Sport Science, We Are In This Together.

Back in 2008, I was working at a training centre and during a down time in the year we were told that the centre was going to be painted. Instead of taking a few days off the boss hunkered us all down to strategically plan.  It was then that I was first asked, “what sport do you want to champion.”  My response was simple, “I am not concerned with the sport as much as the process of athlete development.”

I was recently asked the same question. Again my response was simple, “I am not concerned with the sport as much as the process of athlete development.”  Yet this time I was able to articulate my rationale.  I went on to state, “My resume has quite a varied field of sports and athletic abilities associated with it.  I take the approach that all participants or athletes have various aspects of performance and that performance fits a bandwidth. The challenge then is to identify the gaps in the performance and narrow the gap of where they are to where they need to be. It’s simple problem solving, and building a strategic plan to accomplish such a challenge.” I said  that I hoped my response did not come across as egotistical but I find the beauty of performance in many events that could range from sports such as hockey, dance to free style ski.  What will help to shrink the gap in performance.

As  a Sport Physiologist, and spent a majority of my time assisting in the management of sport science services to organizations and coaches.  I wore a number of hats; physiologist, the strength coach, and the educator for staff, coaches and athletes.  When I was young, I had little understanding how all sport science aspects interacted, how they all fit, so I avoided it. Then as I got a few years under my belt, I began the “this is my hammer and every problem (gap) is a nail.” But if I learnt anything from Dr. David Smith, Rosie Neil, Dr. Matt Jordan or Scott Maw, it’s that addressing the gap is a puzzle, a 1000 piece puzzle with a bout 200 extra pieces that can fit in place of others.  There are numerous solutions but I was also able to start to see the simplicity in the puzzles, and the puzzle will never be completed, it’s just finished enough to make out most of the picture.

In elite sport, it’s a pretty small sample size of athletes and support.  I have always believed that working with elite sport is not difficult.  You have great athletes, coaches and professionals, a strong support team where the individual participants can deliver their expertise, and just don’t blow the athletes up. It is more complicated than that, but that’s the Cole’s notes. What about at the grass roots?  According to Statistics Canada over one in four Canadians (27%) aged 15 and older regularly participated in sports in 2016, with hockey (of course) topping the list.  With a population of 37.9 million in Canada that is 29.59 million participants in sport after the age of 15 years.  In comparison, the population of Canada is roughly equal to the population of California. This poses two thoughts.

  1. With the number of participants across all sports relatively small in the grand scheme of total population, how do we build better athletes at the bottom and allow them the opportunity to find success at their own determined level?
  2. With a number that large, how do you deliver service and education to the athletes that are in a sport organization?

The key is to help develop and educate the coaches.  Bring the best support to the coaches and sport organization that is appropriate to their situation. That is where an experienced Sport Scientist comes in. That person should be collaborating with the coach, and not dictating; this is a relationship. This person should help the coach identify 1-2 key questions that need to be answered and that question has measurable impact on performance. Think SMART goals. And this person should be able to show the impact or change that the intervention has had for the team.


Sport as a Problem Solving Process



For most of the people in sport, there are a number of questions that require answering and it is a benefit to have the outside view to identify the key questions that can be or should be answered. This will require the gathering of information, where it is key to make observation about the sport and the athletes. When the necessary information is gathered, it is time to identify the solution.  This step must be strategic, and may include a new stimulus or in some cases, require that stimulus is removed.  Too many cooks in the kitchen ruin the soup. Here we can ask with the information gathered, what can be changed that will improve performance the most or what are the goals of your training program? Creating a plan must now take all the above factors into account to write a program that will achieve the identified goals

Implementing the plan, I think is one of the easier steps.  This is the point that coaches all enjoy… the coaching.  It feels like this is the calm before the storm.  But we cannot forget to plan to assess the outcome. Ultimately assessment is competition and how much did performance improve, or not improve. However, this may also include sport science testing. The value in sport science testing is that this provides more control over the random influences of sport performance and can provide specific information about components of performance. Where this process can become confusing is when it is now applied to more than just the training environment.



The above steps can be an should be applied to all aspects of the training environment, as seen in the figure above. But that is a big undertaking to a coach, and as I have been told in the past, it is very overwhelming.  Start simple and decide the biggest question you have, and reach out to your support network. There are great people out there willing to help. And the 2020 slogan phrase of “we are in this together” is applicable to the area of sport science as well.




WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CAREER BECOMES YOUR WHOLE IDENTITY ( resonated with me. A lay off will do that to a person I guess, question their existence, their purpose and their future. Unlike in the article, I fortunately loved my job, and according to my wife a little too much at times. It was hard not to. People set their sights on career markers and in sport science, many aim to work with professional organizations. For me that was never the draw, where I was, was where I exactly wanted to be. I relished in the challenges, I had a deep appreciation for the athletes and the opportunities, and the staff were people I cared about.

But in the song ILLENIUM by Jon Bellion he sings, “I’m coming to terms with a broken heart. I guess that sometimes good things fall apart.” June 25th at roughly 4:30. I’ll never forget that conversation and the one the next day. It all fell apart. “It’s a business decision.” I’m not mad, not bitter, just sad. I always thought that I would leave on my own accord and a big part of me was embarrassed. We all have pride; some people it is possessions, some status at work, but for me it was the role. Not bad for a kid who had a teacher say, “he’s not going to amount to anything.”. The day I was asked to join my former work, I had never been more proud. It was process of 11 years of school, making great connections, demonstrating work ethic, and gaining the experience so that I could get my foot in the door. When the first Monday after the layoff came, I woke up and asked Google Assistant my daily routine. It plays the local news, then the world news. At the end, it tells me my daily schedule, but this time is said “you have nothing on the schedule for today.” That struck me like a kick to the stomach, and for the first time in my working career, I had no plan and/ or direction. I had a hard time functioning that day and honestly each day since has been a rollercoaster of emotions. “Psychologists use the term “enmeshment” to describe a situation where the boundaries between people become blurred, and individual identities lose importance. Enmeshment prevents the development of a stable, independent sense of self. I asked my wife, “who am I if I am not working with teams, with athletes. I have zero purpose outside the four walls of my own home.”

The environment provided pressure to perform, could have odd hours and came with the prestige of working with some of the best athletes in the world. That combined with the work ethic instilled by my father made this enmeshment even more pronounced. The position that I held was highly valued in the sport world, and I always felt privileged that I had the role I did. This could be an annoyance to my family, as it meant that I could justify going in on weekends, working in the evening on programs, not taking holidays in the summer because “that’s our busy time.” And as the years passed on, and I was becoming more confident in my abilities, I lost more sense of who I was outside of the walls of the training centre. The hobbies and interests I had were tied to my work, and books obviously were related to training and leadership. I always feared that at my age, and opportunities within the area it would be especially difficult for me in the mid to late stages of my career to find a suitable role in the field in the case of a layoff. The article above states that, “No matter how it happens, becoming disconnected from a career that forms the foundation of your identity can lead to bigger issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, and loneliness.” I can relate to the anxiety and loneliness, and hope to avoid the other two.

Free time is both a blessing and curse, as it is only productive if you have something to fill it. So outside of daily routine of checking job boards and sending applications, the plan was to start small. What little things can be controlled, and tackling a list of tasks that need to be accomplished allowed for a sense of accomplishment, purpose. Projects that were on lists could now be re-evaluated, or revived. It was also a chance to reach out and rebuild a network that was outside the wonderful people I was honoured to share office space with. But more than anything, a very wise mentor said it was my time to “decide what is important to me”. As in the article, it is labeled as Values Clarification. I was so hyper-focused on my role that aspects became automatic, and I lived the values that were on the training centre walls. It is not that I do not believe in the values, but what do the values mean to me and how will the guide me as I move forward alone.

The biggest learning moment so far has been looking beyond your job title. I have had to reframe my relationship to my career not simply in terms of company or title, but in terms of my skills that could be used across different contexts. My resume was always up to date for the purpose of certification reporting, but now it had to be functional. It had to have abilities that were/ are attractive to potential employers. At first it was very heavy on the program delivery, but over 10 years I had gathered skills that, as I said earlier, performed automatically, because it was part of the daily normal. Once again, this fantastic mentor came in and helped me to see what I have to offer, because at first the my outlook was dire. But the more I am able to connect, talk passionately again of what excites me, drives me, and helps me get up in the morning, the vision is a little more clear.

Am I content where I am at this moment? No, because from the time I was 14 I have had a job or a plan. But this process is here to teach me something. Maybe this was the reset I needed to find myself again, redevelop a passion or find purpose. I have read, and have shared “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho to numerous friends, athletes and students. And it is time for me to re-read and “to realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”

In Favour for YES CALGARY 2026

I was 10 years old in 1988, living in a tiny Manitoba town. It was a rare occasion that the Summer Olympics were occurring in Seoul and Calgary hosting the Winter Games, and from a sport perspective it was an exciting time. There are two points that vividly stand out in my mind from that year, specifically around the Summer and Winter Games. The first was watching Ben Johnson run the 100m. Regardless of the outcome, at 10 years old I could not comprehend the ramifications of the positive test and its effects on Canadian Track. Johnson running the hundred, the camera flashing and his convincing win has forever been imprinted in my mind. The second, was the events surrounding the ’88 winter games. We had a kid, a few years older than me, from a town over that was asked to carry to torch during the relay. When you are from a small prairie town, this was an event of momentous significance. I remember the articles about him, the pride around the surrounding towns. At that time, my parents owned a little general store and gas station. The gasoline supplier left complimentary ’88 Olympic toques and I wore mine with pride. As the games were on, I loved to trace the Calgary ’88 logo, and draw pictures of Andy Moog, who was the team Canada goalie at those games. In 1988, at 10 years old, I fell in love with sport.

Eventually that 10-year-old boy, who stayed in love with sport, grew. Growing up in a small town meant that I played all school sports; without everyone participating we could not field a team. It was a blessing that I did not realize until many years later. To be better at any of the given sports I was introduced to a book called Getting Stronger by Bill Pearl and began “training”. As I reflect on my training now, I had no idea what I was doing right or wrong back then, but I trained, because I loved sports in general. In a small town in 1994, training was a foreign concept, and often if I was riding my bike out of town for conditioning, the farm trucks would stop and ask if I needed a ride. Graduating in 1996 I went to University and knew I wanted to do something in sport. There was nothing else that remotely interested me, however there was no direct route or jog progression to sport scientist / strength and conditioning coach. But my passion took control and I was determined to figure a path out. All part time jobs I had an aspect of coaching, from working at the local YMCA in the after-school sport programs to traveling across the country in the summer coaching goalie specific summer camps. I was blessed to help inspire kids to love sport and physical activity as much as I did.

In 2005, at the end of my third degree (Exercise and Sport Science), all direction pointed to a move west. Calgary to be specific. In Calgary training was not a foreign concept as it was happening at all levels, grass roots to high performance/ professional. There were a few aspects that stood out when I came to Calgary in 2005. First was the immense amount of pride left from hosting the ’88 games. I worked at Talisman (now Repsol) and one of the highlights I showed friends and family when they visited was one of the original ’88 torches in a showcase at the centre. The second thing I realized when I first came to Calgary was the legacy left from the ’88 games. Kids were gifted the ability to try sports that I did not know existed. In Calgary cross-country ski was a sport. At home in Manitoba, it was an activity that occurred once a year, for a week, when the school board brought the skis to the school. Daily I was able to witness Olympic athletes training and I remember asking a friend, “How do I work with them?” I eventually moved to the University of Calgary to pursue a Masters in Kinesiology and entered I was finally in the mecca of High Performance Sport. U of C, home of the Human Performance Lab, Canadian Sport Centre Calgary, the Influences of Dr. David Smith, Dr. Stephan Norris, Rosie Neil, Matt Jordan, Scott Maw, Stuart McMillan, was where I finally felt like I belonged.
It has now been 10 years. I have been gifted the opportunity to live a life that I could not have imagined at 10 years old, sitting in a living room watching the Games. I have worked all the way from the development grass roots level of sport to High Performance and Professional. I have worn the Canadian Maple leaf with pride at locations across North America and Europe. I watch athletes inspire young kids at our facility daily, but I also have seen those same athletes inspired by the next generation of athletes. I am grateful that my daughters have the ability when they are older to try sports that I would not have at their age. As much as I show family and friends the mountains, I still take people to see the Olympic venues; the Oval, the Ski Jumps and the facility at Winsport. Bill Warren at the Nordic Centre is still in my top two favorite gyms I have ever been to. My family and I have been fortunate to attend World Cup sporting events here in Calgary; the world’s best competing in our home town. Once again, something that at 10 years old I thought only occurred on CBC Wide World of Sports.
I read a lot of rhetoric about the down fall of hosting an Olympic game; fear of the costs, the hardships in the economy, etc. And yes, I am biased working in sport at the National level where my athletes, friends, colleagues and I will benefit from hosting the games at home. But as someone who has come from out of province, out of city, to see a legacy that has remained in place since 1988, it is truly amazing. 30 years later the facilities are still functioning. The original logo I traced as a young boy is still found around the city, not lost to pictures or archived, and is a source of pride and a symbol of Calgary spirit. I write this as I sit at the Olympic Oval overlooking the ice and watch skaters on both the long and short track. On the second rink, the U of C Dinos run their summer hockey camp with kids no older than 10 years. And not one of these athletes here today are on a National team. They are here training, dreaming to one day compete at an Olympic Games. For all the negative reports and posts that occur around the decision to host the 2026 Games, there are those of us who have been shaped by the Olympics, and by sport. Facilities that have been left by ’88 have become areas where young kids come to dream and be inspired from events that happen long before they were born. We see the benefits that have been left by ’88 and see a rejuvenation of the pride, spirit and infrastructure that would come from hosting 2026. The benefits of hosting greatly outweigh and preconceived consequences. I see a legacy of individuals and the city continue to benefit from the facilities, and buildings that will remain when the games are over. This is not a situation where Calgary is starting from scratch yet renewing our commitment and spirit that started back in ’88. Having the world visit Calgary in 2026 continues the legacy juggernaut for 30 more years and establishes Calgary’s place in history as one of the world’s greatest cities to live in, and a recreational haven for all activity seekers. Hosting the Games in 2026 brings about the hope that a new generation of kids watching in their homes can grow up and experience a life they never knew could be possible, as I did 30 years ago.

Could Have Been a Made for TV Movie!

I remember the first day I walked into the weight room. I recognized some of them, but others were total strangers. It took me time to remember if that one was Dusko or Dusan. What the hell was a hole check or a hole set or whatever they call the big guy in the middle. Yet four years later I write with with both immense pride and bitter disappointment. That disappointment of missing the ticket to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio is hugely outweighed by the pride I have or working with such an amazing group of individuals. Although some of the teammate have changed the core of guys are still there. Once guys I casually saw around the gym became people I value having around and getting to know.

I think of the adversity that we as group faced for four years. The tough games, the highs of beating the USA in Calgary my first year on the team, and then just playing the tournament of their lives in Trieste, Italy at the Olympic qualifiers. No, it was not the Disney ending we wanted but we showed he world that we were there to play. Medals cannot represent the amount of improvement and growth we had as a team since I joined the team in 2012 and how far we have come as a group.

Our time together goes far beyond the walls of the weight room. One of the hardest moments of my family’s life the team was there. My daughter still looks at the big giant bear that she woke up to in intensive care and tells me that, “that was daddy’s water polo guys who brought me that.” That goes beyond being an athlete and proves the character that these guys have. Everyone was in like family.

I watched for four years as these men, and some boys, juggled being students, national team players and trying to be regular guys. And the long hours in the pool, the struggles of getting their work done or exams covered before a long training camp. The adversity and struggles were real, yet they all came out better for it.

Although I write this weighted down heavy with emotion, I could never be more proud of this team for their hard work, dedication and heart. The made a lot of people very proud. I am honoured to have been part of this crazy adventure with this team so far. Thank you Water Polo Canada for an amazing 4 years.

The “Business” of Training Youth Athletes

Years ago I worked at a facility and near the end of the fiscal year when the budgets were being finalized the same question would come yearly from management; “What sports are we going to target for training?” I hated this question and each year I would answer with the same, “who cares, let’s just train athletes.”  And as usual the group would try and target hockey, knowing full well there were groups like Crash Conditioning that were doing a great job and had that market covered.  Why go head on with that? It has been about 7 years since the original conversations and two things are still true; I still dislike the question and my response remains the same.  Just train kids and people to be athletic.

To be truthful that is a pretty bold idea and would take a cultural shift to get people thinking about training for athleticism and not a specific sport.  People have made a living from classes that are targeting a specific event and sport.  As I said previously, there are groups who have been doing a niche market for years and have a wildly successful following.  However many businesses or management groups fail to see the larger picture.  In many circumstances the sport specific training is attempting to take place over 6 to 8 weeks.  The level of learning and actual adaptation that could occur over that time is moderate and unfortunately the level of success is measured by how much the athlete sweats during the training.  It becomes little more than a boot camp attempting to look like a sport specific daily training environment.  Where many groups fail to succeed is in their model of training the groups for the long term process and securing the by in of the athlete and even more importantly, the parent or coach.

I am going to rock a number of people and go out and say, so called sport training is missing the mark when it comes to youth development.  I am not saying all but many talk about Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and claim that the training is in accordance with the LTAD document.  But the document is an idea, a road map.  Following it means that the athletes are trained according to the windows of training opportunity.  However many fail to measure growth and maturation, and the programs are once again classic programs that are similar to the programs delivered to the senior level counter parts.  The programs lack the physical literacy, the fundamental movements and the play/ games aspect that help to develop true athleticism.

I was recently at a camp and one of the most refreshing statements I heard was the general manager of the team state three key concepts that the athletes must have in order to be in the program.

  1. Be a good person. Represent yourself, your team and those that have helped you along the way (parents / family / coaches) in every situation you are in, from the daily training environment, to competition to even traveling and being seen wearing your team issued gear.
  2. Be a good athlete. Strive to make physical and motor improvements in training that gives you tools to be…
  3. A good (specific sport not divulged) “sport specific” athlete.

I was pleased to see that this successful general manager said good athletes before good at the specific sport.   They understood that the tools developed from the daily training environment will transfer to help foster the sport specific environment.

In March of 2013 former NHL coach Brent Sutter made headlines for stating that Canadian kids play “too much hockey.”  This ended up grabbing the attention of Don Cherry who defended minor hockey.  The debate will continue.  Hard to say who is right?  However I was able to work with a group of athletes, 108 in total and all were tested on general field tests.  When the teams were chosen it was found that those who made the team were not the best at all the tests of physical abilities, nor did they stand out on one or two of the tests.  But a majority of the athletes that made the teams tested well in all the test.  They were athletic.

This article on Active for Life ( draws a pretty clear picture.  Yes there are going to be those sport specific athletes that started young and make it big.  These are the outliers.  Giving the athletes the tools necessary to be successful roots in general athleticism, not in specialization, and specifically in early specializations.  To truly develop an athlete means to build a robust and structurally tolerant individual that can adapt, with a huge set of abilities.  Build better all-around athletes and you build better sport specific athletes.


As I write this I am standing in line at Costco.  Judging by the line, I have nothing but time.  Say what you want about Costco, but the place has almost everything you need.  Almost one-stop shopping.  Sure there are going to be the specialty items that will make recipes amazing, but a majority of purchases could be made at Costco.  Same thing can be said for education.  University is your equivalent of Costco.  You learn a great deal in post secondary, but there are those specialty experiences that make good coaches great, and great coaches recognized as leaders in the field.

I would be cautious to state how much I have spent on courses and learning experiences over my 15 years of coaching.  A great deal started when I met a very influential mentor who maintained that I “do not let my mind weld shut.” Canadian track coach extraordinaire Les Gramantik said it best. “I could put down all books, continue to coach with the knowledge I have, and still do a tremendous job.  But I don’t want to be known as a good coach… I want to be a great coach.” And Les has been coaching as long as I have been alive.  A good coach is seeking those opportunities to differentiate himself or herself.  And I will be the first to state that I have been to learning experiences that at first seemed to be a waste of time and money.  Learn 3 things that were beneficial and 500 that were not.  Upon further reflection I learned 3 things that worked and 500 that I would not use with any of my athletes.  There is something to be learned from every experience, and it is the sum of experiences that make good coaches great.

So hopefully someone other than my mom is reading this because as she knows, I work with some of the greatest strength coaches and physiologists working in amateur sport.  Coaches like Matt Jordan, Scott Maw, Jeremiah Barnert, Jamie McCartney, Mac Read, Quinn Sekulich, Nick Simpson, Chris Osmond, Tess Galligher and Anna Alywin.  Physiologists such as Dr. David Smith, Dr. Erik Groves, Rosie Neil, Jessica Kryski, Erin Sargent and Kelly Quipp.  You mean they are not household names. Why haven’t you heard of many of them… because they are busy coaching and helping athletes reach podiums, win World Cup titles and answering the questions that advance the field that we are coach in on a day to day basis.  Those who are humble, they shall be exalted, and these are some of the most humble of coaches and physiologists I have met. They do not coach for the money (god knows it’s not for the money) or the recognition (because many of them do not announce the teams/ athletes they work with), but for the absolute love of what they do. They do it because every day presents challenges and opportunities to rise to greatness. The very act of listening, asking questions and watching is invaluable.

For a long period of time, these experts were not available to share their knowledge unless you were in the High Performance Practicum at the Canada Olympic Oval or you were a master’s student at the University of Calgary. I completed the under graduate degrees and a masters degree, the Costco of knowledge. And I think back to all the courses that I have attended over the years, the specialty items you may say, that have helped me to become part of this inner circle. There were some courses that were better than others, but none will compare to this May. This group of highly recommended strength coaches and physiologists are going to share their information and experiences. Is this a pitch? No, it’s a statement that this is something that young and aspiring strength coaches can gain invaluable experiences. That established strength coaches could confirm and reassure that they are at the top of their game and develop great connections. This is something that if I was in a different position could not afford to miss. This is that specialty item that can make the recipe of a young strength coach amazing. And don’t worry; I will not bring down the intellectual average of the group. I unfortunately (fortunately for me as I love this team) will be traveling with a team. If I wasn’t I would be there learning with hopefully all of you. Mom, not sure you would enjoy the week though.

Looking for information, here’s the link

Strength and Power Course



Why I Am Not Going To Be Men’s Health Next Top Trainer.

I have been reading Men’s Health Magazine since the age of 14. It was my first venture in fitness magazines so it became a place of inspiration to me. I know that sounds funny but I was 14 and impressionable. And for whatever reason, this publication captivated me. So 22 years later, I still have a subscription. My one regret, I did not keep every issue. It would have been quite a library of the evolution of the health and fitness industry; like a time capsule of sorts.   But the newest issue has a contest… Men’s Health Next Top Trainer.

Contestants can enter in to be the considered the next top trainer, the next contributor to the magazine. Would that be cool? Sure as hell would be. For a kid who actually dreamed of being visible on the pages of the magazine that you grew up reading, that would be a bit of a defining moment. To have your voice “heard” in those pages as an expert in your field would be a milestone to some degree. Let me clarify though. I work in more of an high performance/ academic realm, and when we talk about people who inspire use to be better than we are, the people we look up to are actually people you have never heard of. The “ghosts” of training that the general population would never hear about. It is those that are researching and contributing to the professions that are not on the pages of the popular magazines that I want to be like. But, who would not want 15 minutes of celebrity status, right? I want to be known at the end of my career for my contributions in advancing the knowledge, the processes that coaches use and the ability to place athletes on the podium. When I look back in 30 years (I hope) I want my legacy to be athlete upon athlete that I have had some hand in developing, holding a medal (gold of course) on the podium at world championships and Olympics.

But here is the real reason I am not going to be on the pages of Men’s Health.

  1. My contributions are long term and the effects of what I do will not be seen for a number of years. Testimonials of what I do are not immediate and are in progress. I am enjoying a role in which I have a hand in developing youth athletes. And we are refining the processes by which we develop and coach a young athlete though the continuum from a club based athlete to a national or professional program. And at the end of all of it, a small percentage of the athletes I work with will go on in the sport they have chosen. In fact, many will leave the sports they are in. It is reality. But I will have been successful if they become life long active adults as well. So how do I measure that? Pretty difficult if I am not doing longitudinal studies.
  1. As much as I would like a little more spotlights, it is not about me. It is about the athletes. My job is to help athletes that represent the centre I work for, the clubs they compete for and for the country they live in. I have seen relatively unknown athletes become celebrities. That to me instills pride, and at the end, I am creating change that is very small. I work as part of a great team of service providers that are all there to support the athletes that we work with. We are the providers of marginal gains. 5% or less is attributed to what I do for the athletes. For them to medal requires a number of years to accumulate skill and adaptation, the right sequencing going into a competition and the stars to align. I can and do measure my impact of a small percentage change and to some degree, luck or chance but it is over a number of years. Very little that I can show someone now.
  1. I am a very boring trainer. I am not here to entertain clients or to develop interesting new exercises. I respect and admire those that can and do that, but my job is different. I am here to OODA – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. I test; I observe the gaps in training. I orient or develop the training plan. I make the decision on best practices and then I act or implement the program. It is not done to entertain or set up to be fancy. It is set to produce a given physiological response in a given time. When the adaptation in seen, I repeat the process. And what I measure and find impactful is not interesting to the average individual. It is the knowledge of the human system, a bit of prediction and some luck once again thrown in for good measure.
  1. I am going to be a life long learner. I am never going to be a good, as I want to be. I am always chasing for answers. When I completed my masters, I realized how little I actually knew. To be honest, most days think I am terrible at what I do. Only once in a while do I have what feels like a break through. And that passes rather quickly. But that is also a product of the environment of which I work in. The people I have surrounded myself with are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. When asked whom I would like to meet for professional development, I was at a loss because most of the days with my co-workers are “professional development”. I have amazing people who I learn from every day. When that day comes that I have answered all the questions I had, and I think that I am at the top of my game, I am going to walk away from it all. But I know that day will never come. So retirement for me will honestly be just cutting back hours. You have never truly worked a day in your life if you love what you do. I am 36 years old and I have yet to then have a job. I am not where I am today because I am individually good at what I do. I am where I am today because the support team of brilliant co-workers make me better each and every day.
  1. When I read the entries for the contest, and I see the accomplishments that some of the contestants have, the things that they measure as benchmarks, I don’t really have any of that. I cannot take a picture of the notes, the emails, the pictures and memorabilia on the walls to measure as a measure of success. . To some that is rather “cool” but to me it is the memories and the time spent with those athletes that I see when I look at the walls of my office. This past year was a chance to see a team I had a very minor part with stand and receive the highest accolade they could in their sport. But I didn’t see the gold medals, the flashes of cameras. I saw the years of hard work, the tears of frustration, the countless sacrifices that they endured to become champions. It was funny, I watched the ceremony, and as soon as the last medal was handed out, I went back to my office and began working again. Because I know for my part, I can still do a better job.

As much as I would revel in the ability to be on the pages of an international magazine, that just isn’t me. I am not an individual trainer or coach; I am the product of a great whole. I have embraced the anonymity that I have as a coach and as a professional. And I am fine with that.

Choose Your Battles.

I may be getting old. I may be getting tolerant. Hell, I may even be getting a touch of “I Don’t Give A S@#T -itis”.   But the “industry” side of what I do still entertains me.   I grew up in a small town in Manitoba and close family friends had a farm. I would be out there almost every day. I loved that place and the family who owned the farm is still to this day dear to me. On that farm they had all the animals. But the one thing that entertained me was the Roosters. You put two of those buggers in close proximity and out comes the puffed chests and sure enough a fight would ensue.   So how does this relate to the “industry” side of fitness? Enter Internet and social media.

We are inundated with information. And the issue of the Internet and social media is any body with an IP address can put their opinions on the Internet for the world to read or hear. Heck, you are reading me right now and I would not profess to be an expert on anything. I have a few letters behind my name but in some cases that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans without adequate knowledge and common sense to back it up. And one thing I have begun to accept is that there are two sides to the Health/ Performance/ Fitness game… Industry and Profession. And trust me when I say there is need and there is room for both in this world. I had a very stimulating conversation with an athletic therapist this past weekend stating just that. Let me explain.

Note… there is no line between the Industry and Profession. It is not black and white but one giant grey zone.

Industry – In my opinion these are the niche markets, the fads, personal training and the big globo-gyms. There are people who make their livelihood via training and coaching. Now this is where things get grey, because the people who are the practitioner, they are a professional but they are servicing an industry (consumer).

Profession – This is your person who is set out to not only coach, but also contribute to advancing the profession, the knowledge and research of what we do. These are the educators. And once again, there are those who service the industry who do an amazing job of education. Everyone has a job to educate and motivate (just keep it within the scope of practice, right?). Once again… grey zone.

This is once again just my personal view on the world I live in and I write this not to paint everyone with the same brush, not to offend anyone. But I am getting to a point.   And that is, start putting people into categories, start challenging opinions and beliefs and right away people turn into Bantam Roosters, puffing their chest and starting a verbal dispute… most of the time on social media.   Very few fitness trends have polarized the masses like Crossfit, they take a tonne of crap and also sling a fair amount back. Both sides to blame!

crossfitjoker 2


But what ever you do, be it Zumba, Crossfit, Susan Sommers videos in your living room, endurance races or competitive mall walking, whatever fitness people may find embrace it and just be happy that people are active.   Is it the best for them? Could they get better results doing something else? Sure, possibly, but they enjoy it.   And really at the end of the day they may try a few different things. As the educator, either in the “industry” or the “profession” your jobs are to guide and foster the positive benefits of being active.

If you are an “industry professional” do not go out and state that your training method is the be-all or end all, and then not expect to be slammed on social media etc.   And if you are a “profession” professional keep an open mind and don’t necessarily let your knowledge weld your brain shut. That was some of the best advice I was ever given from a very smart and influential person to me (Yes Andrew G, that is directed at you). And I am the pot calling the kettle black. When I got out of my Masters, I was the smartest (far from it still) and mouthiest person out there.   And the reason I was hesitant to start a blog in the first place was to not get slammed for my view because I was sensitive to criticism… What a hypocrite. There are a lot of people that need our help, and there is a continuum of an individual on their path of a healthy life style. We all have a role along that path.   Know your scope and know how you can best help those that seek you out, whatever role you fill in that continuum.

Yours in Performance

Jeff Osadec MKin CEP CSCS




In Defence of Crossfit?

I sit here and gingerly type with with a very sore and unstable right shoulder. It is not something I am proud of and from what I hear, some people in the ice house at Canada Olympic Park thinks it is somewhat hilarious, but yes I caused a subluxation to my right shoulder. How did I do this? Well, for a matter of fact it was during a Muscle Up! Que the… Haha Crossfit chants.

I did not acquire this injury due to Crossfit. I got this during a muscle up. If people think that this is purely a “Crossfit” exercise then why do we still train our athletes with cleans and snatches. There is no exclusivity in exercises. I got hurt doing a complex movement improperly… without proper progression… and most likely without a proper warmup. Let’s just say in the last few months I have put the cart before the horse.

Let’s back up a few months.
I had come to the conclusion that I do not have the time to train as I once did; for an hour and a half to two hours four times a week. I do not have to move the weight of a small car off a child so what was the purpose of lifting be so heavy as to sacrifice form. I am training to slow down the clock. I want to look good naked. I want the function to demonstrate exercised with proficiency and at least look like I know what I am talking about. I was neglecting areas of my fitness such as cardio and mobility for other areas. I was becoming the athlete I preach against. Do as I say, not as I do!

So… It was a time change. Do things that make me uncomfortable. Become a little more well rounded. Try the things that I was normally skipping because I was not immediately successful at them. In the process I was hoping to challenge my thought process, and expand my ability to be creative as a coach. So I started juggling again… poorly. I was practicing hand stands and double unders (once again, just an exercise).
And since I was not bad a pull ups, why not progress. What could go wrong?

Well, my ego for one. I want immediate satisfaction of success from an exercise. I want to be great at it. Did I learn the proper progressions? No, just got to the bar and attempted to rip off a few muscle ups. And yes I was getting them, but then the day a week ago occurred. No real worry, concern and that lead to me getting sloppy. So I caused a subluxation to my right shoulder. THERE ARE NO BAD EXERCISES. THERE ARE IMPROPERLY COACHED EXERCISES AND IMPROPERLY SEQUENCED. PERIOD. Exercises are not exclusive to a type of training. We have to constantly look at what is the adaptation that you are looking to achieve.

So is this a set back? Yes, to some degree. But in reality this is more of an opportunity to have a hard reboot. Pull the plug on my old training regimen and start over again. I did this a few years back when I broke my hand. I regrouped, reorganized and refocused. This is a chance to practice Kaizen… Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement” or “philosophy of improvement”. In the end this will workout for the best, but just too bad it took such a drastic measure to achieve something that was in the works. Lets see that I am not practicing this “kaizen” again in four years which seems to be the case. Ha!

Yours in Fitness,

Jeff Osadec, MKin CEP CSCS

Some Things Are Classic.

I recently met and older version of myself at a Christmas party.  He and his wife have mutual friends and he was in his mid 40’s and well dressed.  I wasn’t until later in the evening that I found out that he was the regional manager of Harry Rosen.  I laughed and said that my dream job would be to own an old school apothecary… a cool barber shop that had unique colognes, men’s products.  It would be the best thing I could think of next to the position I have right now.  I had a great conversation about things that had that “old school” cool or classic element of style.  So I followed that up on Saturday with a visit to Knifewear in the Inglewood community of Calgary.  Now this place sells Japanese knives, but in the back they have a section of straight razors, hard to find aftershaves, badger brushes, and mug soaps.  WICKED.

And this started to make me think.  It was something that I would not talk about much, but I have a few little things that I love outside of my family and my career.  I am not going to pretend that I have a great sense of style but I do well for myself.  It started many years ago when I got my first Men’s Health magazine and took off from there.  At 15 I got my first real cologne… a blue bottle of Polo Ralph Lauren Sport.  And the love affair took off from there.  Over the years I developed a schema of what it was to have my own personal style.  Over the years I grew a love for unique colognes, and studied the components, the notes and houses that create the great colognes.  I gravitated to the House of Creed, Le Labo and the newly launched Tom Ford private blend.  I garnered an obsession with salvage denim jeans.  I spend $60 on a cab ride in New York just to visit World Brand Jean Shop in New York where they make custom jeans.  Great shoes and as some know coloured laces are just part and parcel of the ideal I have developed.  I find these things fun to learn and research about.   Watching Skyfall inspired me to attempt to shave with a straight razor.  Now the art of shaving is a ritual, not just something that I do.

So what does this have to do with a site about performance and training?  People spend countless hours training to, as one gym puts it… “Look Good Naked”.  That’s a great concept and I too train to look good naked.  But in reality what percent in the case of guys are you walking around with your shirt off?  Yes you workout but I always look back to the little old men who get up and still put on their suit with no where to go.  It is about dressing to represent you.  Taking pride, and when you dress well, you carry yourself with a different swagger.  You have a greater sense of confidence when you are dressed up.  And I am not talking about a suit like a scene out of Mad Men.  And you do not have to dress to break the bank.  It is about some simple staples, like the feeling of putting on a good pair of jeans that fit.  You should not have to pull your pants up or your shirt down.  Tossing on a pair of old school Chuck Taylors.  American classics.  It is about pride.  Not in a boastful but in a way that shows you carry yourself with class.  And that is something that I think has taken a back seat in the past few years.  Something so simple that needs to make a comeback.