See Yourself In Others

150Keith JonesSeptember 7, 2016

I have always been interested in people. Beyond the achievements and successes, I want to learn about their journey. What has their path been like? What experiences have shaped them? What people have influenced their thinking? And whatever chapter I walk into on their life, what has gotten them to that point?

While I’ve taken an interest in people’s journey most of my life, I’ve not always been objective about the person. I use to bring judgment and biases with me. As I’ve gotten older and matured, I no longer do that. I can observe a person and learn from them whether they are at the top of their game or trying to find their stride. I became a better person when I could see the good in people no matter their past or how things might be at the moment for them. I send love regardless.

My life has been filled with both successes and challenges. All the people I’ve met along the way have contributed to my experiences in some way. Some people have been kind and unconditionally loving. Others haven’t. This doesn’t stop me from loving them all the same. The fact that I can do so without reservation demonstrates how much I’ve grown and continue to grow. When you can be loving and kind-hearted to everyone without exception, it demonstrates how committed you are to being happy and peaceful.

So many times, we pass judgment on people or project our own failings unto others without acknowledging our own shortcomings, poor choices or failures. The people who allow us to see their struggle are often the most courageous amongst us. Instead of judging them or turning away, we should be inspired by them and extend a hand to help them through their difficulty. It’s so easy to judge others and ignore our own shortcomings. It takes a truly big person to work on themselves while supporting others in doing the same. We all lose our way sometimes. And just because we wander for a while, it doesn’t mean we are lost. Be empathetic, loving and kind to everyone.

Stronger Mindset!

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5 Best Kettlebell Exercises

150Keith JonesSeptember 2, 2016

Kettlebell training is excellent for building all-purpose strength, increasing flexibility and improving balance. A Kettlebell is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. Proper use of this effective training equipment requires a commitment to learning and practicing correct form. Once this is mastered, the entire body reaps the benefits.

The core muscles are called upon more than any other muscle group to properly execute Kettlebell exercises. They provide the necessary stability and balance to keep you safe as your get the most out of the movements. For a weight-bearing total body workout, Kettlebell training ranks at the top of the list. Before I list my top five best exercises, let’s cover selecting the correct Kettlebell weight. You need to choose the weight that is comfortable for you to use. If it is too heavy, you will not be able to perform the movements correctly. If you choose weight that is too light one, you will not enjoy the benefits of the exercise. So choose a weight that you can safely handle, to execute proper form and that targets the intended muscle groups. It is important that you focus on and engage your ab or core muscles during all movements.

Now, here are my top five Kettlebell exercises.

1. Kettlebell Swings. 

Setup: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Hold the Kettlebell by the horn in both hands in front of your body. Allow the Kettlebell to hang naturally in your hands. Keep your back straight and flex forward slightly at the hips.

Form: Without squatting, swing the Kettlebell between your legs as if you’re hiking a football to the quarterback. Use the momentum of your swing to take the Kettlebell through your legs. As it returns, pop it forward with your hips. The hip thrust forward should be powerful enough to propel the Kettlebell to chin level.  It’s important to not use your legs, shoulders or lower back to perform the movement. The power from the hip hinge movement generates the movement. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Muscles Targeted: Hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and core.


2. Kettlebell Squats.

Setup: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and back straight. Hold the Kettlebell by the horn in both hands. Bring the Kettlebell under your chin using a reverse bicep curl. This is the starting and ending position of the movement.

Form: Squat down to parallel or just below parallel position and return to the standing position by driving through your heels as you come back up. Be sure to keep your core engaged, back straight, and Kettlebell under your chin throughout the movement. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core.


3.Kettlebell Squats and Front Raises.

Setup: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and back straight. Hold the Kettlebell by the horn in both hands. Bring the Kettlebell under your chin using a reverse bicep curl. This is the starting and ending position of the movement.

Form: First, Squat down to parallel or just below parallel position and return to the standing position by driving through your heels as you come back up. Second, for the front raise, lower the Kettlebell in front of your body by fully extending the arms. Third, with straight arms raise the Kettlebell to eye level in a controlled motion. Then lower the Kettlebell back down in a controlled motion. This completed one repetition of the squat and Kettlebell combination exercise. Be sure to keep your core engaged, back straight, and Kettlebell under your chin for the squat and arms straight for the front raise. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, shoulders and biceps.

KB_Front Raise Squat-R50

4. Kettlebell Reverse Lunges.

Form: Stand with feet together and back straight. Hold the Kettlebell by the horn in one hand. With the opposite leg, lunge backward until the knee barely touches the ground. Then return to starting position. Pass the Kettlebell in front of your body and lunge on the other side. Perform 3 sets of 24 total repetitions.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core.

KB_Reverse Lunge_combined-R50

5. Kettlebell Crunches. 

Setup: Lie down on your back with legs outstretched. Hold a Kettlebell over your chest with straight arms. This is your starting position.

Form: With Kettlebell held over your chest with straight arms, lift your shoulder blades off the mat and crunch all the way up into a sitting position. In a controlled motion, return to the mat. Be sure to maintain a straight back throughout the movement.

Muscles Targeted: Abs, core and shoulders.


These are only five of my favorite exercises. In a feature article, I will share more great Kettlebell exercises to add to your workouts to take your body and fitness to the next level.

Stronger Workouts!


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Kettlebell Training Strengthens The Entire Body

150Keith JonesAugust 31, 2016

Kettlebell training is excellent for building all-purpose strength, increasing flexibility and improving balance. A Kettlebell is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. The handle is often referred to as a “horn”. At first glance, the Kettlebell may seem like an awkward and dangerous piece of equipment to use for training. But once you learn the proper technique, you will find it to be as safe and effective as traditional dumbbells. And in some cases, more effective because of the design.

Kettlebell training requires the different muscle groups of the body to work as one unit. For example, to perform a proper front squat, the legs, back, shoulders, arms and core all work together to execute the movement. The legs do the work while the other muscle groups provide stability and support. It’s an integrated effort that strengthens the entire body. Almost every Kettlebell exercise produces this benefit. Whichever exercise you choose, you will be training the entire body.

When I first heard of Kettlebell training, I was skeptical. I thought they were cumbersome and dangerous. I couldn’t imagine anyone could get an effective workout using them. Besides, I had been training with barbells and dumbbells my entire adult life. It was what I knew. In an effort to introduce new exercises to our group training, I gave Kettlebells (take out extra space) a try. I was shocked at how challenging basic exercises like lunges were. It wasn’t that the Kettlebells were awkward. They weren’t. My difficulties were due to the fact that I lacked the necessary balance and core strength to do the movements effectively. The Kettlebells had exposed weaknesses in my fitness. Rather than run from this, I embraced it and began using Kettlebells to target the areas I needed work on. With consistent practice, I improved. I now make Kettlebells a part of my weekly workouts.

I encourage you to add Kettlebells to your weekly exercise regime. They are excellent for building strength, toning and shaping muscles and improving overall fitness conditioning. In my next article, I will share my top five favorite Kettlebell exercises.

Stronger Workouts!


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Create A New Normal For Your Life

150Keith JonesAugust 26, 2016

One of the great things about life is the countless opportunities to improve and be better than you were the day before. As I have written in previous blogs, life is not about being perfect. It’s about doing your best and giving your best every single day. Oftentimes this means raising the standards you set for yourself. What was normal behavior for you yesterday will not be enough to achieve the new goals you set for yourself today. To meet those requires a creating a new normal for your mindset and behavior.

Normal behavior and ways of thinking don’t challenge you or activate growth. It’s the new manner in which you approach situations and objectives that expands our capacity to grow. If you set a goal to be physically stronger than you currently are, lifting the same weight will not get you there. Only increasing the weight and securing a spot for the last few reps will build strength and muscle. If you want to lose weight, the eating habits that led to putting weight on will not take it off. That will require creating a new commitment and relationship with food that is a healthy, effective one for weight loss. And if you are a person that wants to be more loving and positive, having a cynical view about the world and people won’t help with this. You will need to make a choice to see growth opportunities in the most challenging situations and the good in people you think are the most unlovable. To make these behaviors your new normal doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it may be difficult at first. But you can do it by applying these three steps to any behavior you want to change and replacing with a new normal.

  1. Get clear on what is you want to change or improve.For me, I want to show up as inspiring every day for my colleagues, clients and friends. Since attitude is a choice, I can’t allow external forces to become an excuse for not showing up with great energy. Your goal may be to pursue a new career, lose weight or be happy regardless of challenges present in your life today.
  1. Once you set your goal, commit to it 100% without exception. This is how a new normal in behavior is created.As stated, I want to motivate and inspire everyone I come in contact with no matter what. If a client discontinues their membership, it doesn’t matter. I choose to express gratitude to them for the time they were a client and celebrate, honor and value the people who are still clients by how I deliver classes. For you, this might mean exercising five days a week whether in town or on the road. It could be eating healthy whether others are doing the same or not.
  1. Now that you’ve defined the new behavior as your new normal, lock it in place by doing it every single day. Consistency is key. Most goals require you to work on them a little each day. Some people dislike this part. I say embrace it. With a positive attitude, you’ll learn more and have fun along the way. Now, if creating a ritual and sticking with it is hard for you, get an accountability partner. I have quite a few in my life. They ensure my energy is at a level ten for each class. If eating healthy is your challenge, tell your friends to help you by choosing healthy restaurants when you go out. Opt for outings that incorporate physical activity. And ask for feedback if you’re deviating from your stated goal.

Creating a new normal for your life can make you brand new. That’s a happier and healthier you. Don’t delay another day. Raise your standards and the ceiling on what’s possible in your life now. See you at the top.

Stronger Mindset!


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Coconut Oil – How can saturated fat be good?

150Amy FriendAugust 24, 2016

Coconut oil and coconut products seem to be very popular amongst the health conscious these days, and I have read a plethora of articles about the benefits. However, it has left me confused about how coconut oil can possibly be so good for you when it is about 90% saturated fat. Everything that I have studied in my nutrition classes, so far, has taught me that mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are the “good fats” and saturated fats are the “bad fats”. Health organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association recommend that we limit our intake of saturated fats as they are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. However, in an article posted just last month, David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, would say there have been studies that indicate that there is no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease. Ugh!!! How can two reputable sources differ so much? And, so the back and forth studies and debates continue to try and come up with a simple answer. Personally, from what I have read so far, I don’t think there is a simple answer. But, I have a much greater understanding for the chemical makeup of coconut oil and why there are so many conflicting articles about it.

Digging deeper into the kind of saturated fat that makes up coconut oil, you will find that there are various types. Animal-based saturated fats (butter and dairy products) are the ones that you have to watch out for; especially those that come from a processed food product; such as pizza and grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes. Plant-based saturated fats, like coconut oil, are more than just fats, according to a Harvard Health Publication. Coconut oil has a special HDL-boosting effect that may help improve cholesterol.

One of the most important reasons for eating quality fats is that they provide us with beneficial fatty acids that have fat-burning, antibacterial and hormone-balancing properties. Lauric acid is a particular type of fatty acid found in saturated-fat foods, and the single best source of lauric acid is coconuts. Many of the benefits of coconut oil that have been well-established in research studies are due to the presence of lauric acid. As a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), lauric acid is more easily absorbed by the body and not as likely to be converted to fat. It has a beneficial effect on metabolism and, therefore, can help with weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness.

I especially love to use coconut oil in cooking and coconut oil spray, when needed, in baking. It is slow to oxidize — even when heated at high temperatures which means it is less likely to go rancid. Many of the vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats may turn unhealthy when you cook with them.

So what does all this mean? One thing that is clear is that more research is needed before we can say with confidence that coconut oil is in fact a superfood. But for now, it looks like it may be a healthier alternative to animal-based saturated fats like butter. As with everything, I would recommend moderation and variety. Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent choice for salad dressings and sautéing over medium heat. You might also consider avocado oil as another high-heat cooking oil that has many health benefits. Just keep in mind that with 120 calories in every tablespoon, coconut oil is very calorie-dense, so don’t go overboard with it if you’re looking to keep your bodyweight in check.

When purchasing coconut oil, look for “unrefined and cold-pressed”. And, if you’re a big coconut oil fan, check into the many other different uses for coconut oil from being a natural skin moisturizer to using it on your hair! You can’t go wrong with buying the big jar of coconut oil from Costco! Just remember, use it in moderation when it comes to your nutrition.


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Workout Inspiration

150Keith JonesAugust 22, 2016

I love my community and our workouts together. The people are amazing to me in so many ways. Their commitment to the group, themselves and what we are out to create together demonstrates how much we mean to each other. It’s the best of both worlds. We get to make our health and fitness a priority, while helping others improve theirs.

Our collective commitment to being healthy and happy is what resonates with me the most. When members of the community say they will attend a workout, they show up. There are rarely cancellations. Everyone understands their partners are counting on them to be there. People drive from all over the city to make it to the sessions. And when they arrive, they smile, laugh and connect before getting down to business. We create an environment that makes you feel welcome and appreciated. Once the workout starts, there is so much to be motivated by. People of all ages and body types giving their best effort to each exercise. Injuries don’t stop members from showing up either. We simply modify exercises so the person can still get the work in. We believe it’s not about how much you can lift, but rather how big your effort and contributions are to others.

If you observe one of our workouts, you will be blown away by the effort, energy and support. Everyone encourages each other throughout the session. To each coaching cue, form correction and “great job”, you will hear the recipient reply, “thank you”. We appreciate every word of support and encouragement given. We have a caring community that is committed to helping each other be our best and get the most out of workouts.

We offer group training sessions 6 days each week. Every one of them lives up to our community standard of bringing your best, being your best and giving your best. I am so fortunate to be a member of such an amazing group. If you are part of our community, thank you! If you’re not, I hope you are part of such a group. And if you want to join us, let me know. We are always open to people who are open, loving and supportive.

Stronger Workouts!


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Setting Goals and The Mindset For Reaching Them

150Keith JonesAugust 19, 2016

The bigger your goals are, the more satisfying and rewarding they are. To experience the payoff that big goals can offer, you have to be willing to invest in yourself and do the work required to reach the finish line. And if you want to have fun along the way, it helps to frame all the hard work as part of a journey. Journeys offer opportunities to learn, grow and have fun during the pursuit of success. However, when a person only focuses on the goal, falling short of it can be emotionally devastating. So I encourage you to view each small victory or temporary setback as part of the process that makes you a little  better than you were the day before. Over the course of a year, you will become a lot better than you were before.

I am moved by the stories of people who set awesome goals for themselves and give everything to achieving them. What makes these individuals even more inspiring is when they sum up all the hours of hard work as a worthwhile journey, win or lose. We live in a day and age where most of the headlines and social media posts can lead one to believe success happens overnight. This is hardly the case. If you look a bit deeper, you will find that those seemingly overnight successes were years or decades in the making. Look no further than this year’s Olympics. Every athlete there, those who medal and those who don’t, exercised incredible commitment and discipline over a long period of time to just get there. Day after day in the pool, lap after lap on the track and fall after fall during a tumbling routine for years and years; all the while with no guarantee they would make their country’s Olympic team. They were guided by their goal and the idea that “I am going to give my very best to every practice every day for a shot to make it.” To have that standard for yourself is so motivating to me.

You can tell the athletes who understand all the sacrifice and investment over the years is part of an overarching journey. Just listen to their post race interviews. In victory, they say, “All the hard work made this possible. I am so thankful to all the people from the beginning to this moment who helped me get here.” And in defeat, they say, “While I didn’t finish like I had hoped, I am so thankful to be here to represent my country.” Or they say, “Although I hoped I would’ve placed better, I gave it everything I had and that’s all I could ask for. I am happy with my effort because I gave it my best.” There is something comforting that comes with knowing you did everything you could to reach your goal.

These days I am channeling the mindset and commitment of world class athletes and great leaders into my daily life. I have set big goals for our community. Each day I invest in learning something new, growing from situations and failures and working as hard as I can to get us a bit closer to the goal. Taking a page out of the book from the happiest people I know, I am viewing the hard work I do each day not as a sacrifice but as an investment. And I am not singularly focused on the outcome. Instead, I am falling in love with creating habits and daily routines that produce small victories in the short term and huge ones over time. Ever since I’ve adopted this viewpoint every day has been satisfying and rewarding.

What goals have you set for yourself and your life? Are your goals so big that they scare you? And do your goals require you to grow into the person that can achieve them? I hope so. If not, think bigger because you’re worthy of only the biggest goals and best journeys life has to offer. Ready. Set. Go For It!

Stronger Mindset!


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What Makes Some People Happy, And Others Not

150Keith JonesAugust 17, 2016

There are a few things you can do daily to be happy almost every day. The first thing is to realize that being happy is a choice. Some people disagree. As a result they are a victim of their circumstance or the situation. If that were true, how do you explain why some people being happy under the same circumstances or similar situations? It’s because happy people recognize they can choose how they feel regardless of how life shows up. This truth was a game changer for me. Instead of arguing against it, I found it to be empowering.

The ability to choose how I feel meant I was no longer at the mercy of what people said or did, whether the stock market was up or down or if things went my way that day. Instead of outcomes determining how I felt, I could choose what emotion I wanted to experience. And since there is no greater one than being happy and unconditionally loving, I set out to learn how to manifest both in my life every day. Incidentally, choosing to be happy is an act of unconditional self-love.

Many years ago someone told me to keep a gratitude journal. They said, “By daily listing all the things you’re thankful for, you bring your focus to all the gifts in your life rather than what’s wrong or what’s missing.” They were right. We attract what we think about most. If you think about negative things and negative people, more negativity shows up in your life. However, if you embrace the beauty in the world the see the good in others, you attract these into your space. Since I began this practice, great things are happening in my life and I’m surrounded by amazing people.

Being happy takes commitment and practice. With the demands from work and family on your time, it can be challenging to work on yourself. And with distractions all around us, it’s easy to lose focus on the benefits of personal growth. Believe me, I get it. But if you want to be happy all the time or almost all of the time, it’s worth the investment to put in the work to make it a reality in your life. One of the keys to choosing being happy as the standard for your life is to put daily rituals in place. For example, my physical health and emotional state are super important to me. I know the best way to guarantee I work on both each day is to exercise every morning. Why the morning? Because, the chances of anything preventing me from working out in the morning are nil to none. Whereas, if I schedule a workout for lunch time or after work, a crowded gym, a meeting that runs long, a family commitment or rush hour traffic can throw a monkey wrench in those plans. With a morning workout, those things don’t get in the way. By starting my day off with a training session, I get stronger and give myself a boost of happiness that will last all day. The same is true of including an inspirational podcast or video in your morning. Before you read your emails or check Facebook, listen to Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra or Brian Johnson. These inspiring individuals will elevate your mood and make you mentally and emotionally stronger for the day ahead. They’ve made a huge difference in my life.

Lastly, you deserve to be happy. Understand that you are the only person who can create this for yourself. So please don’t blame anyone else if you are unhappy or depend on others for happiness. Wayne Dyer sums it up nicely. “The key difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people have an ability to really recall the good in their day, lives. Unsuccessful people focus/recall the not so good and are often depressed.” Choose to be happy.

Stronger Mindset!


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Coaching can make you a champion

150Amy FriendAugust 15, 2016

It’s a rare event for me to turn on the television, but over the last couple weeks I have really enjoyed watching the Olympics. I have been in awe of the performances in all of the sports, but especially the gymnastics. Having grown up in the sport, I remember well the anxiousness and pressure of competition. Balance Beam was my best event; yet, I still had to overcome the nerves that could leave me shaking on an apparatus that is only 4” wide. When I think about what personal coaching has done for me in my life today, I wish this had been an option for me as an athlete when I was competing.

Back to the Rockstar athletes of the 2016 Olympics! You can get lost in marveling at what they can do physically – the speed, the strength, the flexibility, and the endurance! This Olympics I have found the work they do on their mental game to be equally as impressive. Two members of the gold medal winning Women’s Gymnastics team, Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez, share openly how they prepare to handle the pressure and expectations that come with being on the world stage. They both work with sports psychologist, Robert Andrews, the founder and director of the Institute of Sports Performance in Houston. A sports psychologist is a coach for the mental and emotional side of athletics. It is the willingness of Biles and Hernandez to be vulnerable and to admit that they may have weaknesses, that has contributed to them being the most consistent gymnasts in the world. The athletes credit their success to the role of mental coaching in their training. Watching Simone excel at these Olympics makes it hard to believe that she struggled with being nervous and anxious at events. Andrews created a methodical plan with Biles and her parents to build her confidence. This really resonated with me as he was creating a circle of support – a community of support. It comes down to believing in yourself and creating partnerships with people to perform at your best. Quoting Robert Andrews, sums it up beautifully, “Belief is powerful. Confidence can get shaken or rattled, but belief is a knowingness in your heart that no matter what, you are great. A wobble on beam might shake Simone’s confidence for a few seconds, but her belief in her ability will remain rock solid.”

In Laurie Hernandez’s case, Andrews says, “She struggled with launching into the next stratosphere of her sport.” Together, they focused on mindfulness which empowers you to respond rather than react to what happens. Hernandez uses “E plus R equals O, or Event plus Response equals Outcome,” Andrews says. “Whatever happens, you choose how to respond, and the more mindful you are, the better choices you make.” Another skill that Andrews taught Laurie was a breathing technique to help her relax before competition. Watching her before an event you may see her place her right hand on her stomach, close her eyes and take a deep breath while whispering, “I got this.”

I have a personal coach. While many people think that I may be on top of the world, my climb has been facilitated by having someone in my life who can guide me through challenges. I have had “help” with focus, building confidence, goal-setting, and, ultimately, being my personal best. My coach has a gift for viewing things in a different light and being able to give you the self-assurance that creates the change. I am a different person today because of it. I have big dreams and I know that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I would have never thought that I could swim from Alcatraz in 53° water! I would have never thought that I could speak in front of a group, but here I am…….. winning!

If you have a personal coach, you are already receiving the benefits that come from having one. And, if you don’t have a coach, consider partnering with a coach to achieve your personal best in health, fitness and in life. You only have one life to live. Make it the best one possible!

Stronger mindset,


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