Numbers are Important

I ended my last post with this statement: “I can’t change the water problem. But together we can? Who wants to join me?”

It’s hard to get momentum by yourself. It’s hard to stand on a platform and get people to sign up. But there’s power in numbers. We need more eyes on the goal. There’s an anonymous donor at Blood:Water Mission who knows this and is putting his money towards “joining efforts”. I’m on a larger team with Jars of Clay. ¬†And if our team can get 1,000 people to join the cause, he will unlock a $25,000 gift! That sounds “sales-ie”, right? But think about it from the perspective of the donor. Imagine you have a cause and you just want more people to get into that story. And you know that the more eyes on this topic the better. The size of the individual donation doesn’t matter – we’re going to win this battle by death from a thousand cuts! Let’s get more donations rather than bigger donations!

If four or five families help a cause, that’s better than one or two. What if it grows to 30 families? That’s some support! What about 200 families?! Now we can make some big things happen! Well this anonymous donor has decided that he wants to reward the power of numbers. This part of the goal is not (I repeat, NOT) about what you give. A $5 donation is awesome, and I promise you’ll never miss that $5. At the same time you’ll be helping a cause bigger than yourself, bigger than me; you’ll be part of a team. I’d be truly honored if you joined me.

There are a lot of causes out there bidding for our time. I get that. I just hope you’ll consider getting in the game here and helping a great cause. Today, I have two people on my team and I’m looking to get five more. Might it be you?

TRX-Kettlebell Fusion

I’ve been teaching a TRX-Kettlebell Fusion class at the YMCA for the last few weeks. I’ve always been interested in both pieces of equipment, but I’d only used TRX in a sports conditioning class I taught while I was at Harbor Athletic Club. It didn’t take me long to put the 8-week program together, and that process made it clear how versatile and dynamic these two tools are as trainers. And it also demonstrated how in the end, simplicity wins.

Exercise, fitness, and healthy eating can be very sensitive subjects. As a practitioner, it feels like I’m talking about religion or politics. People are either really into it or they’re not. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. I don’t blame people either way because there’s a lot of information out there, there’s a lot of sales people out there, and we’re all dealing with a very personal matter – our own bodies. With all this complexity it would be easy for people to get lost or just frustrated at the idea of beginning a fitness program. And it’s the simplicity of TRX especially that really shines here.

It’s not cheap, but for $200 you can have a single piece of equipment that will challenge you in life-changing ways. No, I’m not selling any TRX straps here. I’m trying to sell the idea of an attainable goal. Spend that $200 at a club and you’ll be there for just over three months – and you still have to get your tail to the club to make it work! Spend that money on weights for the house and you’ll immediately limit the exercises you can perform. But hang these straps in your basement, in your garage, or even across a doorframe in your house and you have a full-body workout waiting for you. Every time I set up my class I wish I had “discovered” these simple yellow and black straps.

If you need a workout, send me a message and I’ll get you set up. Yes, there are also knock-off versions available. There’s also workouts all over the internet. But they either charge you or don’t email you back. I’m not charging and I promise to get your workout prescribed and updated as much as necessary. Don’t think exercise needs to be complicated. These TRX straps will have you stronger and more agile within four weeks of starting. By eight weeks you’ll feel pretty powerful and you’ll be ready to add the kettlebells. First things first: find something simple and do it really well.

Out the Door

I had a big website project at work that was hanging over my head. My boss wanted to redo our website, specifically the homepage and I was totally up for the challenge. After a few weeks we had the big changes implemented and were moving on to some of the smaller details that weren’t essential to the project, at least as far as I was concerned. I started to feel pressure from my boss because now the project was getting close to going over budget. After implementing a significant round of edits on a Wednesday, I decided that on Friday we were going to launch.

Most people know I’m a converted Apple-guy. As I’ve studied Apple, I’ve been fascinated about the narrative that other business people adopt from the narrative of Steve Jobs. The most common quote from the late Steve Jobs is “real artists ship.” Sadly I am not an artist. Could this quote still apply to me?

Real Artists Ship

I stumbled on this quote reading various business and leadership writings. Many of the writers, in fact, are artists themselves. But I began to see that “artist” could be painted with a broader brush. I have learned that I am an artist. I create things. I edit things. I publish words. I do more than just consume. I am an artist and so if Jobs was right, I need to ship. I need to get things out the door. This means I need to pay attention to how much I consume vs. how much I create. At some point, consumption needs to lead to creation, and my web project for work had plenty of consumption and plenty of creation. But until that Friday when I launched, it really didn’t matter because no one saw it. Hitting publish, shipping my project was when could call it art.

I was reminded of this principle today reading this article by John Muldoon on Medium. It’s a fascinating idea to constantly be aware of your consumption and your creation. This topic also took me to the topic of exercise training. It’s been a long winter, it’s been tough if not impossible to train outdoors. I’ve planned a lot of training for the next couple months. But planning doesn’t do anything for me until I ship it, until I put it into the world and start executing.

Consumption is fun and it certainly has a place for the artist, the business person, the athlete. But growth happens when we execute what we’ve consumed and put it all into practice. Are you consuming more than creating? Do you need to hit “publish” and get some things out into the world? Do you need to start executing?

Wednesday Mornings

Disclaimer: I’m a morning guy. I love mornings alone, I love being disciplined and getting up early to read, write, and pray. In the summer I like those early morning runs. But it’s been a long winter and (a) I can’t imagine early morning runs and (b) my workouts in general are significantly behind where they usually are at this time of year. Which is why Wednesday mornings have me completely jazzed.

You see I’ve been teaching these TRX-kettlebell fusion classes. One of them is at 5:45am on Wednesdays. I need my coffee and light reading each morning, small breakfast for the road, travel from McFarland is about 18 minutes, I have to set up for my largest class, so it requires a wake-up time of 4:30am to make it happen. Yes, since I’m teaching I have a back-up alarm just in case (haven’t needed it yet).

The class is going great but it’s 7:05 that really makes my day. By 7:05am, I’ve taught, worked out, showered, and made my way to Barriques on Monroe street bright-eyed and full of energy. Yes, I’m a morning person but I guarantee that non-morning people would do this for two weeks and feel the same energy for the morning as I do. The science backs me up here. That workout improves blood flow which makes the mind significantly more alert. The stress on the muscles from 5:45-6:30 transitions to relaxation and recovery soon afterwards. Maybe I’m more in tuned with my body that others. Or maybe you should just try it and see if I’m wrong (spoiler: I’m not).

Mornings aren’t for everyone, I get that. But I do a lot of reading on exercise and productivity and business stuff. There’s a lot out there on habits of successful people and morning workouts often find there way into people’s schedules. Of course that’s not true – they don’t find their way in, they’re intentionally put there by the people who want to succeed and are willing to set their alarm for 4:30 and 4:35 to start the day off right. I only do this one day per week. Maybe you could do it more, maybe you start with one like me.

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The Day After the day after

It’s the day after the day after. World Water Day was two days ago, which makes today the day after the day after. I voiced my frustration that we need to even have a “world water day” but I get it. We easily forget. We need to be reminded. More accurately we need to be hit upside the head. And then (from personal experience) we still don’t do what we need or should do. I’m doing my part to remember, reflect, and take action.

Part of my strategy was to extend World Water Day into Sunday. That’s when Sorin and I took these pics on Instagram and posted them via Donate a Photo app by Johnson & Johnson.

Hans and Sorin Schiefelbein

Those pics donated $1 to clean water projects, and 25 pics means clean water for one person. The pic was “favorited” by my friend Charlie from Jars of Clay because clean water is near and dear to his heart, too. He and his bandmates started Blood:Water Mission to fight for the same cause. I mention Charlie to demonstrate that when you believe in a cause, you spend your time there. You make it part of your narrative, your story, what you talk about and where you spend your time. It feels right that when I do something to promote clean water, other champions of the cause would give a little pat on the pack, give a Twitter hi-five, somehow communicate that they see what you’re doing and nod in agreement. I can’t provide clean water by myself. But together we can make things happen.

World Water Day

I get it. We forget, we need to be reminded, we’re distracted, there’s just so much going on that we need to give an entire day to thinking about water. Even though I don’t give water a second thought the other 364 days out of the year.
Clean Water

Today is World Water Day. I don’t have any history, I don’t know who started it, and I know that clean water projects are kind of trendy. Reminds me of the #EndItMovement I wrote about a couple weeks ago. But the same argument applies: just because a cause is trendy and cliche does not mean it’s not important. It makes absolutely no sense that in 2014 there are people who do not have access to clean water. I personally can’t really wrap my mind around that. I can’t imagine having to settle for dirty water to bathe in, dirty water to cook with, dirty water to drink on a hot summer day.

Consider joining my team for Save a Drink. The idea is that you take some (or all!) of the money you would spend on a certain drink and give it towards our clean water project. So you could skip the pint of beer while you watch March Madness today or you could buy the pint but take the same amount and pledge it to our team! Easy enough, right?

There’s a lot of power in numbers. Next week I’ll be talking about how important it is to get as many people as possible on this team (hint: it includes unlocking a generous donor’s gift). For today, I hope we can all be grateful for our clean water and consider even the smallest contribution to Team Jars via my personal page.

YMCA Beginner 5K

I started teaching some classes at the YMCA Dane county this spring and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be overseeing the Beginner 5K program at both the east and the west branches. This is a great project for me since I can put the program together with ease and it gives me another great opportunity to coach new athletes. When I was teaching at Harbor Athletic Club, I had a sports conditioning class that went so well that the group continued to meet without me for years after I left that club.

First 5K YMCA

Community is a big part of being successful with your health. I think people crave community and challenge. That’s why the sports conditioning class went so well. And that’s why the 5K class will go so well, too. The beginner 5K class has an additional advantage in that we have a clear goal to work towards. Running a 5K race for the first time will add significant motivation for this group.

As I continue to develop my business, my expertise and my passion for helping people pursuit their health, I’m enjoying the story it’s creating. In the near future I’ll be incorporating other people’s stories, also. Community with a group of runners or a group of athletes in a class is fantastic. But being the digital guy that I am makes me want to develop an online community also. How cool would it be to have a group sharing your fitness story. You challenge them, they challenge you. We all learn and share this journey together! I believe in the power of that. Digital will never replace in person. But it can be a great extension.

I’m always here if you want advice, coaching, or accountability. As I finalize my race schedule for the year, I’d love to hear what you’re up to and if you’ll join me on the course in the near future.

Happy training!