're doing the right thing and leading the right way, then this is absolutely incredible. We need more positive people sending a meaningful message.  But, numbers can't be your main intention and you can't let them define you.

Because at the end of the day, you can make a big impact in a large setting, but it's when you funnel people into a micro level that you can really make a difference. Relationships are true game-changers and when you're one on one or in small groups is when you can really hit others beyond just surface level material.

I love large groups and big crowds and prefer being in that setting, the energy is higher and I feel the Spirit ripping through like no other. But I can't neglect the power of the small, intimate, continual moments with people who are in my life on a regular basis that continues to produce everlasting change, for both parties. When I'm on a phone call with my buddies from the industry who are hitting me on a much deeper level--asking me about my marriage, my kids, my internal struggles and prayer requests. When I'm in a private session with my client and we're diving into much deeper issues than just sets and reps.  When I'm with a few of my younger kids talking about insecurities with body image and bullies at school.  This is where you see true change start to happen.

The other thing about quality is you have to look at what type of material you're producing. Are you providing perspective-changing truth that's practical and relatable and authentic? Or are you just producing motivating fluff that's attractive and get's people in the door?  You don't just want to excite and fire people up temporarily. The challenge is always to excite and fire people up enough to take action and keep taking it for the long-term.

"The quantity of impact is great but the quality of impact is even greater."

You can't say or do something just to make other's happy. Sometimes it's the hard stuff that will give them a gut-check.  You can't just say what others want to hear. That's not going to penetrate like it's supposed to. You can't do it for your own recognition. You have to sincerely care about others and the direction of their life. It's not about your status or your ratings or your Facebook likes.

Because here's the bottom line.....

1700 kids is unbelievable and makes me feel very honored and grateful and I will never take it for granted.

But even if one shows up at my training session or speech or event, my duty is to provide exactly what God intended me to.

Even if one person shows up then I'd still put in the same prep time and enthusiasm that I was meant to.

Even if one person is deeply inspired, transformed, and reconfigured by something I've done, by the way I live my life, by my attitude and perspective, then it's worth every ounce of sharing my gifts, talents, and abilities.


Never doubt the power of your influence. Get out there today and help even just one person breathe a better life. It may just be an absolute game-changer.

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Thursday, June 5, 2014

GET RIPPED 4 Minute Drill

Hey guys!

I just had to share this with you.  I've been talking to some graduating seniors about the next chapter of their life---what I call the MAKE OR BREAK YOU phase---and I'm giving them some takeaways that can help transform their life for the better.  These are things I believe we all need to hear.


Make sure to check out what I have to say about each of these. If you don't get fired up after this video clip, you may need to check your pulse.

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Self-promotion isn't something I'm good at.

But results speak for themselves.

This past weekend my wife ran her fastest 5k ever, a 24:02, which is a 7:45/mile pace.

She's only 7 months out from our new baby, and she only spent four weeks applying her new training system, which comes from my MYFASTEST5K program, available on

So you ask, "Coach Theo, what are TWO THINGS that I could do to increase my 5k time?"

Hands-down, here's what I would say:

Hill sprints do something incredible to your conditioning. They increase your leg strength tremendously and build a strong work capacity that makes standard straight land running seem easy peasy. You don't have to go crazy either. Find a hill that takes about :15 seconds to sprint up, or set the treadmill to a 13% incline. Run up as fast as you can, taking at minimum :45 seconds rest before your next sprint. You want your sprint to be as fast as possible. So don't undermine the rest. Then start with 10 reps and work your way up to 22 reps. You don't need to go more than that. You're not trying to kill yourself here!

Let me say that this is by far the biggest game-changer. Strength improves speed. And stairs build leg strength and power like you wouldn't believe. You don't need to stress too much about rhyme or reason here. Here's a few ways you can do this: A. find a local football stadium and run up and down each aisle for a total of 20-30 minutes. You can hit single steps or double steps (skipping one for a bigger stride). B. Find a long stair case at a local park or monument and sprint straight up and down as fast as you can for a total of 20-30 minutes. C. Or find a stairwell inside a sky-rise or tall apartment building and challenge yourself to get from bottom to top a few times.

The key is in training, in my opinion, is always to TRAIN SMARTER THEN HARDER. I know everyone wants to feel depleted and exhausted after a workout, because if not, then you fee like it wasn't effective. But you need to retrain your mindset around this. THAT'S A LIE.

There's a time and place to leave the gym feeling completely toasted with nothing left in the tank. But there's also a huge NEED to leave some left, and walk away feeling like you still have energy. You can't be at 100% performance every day.  While hill sprints and stair work will take you to a max threshold, you'll see in MYFASTEST5K Program the benefits from slow and steady long runs. Recovery runs are paramount and even though it takes a lot of patience to slow down beyond what you're used to, your results and your body will love you for it!

But don't take my word for it. Put yourself to the test and see what happens. It may just be an absolute game-changer.

It's not about me,
Coach Theo