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“What The Heck” Strength

To celebrate my wife turning the big five-oh, as well as our 13th wedding anniversary, the two of us took off to Europe recently on two consecutive Backroads bike tours, first in Catalonia, Spain and next in the Loire Valley of France.  The trips were great, and I’d recommend this form of vacation unequivocally.  We rode some 150-200 miles each week, and for the most part we rode hard.  What was somewhat amazing was how we were able to perform as well as we did even though neither of us had been on a bike in a year (other than my using Citibike to move around NYC).  In fact, while we both workout regularly (Marisol far more consistently than me) neither of us do any distance cardio training.

What we favor is strength training, which for us involves regular weekly Fitwall (check it out online at, weight, kettlebell, and bodyweight work.  Pavel Tsatsouline, the man who is credited with having popularized the use of kettlebells, and is a pioneer in the field of strength with his company that is called Strong First, calls this “What the heck” strength that comes from resistance training.  As he explains, this is the kind of strength that leads one to say “What the heck?” whenever faced with a physical challenge.  Go for a 4-hour mountain climb in the Pyrenees by bicycle?  Sure, what the heck?  Go for a 10-mile run?  Sure, what the heck?   Take a 2-hour Kung Fu class, or a 90-minute Bikram yoga class?  Sure, what the heck?  The point is that when someone is strong they can do just about anything.

There is a lot of confusion in the fitness industry, with a lot of mixed and conflicting messaging.  And there are a lot of different training modalities that are used by people aiming to be fit, look good, and mostly stay the aging process and remain vigorous as the years pass by.  Being married to a true expert, who walks the walk and is constantly seeking out knowledge in her field, I’ve been blessed to have a guide who has shown me the light amidst this fog.  About a year and a half ago we got to know Doug Brendle, the pioneering inventor of Fitwall, a serious martial artist, and a lifetime devotee of health and fitness.  Since then we helped him form a business plan around his revolutionary Fitwall product, which delivers the holy grail of fitness – strength, cardiovascular health, and flexibility – in a super efficient and safe manner.  An amazing executive team led by my friend Josh Weinstein have now taken that product and plan and is on the verge of what I believe will be a significant breakthrough in the world of exercise.  Pavel has a company called Strong First, which offers seminars wherein he and his team disseminate incredible knowledge about technique and physiology around strength and functional movement.  Paul Chek has the Chek Institute, which provides educational seminars as well as certifications on all matters related to fitness, nutrition and the body, even covering the interconnections between the body and spirit.  Each of these three giants in their field, as well as my wife Marisol who is a giant in her own right, have taught me how important strength training is, and how distance cardio training is not only unneeded and unlikely to bring the results we all desire, but ultimately likely to be harmful to our bodies too.

I know that many of you, like me, fight the good fight of aging with dignity, working out and trying to eat healthy.  I’ve invested lots of time trying many things and doing a lot of learning.  Do yourselves a favor and get to a seminar with Paul Chek or Pavel, and checkout Fitwall.  Stay strong!

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