All Posts by Coach Dean

Have You Downloaded Your Summer Cookbook Yet?

Let see...



Don't want to cook indoors?

Coach Nancy has a solution?

It's called the "Great Grub to Grill" cookbook, and it's packed with "grill-ready" recipes that will not only get you out of the kitchen, but add some serious flavor to your summer!

From Poultry to Pork with flavors ranging from Spicy to Sweet, there is sure to be your new favorite summer recipe in this beautiful book.

And It's absolutely FREE!

Just enter your first name and email address below, and you will be sent your own copy faster than you can say "Humugity"!


Change Your Stars

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill

I love that quote, and I need to be reminded of it often. I am NOT an optimist by nature. I wouldn't call myself a pessimist either, though. Probably I would describe myself as an analyst. Take a look at what's going on around me, size up the situation, and if there is a problem to be solved, try to figure out a way to solve it. I think you lean optimist when you think that way.

And I think analyst is different than being a realist. To me there is a hint of resignation to the situation in that description. Nancy would probably agree I a bit too stubborn to just accept things the way they are. Why do I have to just accept it? I can at least try to do something about it, right? 

You learn pretty fast in life that you can't control every situation. But you are far more in control than you think you are. One of my favorite movies is "A Knight's Tale", starring the late Heath Ledger. I know it's fictional, but there is a big lesson in there. Ledger's character William is from a poor family, and his father, knowing he cannot take good care of him, sends him to squire for Sir Ector. At a tournament Sir Ector dies, and William disguises himself as Ector and wins the tournament. And so begins an elaborate ruse as the poor William fakes being nobility so he can enter tournaments, and starts winning them. Of course there are bad guys and beautiful girls along the way, like any good adventure story.

One tournament finds him close to home, and he finds his father, now blind and even more destitute. In a touching scene William asks his father "Can it be done father? Can a man change the stars?" His father gently and resolutely replies, "Yes William. If he believe enough, a man can do anything."

And that's exactly how William Thatcher becomes Sir William.

Just a story? Maybe. 

But I've had the privilege of seeing many people change their stars. Lose massive amounts of weight. Be able to flush their once necessary meds down the drain. Make weak muscles strong and achy bones healthy. 

They do it because they believe they can. Because they are problem solvers. Because when life knock them down they get up just one more time.

Change The Stars. Change YOUR Stars.

I believe in you.

Coach Dean

I Don’t Feel Like It

I didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. I didn't sleep well, had a lot on my mind in the middle of the night, and was kind of cranky.

I didn't feel like training this morning. The thought of getting under the bar for some heavy squats just wasn't doing it for me. 

I didn't feel like writing this article. Sometimes the words and thoughts just don't come, and I didn't want to wrestle with it.

And I did all of it anyway.


Well it really does not change the situation to stay on bed and mope. So I got up, did some reading and office work. When I saw Nancy I matter-of-factly told her I was in kind of a bad mood. "Noticing and Naming". Doesn't do any good to ignore it and bite someone's head off because of it. She responded kindly, gave me a little room, and everything is cool. 

Next was taking Andrew to work and then hitting my workout with my Monday training partners, who I always enjoy seeing. Did our thing, warmed up, and then got under the bar with a weight I had missed the last time I attempted. Couldn't get one single rep. Today I successfully completed every set and every rep on the training plan. Feels good.

And this article? It gets a lot easier to put a few thoughts down when I open the computer and start typing, rather than milling around the house ignoring the fact that Monday mornings is my writing time. And while these few words may not exactly be on par with Socrates, I hope the lesson I learned (or re-learned) this morning is that while we are emotional people, being driven solely by emotions is usually not a good idea, and if I didn't do something every time I didn't "feel like it" not much would get done.

In a few short hours, just by taking some action in spite of my feelings, some real productive things happened, not the least of which is I feel better.

My mood is better. 

I demonstrated to myself I am getting stronger.

And you get to share in my boundless wisdom. Ok, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. 🙂

The next time you "don't feel like it"?

Do it anyway.

Because that's where magic can happen.

Let's get moving!

Coach Dean

Too Good Not To Share

Josh Hillis is the kind of guy who makes you smarter just by reading him. The following quote is in an article he wrote about Brie Larson, who plays the superhero Captain Marvel in the movies. (You can and should read the whole article here.

"The irony is that people tend to get better results when they’re focused on process based goals (like doing the work) instead of outcome goals (like looking a certain way).  Paradoxically, people who over-value the end result often get disheartened and quit, when they don’t hit their goals fast enough, or maybe miss a milestone on the way to their goals.  They get thrown by each and every (normal) bump in the road.

On the flip-side, people get awesome results when they simply focus on doing the work.  When people just focus on doing the work:

  1. The do more work
  2. They do higher quality work
  3. They do more consistent work

If you just focus on doing the work in the gym every day, you’ll get stronger.

Also, you might find it to be more empowering, more fun, and have a drastically more positive impact on your relationship to your body.  Instead of being entirely focused on some idealized body standard, your gym work can simply be an expression of being the kind of person you want to be."

When we take hold of this concept it changes everything. When we can stop trying to live up to some 'ideal" (usually perceived not real) and simply focus on "doing the work", training becomes more enjoyable. When we accept that results aren't instant and we are in it for the long haul, training really is more fun. When we look at exercise as a practice, rather than something we are instantly going to be good at, training is a lot more enjoyable. 

Think about it this way. You don't earn a black belt in martial arts until you have practiced for years. And nobody walks into the dojo thinking they will earn theirs in 3 months. We need to have the same mindset in the gym. Lifting takes skill, which requires practice. Training your body to get into the right position, create proper tension, produce stability and mobility in the right places. Practice. Practice. Practice.

And it's so worth it. There is genuine joy when due to your repeated efforts everything comes together and it feels easy. When the chin goes over the bar, when the Turkish Get-Up flows smoothly, when the bar loaded with more than your bodyweight breaks off the floor in one smooth motion. It's poetry. 

Results will come. But as Josh says, to be successful we need to do more work (practice), which in turn creates higher quality work, and we need to do it consistently enough to maintain our skill and flow.

Bumps in the road do happen. But don't let them throw you into the ditch. Slow down, correct the wheel, and get back on course.

Let's make it happen together!

Coach Dean

Random Recovery Week Ramblings

1. 2757.6 miles and 44 hrs 42 minutes is a lot of driving in 9 days

2. I never knew the etymology of the word "bunk"...until now (unless this sign is just, well, bunk!)

3. Nancy is in way better cycling shape than me. 

4. North Carolina has the twistiest roads I have ever driven on. My motorcycle would have been preferable to the minivan. 🙂

5. One of my favorite authors is buried in Asheville

6. The Biltmore House is really stunning. The history is amazing, the architecture and engineering is incredible. 

7. George Vanderbilt was truly a visionary. He purchased over-used farmland and was instrumental in creating the first managed forests in the United States. After he died, his wife Edith sold the majority of the acreage to the US Government for what is now Pisgah National Forest. One of the most stunning things we were told was that at one time, when you stood on the back verandah everything you saw in every direction (over 15 miles out) was owned by the Vanderbilt's. 

8. Exercise equipment has been around for awhile. Check out the various "toys" in the Biltmore House gymnasium. Barbells, dumbbells, Indian clubs, a rowing machine, a cable pulley machine. Even one of the first massage showers, which they called a "needle bath". Really cool for this gym geek to see!

9. North Carolina is really beautiful.

10. It's good to be home - see y'all soon!

Coach Dean

Settle Down and Pay Attention (to your strength training)


Anybody that walks into a gym to train for the first time, or the first time in a long time, deserves a lot of credit.

Unfamiliar place, all these weird looking instruments of torture, people standing around gawking at the "newbie". And dumbbells? That's how you are left feeling sometimes. Who needs that mess? (In reality nobody, which is why Cr8 Fitness is the real "anti-gym")

All that weirdness, and you did it anyway - really cool. As for results? In the beginning just about any workout will start to get you at least some results. But regardless of how long you have been training, you need to pay attention if you want to make the most progress, the quickest. 

Good training design incorporates progression. "Progressive Strength Training" isn't some political thing, it simply means that you need to be continually increasing key training variables, usually volume and/or intensity, to continue making progress.

And that's why you need to settle down and pay attention when you are training. For instance the most common "progressive" variable our training cycles here at Cr8 Fitness uses is volume. The work periods increase over the 4-6 week cycle; from 30 seconds to 60 seconds, or even more at times. That's the easy part for you, at least from a "paying attention" standpoint. Load selection, or how much you are lifting, is where we miss the boat at times. If you are not paying attention and tracking, at least mentally, how much you are lifting on a weekly basis you will not progress as fast. 

Here's an example why it matters:

Let's say we are working on single arm overhead presses. In week one we do 30 second sets, and you use a 30 pound dumbbell. Our speed of movement is 3-1-x, so you are getting about 6 reps per side. The next week you come in, notice we are doing 45 second sets, so you drop the weight to 20 pounds, because the work period is longer (not an ideal strategy, but I'll get to that). Or you simply don't remember what you used last week. In the 40 second set you get about 8 reps. That's more reps than last week, so that' good, right? Well if you add up the total work you are doing, in week one you lifted 180 pounds total (6x30), and in week two you lifted 160 pounds (8x20). You see where I am going with that? Even though the set took longer, you did less work. Dropping back only to 25 pounds would have been better, and in reality staying at 30 would have been the best strategy. 

The take home on this? You have to know week to week what load you have been using, so you can track how much work you are actually doing. This is the key to progress. Smartphone, moleskin notebook, permanent marker on your forearm. Any of those will work. 🙂

I was talking to another "athlete of aging" this weekend and we were commenting that the older you get, the faster you have to peddle just to stay in place. It may not be "fair", but it is pretty accurate. And you need to keep track of how fast you are peddling somehow. Speedometers on a car, thermostats on an oven, numbers on the scale. They all give us crucial information, and let us know how we are tracking and if and when we need to make adjustments. Keeping track of how much you are lifting does the same thing.

And to put it bluntly, that's about the only thing you are responsible for when you train here, besides showing up. Our training design and coaching takes care of the rest; proper exercise selection, coaching your form, number and length of sets, rest periods, macro and micro-recovery strategies, the whole gamut. This one piece is where we have "co-responsibility", which is why we are consistently encouraging you to increase load, where appropriate. (Coach Nancy is SO mean, right?) 🙂

We have a recovery week coming up next week (July 1-5). This too is by design as part of your overall plan. You can check out why here: You Are Not A Unicorn. Recovery Matters.

So now that you know, how are you going to keep track? It might just be the piece you have been missing to making even better progress.

Need some help? That's what we are here for!

See you soon, 

Coach Dean

My New Favorite Website

Besides of course! 🙂

Seriously though, a huge shout out to my friend and fellow gym owner Ryan Morgan of Pursuit Fitness in St. Louis for turning me on to

From the very first time I visited I knew I had found a kindred spirit in the founder, Marc Middleton.


Here's one reason:

As Athletes of Aging (and if you are reading this you are one or want to be one 🙂 ) you know how important exercise is. But what if you haven't exercised in decades? Are in bad health and lousy shape? Is it still possible?

These two stories show us the answer is a resounding "YES!"

Sister Madonna Buder (The Iron Nun) started in her 40's and is now the oldest living person, man or woman, to finish an Ironman Triathlon when she did it at the age of 82.

And while you (like me) may never dream of being on a bodybuilding stage at age 75, you'll find Jim Schaeffer didn't either, and then decided "What have I got to lose?"

Stories like these give the little extra push I need sometimes when I just don't "feel like it".

If Sister Madonna and Jim Schaeffer can do it - Why can't we?

If you are ready, click here to claim your free 2-week tryout.

Let's Make It Happen!

- Coach Dean

Can You Enjoy Life Without These Things?

How would you feel if you could not do these things?


Reach Overhead


Walk 2-3 Blocks

Lift 10 lbs.

Any of These

Check out this chart from our partners at InBody and the CDC:

Does this chart surprise you? Scare you?

I don't care what the average teenager thinks, 65 years of age is not that old. 

Certainly not to have your quality of life degraded to the point you can't walk a couple of blocks. Maybe there are a couple on there you have trouble with?

I have some great news!

It's never too late to get started. That's not just me saying it, I see it every day. Women and Men who have not exercised for years absolutely killing it in the gym. Not the first day, maybe not even the first year. But they keep with it and make it happen. Seeing it is my favorite part of being a coach. Sometimes there are very good reasons you are not able to do some of those things listed above, but I have never seen someone who dug in and really tried to improve their physical well-being fail to do so. 

As I share this I am approaching my 53rd birthday. I am grateful that I can still do all the things listed above. But I also know that this is not the time to start "taking it easy" when it comes to maintaining my health and fitness. As our bodies get older they actually require more appropriate activity and better recovery strategies to make incremental gains, or even just stay the same. Nobody said life was fair!

I've had the privilege to train some older adults in their 70's, and they are amazing. In fact they give me hope that I too can continue to lift heavy things and be active as I reach those years. I also have an advantage to younger coaches when training older clients; I know firsthand what a body in its sixth decade goes through, what it feels like after a heavy training session, and how it needs to recover. It ain't getting any easier, but it is being done every day, by people just like you.

I would invite you to read the entire article from InBody "Strength Training Has No Age Limit"

But even if you don't, here's the take home quote from the article.

Resistance training in older adults also increases power, reduces the difficulty of performing daily tasks, enhances energy expenditure and body composition, and promotes participation in spontaneous physical activity.

Sounds pretty good to me!

It really is never too late to start, so if you have been putting it off, now is the time. If you want to be an Athlete of Aging, you gotta get in the game, and you gotta play to win.

We can help.

If you are ready to get into the game, check out your Free 2-Week Tryout Right Here

Let me know how I can help.

Coach Dean

What Kind of Exercise?

In part 3 of our "Athletes of Aging" series we learned that exercise truly is the best medicine.

Do you remember why?

  • Exercise is rarely contraindicated. Almost everyone can do some form of exercise
  • Side effects? If you are training smart and with injury prevention in mind, some soreness from time to time is about it.
  • Exercise goes to the root cause, not merely covers symptoms.
  • And insurance can't tell you "no, you can't have that".

But what kind of exercise should we be doing?

First let's take a look at what a comprehensive exercise program should be trying to accomplish. Our exercise program should have a positive health effect on all the systems of the body we have discussed in prior articles:






There are also the specific physical qualities we are trying to influence with our exercise program:





Flexibility (to include mobility & stability/balance)

Body Composition

And there are various different types of exercise, or exercise modalities we can use to accomplish our health, performance and proactive aging goals, broadly categorized as:

Strength (Progressive Resistance) Training

LSD (Long Slow Distance) Training

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

or various combinations of those.

If you like biking, running, or swimming, you are going to gravitate toward LSD. If you prefer more time efficiency and are more of a sprinter than jogger, HIIT will probably be your preference. Either are a very positive step in the right direction. However neither one of those is complete enough, by themselves, to check off all the boxes of a well designed training program that affects all health systems AND addresses all the physical qualities. In fact Strength Training is the only one of the three which in isolation can influence the entire spectrum, even endurance (albeit to a lesser degree).

The real magic comes when combine strength training with either LSD or HIIT, with Strength Training and HIIT having the advantage when it comes to the time factor, which is huge for most of us. 

For those of you endurance junkies, it is also wise to consider this; 99.9% of you, by the time you are in your sixties and seventies, will just not be able to run 10 or more miles anymore. In fact it is likely even a 5k will be out of reach. But you will still need muscle, healthy bones, balance, mobility and yes, a measure of endurance. You don't want to be the one who falls and can't get up, and all those things will matter in accomplishing a task your probably take for granted now. 

It is no accident that when we design training programs here at Cr8 Fitness we focus on the exercise modalities that are the most comprehensive and are also time efficient. It's why we incorporate Strength (progressive resistance) Training and Metabolic Resistance Training (HIIT) into our Program design.

I use the words Training and Program very purposefully. Exercise and Training are not the same thing. Any type of activity that gets you up and moving can be considered a form of exercise; push mowing the grass, playing golf, walking the dog (or cat, if that's your thing). But Training is a whole different animal, (a unicorn maybe?)

Training uses specific types of exercise and manipulates variables (load, speed of movement, rest periods, to name a very few) as part of a long-term effort to improve one or more of the physical qualities.

The program is that long-term effort designed in a way to deliver the training exercises at the right dose at the right times, in order to elicit a positive response as measured by improvements in the physical qualities.

"Going To The Gym" and a "Training Program" are not necessarily, and not usually, the same thing. Good program design is rarer still. The necessity of good program design is why I am not a fan of gyms that offer a "pick and choose" menu of classes that you can drop in and out of at any time. Exercise - yes. Training - not likely. I'm too old to waste my time and effort in the gym on things that are less than optimal at best, and downright harmful at their worst. Injury in the gym may be unavoidable, but it better be rare, and it better not be happening by doing stupid stuff. Life is too short, I'd rather do what works, not just the latest craze.

And when it comes to that, Strength Training is King and Queen, which is why Strength Training rules! 🙂

Get Strong. Stay Strong. Live Strong.

See you next time,

Coach Dean

Is Exercise the Best Medicine?

In our last article in this series we discovered we often equate "medicine" with "drugs". In fact that is usually the way we think about medicine. Ask even the smallest child what medicine is, and the answer will be something mommy or daddy gives him to make his tummy or head feel better. And this true - that is one definition of medicine.

But let's center this discussion around the other definition of medicine.

"the science dealing with the preserving of health and with preventing and treating disease or injury"

Preserving Health.

Preventing Disease.​​​​

The interesting thing about modern medicine is that the more drugs that we invent, the farther away from the roots of medicine we travel. It wasn't until the last couple of centuries the focus turned away from prevention and maintenance of health to the treatment of disease. Again I am grateful for the drugs that have wiped some disease off the face of the earth and can treat the sick. That is good. But that is far different than creating concoctions that cover symptoms of largely preventable disease. And this trend toward treatment over prevention has created a false dichotomy; it doesn't have to be one or the other, when necessary it can absolutely be both. But prevention and maintenance should be the priority. 


A consistent focus on the maintenance of health makes the treatment of disease much less necessary. Yet we so often get it backwards. It isn't until some health scare wakes us up that we even think about prevention, and by then it's too late. Now we really have to get to work.

In the 4th century BC Hippocrates said "eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise work together to produce health."

Did you catch that?

"Take Exercise".

I love that. We take exercise. so that we don't have to take drugs.

Exercise is truly the most powerful medicine in the world. I did not come up with this, but how often have you really thought about this as factual?

No drug in the world could ever be as effective as the power of exercise. Consider just a few of it's many benefits on:

Musculoskeletal Health

Metabolic rate, endurance, strength, power. Improved bone density, joint function, range of motion, connective tissue elasticity and strength.

Cardiovascular Health

Decreased resting heart rate, increased cardiac stroke volume, positive effect on blood pressure and lipid profiles.

Metabolic Health

Improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, positive changes in thyroid hormone, decreased systemic inflammation.

Neurological Health

There is so much we do not know about brain health and the preponderance of disease states such as Alzheimers and dementia. But there is a preponderance of evidence that the same mechanism that promote cardiovascular health also have a positive effect on the brain. Exercise decreases the loss of brain tissue as we age, and I don't know about you, but I need all I can get.

Psychological Health

How do you really measure "quality of life"? It is very different from person to person. But anything that helps you sleep better, improves your mood, and sharpens your thinking certainly contributes. Exercise does all that and more.

Not all people can (or certainly should) take every kind of drug. Some of us are allergic to certain meds, some are contraindicated depending on other disease states.

But Exercise? 

  • Rarely contraindicated. Almost everyone can do some form of exercise.
  • Side effects? If you are training smart and with injury prevention in mind, some soreness from time to time is about it.
  • Exercise goes to the root cause, not merely covers symptoms.
  • And insurance can't tell you "no, you can't have that".

So where do we start, and what kind of exercise should we do?

Stay tuned.

Until next time,

Coach Dean 

This article is part 3 of the series "Athletes of Aging"