Tuesday, July 7, 2015


One of my favorite new songs  (a head-banging song as some of my clients would call it, even though it's nowhere near headbanging music) must have been written with Amy Haddad in mind. The lyrics go like this:

Cause I'm a fighter inside the ring,
a champion of suffering,
I'm a warrior, I'm a conqueror.
I'll dance my way through the darkest night,
I'll find my joy in the morning light,
I'm a warrior, I'm a conqueror
So bring on the night.
Bring on the night.

It's by a Christian band named Estoria and it's fitting that the title is "WARRIOR." 

If you haven't heard it yet, you may want to check it out here. It may make it to your workout playlist too:

If you know Amy and her story, I'm sure you would agree that's definitely what she is, a warrior.

I first met Amy at my book signing last spring. I then saw her in action at our Hitman Challenge in August of 2014. I was blown away by her performance. She came in 8th place for the female division, in a division stacked with extremely fit women!  Somewhere along the way we became more connected and now over the last few months she's been an official FMU member!

After seeing her slash her 5k time by three minutes this past weekend at Smiles For Sophie Forever, she pretty much sealed the deal on this GAMECHANGER status.

Let me just point out the obvious first:
  • Amy shows up at 5:30am five days a week to workout.
  • Amy doesn't get tired.
  • Amy doesn't slow down.

If you know what makes up a big chunk of her workout regimen, you would probably understand why. She has a trainer named Shane who makes her work hard outside of this gym! Shane is her 9 year old son. He's in a wheelchair which means when he wants to go running, mommy is pushing! And he likes it so much that three miles is considered their short run. Just because Amy already worked out that day doesn't get her off the hook either. "He still makes me push him all over Rocky River!"

If you don't know about superhero Shane's story, here's a tiny snippet:

"Shane was diagnosed with brain and spinal cord cancer called Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma in 2010 when he was almost 4 years old.  He is now 9 years old.  Shane underwent surgery to de-bulk the large tumor in his head.  He tried many different chemotherapy treatments for a year and yet the tumors continued to grow.  Therefore, he had to have radiation treatment everyday for 7 weeks.  After radiation, he underwent another surgery to de-bulk the large tumor again.  This treatment has keep his tumors from growing.  The tumors are considered stable now.  They are still present but not growing.  As a result of treatments, Shane has experienced seizures as a side effect.  He had brain surgery in hopes to eliminate seizing.  Unfortunately, he had a stroke during that surgery and has lost movement in his left side and is still seizing."  

Shane is an amazing kid. If you ever meet him you'll love him. He came into our Rocky workouts during the school year with his mom and would hit the boxing bag the entire time.

So look, here's your checkpoint. You can't make an excuse anymore.

Amy could come up with plenty of them. She could skip morning class when she's up with Shane all night. She could complain about being too tired after carrying him up and down the stairs. She could say that the hospital visits and daily regimen wears her out too much. She could also say that her other two kids (11 and 7) are keeping her too busy also.

But yet, she still shows up bright and early packing her bubbly positive attitude with her every time she walks into FMU.

She has a bigger reason.

"Shane is a true miracle and a blessing from God!  Our hero!  He keeps me going and is the reason I started working out.  I had to get strong to be able to carry and move him every day." 

I always say you can stand in the same room with someone and have no idea what their world is like. And then you get to know them, and their story completely changes the way you look at them and most importantly, yourself. 

If you don't know Amy Haddad yet, get to know her today.  

Then you'll see why she's an absolute game-changer to us and everyone in her life.

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Being a youth training coach is my biggest passion and why FMU was started in the first place.

I work with hundreds of kids each week ranging from ages 5 years and up. A very important factor to take into consideration each training session is, "what are you guys doing outside of here?" As you know, some of these kids are in a lot of sports and activities each week! Well, sometimes I hear some crazy stuff that their coaches are making them do and quite honestly, it makes me cringe!

ATTN PARENTS: Be on the alert and yes, your gut is right. They probably shouldn't be doing that.


Unfortunately, any coach can just pull up a fitness forum and steal some workout ideas, which possibly prescribes a ridiculous amount of box jumps, for adults. And then unfortunately, we use box jumps as conditioning and encourage our kids to do a lot of them.

What I commonly hear from kids: "Our coaches made us go really fast when jumping on the box." "We are told to jump back not step back."  "We had to do as many as we could in 1 minute." "We did 10 reps in the circuit, and then as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes."

I think boxes can be great, just like any other implement in the gym, but WHEN DONE RIGHT. At FMU we teach landing skills more than anything and proper vertical jump technique. The box is used obviously because kids think it's fun and they like to challenge themselves. But no matter what, you must use LOW REP schemes (6-8) and constantly encourage and ensure proper technique.
  • We tell them to land on the box like a ninja, super soft so no one can hear them. 
  • We also tell them when they land on the box with two feet at the same time, land in a squat position then extend into a standing position. 
  • We also tell them to step back instead of jumping back. Jumping back down to the ground can cause a lot of wear and tear on the achilles and ankles. 
  • When we jump down from the box it's always into a ninja landing position. Again, with a soft deceleration into a squat position--pushing the butt back and feet flat. 

This is a huge concern of mine. It is very rare for me to meet a child under the age of 14 who can do 10 solid perfect push-ups in a row before form starts to break down. I would say maybe 1 out of 10 kids can do it. So when I hear how my kids are being punished to do push-ups because they lost a game or they misbehaved at practice, here are three main concerns that pop into my head:

  • I know that those 50-100 push-ups were so sloppy that they are lucky they didn't get hurt. 
  • I know that they probably just developed a negative association with push-ups now because they were used as punishment.
  • I know those push-ups didn't really teach them much about how to become a better athlete, or fix their mistakes they made in the game, or develop discipline to not misbehave again, because there's really no relationship between push-ups and the issue at hand.
I would stop using push-ups as punishment.

When we do them let's teach them. Start with the push-up hold in the top position. I can't tell you how much progress I've seen kids make from getting stronger here first. Push-ups take a lot of core strength. As my kids' core strength and control develops, so do their push-ups. Here are a few starting points and progressions you can use:
  • Hold for :10-:30 seconds.
  • Then hold for :10 seconds then add in one push-up.
  • When they're ready, or for older kids (11-14 yrs), hold for :10 seconds then add in 3 push-ups.
  • Then hold for :10 seconds then add in 3 push-ups and do that 2-3x. 
  • Or for fun challenges, work on push-up walks for 10yds, 2-3x (lateral, forward, and backward. Add spins, add a push-up at the end of 10yds, the variations are endless). Try these yourself, they are very challenging but awesome to help kids develop total body systemic strength.

I understand the desire by many to get faster but we gotta be careful here with these NFL ladder drills we're throwing out there. One of my kids told me they did a 45 minute ladder workout during practice, and it wasn't technique building with instruction and plenty of breaks either.

Why is this a problem? 
Well if we're not focusing on quality movements then we're just training bad movement patterns. The focus should not be about harder and faster but more about BETTER. "When you can do the icky shuffle better than you can go faster." "When you can do that fancy back foot crossover with finesse than you can go harder." The other main problem is the wear and tear on our kids' feet and ankles again. Remember, what are they doing outside of here? If they are playing multiple soccer games each week and on the club team and the travel team practicing a few days with each team each week, then pounding their ankles and legs again after all that wear and tear can absolutely crush them.

I love to use ladders and think they can be a phenomenal way to enhance coordination skills and good rhythm, but they're actually such a small part of my training program, not a main focus.

  • We mix them into games and obstacle courses. 
  • We usually stick to basics like running both feet in each step, two feet in and out hop scotch, one foot hop scotch, lateral in and outs with both feet, robots, etc. 
  • We tell them light and smooth.
  • We tell them try not to the hit any part of the ladder. 
  • We tell them to go slow at first and then pick up the speed gradually as they get better at flowing with the movement. 
  • *For our little kids we usually just let them explore and play with it to see what they come up with. For ages 5-9 it's more about seeing if they can figure it out, not drilling them. 
I want to throw in a bonus here. You know that INSANITY program you see on infomercials? It's never a good idea to make your kids do that workout. 

These are just a few common mistakes I'm hearing that youth coaches are making. It's usually not their fault. Some just don't know any better. That's why I'm putting this out there. I'm here to help coaches in any way possible to make sure we're doing things right with our kids. We want them to move better, we want them to feel better, and we really want them to love what they're doing.

Now, there are some coaches out there with so much ego they don't want to hear it. For them, I'd like to run them through one of my Coach Theo Adult Training Camp Workouts to humble them a little bit! 

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

*Coach Theo holds 6 youth certifications from the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association). He was also nominated as a Top 8 Finalist for the IYCA Coach of the Year.