Saturday, December 24, 2011



Think of this as a giant Holiday card full of thanks and wishes of warmth and cheer. Cheesy, I know, but heartfelt all the same. Speaking of cheese, you have my go-ahead to lean full steam into your favorite Gouda, Pecorino or Feta this holiday because you folks earned it. The concepts of Yin-Yang tells us that work and play are not so much opposites but rather complimentary in how they contribute to the greater dynamic that is Life.  As much as that smells of Asian Cheesy, outside of faith, no greater peace comes from anything more that exercise.  That would be Asian Cheesy Bias on my part.

So shower up and sport those plaids and argyles like the great apostles you are for exercise and wellness, cuz in my mind, you truly do make the world a better place. Now where’s that marscapone, I’m in the mood for some Tiramisu. 

Happy, Happy! Merry, Merry!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Can you hear it? Sure you can. The low rumbling sound of the Holidays that started at Costco in early October and now saturates nearly every retail store in the US of A. Christmas may be capitalism’s best buddy, but stress can ruin the friendship. Quick definition: Stress is defined by Wikipedia (Relax, I’ll donate the $5 to help keep it free) as referring to “ the consequence of the failure of an organism-human or animal-to respond adequately to mental emotional, or physical demands, whether actual or imagined.” Don’t that sound like NEGATIVE stress? What if you get promoted at work? Have a baby? Walk the aisle at your wedding? Plenty of happy bride have passed-out on that long, stressful walk to the front of the church. Compare the stress of love’s first kiss to a root canal. Hopefully you get the idea. 

Some factoids: 

In 1936, Hans Selye introduced the General Adaptation Syndrome, which shows in three phases the effects of stress on the body. I'm more fond of his definition of stress as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". Here's a breif description of his three stages in order of reaction:

Alarm- first reaction to stress. Recognizes danger and attempts to deal with it. 

Resistance-adapt and resolve the source of stress 

Exhaustion-ability to resist is lost and burn out sets in. 

We rely on this system to dictate how well we are coping as life happens around us. Many factors play into which stage we find ourselves at the end of the day. Personality type, genetic's, nutrition, lifestyle (sleep, exercise, alcohol, ect) are all spokes to the wheel. For purposes of this blog, exercise, most specifically the "out of the comfort zone" type, will be our focus. For within this subject we can combine opinion and fact that may lead one toward Eustress (Good), not Distress (Evil).

Hormones gauge our moods. 
The big players are Endorphins, Enkephalins, and Coritisol. Endorphins and enkephalins are morphine-like hormones released by the pituitary gland that reduce pain and elevate mood. This is Good. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to extreme physical, mental or emotional stress. To its credit, cortisol’s function is to help increase blood glucose levels. The problem comes when it’s released in response to physical, mental or emotional stress. High levels of cortisol have even been shown to display increased risk of suicide. This is Evil. 

Here is where the mind-body connection comes into play. If your brain is essentially “a thinking organ that learns and grows by interacting with the world through perception and action” (, then my Mom was right, you ARE as happy as you make your mind up to be! Her nearly exact words were, “Joe-Joe, think good thoughts, count your blessings and take out the garbage.” Back then if my actions didn’t follow perceptions, Dad was always home by 6 pm to make sure they did. 

At Positive Stress Workout, we’ve expanded on Mom’s advice and Dad’s motivation. We look to the proper use of intense daily exercise as a means of releasing endorphins capable of producing feeling of euphoria and well-being. “The increase in anabolic hormone levels observed consequent to the performance of heavy resistance exercise can increase hormonal interactions with various cellular mechanisms and enhance the development of muscle protein contractile units”. (Essentials of Strength and Conditioning). Yes folks, Proof Positive that you have to work HARD ENOUGH, but not too hard, to shake loose those important mood enhancers. Practice this nearly everyday with your Nationally Certified Trainer’s blessing that you’re doing it right, and life is Good. Do it wrong or not at all, and life is Evil. 

Always a take-home, right? Here it is: Be creative and intense enough with your exercise so holiday stress doesn’t hit you square in the Speedo. Run the loop at Country Park, do an afternoon Body Shop workout, swim some 50 repeats at GAC, run the stairs, hike Hanging Rock non-stop, tread water for 40 minutes, just do it with a sense of purpose. “Perception, not fact, is reality.” Not sure who said it, but if it’s true, we should count on consistent, progressive exercise is to help us conquer Good over Evil.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


With the suffocating heat of summer behind us, it's time to get back to an old friend, jogging. Throughout the fall you’ll find the streets in Chicago, New York, and Washington full of folks getting ready for their upcoming marathon. Heck, little ‘ole Greensboro had 8 ladies short of 4000 participants in the October 1st Women’s Only Breast Cancer Run.
Talk about Girls on the Go!

As consultants to a few of these runners, we’ve learned there are nearly as many different ways to train for these events as there are participants. But all things are relative, and “One man’s marathon is another man’s 10k.” Many factors play into how and why one trains differently than another. With all the variation, one factor seems consistent among those who do well: stride cadence.

Here’s what we tell folks about it:

Optimal stride cadence (or "turnover", as some call it) equals 180 strides/minute, more or less. The science of this thinking is that tendons allow for elastic recoil if cadence falls into this range, plus or minus 5 strides. Any faster and the muscles are moving faster than the tendons can recoil. Any slower, the same potential energy stored in the tendons is lost. This elastic recoil allows the muscles to work less, as proven by decreased oxygen consumption at 175-185 strides per minute (2007 (R)-Midgley, 2006-Conoboy, 2005-Dallam, 2004(R)-Saunders, 1994-Hamill, 1992-Martin, 1990-Kaneko, 1989-Cavanagh, 1982, Cavanagh, 1982-Power).

Heels are made for walking!

For your stride to reach optimal turnover, you should consider running on your mid-foot and not the heel-to-toe. That method was a “hit” (get it? haha) with many sadistic gym coaches in the mid 1900’s, but no more. Nowadays, we do drills like A-skips and high knees, barefoot running and my fav, jumping rope to strike up elastic recoil and improve cadence. Google: Evolution Running.

If the shoe fits…

And what up with those Five Finger Toe shoes? You guessed it. They promote
mid-foot ground striking position as well as condition the body from the feet up. All that EVA foam at the sole of your sneakers elevates the heel and forces the foot to strike the ground in front of the body’s center of mass (ouch!), not above it ( a-h-h-h!). EVA also slows communication between the ground and your foot’s sensory receptors, diminishing elastic recoil and increasing ground contact time.  For this reason, folks are starting to favor shoes that are more level to the ground. Google: Newton Running Shoes.

No Brakes!

The idea is to make as little work of running as possible. With optimal cadence our goal, the mid-foot, not heal, is the preferred ground striking position. Elastic recoil at the tendons means less braking, which means less impact and sweet stride turnover. So if you want to make it look easy like the Kenyans, stop resting on those heals and get your stride up to speed!

Friday, September 30, 2011


Not known to many of our members is the availability of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, at our front desk. For those unfamiliar, an AED is “a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias” (thanks Wikipedia!). Here's a little more about this little lifesaver.

The Basics:

A heart attack is a plumbing problem with the one or more arteries delivering blood to the heart blocked. A cardiac arrest is an electrical problem when the heart’s ventricles develop an irregular rhythm and quiver instead of contract. Both can be fatal. Both can be potentially avoided with the use of an AED.

-Easy to operate, responders follow the voice prompts them through the process. Once the pads are placed, the AED will detect weather or not a shock is necessary. If so, a voice prompts shock need and the responder presses the shock button. If only CPR is necessary, the AED will notify and instruct.

-AED's provide assistance during Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing nearly 300,000 people each year. That’s more than the total death rate for breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined. SCA can strike persons of any age, gender, race, and even those who seem in good health, as evidenced by world-class professional athletes at the peak of fitness. Google Michael Jackson.

-Once seen only in hospitals and ambulances, defibrillators today come as small as laptops, cost as little as $1,300 and can be operated easily by untrained bystanders. Some states now require AEDs in schools; some require them in health clubs, shopping malls and golf courses. Despite their foolproof nature, some businesses oppose them out of fear of being sued if something goes awry with an on-site AED. Fortunately, all 50 states now have AED Good Samaritan provisions that help protect laypersons from liability.

-San Diego City Council member Jim Madaffer said "I predict that 10 years from now, people will say, ‘I’m not going to work in a building or stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant that doesn’t have an AED." Madaffer helped place nearly 5,000 AEDs in public facilities since 2001. They’ve saved 49 lives. Schools have been a tough sell, largely because of cost. Some parents are raising money for AEDs themselves, often after a tragedy. In Rhode Island, the Michael J. Monteleone Fund was established after the sudden death from cardiac arrest of 14-year-old Michael during a baseball practice.

So here's some take home info from the American Heart Association: 

If someone collapses near you, follow these steps:
•Call 911.
•Push hard and fast on the center of the chest (mouth-to-mouth is no longer recommended).
•Send someone to get an AED (if you are alone, get the AED before doing chest compressions).
*Our unit is a Zoll AED+PLUS, and sits next to the phone. If you're interested in reviewing it's use, just let us know. Hopefully we can now breath a little easier. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I may be a day late with this, but i did write it last night...

Adam Scott posts a big win at Firestone and Stevie Williams, Tiger's newest Ex, gets the interview. Ok, what the hell?

Amazed at how self-indulged star Stevie was during his interview, I found relief in reading that columnist Gregg Doyel of “counted 27 uses of I, me and my by Williams in his 90-second interview—with only one mention of Scott.” With an axe to grind and the possibility of a new book, this cunning “megalomaniac” caddie may have another agenda.

Tiger became America's pinata since his booty call nearly two years ago. His combined ignorance and arrogance planted a seed of angst with all those who worshiped his almighty existence, excusing his condescending behavior as Zen-like mind control.  Certainly when the chicks–hit-the-fan, much of his fandom felt betrayed. Many still do. Why else would consumer-driven ESPN continue to show missed putt after putt by Tiger? These same people want to see him struggle.

This brings me to my question: Where along the lines of those missed putts did we lose site of all that is well and good? Is this Original Sin at work?  Are  we truly a fallen people resorting to a default mentality full of envy and dishonor?  Does our thirst for dirt have us wading through the mire to find helpless cadavers of disgraced hero’s to feed upon? Why do we choose to care?

The obvious: Williams’ showed his arse stealing Adam Scott’s limelight as he stroked his ego to the media. William’s was 27 times the jerk for using the wrong pronoun in his interview.  Tiger? Not even going there. His bad karma could fill every deep bunker at St. Andrews. So what’s the “take home” Homey?

Best advice and the final word came from one of our own, Pam Arrington, a 7-year member here at Positive Stress Workout. Pam explained, in the simplest terms, that without allowing God in our lives, we're bound to struggle a bit. As for our attention to the devious, she paraphrased Philippians 4:8 (I checked, she nailed it) : “whatsoever things are true, honest, just pure lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Thanks be to God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

BIG Dope

Should we be outraged? Druggies and liars are praying on our ignorant support of their sport that’s making them rich and the system richer.
Or should we be ashamed? Funding the same druggies and liars to go about their sport in a way to make our lives more interesting, at any cost.
Are we blind to the undercurrent of deviancy and dishonor that exists in sports today, or have we simply chosen to ignore the significance it has on our lives?
Coaches tell us speed is good. Gordon Gekko tells us “Greed is Good”. Their hybrid psychology seems to be most prevalent in sport today. Nothing exceeds like excess, and we are America, the land of plenty.
Hang with me, this might be going somewhere!
Seems as though the French aren’t the only ones forever upset that Lance Armstrong dominated their beloved Tour de France. Tyler Hamilton and company threw Lance under the bike on “60 Minutes” a few weeks ago. Floyd Landis, a disgraced Tour de France winner stripped of his Tour victory, along with Lance’s ex “stud wife” (his words, not mine, from his book “It’s not about the bike”) are cooperating with FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky (the dude who tagged out Barry Bonds, and met Marion Jones at the finish line). Jeff is the type of pitbull investigator who would rather Lance NOT tell him he’s guilty. Novitzky can then crawl into his cancer free colon and make a mockery of Lance, much the way he seemed to make all those who’ve believed in him. And Novitzky don’t sound French, do it?

Here’s what gets my chamois in a wad:
As young athletes, we’re taught to be focused yet flexible; determined yet generous; perspire yet shower (ok, that was a reach). Nowhere was I taught to be deceptive yet honest. Days of yesteryear often brought friendships from competition. Today’s soulmates become inmates. Add to the yellow bracelet that Roger Clemmons, Jason Giambi and Mark McGuire never got “caught” either. These days it’s easier to spot a teenage hooker then pin these jackoffs. What am I gonna be forced to blog next? “Say Hey Willie” on amphetamines?  Please, just say it ain’t so, Joe.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The writing on The Wall

Pedaling through the foothills near Hanging Rock State Park, my buddy Mo and I began discussing the propensity people have to bail on exercise, may I say, before it kicks in. Upon realization that we were a few hours out with a few more to get back, we began to quietly question our own resolve, hence the discussion. Neither one of us tends to make much sense, but on this particular day we managed to channel our inner Lance/Buddha/Jesus (wait, that’s who Lance thinks he is!) and come up with some interesting commentary.

Main points included:

>Intensity forces us to make a choice, a commitment. Present day society is not all too inclined toward such things. There in lies the possibility of pain and anguish.

>The spoils of exercise are quite charming, yet the price can often place folks outside their comfort budget. Know someone who quit making payments on a car they just had to have? Ever  cut a 50-minute workout short because you convinced yourself you’d done enough? Us too.

>What about “Hitting the Wall”?: How many folks really know what they’re talking about when they’re talking about it? Our guess is they’re just guessing.

>“Where can we find a good porchetta panini around here?”
(blood sugar dropped and we got a little distracted)

What’s obvious: Intensity is relative. One man’s marathon is another man’s 5k. Strength is for the choosing, a gift of engaging life’s struggles. Not so much an award, for often awards go to the victor. In this context the gift is divine, to be valued and utilized throughout life’s endless challenges. Case in point is our fitness. We use it to do many things, from treating depression to improving memory, with the power to cure a host of problems while preventing even more.

If you believe fact is not reality, and that perception serves as truth, then exercise should be your ally. Exercise at vigorous levels increase the release of geeky stuff like neurotransmitters and endorphins. These little gems affect the reward centers of the brain that mimic those of highly addictive drugs like morphine. The problem for most folks is this process doesn’t really kick into your workout until you’re at the 30-minute mark. Unfortunately this lag time creates a sad reality: The discomfort of exercise is more immediately felt than its benefits. This creates a lapse in time between the pain and pleasure elements of exercise, sadly disappointing our need for immediate gratification.

“The Bottom Line”: The Wall (sorry Pink Floyd, no royalties here) is a sacred place where much can be learned. Great counsel can be found in the writings found on The Wall. Guidance you can’t read anywhere else. It’s kind of a Lord of the Rings thing, just a sweatier Gandalph clenching a kettle bell. Which brings to mind a quote by our Celtic little buddy: “Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” Alright, a bit heavy on the imagery, but evidence that even J.R. Tolkien can relate to sort of privileged education exclusive to those who push beyond the limits our egos and society place upon us.

“What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

-Richard Bach

Often our lives, like exercise, pose opportunity disguised as hard work. We should keep in mind not to fear the reaper. Just keep pushing ourselves close enough to The Wall that we can read the fine print. And maybe, if we squint a enough, we’ll see the panini on the other side.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

THE Baxter Blog

Hear that noise? Sound familiar? It should. It's the sound of all those New Year's resolutions coming to a screeching halt. Kind of a post-Valentine's, pre-Tax Day annual occurrence, often falling on the day after St. Paddy's. All that collective ambition, no cumulative results. Why the heck can't we learn from our mistakes? Come on someone! Give a better way! Enter Baxter.

Even if you read my last blog," Each Day A Lifetime", you will hopefully allow me the opportunity to draw-off one more experience from our snowboard trip last February. 

The details:

It was zero degrees at the base of the mountain on a Monday morning. Lift lines were anemic with weekend vacationers gone, students in school, and most retirees hibernating from the stinging cold. Most I say, but not Baxter.

My buds and I were waiting for the high speed quad chair lift to take us up to the top of Big Burn run when an elderly, spry gent jumped into line and joined us for the ride. He was a tall, lean skier with modest equipment. He was wearing a combination of ol' school helmet, googles and bandana covering the remainder of his face like back in the wild west. We could faintly determine through his yellow lens that he had that old, weathered look to his skin. But his eyes, even through the fogged goggles, spoke of passionate youth and engaged interest.

"Where you from?" we asked. Odessa Texas, he replied in a deep, gravelly voice. "Been here since '75." We felt pretty safe in our assumption that Baxter was beyond retirement age, but hesitant to assume any more than that about this man. We continued our attentive inquiry. Baxter told us of how he was an oil rig repairman who started "his own deal" and now lives "a mile down the mountain". We were all taken back by the genuine nature of his demeanor, and held on to each word. After I finally mustered the courage to ask how old he was, he proudly admitted he was 77. I just had to ask what his secret was. "Well, if it's not too cold, I ski a little everyday." My first thought was, dang, it's zero freakin' degrees! Along with that it's ten in the morning and he's already got at least five runs under his belt on a very big mountain. Personally, I felt feebly boyish next to this man's man.

Baxt (get it?) to the moral of this story. The promise of fitness is an empty one for those who habitually fluctuate from trendy to apathy. Ownership of one's health and wellness is achieved through courageously treading the lines of fatigue and frivolity, weakness and regeneration, oblivion and awareness. The secret lie not in the"latest and greatest", but finding what you love to do and "earning that shower everyday". Those words are scripture at our Positive Stress Workout. 

Bottom line: Our blessings are our renewal. If we live through our blessings, we are renewed. If we live through obligation, we simply burn out. Baxter set the example by side stepping the trendy and abiding in the authentic.

"Consistency is the foundation of virtue."
                         -Francis Bacon

Moral character in today's world is a hard find. What better place is there for us to take example than an old timer with the courage and consistency to be steady when everything shakes?  A little everyday can take you a long way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It was that time again, and I was driving to the airport starting our 16th annual "Dudes Only" snowboard trip. Unfortunately, I was in a frame of mind far from the joy that awaits on the mountain. I'm sure you know the deal: lost hours at work, bills piling up, already missing the family. Yep, boo'hoo.

Interestingly, once I was on the airplane, I began to remember why we've done this for so many years. "Life is what happens while we are planning other things." The metaphoric "cup" that represents our lives can "runneth over", often without warning. What often follows is a red-lining of our mind/body limits that can negatively change our perception of the world around us. If it's true that "you can't put anything into a full glass", then it was certainly my time to purge. Only at this point of emptying are we able to once again enjoy life's blessings: having great club members, saving for the future, that Sunday morning run, and a sweet wife's hug.

Application: Next time you strap on those Pro Keds (ol'skool, baby!) to get your workout fix, take a step back and check yourself. How? Take a few "yoga breaths" (deep, diaphramic breaths that infiltrate your lungs with oxygen and helps clear your mind). Once you've found your "center" (not necessarily a place, but in this sense, a quiet mind and relaxed body)  begin focusing on what's exciting about your workout. Not yesterday's, not tomorrow's, but the workout you're about to put yourself through. Your goal should be to fully engage in each rep, each breath, each moment, both work and recovery. 

"Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee."  -Montaigne

Repeat this process of 'being in the moment" each and every workout, and you'll find it carry over to other avenues of your life. I know what you're thinking and no, I didn't just see this on Dr. Phil. Our workouts provide a wonderful starting point to rid our lives of stress, mental clutter, and chaos. Best of all, it's a process of achieving positive (love that word!) mindfulness that improves with daily practice, just like exercise.

Speaking of that sweet wife, she got me moved to First Class on my connecting flight. Let me rub it in a little: the big, squishy leather seat, the hot-towel, the sorbet, and oh yes, those warm cookies from the oven. Yes, I was finally back to living in the moment. 
Our flight attendant asked me, "Would you like a glass of wine?". 
"No thanks", I replied, "Empty's fine with me."

Less is more,

Joey Motsay, CSCS
Owner and operator
Positive Stress Workout

Friday, January 21, 2011


We were in the cool down phase of some serious early morning Spinzycling at Positive Stress Workout when an interesting topic came up. I was observing the post-exercise, pleasantly exhausted, blank facial stare that most riders were sporting and thought of an interesting article I'd read earlier on training intensity. It came from Outside magazine (December 2010/"Beware of the Black Hole") and basically stated many exercisers get "sucked into the black hole", a workout intensity that is neither hard nor easy. As the article states, it "falls somewhere between a piece-of-cake recovery pace and a hellishly intense interval session." The majority of the article is supported by research performed by exercise scientist Stephen Seller, who's study was published a The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He states "Middle-of-the-dial efforts just produce middle-of-the-pack results." Carl Foster, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, contributes to the article by discussing one's "Lactate Threshold" (the point where "your body shifts from aerobic to anaerobic training". You know when your thighs start to burn a little on that beloved Stairmaster? That's you breaching your lactate threshold) and the importance of training well above that threshold for your body to adapt and become stronger. Falling short of this point during exercise "won't get you as strong as intervals but will leave you just as fatigued".  Foster concludes by also explaining middle-of-the-dial exercise will not fully allow your body to fully "recharge" for the next high intensity workout.

Such a scenario would be most unfortunate, and often is the case for many of us who follow this paradigm. Black Hole workouts lack proper increases in intensity, become stagnant and frustrate many well-intended exercisers.  Our take on this method of training? In short, the large majority of our members are middle aged or thereabouts, and jazzed about boosting their metabolic rate as quickly and safely as possible. So, based on what we've learned via research and practical experience, low to moderate efforts are great for establishing a solid fitness base. Beginners looking to get fit and not get hurt are wise to go this route. Once strong enough, interval based workouts with adequate recovery are critical to boost muscle and/or cardiovascular strength. A great trainer named Sonni Vestal once told me "Most people simply don't train hard enough on the hard days, or easy enough on the easy days." Others folks, many of which being much smarter that me, shun recovery runs as being an oxymoron, premise being the impact creates to much musculoskeletal and metabolic stress to recover. What is certain is the body MUST have adequate time to repair tissues and replenish energy stores. Those who do follow this golden rule fall victim to "overtraining" syndromes, many of which are  characterized by decreased performance, depression and even injury from overuse.

Bottom Line: If you're gonna work hard, you gotta rest hard. Your goals will dictate how your workouts should be structured for adequate training stimulus and recovery. We got plenty of ideas you can connect with at Running a half-marathon this spring? Great! Progress your milage specific to the race, run some hills, and maybe try swapping that 3 mile recovery run for a massage and a matinee. It's up to you whether or not to smuggle-in the candy.

Train with your brain,

Joey Motsay, CSCS
Owner and operator
Positive Stress Workout