Things I Used To Hate, But Now….Not So Much

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Hate’s a strong word. When someone says they hate something they must really, and I mean really, have a strong disdain for whatever it is they’re referring to.

For example, I’m typing this very sentence as I’m cruising 36,000 feet above the ground on my way back to Boston (from sunny Florida), and as everyone knows I absolutely hate flying. It’s not my favorite thing to do in the world, and it ranks right up there with other h-word worthy candidates such as Hitler, cancer, Twilight, rising gas prices, paper cuts, and Coldplay.

But in the grand scheme of things pretty much everything is fair game. Everyone has different tastes and prejudices; things that annoy them, and things that drive them up the wall. I mean, I’ve heard some say how much they hate puppies for crying out loud! Cute, little, adorable puppies!

That’s just wrong in my book, but the point is: There’s a whole lotta people guzzling the Haterade out there in the world.

And I’m certainly not impervious to the sweet nectar myself.

Haterade is pretty powerful stuff.  All the things I listed above aside (except Coldplay. No one really likes Coldplay, right?) I prefer to think of myself as a pretty open-minded individual who is willing (and able) to do a complete 180 and change his mind on things. I just feel that comes with the territory when you talk about maturity and growth as a human being.

There are plenty of scenarios in my past where I was adamantly opposed to something, only to have a change of heart down the road.

Take Sex and the City, for example.  Yep, I just went there and am talking about the tv show. Maybe the altitude it making me a little loopy.

When Lisa and I first started dating she was all like, “do you shower?” “OMG, you’ve never watched Sex and the City????  You have to watch this show!  You, me, Netflix, now.”

Of course in trying to play the sweet, sensitive, cultural, and open-to-new-things guy (code speak for:  I want to sleep with you)….I was down.

At first it was like that torture scene in A Clockwork Orange where they tie societal thug Alex down to a chair with his eyes pried open with that medieval looking contraption and feed him subliminal images for hours (days?) on end to “re-program” and rehabilitate him.

Yep, it was just like that. I wanted out, and I wanted out NOW!

Then, after a few episodes I was like “eh this ain’t so bad.  At least there’s some gratuitous nudity here and there.”

And then something happened.  Something unexpected.  I started to actually like the show.  I went from thinking it was worse than someone scratching their nails on a chalkboard to actually reacting to the characters and storyline……..


*slams door*

Yep, I watched every season of Sex and the City, along with the first movie.

Not the second, though; I have my limits.

I went from “hating” something to actually, you know, liking it.

But lets get on the right track and transition to the health and fitness world.

Taking a gander into my personal rear-view mirror, there are plenty of similar instances throughout my fitness career where I had a strong opinion on something – to the point of dismissing it entirely – only to change my mind later on.

Here are a few that jump up to the forefront:

1.  Accommodating Resistance

Narrowing it a bit further (because I actually utilize accommodating resistance quite a bit with my athletes), what I really had beef with back in the day was the whole notion that “newbies” should not be using it.

First, though, we should at least offer a brief description for those who aren’t familiar:

In general, accommodating resistance refers to the concept of increasing muscular strength throughout the complete range of joint motion. Better yet, you can technically refer to it as a way to sustain near maximal force throughout the complete range of joint motion. This is the basic premise behind the use of bands and chains.

There comes a point when you’re doing an exercise (squats for example) where the force generated during the movement is less at certain joint angles compared to others. This is why you can handle more weight with those cute quarter squats you’re doing than you can with full squats (force-velocity curve).

Add chains into the mix — where the squat is “deloaded” in the bottom position and “loaded” in the top position — and you can see how using chains can be highly beneficial in terms of strength gains.

The thing is, almost always, newbies (and I’ll even throw some intermediates lifters into the mix here as well) don’t really need to concern themselves with adding accommodating resistance into the mix.  Sure, it looks badass and offers a nice change of pace, but there’s a rate of diminishing returns when your best squat (for example) is 185 lbs.

Many in this situation would be better off just focusing on getting stronger rather than adding a bunch of “bells and whistles” into their repertoire.

But then I remember reading an article that Mike Robertson wrote on why utilizing chains (and bands) could be beneficial for inexperienced lifters which changed my mind entirely.

Again, using the squat as an example (there are numerous ways to utilize this concept: band assisted pull-ups, push-ups vs. chains, etc), and more specifically speaking on the notion of TIGHTNESS and how to attain it, accommodating resistance pays huge dividends.

Place a regular bar on a trainees back and ask him or her to get “tight” and many will look at you like you’re speaking Klingon. However, throw a chain or two – or bands – on each side of the bar and ask them to get “tight” and the picture changes entirely.

Immediately they’ll start to comprehend what you mean by getting tight, as they really have to brace their entire body to resist the swaying of the chains or the pull of the bands.

In this regard, I feel accommodating resistance definitely has its place in the backpocket of a newbies training program.  But only as a teaching tool, and NOT as a main component of their training.

2.  Onions

The younger version of me did not like onions.  If I even tasted a hint of onion in anything I shoved down my pie hole I’d immediately spit it out and run for the nearest fire hydrant to wash my mouth out.

Thankfully, as an adult, my pallet has gotten a bit more refined.  Now I save the dramatics for things like oysters, shrimp, or anything seafood related for the most part.

Taken from his phenomenal book, 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden notes:

Onions belong to the allium family, which also includes leeks, garlic, and shallots. They contain a whole pharmacy of compounds with health benefits, including thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other smelly compounds.  But those same smelly compounds offer a lot of nutrition bang for the relatively small price of a little eye-watering.

There are no two ways about it:  onions are a cancer fighting food.

I put onions in just about everything.  I add chopped up onion to my omelet every morning, and it’s always a staple in whatever Lisa makes for dinner on a nightly basis.

Two words: caramelized onion.

You’re welcome.

3. Kettlebells

Giving full disclosure:  kettlebells have been around F.O.R.E.V.E.R, so anyone who thinks that they’re some kind of new fad that’s popped onto the fitness scene within the past 5-7 years is grossly mistaken.

But giving credit where credit is due, Pavel Tsatsouline is often credited with introducing us Westerners to kettlebells and all they have to offer.

Admittedly, when I first started seeing them pop up in various gyms and fitness clubs I just looked at them as some sort of cannonball with a handle attached and didn’t really see much use for them.  Barbells and dumbbells worked just fine, thank you very much.

But as I read more and started experimenting a bit more with them, I began to tone down my BS meter and realized that there are a constellation of uses for them.

We were slow to introduce them at Cressey Performance, but now it’s rare to see a program that doesn’t include them in some fashion whether it’s in the form of the staples such as a Turkish get-up or swing ( the former as way to ascertain glaring mobility/stability issues, and the latter a way to groove a hip hinge pattern and develop unparalleled explosiveness) or as a way to “offset” an exercise such as 1-arm overhead presses or 1-legged reverse lunges.

What I still take issue with is the seemingly “elitist” attitude that some people have when it comes to their use and efficacy.  This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but we all know of that one person (or two) who goes on and on and on about how kettlebells are teh awesome and that nothing else compares.

According to some, kettlebells will solve global warming.

Funnily enough, the same people (especially some of the commercial gym trainers I see on occasion) who go off on how superior kettlebells are, are the same people who I have yet to see coach a swing properly.

Who’s with me on this one?  I find it comical that some commercial gyms will go out of their way to give kettlebells the “velvet rope” treatment and tell people that the only way they can use them is if they’re under the supervision of someone; yet, I rarely ever see anyone using them correctly or with passable technique.

Of course, this isn’t to say that there isn’t some semblance of a learning curve here and that significant coaching doesn’t come into play.  Not many people can just walk about to a KB and bust out a picture perfect get-up (or swing).  It often takes weeks if not months (if not longer) to get them down pat.

But I think we can all agree that it’s not rocket science either.

And, just so we’re clear this is an acceptable use of a kettlebell:

Not this:

4. Yoga

All I’ll say on this one is that it would be hypocritical of me to bash yoga when just about every dynamic warm-up drill we utilize at Cressey Performance has it’s base in yoga.

Heck, one of the more common drills we use at the facility has the name yoga right in it!

And I can give you a whole laundry list of other examples.

Pigging back on the whole KB pseudo rant from above, yoga is another one of those camps which markets itself as some panacea of health and well-being.

Especially towards to women.

I highlighted my main concessions with yoga and how it’s marketed towards women HERE, so I won’t beat a horse while it’s down.

Suffice it to say – I think yoga is great.  Fantastic even.  But it’s certainly not for everyone, and as with anything, should be regressed (and progressed) accordingly based off one’s needs/imbalances/injury history/capabilities/etc.

Someone with a history of lumbar issues or even those with congenital laxity probably wouldn’t be good candidates for yoga, and should at least tweak a few things to keep themselves out of compromising postions.

All in all, though, I feel my feelings towards yoga in the past 3-5 years has taken a massive turn for the better and feel that it’s a wonderful way to offset many of the postural imbalances we tend to accumulate.

Most of us are walking balls of flexion as it is, and yoga helps to counterbalance and open us up.

But again, it’s just comes down to understanding the human body, functional anatomy, and knowing what applies to one person and not the other.

5. Ben Affleck

Okay, this one isn’t fitness related but I couldn’t resist. When I first started writing for various sites a few years back, I had a MASSIVE crush on Jennifer Garner.  I’m talking, smoke-show, she-can-do-no-wrong, Alias, Jennifer Garner.

As a joke and as a way to place my own “tag” on every article I wrote, I often referred to Jennifer in some way.  Sometimes as a way to demonstrate to women what the female body could look like (feminine, yet still lean and muscular) with with some serious, consistent weight training (I’m loosely acquainted with Valerie Waters who used to train her), but mostly as a way to throw in some line as to how hot I thought she was.

What can I say, I’m a dude.

As well, part of the schtick was to poo-poo on Ben Affleck, who, like an a-hole, went on to marry Jennifer.

To say I was slightly miffed would be an understatement.  I haaaaaated him.  But only because I wasn’t him.

Well that, and for Dare Devil which was god-awful.  Sorry Roman……;o)

Fast forward to 2007 when Ben made his directoral debut with Gone, Baby Gone.  I was a skeptic going in, but once I saw it I could tell that he had a knack for this directing thing.

Two movies (The TownArgo), and one win for Best Picture later, he’s the man.

He ranks right up there with the best of them:  David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorcese, Alfonso Cuaron, Peter Jackson, and Quentin Tarantino.

Not many people can claim to have hit rock-bottom in terms of pop-culture semantics and then rebound with a fervor they way Affleck did. What’s more he just seems like a genuine, cool guy, and I really respect that.

And he’s BFFs with my man-crush Matt Damon, so there’s that.

What about you?  What are some things you used to hate, but eventually had a change of heart?  I’d love to hear your comments below.

UPDATE:  My bad, I was told Valerie still trains Jennifer 3x per week.  Hence why Jennifer still looks amazing after three kids….;o)

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Comments for This Entry

  • Lars Krogstad

    Tony, the price of gas here in Norway is 8 dollars pr gallon. Please tell me again how high your gas prices are

    March 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Oh, uh, um....about that. On an aside, while in Florida last week we rented a Fiat to get around and the bad boy is a CHAMP when it comes to gas mileage. If I didn't live up north and didn't have to deal with snow on a yearly basis, I'd definitely think about driving around in one of those. Of course, I'd have to pimp it out to some degree to make it more manly looking.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply to this comment

  • FreakSammy

    Same here re: Affleck. I've begrudgingly started to like his work, after many years of thinking he was the luckiest man in the world to have a talented best friend. But then he goes and makes great movie after great movie and even starts to show some acting chops.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Lauren L

    Great article Tony. And I totally agree about Ben. The fact that he's bounced back from something like Gigli definitely earns my respect.

    March 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Mike Anderson

    I'll be that guy: i used to hate CrossFit but have had a change of heart. I train regularly at my buddies CrossFit gym. I'm at the point where I know just as many good CrossFit coaches as I do strength and conditioning coaches, and way more than personal trainers. Just like anything else in this industry there are good ones and bad ones, great ones and shit ones; and a good CrossFit gym is way better than a good commercial gym. A group training that includes a full dynamic warmup/mobility session, power, strength and conditioning? And a place that offers bumpers plates, sleds and chalk to gen-pop people? Sounds like something we should all appreciate. I still think barbell thrusters and sumo deadlift highpulls are stupid damned exercises, though. Sure, lots of stupid stuff happens at CF gyms, but walk around a commercial gym and tell me that there aren't more people doing stupid shit in there. I'm prepared to defend myself.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      I have to say Mike - that was a pretty fair summary. I still have my beefs with CrossFit, but as you noted, like with ANY profession, there are good ones and bad ones. If you find a goof CF affiliate, one that takes the time to ASSESS people, properly progress (and regress) exercises, and actually takes the time to COACH people, then it's hard to argue with the results. Well said.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:15 am | Reply to this comment

      • Mike Anderson

        I hate to call you out on a double standard here, TG, but in the comment below this one you deign to have an opinion on mace weights because you don't have a lot of experience with them...but have you ever attended a CF Class? People forget that there are shitty people all over our wonderful industry. I recently saw a personal trainer have a client fall off of a bosu ball while she was (sigh) doing squats. i also just saw a program written by an olympic level strength coach in new zealand for their national womens field hockey was a workout that saw her doing 7 compound exercises as a circuit for 10 reps each for 6 total sets. In prescribed order: Barbell box squat, single leg hip thrust, rack pull, db bench, pullup, trx row, single arm lat pulldown. That's as asinine as it gets.

        March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am | Reply to this comment

  • Kellie Hart Davis

    Sex In the City has a warm spot in my heart, too. My mom loved it and I forced myself to watch it with her while she went through chemo. I realized it was the one thing each week that she truly looked forward to at the time and I learned to love it just for that--- though I never, ever watched either movie. Co'mon, man. Show some dignity! I used to hate distance running. I wanted nothing to do with until I got a dog. Then I realized that if I wanted him to stop pestering me all day I had to burn up all that energy. Now we run together. Not anything impressive, but I do it just for him.

    March 25, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Kellie - You know, I used to run on average 10-15 miles PER week back in the day. Fun Tony G fact....;o) If I had a dog, I'd probably almost be convinced to go back to it too. But it makes a lot of sense. Dogs need activity too, and what better way to "bond" than to do an activity together. I bet he looks forward to it every day.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:18 am | Reply to this comment

  • Ben Cameron

    Hey Tolerant Tony, how do you feel about mace weights? Are they what we've been missing all this time, or like, so early 2013...

    March 26, 2013 at 12:27 am | Reply to this comment

  • Steve Reed

    Dang it, Tony! Why can you never resist making fun of Coldplay? If I had known how much you hated them I'd never have told you that Kelsey and I were leaving CP to go pick up their new album which released on our honeymoon. The disdainful look you gave me now makes much more sense, haha. Throwing Coldplay under the bus aside, excellent article.

    March 28, 2013 at 9:08 am | Reply to this comment

  • Helen Grice

    Ahhh a fellow Coldplay hater...and you got me to a front squat PR after reading your article on tightening up your squat technique...I like you even more now Tony LOL!

    March 28, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply to this comment

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