Bringing Back the Old School- T.R.O.Y

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Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I loves me some classic hip hop. It’s always amusing when I bust out my iPod at work and play my When Hip Hop Didn’t Suck playlist with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Jeru the Damaja, KRS One, Gang Starr, De la Soul, and Black Moon (to name a few) bumping through the speakers.

Not surprisingly, most of the high school athletes look at me like I’m from Mars whenever I take over the stereo. But I don’t know if it’s because they’ve never heard of most of the artists, or if it’s the fact that I have a tendency of walking around challenging people to free-style battles at random:

*cue instrumental version of One More Chance by Biggie *

First things first, this is DJ Spider and you can’t step to dis. Welcome to the abyss. You’re squat technique is pathetic, don’t sweat it. We’ll correct it. In no time flat, that’s where it’s at.

Next on the list is your kyphotic posture. Rounded back with internally rotated glenohumeral joints. You ain’t on point. Girls won’t want to hang out with you, or your weak ass crew. What we gonna do, son? Where did you get that tazer gun? UR ruining my flow, bro. No, seriously, where did you get that? Put it down. Wait, wait, stop. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.


One love, one love.

In any case, at this point, you’re probably wondering how the heck am I going to tie in old school rap with a relevant blog post. As it happens, I was listening to one of my all-time favorite songs, They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y) the other day, by Pete Rock & CL Smooth:

The basic theme of the song is, well, reminiscing. As such, it got me thinking about when I first started in this industry. Coming out of college, I thought I knew everything there was to know about performance, strength training, assessment, and nutrition. I mean, I took all the required course work, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Health Education, read like two books, not to mention had rock hard abs that would make a tank jealous. How could I not succeed?

It wasn’t long thereafter when I started my first paying job in a corporate fitness center near Syracuse, NY, that I realized I didn’t know anything. I literally felt like a fish out of water, and was embarrassed to find out that I couldn’t even name the four rotator cuff muscles without looking them up, let alone design a program for someone.

So, too, the same could be said about my approach to training. As a collegiate athlete myself (I was a pitcher), I “thought” I knew the right way to train. Unfortunately, my thought process had me following a bodybuilder split where I was doing bicep curls the day after a start (smart, I know) as well as inventing exercises that can only be described as cringe worthy.

My favorite? Leg presses in the Smith machine. Nope, not kidding. I would load up the bar with like five plates on each side, lie on my back and place my feet on the bar, un-rack the weight, then perform my set. My spine is literally crying right now thinking about it. Afterwards, I’d walk around like I was Shooter McGavin, high-fiving people and kissing babies. Phew, phew, phew. God, I wish I could go back and drop kick myself.

The moral of the story? With respects to starting out in the industry, I wouldn’t change a thing. As much as I gripe about how miserable I was working in the commercial gym setting- I also realize that it allowed me to grow as a trainer, as well as a person. I think there’s a lot to be said about “paying your dues” and working in that setting.

That’s why I’m often frustrated whenever I hear or see new trainers proclaim they’re going to make thousands by writing some lame e-book that twelve people will read. Why not get really good at what you do, and then you won’t have to worry about money? It’s no coincidence that 1 in 200 personal trainers are financially independent- most suck!

Furthermore, I can’t stress enough how important it is to always strive to get better. I am constantly reading, attending seminars, traveling to other facilities, and I STILL feel like I have so much more to learn. Seriously. I don’t get how there are some trainers out there who feel they know everything and never make an effort to get better.

With respects to some of the stupid shit I used to do in the past. Whatever. We’ve all been there. We’ve all curled in the squat rack, did 500 sit-ups before bed, and thought leg extensions were the key to tear-drop quads. Thankfully, I was able to filter out the stupid sooner rather than later, and now take solace in the fact that I’m able to teach young athletes how to train the right way.

So, what’s your story? Looking back, would you change anything? What were some of the stupid things you used to do?

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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