Mental Model 1: The Rule of Product then market
IMG_6226.jpg

Many mental models have helped me build the gym. One of my favorites is something I’ll call - the Rule of Product and then Market. Meaning - build your product first and then market.

Here’s how I went about this.

  1. Myself: The most important part of the product to build first was me. This involved two parts. The first was something that I’ve been quite open about in previous articles and that was my health. As per the second, this was continuing to understand my strengths and weaknesses and put myself and Hudson Avenue in a position to succeed. For instance, at my former employer, I knew I needed to improve my business and training maturity, and intelligence, so I did. I did this by making a ton of mistakes, but also by attending seminars, listening to those wiser, and reading countless books. Here, it was a little different. I needed to improve the foundational direction of the gym. I needed to make sure that when we were ready to set sail that the captain and the ship were prepared for all scenarios. So, I focused on that. I crafted the personal and business mission, values, and culture, and made sure that at each step of building we didn’t alter from this. Without this foundation of self - the take-off would make for a failed landing.

  2. The Gym: Once there was greater confidence in myself and the direction, I started focusing the product attention on the aesthetics and customer experience of the gym. For the outside world, this may seem like an easy task. As in, use your credit card, buy what you need, and set up shop. However, in practice, it didn’t work like so. Rather, I needed to be patient and let many things come together. For instance, I learned more about myself and the direction of the gym that would change certain features of the space. Furthermore, I was working with a colleague at the time, and things needed to be changed to appease both of us. Finally, as different products, such as the online programming, took flight, things needed to change in the gym as well. Buying the equipment was the easy part, however, the set-up, intuitive thought, and flow was something that I thought immensely about and needed to be close to perfect.

  3. The Office Building: When the gym started taking shape, I was ready to start selling a little bit more. Here, I took the path of least resistance. Forgetting your direct network of friends and family, the most logical answer was introducing myself to the tenants of the building. So, I headed over to each office, with a speech and hand-written note. And, as what is a theme for most of these steps towards growth, it didn’t go as expected. I befriended most, however, they either had trainers or didn’t need. However, on the flip side of this theme was that it might have been a short-term failure, but it continued to allow me to refine my message. This was an asset - the more people that I could speak to, the more I could understand the product they wanted. Also, finally, a month later, the CEO of the tech company nearby signed his employees up for corporate wellness with Hudson. Progress was made.

  4. The Main Street: After completing the tour de office building, I set my sights on my street - Sherbrooke West. Before signing the lease, I chose this street strategically because of foot-traffic, demographics, and logistics. Here, the plan was two-fold. The first was to go from retail shop to retail shop with flyers and a speech. Sort of like the office building. The second was to continue to improve my already strong relationship with Lululemon. They were adjacent to the gym and always treated local fitness institutions very well. As per the former, once again, in practice, it didn’t go as well as I thought. The retail shop employees wanted something different than I was able to offer. However, I noted this and went back to improve the product, pitch, and flyers. On the other hand, the Lululemon situation worked out well. They allowed me to set-up a booth outside their shop one day and eventually would send some staff to participate in training sessions.

  5. The Area and Community: The last of the steps that I’ve fully followed was the area and community. Here, the decision was to go door-to-door and drop off flyers to the homes that surrounded the area. As per the consistent theme from above, this didn’t go as well as hoped. However, once again, I learned through some of the mistakes that I needed more feet, better flyers, and a stronger message to attract clients. That being said, once again I did find a few leads so a little progress was made.

  6. The Greater Area and Community: This would be the last of the steps that are within the mental model. I haven’t given much attention to this part yet - as I haven’t needed to. Although, there are snippets of this part that I’m currently attacking. For instance, such as this article, I’m trying to do more content creation by showcasing to the greater public the product of Hudson Avenue. However, each time I get closer to this step, I decide to head back to the product and improve it. Product development will always be my bread and butter, however, without working from the inside out, I would’ve never learned what the public wanted.

I think the best thing that came from the office building, street, and area, was that at each step it might have not gone as planned but I spoke to people. I had a good idea of the product I needed and the market, however, by spending most of the day speaking to people, I was able to continue to refine and learn what they wanted. This helped me to continue to build the right product for the right market.


Matthew GoltHudson Avenue
Thoughts on Starting and Stabilizing a Small Business

I wanted to share some thoughts and lessons that I learned from the first few years of business at Hudson Avenue, and from my former employer Blackout Fitness. However, as much as I love sharing and coaching, it should be noted that advice should always be taken with a grain of salt. As with most advice, it’s always largely contextual. That being said, here are four lessons that I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Survival. The first key ingredient for business success was to survive. It was that simple. Find a way to survive or die. And that meant being resourceful as heck and wearing many, many hats. I learned to build shelves, teach myself bookkeeping, build my own website from scratch, and even find some time to train clients. The longer you survive, the greater chance you have at success.

Before I opened up Hudson, I knew the numbers. According to the Government of Canada’s “Key Small Business Statistics” , although 86% of small businesses do survive their first two years, only 43% of them survive 10. I didn’t intend to be a statistic. In order to side-step failure, I held on dearly to my “why”.

KSBS_Jan2019_figure_4_eng.gif

2. Start With Why. At this point, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”. If not, here is a link to the famous Ted Talk and the book of the same name. However, I will sum up the idea with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a why can bear almost any how”.


download.jpg


For me, this was my saving grace. Without this, I would’ve failed ten times over. The ideology that kept me afloat was genuinely wanting to help others. I knew that if I didn’t build what I thought I could, then it would most likely never be built. Furthermore, if it didn’t get built, I thought I’d be doing an injustice to the industry by not helping innovate it. Sounds corny, but is 100% the truth. I was all-in for myself and others.

3. Product Development. The product that I was building that I didn’t think others were going to build, nor had the desire too, was three-fold. The initial two had been done beforeI but needed to be perfected in order to create the final step.

  1. Improving Myself. This was the foundation. The gym would not be successful unless I had control over my physical and mental health, which took a beating at my previous job. It took longer than I would’ve liked, however, it came. This provided me with the clarity of mind to be the captain and steer the ship in the appropriate direction. Expanding on this thought slightly, in theory, the prerogative of a business is to generate as much revenue as possible. However, for the initial two years, this was not my main goal. Contrary to typical business advice, I had enough capital to survive on a reasonable amount of revenue for the first two years, while I prioritized my health. I don’t necessarily recommend this to everyone, however, it should display two things. There is no one right way to build a business and I was very focused on taking care of my health above everything else.

2. Outfitting Gym. Following this, the goal was to properly outfit the gym. However, initially, there were two problems here. The first being the confidence to do so and the second was having the appropriate capital. Over time, I was able to to do both. Here’s a two-year journey of outfitting the gym.

I’m proud that I took my time. Instead of dipping into loans, credit cards, and lines of credits, I waited to have the appropriate revenue to afford to buy the needed equipment. This did create an immense amount of short-term pain because I didn’t date much, socialize, nor do much in the way of fun. However, on the other hand, I’m debt-free, and I think anyone would trade the freedom of that for some short-term pain.

3. Online Programming. Finally, once my health started ticking upwards and I had the right pieces in place, I started focusing on the vision I had for the online programming. The idea was to be able to plan for a workout, track the workout, and share it with the client. It sounded simple, however, was terribly painful to code, formulate, and automate. Every data point needed to make sense, and every step needed to be able to flawlessly integrate with the next. One of the toughest parts of this step was focusing on this, rather than chasing any leads that would’ve generated much-needed revenue. However, the product always came first, as long as I had just enough money to survive.

Here’s a glimpse into the programming.

4. Confidence. The final step was confidence. This became a form of marketing for me. The product was finalized. The only thing left to do was sell. However, because I spent so much time developing a product that individuals wanted, I didn’t need to sell much. Rather, the product sold itself. Sure, I am trying to spread the word more through social media and other tactics. However, even doing so, I don’t feel like too much of a salesman, as I believe so much in the value the product can bring to a person’s life. This thought brought me back to a scene from one of the Steve Jobs movies, where he tells one of his employees the price of the computer and said he wouldn’t budge on it. Rather, he said, sell it - make it happen. Mr. Jobs knew the products worth, eventually, it would sell, I do too.

Now, on to the next phase, and do this cycle all over again.

IMG_6168.jpg























Matthew GoltHudson Avenue
Putting Yourself into a Position to Succeed This Year

The New Year has arrived. As always, being healthier is always on the top of people’s wish-list. Below you can see that losing weight and healthier eating habits are individuals number one goal. Working out more often is number seven. On the flip-side, we know that these resolutions are notoriously tough to keep. In the second chart you can see that only 44.8% of these people keep up their resolutions after six months. Furthermore, I suspect it is even less if you were to merely control for the health group, as it takes more consistency and motivation than some of the others.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.07.45 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.07.58 AM.png

Although I’m not surprised, these results genuinely upset me. As a fitness professional, I see first-hand how physical fitness can help shape a person’s life, physically and mentally. Research clearly supports this too (Warburton, Nicol, & Bredin, 2006). So what gives? Why do so many people have to make New Year’s resolutions to be healthier? And why do so many fail? I believe that many of these individuals are placed into a system that is sometimes designed for them to fail. For instance, you can have an individual that is matched to the wrong gym, that sells them convenience and price, whereas, they really want safety and support. And vice versa, the client that doesn’t care about the technical-nuances of training, and merely wants space and location. These clients wanted to succeed, but their good intentions were replaced by poor information. Therefore, with this in mind, I wanted to offer some solutions to you this New Years, so that you can put yourself in the best possible position to succeed this year.  

Part 1: Being Ready.

Now, I won’t delve too far down this philosophical rabbit hole, however, hear me out for a second. I believe that people truly need to be ready for something to drive change, rather than driven by external motivation. The power of intrinsic motivation is supported by individuals such as, Carol S. Dweck, who argues that “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” If you’re adopting it for someone else, you’ll struggle to grow. But if you’re doing it for your own personal growth, results will follow the vision.

So here’s what I recommend. Think deeply about why you want to get into shape. Whether it is because you want to be able to crawl on the ground with your young daughter, as one of my clients points out. Or you want a place to go to escape from the stresses of entering the workforce in your mid-twenties, as another client does. Whatever the reason is, make sure you own it - and from there, you’re ready to start and hopefully succeed.


Part II: Choosing a Fitness Facility.

Please note, I am an owner of an intimate personal training studio. I still felt it was important to focus on this point, as my global goal is to have people being healthier, rather than solely promote my own endeavour. Also, the truth is, the more people active and achieving their goals is good for business, as it creates more confidence and interaction within the health industry.

Here’s a list of the different fitness facilities that you might encounter on your search:


1. Bodyweight in-home and out-of-home training. In-home and out-of-home training would mostly be directed towards the group that puts budget and location on a premium and those that have the self-confidence and self-awareness to move on their own. That being said, something like this can be broken down into two different points on a spectrum.


A. The first would be those that don’t need any equipment. All they need is an old-program or youthful energy to cook up something to get them moving. Truthfully, something as simple as gardening, cleaning and walking are activities. Maybe not too intense, and something that should be supported by resistance training, but still more activity than not. And of course I can’t take for granted that biking, running, and swimming should be included within this category. Or even playing some pick-up basketball or ice hockey outdoors. Without sounding too corny, which there is no chance I can do, discover your inner-child again and play. Fitness doesn’t need to be expensive, nor timely, it just needs to be achieved.


B. Moving along the spectrum, and we’ll call this number two, is having an in-home gym or personal cardio studio. As per the former, I’ve seen much success here. You don’t need much to make this work. In-home training allows you to work out while the kids are sleeping, too much snow is on the road, or you only have 20-minutes before you’re heading out for some beers. If you are looking for something like this, I’d point you towards www.treadmillfactory.com. Treadmill Factory and other companies like them can help shape a basement or spare room into something that can meet your demands. Truthfully, all you really need is a squat rack, bench, bar, and some plates. If you want to throw in some luxury items, grab some dumb-bells, medicine balls, exercise ball and bands, and you’re more than set.  On the flip side, I rarely see success with an in-home cardio studio. They’re bulky and expensive, and seem to take up more room than do any good. Anecdotally, this is supported through the consistent ads on Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji to try and sell them. I’d stay away from them, but to each their own, and every individual is so different. Don’t forget that.


C. Finally, the third is the most popular of all the options on the list right now, and is ironically an in-home cardio equipment. The Peloton, which is a bike and interactive platform that is branded as “a private indoor cycling studio in your home” has furthered the intersection between fitness and technology. The bike is not much different than any other, however, the platform allows you to feel as if you have the ambiance and motivation of spinning class, in the comfort and location of your own home. They’ve actually become so popular that they’ve unseated…yes, pun intended… SoulCycle for the most popular exercise-bike company.

12-15-16_peloton1.jpg

There are a few drawbacks though:

  1. It’ll set you back approx. 2,000$, and that’s before taxes and the monthly subscription-fee towards the platform.

  2. Not available in the best country in the whole entire world! Canada.

  3. Biking is merely one plane of movement. A Peloton will do great things for your cardiovascular health, however, from a strength and conditioning coaching point of view, your body craves movement in multiples directions and solely biking won’t provide that.

    In conclusion, my thoughts are this. If this price is in your wheelhouse…did it again.. and you want to improve your cardio and be more motivated, then by all means buy it. However, just as one of our clients does, make sure to supplement it with some multi-direction movement and strength training, so that you can reap the full-rewards of your hard work.


2. Commercial Gym. For location and budget, this will be the next closest thing to in-home and out-of-home training. Commercial gyms tend to have multiple locations, at varying budgets, that’ll most likely fit your needs and wants. Just as the above has a spectrum so does this. At one end of the spectrum, you’ll have the likes of Planet Fitness, Econofitness, and Goodlife that are fitness facilities that don’t discriminate against your location, nor pocketbook. These options will set you back anywhere from say, 10-50$ per month. Very fair and reasonable for what you’ll receive. Included here will be, space, equipment, trainers for hire, and ordinary locker rooms. On the other hand, if you have the budget, and are looking for high-end personal trainers, luxurious locker rooms, juice bar, and the “extras” then something like an Equinox would be down your alley. These tend to be more scattered throughout major cities, but still worth the extra 5-minute drive if you want the extra-attention and luxury.


3. Group Training. Along with the Peloton, the most popular trend right now in the fitness industry is group training classes. For these, think SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp. Before I opened a private training studio, I helped manage a commercial gym that put group classes at a premium. Here’s what I learnt. As per the pro’s, they’re budget-friendly, sweaty, and social. On the flip side, individual attention can’t be objectively met. Sometimes this is dangerous in a high-intensity environment, and some individuals won’t find the results they’re looking for as their social and physiological needs can’t be met. So what do I recommend? Determine where your body and mind fits best. Within a social, sweaty, and budget friendly realm, or with individualized attention and programming. There is no wrong answer, just what fits your social, economic, and physiological profile.


4. Personal and Semi-Private Training. This is by far the most costly of the bunch. Individuals are paying a premium for personalized-service, but with that come results. Here’s the warning though - make sure that the coach that you hire is worth the $$. I won’t go too far into detail here, as that’ll be saved for an upcoming article, however, in short, look for attention to detail, sociability, and understanding of anatomy. Rather than, someone prescribing exercises that don’t have an evidence-based reason behind it or merely holding a stop-watch and counting reps. Also, they’re phone and fork should be kept on the sideline. You’re the focus.

 

Part III: Habits.

Now that you’ve chosen your fitness facility, I wanted to offer some thoughts on habits that can put you into a position to succeed this year. As I normally do with thoughts on health and wellness, I break them into three groups: self-care, nutrition, and movement.

  1. On self-care. I see two divisions here. The first is unconditional rest and the second is the simple, yet overlooked super-drug of sleep. As per the former, this is discussed in Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness recent book, “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive on the New Science of Success”. In the book, they argue for the equation that (stress + rest = growth). For them, the key towards optimal performance is working hard, really hard, but once finished with that endeavour, being able to turn off. I know, easier said than done though. They use the example of Lin Manuela Miranda to support this opinion,

“A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.”

In the context of health and wellness, it is imperative to allow your body and mind time to recover from a tough workout or workday. Without this, you’re body only knows stress. From this, it cannot grow, as it is continuously ignoring the rest portion of the equation. The approach they’d offer to ease into a restful state is to find a mindful activity that can help you down-regulate, such as, board games, stretching, or socializing.

At the top of the foundation of the pyramid of rest is sleep. One of my first introductions into the importance of sleep was from the wonderful Arianna Huffington. See, at around the same time that Arianna was starting to host speeches and write books on the importance of sleep, I was struggling to accept the importance of it. Her realization of the need arrived following a personal episode of sleep deprivation that resulted in her fainting and being hospitalized with cuts and bruises. From there, she began getting her recommended sleep and studying the science and importance of it. I learnt from her that although scientists have different theories as to why we sleep, they are in agreement that we need it - and need more it.

In Russell Foster’s Ted Talk on “Why Do We Sleep”, he offers answers to two questions that I think will help you understand our own sleep patterns better.

  1. How do we know if we’re getting enough sleep?

  2. How can we get more?

As per the former, here is what he has to say,

Well, it's not rocket science. If you need an alarm clock to get you out of bed in the morning, if you are taking a long time to get up, if you need lots of stimulants, if you're grumpy, if you're irritable, if you're told by your work colleagues that you're looking tired and irritable, chances are you are sleep-deprived. Listen to them. Listen to yourself.

And as per the second,

Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. The first critical thing is make it as dark as you possibly can, and also make it slightly cool. Very important. Actually, reduce your amount of light exposure at least half an hour before you go to bed. Light increases levels of alertness and will delay sleep. What's the last thing that most of us do before we go to bed? We stand in a massively lit bathroom, looking into the mirror cleaning our teeth. It's the worst thing we can possibly do before we go to sleep. Turn off those mobile phones. Turn off those computers. Turn off all of those things that are also going to excite the brain. Try not to drink caffeine too late in the day, ideally not after lunch.

Finally, as Dr. Foster opened his talk with this quote, I’ll close this section with it.

"Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber." - William Shakespeare.

If Shakespeare has the time to accept the beauty of sleep, and still do what he did, so can you.

2. On Nutrition. I want to break this portion into two sections. The first will be a little bit of the research and the second will be a guide towards eating better that Dietician Jess Perez put together earlier this year.

For the first, I’ll begin with the acclaimed doctor and writer, Dr. Michael Greger. He is the author of the book, “How Not to Die.” In this book, he argues that the power to prevent disease and weight gain is within our own hands and plates. He even draws a quote from the inventor of the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, who says,

“the doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”.

Now, in defence of medicine, this quote needs to be taken in slight jest, but make no mistake, there is much truth to it. As Dr. Greger continuously argues in his book, there is an epidemic of curable diseases within the United States and we have the tools to solve a lot of it with improved nutrition. He goes on to discuss the importance of whole-foods and the such. However, the main takeaway from the book is to eat well-balanced, portion controlled, and colourful meals.

Here are Jess Perez “10 Commands of Eating Better”, that I think can be an outstanding guide towards helping you make better decisions towards eating.

The 10 Commandments of Eating Better (2)-page-001.jpg

3. As per movement, I’ll use my anecdotal experience and Ben Bruno’s “10 Commandments on Lifting” to help weave our way through the understanding of this final habit. Whether walking, running, or lifting, we know that moving is imperative towards our well-being. However, we do not do enough of it. According to a recent report from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) only 23% of Americans aged between 18-65 get enough exercise. This is according to the standard American guidelines of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 of moderate exercise, per week.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 2.40.15 PM.png

Therefore, with my clients, I try my hardest to put them into a position to succeed. I don’t have them do something that they won’t take a liking too. Rather, if they like to sweat, I’ll push them hard. If they rather have a calmer more technical workout, I have that within my tool-box too. The more success I have with clients, the more I realize it is because I listened, rather than spoke.

6779ff9dd5355ff6a3328bd1377bbf4a--good-listener-stop-talking.jpg

Movement is something habitual, however, societal norms and evolutionary practices have made this more difficult to accomplish. For instance, when you’re used to sitting down all day, you become good at sitting down all-day. And, when you’re busy taking care of your child after work, you struggle to find time for yourself and the gym. Therefore, the activity at the gym, or wherever you’re practicing your movement, must be something that is challenging enough to take you out of your physiological comfort zone BUT also supporting your unique profile as a person. From there, you can evolve and improve.

As per some tips for lifting within the gym, here’s Celebrity Trainer Ben Bruno,

The 10 Commandments of Lifting-page-001.jpg

In conclusion, I hope some of these thoughts, tips, and research can help you with your 2019 goals, because more so than anything I want people to be healthy, active and happy. Cheers.

On Your New Year's Resolution, Part 2

Now that you’ve chosen your fitness facility, I wanted to offer some thoughts on habits that can put you into a position to succeed this year. As I normally do with thoughts on health and wellness, I break them into three groups: self-care, nutrition, and movement.

  1. On self-care. I see two divisions here. The first is unconditional rest and the second is the simple, yet overlooked super-drug of sleep. As per the former, this is discussed in Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness recent book, “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive on the New Science of Success”. In the book, they argue for the equation that (stress + rest = growth). For them, the key towards optimal performance is working hard, really hard, but once finished with that endeavour, being able to turn off. I know, easier said than done though. They use the example of Lin Manuela Miranda to support this opinion,

“A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.”

In the context of health and wellness, it is imperative to allow your body and mind time to recover from a tough workout or workday. Without this, you’re body only knows stress. From this, it cannot grow, as it is continuously ignoring the rest portion of the equation. The approach they’d offer to ease into a restful state is to find a mindful activity that can help you down-regulate, such as, board games, stretching, or socializing.

At the top of the rest pyramid is sleep. One of my first introductions into the importance of sleep was from the wonderful Arianna Huffington. See, at around the same time that Arianna was starting to host speeches and write books on the importance of sleep, I was struggling to accept the importance of it. Her realization of the need arrived following a personal episode of sleep deprivation that resulted in her fainting and being hospitalized with cuts and bruises. From there, she began getting her recommended sleep and studying the science and importance of it. I learnt from her that although scientists have different theories as to why we sleep, they are in agreement that we need it - and need more it.

In Russell Foster’s Ted Talk on “Why Do We Sleep”, he offers answers to two questions that I think will help you understand our own sleep patterns better.

  1. How do we know if we’re getting enough sleep?

  2. How can we get more?

As per the former, here is what he has to say,

Well, it's not rocket science. If you need an alarm clock to get you out of bed in the morning, if you are taking a long time to get up, if you need lots of stimulants, if you're grumpy, if you're irritable, if you're told by your work colleagues that you're looking tired and irritable, chances are you are sleep-deprived. Listen to them. Listen to yourself.

And as per the second,

Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. The first critical thing is make it as dark as you possibly can, and also make it slightly cool. Very important. Actually, reduce your amount of light exposure at least half an hour before you go to bed. Light increases levels of alertness and will delay sleep. What's the last thing that most of us do before we go to bed? We stand in a massively lit bathroom, looking into the mirror cleaning our teeth. It's the worst thing we can possibly do before we go to sleep. Turn off those mobile phones. Turn off those computers. Turn off all of those things that are also going to excite the brain. Try not to drink caffeine too late in the day, ideally not after lunch.

Finally, as Dr. Foster opened his talk with this quote, I’ll close this section with it.

"Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber." - William Shakespeare.

If Shakespeare can accept the beauty of sleep, so can you.

2. On Nutrition. I want to break this portion into two sections. The first will be a little bit of the research and the second will be a guide towards eating better that Dietician Jess Perez put together earlier this year.

For the first, I’ll begin with the acclaimed doctor and writer, Dr. Michael Greger. He is the author of the book, “How Not to Die.” In this book, he argues that the power to prevent disease and weight gain is within our own hands and plates. He even draws a quote from the inventor of the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, who says,

“the doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”.

Now, in defence of medicine, this quote needs to be taken in slight jest, but make no mistake, there is much truth to it. As Dr. Greger continuously argues in his book, there is an epidemic of curable diseases within the United States, and we have the tools to solve a lot of it with improved nutrition. He goes on to discuss the importance of whole-foods and the such. However, the main takeaway from the book is to eat well-balanced, portion controlled, and colourful meals.

Here are Jess Perez “10 Commands of Eating Better”, that I think can be an outstanding guide towards helping you make better decisions towards eating.

The 10 Commandments of Eating Better (2)-page-001.jpg

3. As per movement, I’ll use my anecdotal experience and Ben Bruno’s “10 Commandments on Lifting” to help weave our way through the understanding of this final habit. Whether walking, running, or lifting, we know that moving is imperative towards our well-being. However, we do not do enough of it. According to a recent report from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) only 23% of Americans aged between 18-65 get enough exercise. This is according to the standard American guidelines of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 of moderate exercise, per week.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 2.40.15 PM.png

Therefore, with my clients, I try my hardest to put them into a position to succeed. I don’t have them do something that they won’t take a liking too. Rather, if they like to sweat, I’ll push them hard. If they rather have a calmer more technical workout, I have that within my tool-box too. The more success I have with clients, the more I realize it was because I listened, rather than spoke.

6779ff9dd5355ff6a3328bd1377bbf4a--good-listener-stop-talking.jpg

Movement is something habitual, however, societal norms and evolutionary practices have made this more difficult to accomplish. For instance, when you’re used to sitting down all day, you become good at sitting down all-day. And, when you’re busy taking care of your child after work, you struggle to find time for yourself and the gym. Therefore, the activity at the gym, or wherever you’re practicing your movement, must be something that is challenging enough to take you out of your physiological comfort zone BUT also supporting your unique profile as a person. From there, you can evolve and improve.

As per some tips for lifting within the gym, here’s Celebrity Trainer Ben Bruno,

The 10 Commandments of Lifting-page-001.jpg

In conclusion, I hope some of these thoughts, tips, and research can help you with your 2019 goals, because more so than anything I want people to be healthy, active and happy. Cheers.

On Your New Year's Resolution

As the New Year fast approaches, so do New Year's resolutions, and healthier habits always seem to top the list. As you can see below, losing weight and healthier eating habits are number one. Working out more often is number seven. On the flip-side, we know that these resolutions are notoriously tough to keep. As you can see from the second chart, only 44.8% of these people keep up their resolutions after six months. Furthermore, I suspect it is even less if you were to merely control for the health group, as it takes more consistency and motivation than some of the others.


https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

Although I’m not surprised, these results genuinely upset me. As a fitness professional, I see first-hand how much physical fitness can help shape a person’s life, and physical and mental health. Research clearly supports this too (Warburton, Nicol, & Bredin, 2006). So what gives? Why do so many people have to make New Year’s resolutions to be healthier? And why do so many fail? I believe many of these individuals are placed into a system that is sometimes designed for them to fail. For instance, you can have an individual that is matched to the wrong gym, that sells them convenience and price, whereas, they really want reputation and support. And vice versa, the client that doesn’t care about the technical-nuances of training, and merely wants space and location. These clients wanted to succeed, but their good intentions were replaced by poor information. Therefore, with this in mind, I wanted to offer some solutions to you this New Years, so that you can put yourself in the best possible position to succeed this year.  

  1. Being ready. Now, I won’t delve too far down this philosophical rabbit hole, however, hear me out for a second. I believe that people truly need to be ready for something to drive change, rather than external motivation dictate it. The power of intrinsic motivation is supported by individuals such as, Carol S. Dweck, who argues that “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” If you’re adopting it for someone else, you’ll struggle to grow. But if you’re doing it for your own personal growth, from thought and vision will come results.

So here’s what I recommend. Think deeply about why you want to get into shape. Whether it is because you want to be able to crawl on the ground with your young daughter, as one of my clients points out, or you want a place to go to escape from the stresses of entering the workforce in your mid-twenties, as another client does. Whatever the reason is, make sure you own it - and from there, you’re ready to start and hopefully succeed.


2. Choosing a fitness facility.

Please note, I am an owner of an intimate personal training studio. I still felt it was important to focus on this point, as my global goal is to have people healthier, rather than solely promote my own endeavour. Also, the truth is, the more people active and achieving their goals is good for business, as it creates more confidence and interaction within the health industry.

Here’s a list of the different fitness facilities that you might encounter on your search.


1. Bodyweight in-home and out-of-home training. In-home and out-of-home training would mostly be directed towards the group that puts budget and location on a premium, and those that have the self-confidence and self-awareness to move on their own. That being said, something like this can be broken down into different points on a spectrum.


A. The first would be those that don’t need any equipment. All they need is an old-program or youthful energy to cook up something to get them moving. Truthfully, something as simple as gardening, cleaning and walking are activities. Maybe not too intense, and something that should be supported by resistance training, but still more activity than not. And of course I can’t take for granted that biking, running, and swimming should be included within this category. Or even playing some pick-up basketball or ice hockey outdoors. Without sounding too corny, which there is no chance I can do, discover your inner-child again and play. Fitness doesn’t need to be expensive, nor timely, it just needs to be achieved.


B. Moving along the spectrum, and we’ll call this number two, is having an in-home gym or personal cardio studio. As per the former, I’ve seen much success here. You don’t need much to make this work. In-home training allows you to work out while the kids are sleeping, too much snow is on the road, or you only have 20-minutes before you’re heading out for beers with the boys. If you are looking for something like this, I’d point you towards www.treadmillfactory.com. Treadmill Factory and other businesses like them can help shape a basement or spare room into something that can meet your needs and wants. Truthfully, all you really need is a squat rack, bench, bar, and some plates. If you want to throw in some luxury items, grab some dumb-bells, medicine balls, exercise ball and bands, and you’re more than set.  On the flip side, I rarely see success with an in-home cardio studio. They’re bulky and expensive, and seem to take up more room than do good. This is proven through the consistent ads on Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji to try and sell them. I’d stay away from them, but to each their own, and every individual is so different. Don’t forget that.


C. Finally, the third is most popular of all the options on the list right now, and is ironically an in-home cardio equipment. The Peloton, which is a bike and app that is branded as “a private indoor cycling studio in your home” has furthered the intersection between fitness and technology. The bike is not much different than any other, however, the app allows you to feel as if you have the ambiance and motivation of spinning class, in the comfort and location of your own home. They’ve actually become so popular that they’ve unseated…yes, pun intended… SoulCycle for the most popular exercise-bike company.

12-15-16_peloton1.jpg

There are a few drawbacks though:

  1. It’ll set you back approx. 2,000$, and that’s before taxes and the monthly subscription-fee towards the app.

  1. Not available in the best country in the whole entire world! Canada.

  2. Biking is merely one plane of movement. A Peloton will do great things for your cardiovascular health, however, from a strength and conditioning coaching point of view, your body craves movement in multiples directions, and solely biking won’t provide that.

    In conclusion, my thoughts are this, if this budget is in your wheelhouse…did it again.. and you want to improve your cardio and adhere towards commitment, then by all means buy it. However, just as one of our clients does, make sure to supplement it with some multi-direction movement and strength training, so you’ll reap the full-rewards of your hard work.


2. Commercial Gym. For location and budget, this will be the next closest thing to in-home and out-of-home training. Commercial gyms tend to have multiple locations, at varying budgets, that’ll most likely fit your needs and wants. Just as the above has a spectrum so does this. At one end of the spectrum, you’ll have the likes of Planet Fitness, Econofitness, and Goodlife that are fitness facilities that don’t discriminate against your location, nor pocketbook. These options will set you back anywhere from say, 10-50$ per month. Very fair and reasonable for what you’ll receive. Included here will be, space, equipment, trainers for hire, and ordinary locker rooms. On the other hand, if you have the budget, and are looking for high-end personal trainers, luxurious locker rooms, juice bar, and the “extras” then something like an Equinox would be down your alley. These tend to be more scattered throughout major cities, but still worth the extra 5-minute drive if you want the extra-attention and luxury.


3. Group Training. Along with the Peloton, the most popular trend right now in the fitness industry is group training classes. For these, think SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp. Before I opened a private training studio, I helped manage a commercial gym that put group classes at a premium. Here’s what I learnt. As per the pro’s, they’re budget-friendly, sweaty, and social. On the flip side, individual attention can’t be objectively met. Sometimes this is dangerous in a high-intensity environment, and some individuals won’t find the results they’re looking for as their social and physiological needs can’t be met. So what do I recommend? Determine where your body and mind fits best. Within a social, sweaty, and budget friendly realm, or with individualized attention and programming. There is no wrong answer, just what fits your social, economic, and physiological profile.


4. Personal and Semi-Private Training. This is by far the most costly of the bunch. However, I’m so passionate and filled with so much purpose when it comes to this option. I won’t ramble on too long though, but I’ve never seen as much success as I do here. Individuals are paying a premium for personalized-service, but with that are coming results. Here’s the warning though - make sure that the coach that you hire is worth the $$. I won’t go too far into detail here, as that’ll be saved for an upcoming article, however, in short, look for attention to detail, sociability, and understanding of anatomy. Rather than, someone prescribing exercises that don’t have an evidence-based reason behind it or merely holding a stop-watch and counting reps. Also, they’re found and fork should be kept on the sideline. You’re the focus.

As per number three and four, on habits that’ll help you succeed. I’m going to save it for next week, so that the content can stay within the realm our gold-fish attention-spans.

Matthew GoltHudson Avenue
On Eric Cressey's "Sturdy Shoulder Solutions"

Last week I finished watching Eric Cressey’s “Sturdy Shoulder Solutions”. This is a webinar and lab-based presentation that is branded as,

“A modern guide to the who, what, when, why, and how of shoulder care health and high performance.”

Taking Eric’s advice from a previous Instagram post about content creation, I wanted to create my own from the lecture, and share some of the lessons that I learned from watching. Here are 9 of them.

  1. On Content Creation. This is something quite topical right now. When to share content? And how much is too much? Eric is one of the individuals who I use as a muse to answer the above. From watching the presentation and other forms of his social intently, I noticed a pattern to his content creation. I believe he uses four directives to help shape his thoughts on sharing.

The first is studying the research. As Eric notes in previous articles, he isn’t a researcher, however, clearly, he’s a proponent of learning the research to help support his practical findings and/or practically applying the research. The second piggybacks’ off the former, and that is to practically apply the research. This is the part of the content creation spectrum that Eric separates himself from others. He has amassed himself an embarrassment of riches of athletes and general population clients to practically apply research from leading researchers, such as Dr. Stu McGill and Shirley A. Sahrmann. From there, he may share his unique observations that can’t be found elsewhere. This brings us to the third. Share wisely. Without delving too much into this, there are two types of individuals that currently share. The first being those who share because they think it’ll drive business, which it rarely does, nor lasts. And the second, those who share because they genuinely have something worth sharing. Eric can be categorized into the latter population. Big time. My thoughts are this, share to help find the signal within the noise, not add to the noise. Share because you’ve added to the research and understanding of the serratus anterior, not because you have six-pack or a motivational post to share. Lastly, the fourth, he is not dissuaded when a handful of individuals don’t take well to his content, such as readers or conference observers. Rather, he continues to put his head down and do good work. He’s able to do this because he has a plan that he adheres too. Learn the research. Apply the research. And then ask himself, is this worth sharing? Have Internet haters. Repeat.

2. KEEP. THE. BALL. ON. THE. SOCKET. The shoulder is a highly complicated joint, probably the most of the bunch. It is so complicated in fact, that it is often referred to as the “shoulder complex”. This is in reference to the four joints that make up it’s combined movement, which are the: glenohumeral joint, acromioclavicular, sternoclavicular, and scapulothoracic. In the first of the seven webinars, Eric delves into the complicated nature of the shoulder, describing the many working parts. Here’s a peak of some of the anatomical reasons for the complex nature of the shoulder.

(Note: I hope it’s okay that I grabbed a slide or two off the presentation.)

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 6.23.54 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 6.24.03 PM.png

On the flip side though, he argues that shoulder health has a simple solution, KEEP THE BALL ON THE SOCKET. The problem though is that this simple solution is complicated by the complex nature of the shoulder. Herein lies why the big guy makes the big bucks. He takes the complicated and simplifies it just enough for us.

DM7pt_uXcAI_kuQ.jpg

3. Do you job. It wouldn’t be a proper article about a Bostonian without an ode to Bill Belichick. Here’s him discussing, doing your job.

This is a simple and timeless concept, that helps direct much of my entrepreneurial and managerial spirit. Do. Your. Job. Something so beautiful and simple, that our irrationality, poor preparation, and ego, often times gets in the way of. In the webinar, Eric presents two points about doing one’s job. The first is work within your scope. Specifically, refer out when you need to refer out. For those who don’t know when too, I messaged sought-after Montreal Physiotherapist, Andrij Ferguson, to provide his answer to the question.

He states that coaches should refer out when,

They are suspecting an issue that goes beyond the typical and expected aches and pain we feel before, during, or after training.”

Andrij expands on this thought, describing the job of a physiotherapist.

He argues that their job is to be,

“Primary care health professionals that are trained in diagnosing musculoskeletal injury and pain disorders, both chronic and acute, while also being able to screen for serious red flag pathology or other issues that warrant medical or pharmacist referral.”

This leads us to the second point of Eric’s presentation. What is a trainers job? Our job is to keep our clients healthy. Keep them away from the doctor and/or physiotherapist. In our industry, consistency reigns supreme. Keep them playing, whether in sports or playing with their children at home. If you’re not keeping your client consistent and healthy, you’re not DOING. YOUR. JOB.

Here’s a graph that I mocked up quickly that I usually adhere too.

Doctor --> Play.jpg

4. “Take pride in each movement”. Mid-way through the opening webinar, Eric states that you should take pride in each movement. From experience, if individuals are performing compound movements, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups, they’re a little bit more attentive. However, for exercises like thoracic flexion and extension during the warm-up or a serratus anterior wall-slide with a foam roller, they’re less cognitively engaged. Sure, those exercises are less sexy, however, they deserve the same amount of attention as the bigger lifts. Think of these exercises of being the practice, for the game-time, which will be your squats, lunges, and push-ups. And as Michael Jordan has always alluded too, practice is just as important as the game.

38466-Michael-Jordan-Quote-You-can-practice-shooting-eight-hours-a-day.jpg

5. On Pain and Posture. This is one of the topics that tends to bring out the worst out of coaches and therapists. Does poor posture contribute to increased pain? The position that Eric takes is that poor posture does contribute to increased pain. He supports his position with countless research studies, including Sorensen, CJ et al. First off, hat tip to Eric for taking a shot at this controversy, as like I said, it brings the worst out of people.

Secondly, the research for the aforementioned Sorensen, CJ et al., describes that they assessed lumbar lordosis as it’s related to prolonged standing. What they found is that after two hours of prolonged standing was that “lumbar lordosis was significantly larger in pain developers compared to non-pain developers”. Therefore, they concluded that “the result suggests that standing in more lumbar lordosis may be a risk factor for low back pain development during prolonged standing.”

Eric concludes this part of his web-based seminar with a conclusion and a theory. As for his personal conclusion, he states a few things, as you can see below.

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 10.58.31 AM.png

For his theory he posits this, “poor posture might not cause pain, but improving posture can absolutely reduce pain.” For me, I do think there is significant reasoning behind poor posture contributing to pain. However, regardless which side is significantly right or wrong, it’ll be part of my tool-box to continue helping individuals, as it can’t hurt, it can only help.

6. Train. Train. Train People. These are the words of advice that Aaron and myself continually give to our intern and ourselves. If you’re not training individuals, you’re not practically learning, nor getting better. As Nassim Taleb would argue, you don’t have skin in the game. You aren’t taking risks. You aren’t in a position to find and provide the proper answers and questions.

For Eric, he has skin in the game. He has such a unique marriage between reading the research and applying. He can navigate those two worlds with precision and articulation. It’s actually quite beautiful and rare to see. From watching the video, you can genuinely tell that he can explain the inner-workings of the shoulder in his sleep. Furthermore, it doesn’t come across as if he’s merely reading the research, rather he’s done it a million times. I want a professional in any profession that has this mastery level.

7. The Science and Research. Any theory that Eric posits is supported by research. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned from Aaron is to do your research and have your practical application supported by the theory. Marrying those two will separate you from the pack and further stroke your curiosity. Returning back to Eric, I investigated the slides and found that he cited 29 studies. 29! Anything that he posited and then some, he’d support by research. His thoughts weren’t merely opinions but lessons learned from science and application. That’s content worth sharing and learning from.

8. Know your Anatomy. This one has some relation to the previous lesson. Know your anatomy. This is something that I’ve been told since my first seminar with Mike Boyle, five years ago. Anatomy provides a physiological roadmap to helping improve human movement. Without understanding it - it’s another massive blinder in your attempt to helping individuals. For instance, in his section on “is the Upper Trap the Devil?”, he argues that we often over-treat the upper trap. Often times, the tension that you’ll palpate or the client will feel, is needed. It’s protective. The problem though is that without understanding the anatomy, you’ll want to beat it up, rather than search for the source of the problem.

Funny, I went to google for an article from Mike Boyle about knowing your anatomy, and guess what turned up? This, of course.

https://ericcressey.com/newsletter147html

9. Know your sociology. On the flip side of knowing your anatomy is understanding the sociology of your client. Now, don’t get me wrong, obviously this video isn’t about this, however, I’m sharing lessons that I personally picked-up. Understanding what the client wants is helping make Hudson Avenue a success. Sure, all the clients want to be healthy and move without pain. However, they often times want this without the clinical nature of it. So where do you bridge the gap? For everyone it’s different. That’s why you need to take pieces of the puzzle from Eric. Apply when necessary, but don’t try and act too smart or clinical when not. Tread the line very carefully, because remember, our job is to keep them healthy and consistent, not be anything we’re not.

Meeting Pete Dupuis, Co-Founder and Manager of Cressey Sports Performance.
Me, Pete, and “Dad”, also known as, Eric Cressey. Boston | Cressey Sports Performance

Me, Pete, and “Dad”, also known as, Eric Cressey. Boston | Cressey Sports Performance

This past weekend, I had the chance to drive to Boston, Massachusetts to meet with Pete Dupuis, co-founder, and manager of Cressey Sports Performance (CSP). CSP is known as one of the top strength and conditioning centers in North America, and arguably the best for training baseball pitchers.

About three years ago, I spent the weekend in Barrie, Ontario at an Eric Cressey seminar, Pete’s partner. At the time, Eric was the person I eagerly wanted to meet and learn from. He was a leader within the industry for his research and application of shoulder care techniques for athletes, particularly pitchers. This weekend though, it was about Pete, he was the one I wanted to learn from.

Pete is an MBA, who’s personality, knowledge, and friendship with Eric, helped create a world-class facility some 12 years ago. Before our meeting, he had asked me to put together a list of questions so that he may prepare mentally. I didn’t have any pressing questions, rather, I cared more about learning about the way he listened, thought, and acted. The meeting was a home-run. Pete, who had originally blocked off an hour for me, stayed and chatted for 2 hours and a bit. He even took the time to give me a tour of the facility. Our conversation ranged from the history of CSP and Hudson Avenue, numbers, and work-life balance. I couldn’t have asked for more. I left feeling even more comfortable with the route that Hudson Avenue is taking.

As I mentioned to Aaron when I returned, the biggest takeaway from the meeting was this though: CSP and Pete are unremarkably, remarkable. Nothing particularly stands out about either. Pete dresses in sweats, the equipment is sort of old, and the coaches look quite ordinary. And as Pete said, “there is no master plan”. Rather, the secret is quite simple, maybe even, unremarkable, “they just put their head down and work.” Noted Pete, noted.

One more thing I wanted to add:

When I walked into CSP, I instantly recognized an individual that I follow on Instagram. Her name is Anna Sweeney. She is a “fat positive nutrition therapist and eating disorder dietitian and supervisor”, who has had multiple sclerosis since she was a teenager. Anna was as awesome, lovely, and inspiring in person as she is on social media. She set the foundation for the great day, so thank-you Anna.

Here is her instagram, if you’d like to follow her journey and nutritional advice.

Ben Bruno's 10 Commandments of Lifting

I’ve been building a cache of the “10 Commandments of …”, in regards to health and wellness, since Ben Bruno inspired me with his “10 Commandments of Lifting.” It’s funny, before Hudson Avenue was conceived, and I knew that there would be content creation involved, I said to myself, “just make sure you don’t do any of those corny top 10 lists”. Now, these aren’t exactly those lists, however, they’re similar. That being said, since seeing Ben Bruno do his, you realize that they work when done right. He’s knowledgeable, reputable, and personable, and leveraged those gifts to create a highly popular and respected list. I’m trying to do the same for other modalities within the health world, such as we did with Jess Perez and the 10 Commandments of Eating Better.

I have more to come but first I really wanted to share Ben Bruno’s because:

  1. It wasn’t ubiquitously over the internet, nor in .JPEG format. Probably because he’s so popular and/or doesn’t care.

  2. It expresses the sentiments of Hudson Avenue and really couldn’t be improved on.

  3. He, and I guess Moses, were the inspiration for this list.

The 10 Commandments of Lifting-page-001.jpg
The 10 Commandments of Eating Better

Editor’s note:

I’ve recently noticed that a plethora of social media accounts are publishing nutritional advice. In theory this is great. Individuals are becoming more passionate and aware than ever about eating well. However, in practice, it’s confusing. As Nate Silver would allude to, people are struggling to find the signal within the noise. There is a wealth of information, yet a dearth of trust-worthy and reputable sources.

In response to this, I reached out to Jess Perez, a practicing dietitian at the Jewish General Hospital and her own practice, to provide her academic and practical expertise. I asked her to put together a nutritional template and practical guidelines to help people make better decisions with eating. The template was requested by clients, and the guideline inspired by Ben Bruno and his 10 Commandments of Lifting. As with Ben Bruno’s list, the intention is to provide individuals with a fun, practical, and evidence-based list to help them improve their daily and weekly eating habits. Next week, we’ll follow up with the nutritional template to add to the help :)

Here is the list that Jess Perez put together. I think you will take quite well to it - as it’ll help you when confused, frustrated, or questioning if you’re making the right or wrong decision. If you continue to scroll down, you’ll notice a JPEG version. Feel free to drag and drop that onto your computer interface and print it out.


The 10 Commandments of Eating Better

  1. You can’t depend on anyone else to make diet changes for you. It’s on you.

  2. Fat and sugar aren’t the enemies. Gluttony is.

  3. Take the word “diet” out of your vocabulary. For long term nutrition success, use the term “lifestyle” instead.

  4. There is no such thing as a “cheat day”. Some days you’ll eat better than others and that’s okay. The important thing to remember is that one day won’t ruin your progress and long term success means balance.

  5. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store for most of your shopping needs. Write a list of the foods you need from the middle aisles before you go there.

  6. Your weight is only one indicator of your overall nutrition and health. Focus on eating the right foods in the right amounts and your weight will become secondary.

  7. Avoid food products that make health claims. The foods that actually keep you healthy, don’t need the publicity (think: vegetables aren’t packaged with health claims).

  8. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.

  9. Be mindful of what you eat. In other words, allow yourself to explore how the food you choose to eat affects your body, mind, feelings, and environment. This takes practice so be patient.

  10. Remember all this helps, but do not forget to live life too.

The 10 Commandments of Eating Better (2)-page-001.jpg
On Hudson Avenue Programming

At Hudson Avenue, part of our mission is,

“Our coaching philosophy dictates that clients of Hudson Ave. deserve personalized programming to help facilitate their own unique physical and psychological wants and needs.”

Our programming is something that makes us part of a unique group within the personal training world. In professional sports and the medical field, individualized programming is standard protocol. We do not see this as often as we’d hope within our profession. Not to say there aren’t those that do this, there are plenty, especially in Montreal. Just not as consistent as clients deserve. Therefore, since Hudson Avenue has opened we’ve made it a focus to have each session directed by personally-tailored programming. This has produced consistent results for our clients, as we can appropriately track their progress in person and on paper.

Here is a look at our programming.

Client Programming (Name 2FDate)-page-001.jpg
Client Programming (Name 2FDate) (dragged)-page-001.jpg
Client Programming (Name 2FDate) (dragged) 2-page-001.jpg
hudsonavenueprogramming.jpg

As you’ll notice the programming can be broken down into five-distinct parts:

  1. Client Profile

  2. Weekly Notes

  3. Warm-Up

  4. Strength & Conditioning

  5. Cool-Down

Each has there place within our programming. Client profile will help build our sociological and biological understanding of our client. Warm-up will prime their body and mind for the task at hand. And, the cool-down will leave them feeling reinvigorated and with time to communicate with us. We strongly believe that individual programming is a necessity in personal training. Each client needs and deserves this, anything else should be below industry protocol.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to message Aaron Wilson or Matthew Golt for more information.

Matt Lassman, the Intern.
hudsonavenueintern.jpg

Hi, I’m Matthew the intern!

I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside Matt & Aaron for the past month. Prior to embarking on the internship, I anticipated that I would learn about emerging evidence-based training principles. I learned the theoretical basics of strength training in a university setting, however, it’s unfeasible to cover all the relevant scientific literature in a limited time. Additionally, I felt that I required practical experience to apply the concepts I learnt in school. I thought Hudson Avenue would be an effective practical supplement to my kinesiology education. 

Previously, I was an elite hockey player and am a current high-level athlete, albeit in a different sport. I was, and still am, a dedicated athlete who follows a strict diet and workout program. In essence, I push myself to my limits on a regular basis. I presumed I’d be entering an environment at Hudson Avenue surrounded by people who wanted to be pushed in a similar manner.

Fast-forward to my first day where I realized my coaching philosophy required a transformative shift, as it was woefully unadaptable to the client who walked through the door. To address misjudgment, I reflected on the session with Matt & Aaron to critically analyze the social determinants influencing our interactions with clients, as well as the positive and negative aspects of each session. Thereafter, Matt, Aaron and I continue to reflect on each session. The exercise empowers me to better address each client’s personal needs, whether sociological or physiological. Since that first session, I have adopted a person-centered approach that emphasizes customization. 

Ironically, the major lessons I have learned in my short time at Hudson Avenue were ones analyzing interpersonal factors rather than just the scientific principles of strength & conditioning. The best program is not always the one solely rooted in evidence-based physiology. Rather, the best programs are adaptable and individualized to the particular client. Most clients don’t necessarily want to train like an Olympic-level athlete; they simply want to sweat a little, talk to someone engaging and fun, and leave feeling good about themselves. Others the complete opposite. I have since learned to use a holistic perspective to understand how sociological and psychological factors influence both the client and the professional. Matt and Aaron have made me excited to learn how to integrate multiple aspects of a client’s life into a physical activity program optimal for their goals. 

Lululemon Photoshoot

Earlier this month I had the chance to participate in a Lululemon photoshoot to help celebrate their 30th anniversary. The intention of this project was to recognize community leaders from around the globe, specifically Montreal for this shoot, who’ve made an impact in the past many years.

Thank-you for the support Lululemon, and here are some pictures from Lululemon Storyteller, Marika Dube and Photographer, Valerie Deromenasse from the day.

Less squats, more curls are very much needed :)

Alessa Mattia's Hudson Avenue Pictures

Since we’ve opened the gym, we’ve been lucky enough to have Alessa Mattia as part of the team. As we continue to evolve our website and blog, we wanted to showcase some of the work that she’s helped produce for us. Here’s a compilation of our initial photoshoot, clients in action, and outdoor bootcamp. We hope these photos give you a glimpse into our world at Hudson Avenue and how we get people moving, feeling, and looking better.

Enjoy :) and make sure to support her at @alessainthemoon.

Hudson Avenue Testimonials
download.png

Aaron and myself have had the humbling opportunity to build genuine relationships with clients and professionals within the health and wellness industry for over 18 years combined now. Here are some words from those who’ve trusted us with their patients, mentored us, and took their friends advice to train with us. Thank-you guys for having confidence in us and taking the time to thoughtfully write in support of Hudson Avenue.

Please click on each individual if you’d like to learn more about them and our relationship.

On the Integral Relationship Between Mental Health and Fitness

Editor’s Note: In what will become a regular feature here, we’re lucky enough to have contributors from other divisions of health and wellness willing to share their expertise with us. Here, we have Ryan Golt, a Harvard Master’s student and Mental Health advocate, sharing his thoughts as to why there is an important relationship between mental health and fitness. If you want to learn more about Ryan, please visit his LinkedIn page.

I had the privilege of working as an American Council of Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer for 4 years. Throughout that period, I met some remarkable people, and together, we embarked on a journey to meet their goals. I trained hundreds of people both privately and in group-settings, and I asked each client the same questions from the beginning: why are you here? and what are you looking to gain from working out? Each answer was always quite similar, in that the client was hoping to lose weight, look better, get stronger, and move better. All these reasons are quite standard, but in hindsight, I now realize that in all the responses I received, no one ever mentioned their mental health as a reason for working out. Whether people felt a certain stigma attached to using their mental health as a reason to workout, or maybe because they were unaware of its potential benefits, it was just a reason I never heard. Well, it’s time to bring working out to improve your mental health into mainstream. Working out to promote mental health is something I currently do, it’s something that I’ve shared with many people, and most importantly it is rooted in science. In this brief essay, I would like to introduce the biopsychosocial model of health, and through this lens, show how exercise and physical activity are essential for mental health and wellness. 

As inherent in its name, the biopsychosocial model of health features a three-tier system, which includes biology, psychology, and sociology. The beauty of exercise, movement, and play is that they all encompass health perfectly through this lens and its three features. Let’s take a quick look at each. 


Ryan Golt | Biopsychosocial | Personal Training


In biology, there is no doubt that exercise promotes adaptations in mood and mental health. In a review including hundreds of different studies examining the connection between mental health and exercise, it was found that exercising 3-5 times a week, for 30-60 minutes was able to reduce levels of anxiety and depression (Mikkelsen, Stojanovska, Polenakovic Bosevski, & Apostolopoulos, 2017). Specifically, in another study of over 1 million Americans, individuals who exercised, reported experiencing approximately 43% fewer days of poor mental health days, in a month, compared to individuals who did not exercise (Chekroud et al., 2018). A major part of the reason that exercise promotes mood is due to its ability to increase endorphin levels, which naturally allows your body and mind to feel more positive. However, there are other reasons as well, which are psychosocial in its nature. 

The psychology of exercise can also allow us to gain insight of its role in promoting mood. One theory is that exercise, activity, and play, can provide a distraction from negative thoughts and ruminations individuals experience, especially those who experience anxiety (Eyre, Papps, & Baune, 2013). Not only does physical activity help distract you from negative thoughts, but it can actually replace negative thoughts with an improved sense of self, and feelings of self-efficacy. Another important factor is that simply experiencing self-efficacy has been shown to elevate mood (Middelkamp et al., 2017), and even more importantly, self-efficacy is one of the most important indicators to determine adherence to your goals; thus helping you achieve 3-5 movement sessions per week. 

Finally, there’s the sociological aspect of exercise. It has been shown that the social aspect of movement or play provides an outlet for individuals living with depression and anxiety. This is even further evidenced by a recent study which looked at the effect of physical activity on mental health for over 1 million Americans. It turns out that team sports were the most effective kind of physical activity in reducing the amount of “poor mental health days” (Chekroud et al., 2018). However, exercise both in the gym and outside the gym still proved significant in reducing these poor mental health days. 

In conclusion, get outside and move! Whether it is a walk or jog though the park, a good ole’ fashion game of spike ball with your best buds, or getting your butt to Hudson Avenue to workout with two of Montreal’s top coaches, GET ACTIVE! It’s time to acknowledge that moving for your mental health is as good as a reason as any to get into the gym or park. It’s how I stay mentally healthy and it’s how you could as well. For those of you currently struggling with your mental health, every little thing counts. Even if all you can do is get out of your bed to sit outside, consider it a victory. 

 


Side note from Author: While my goal here is to show you the importance of exercising, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss some possible drawbacks, which is the potential repercussions of working out TOO MUCH. It has been shown that exercise can have a negative - if not detrimental - effect on an individual’s mental health if they become addicted. In fact, an excessive amount of exercising can result in mood and behavioural disorders and even a decline in physical health (Raglin, 1990). Specifically, “extreme ranges of more than 23 times per month, or longer than 90 min per session, were associated with worse mental health” (Chekroud et al., 2018). Like everything else in life, find your balance, find what works for you, and then don’t forget its positive role in mood. 













Ryan GoltHudson AvenueComment
On Cognitive Bias in the Personal Training World
Moneyball | Cognitive Bias | Health and Wellness 

Moneyball | Cognitive Bias | Health and Wellness 

 

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” - Voltaire

 

For many years now I’ve had a love affair with the idea of cognitive bias. The origin of this relationship stems from one of the first books I ever read, Moneyball by Michael Lewis. In this seminal work, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, posits that humans are poor predictors of outcomes. He and his team believed that humans are not as rational as they think, therefore, they should use as much data as possible to support their decisions. As the mainstream later learnt, they weren’t the first to think this. Rather, a pair of Israeli researchers, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman were. As Amos once said tongue-in-cheek, “I study natural stupidity”, referring to their study of human decision-making. I believe the same issue presents itself in the personal training industry. We are not doing a good enough job of utilizing and creating data to help improve our programming for clients.

 

When Aaron Wilson, an Exercise Scientist, first arrived to Hudson Avenue he challenged me to become a better coach. He wanted my programming to be further rooted in science. Aaron said that if you don’t have an evidence-based reason for the exercise selection then it doesn't belong in the program. He was right, I was not doing a good enough job of this. For instance, I have a history of chronic shoulder pain and burnout. I’d often times posit these issues onto my clients and their programming. Rather than giving them what they needed and wanted, I’d sometimes give them what worked for me. This was not rational. As Billy Beane’s assistant, Paul DePodesta, summed up so well in Moneyball, “people always thought their own experience was typical when it wasn’t”. I needed to improve. Hudson Avenue needed to improve.  

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the usage of reason and science is already being used in the personal training industry. Individuals such as, Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, Bret Contreras and Douglas Crashley are helping pioneer it. For instance, even before there was an Aaron in Montreal, Mike Boyle was speaking at a seminar I was attending and demanding that each exercise selection deserved a thought out reason. Furthermore, Eric Cressey and Bret Contreras are doing great jobs at this through scientific research and assessment protocols. That being said, just as Billy Beane wasn’t the first to question human rationality, Hudson Avenue will not be the first to use science to help dictate our programming. We are excited to continue the lead of the likes of Amos, Daniel, Billy, and Coach Boyle.

 

In order to do this, we’ll be adding a few new data points to help further our programming abilities. They’ll include: Functional Movement Screen (FMS), body fat %, and Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Stay tuned for more information on this in following articles.

Here's a great video from Charlie Munger that I re-watched recently, while editing this article. He posits his thoughts on "The Psychology of Human Misjudgement", which summarizes his 25 cognitive biases that he see's in individuals. 

On Matthew Golt
_MG_9975 copy.JPG

Hey!

I’m Matthew Golt. I'm a coach, entrepreneur, and founder of Hudson Avenue.

Hudson Avenue is an extension of who I was and what I’ve always wanted to become. In my youth, I was constant go-getter. Someone who got things done. Conversely, I struggled with academics and the construction of the next phase of my life. Post-university I was lucky enough to fall into a unique situation of running a large commercial gym in downtown Montreal. I found conviction and success there. However, because of many factors, including 90 hour work weeks and predisposition towards anxiety and injury, it caught up to me. My mental and physical health started to deteriorate. This prompted me to take time to travel and foster my own vision of health and wellness.

This sabbatical is where Hudson Avenue was born. It began as an envisioned community where health preceded wealth, less was sometimes more and moving, feeling and looking better all had equal importance. Today we're doing our part to make this dream a practical reality and I'm super proud of what we've accomplished so far :)

 


 

On Hudson Avenue
IMG_3349.JPG

I’m often asked the question: what is Hudson Avenue? In response to this question, I can usually answer in two distinct ways. The first would elude to the physical space that is Hudson Avenue. The equipment, supplies, furniture, people, and systems that make up the place. For individuals wanting this, I’d point them towards our mission statement:

“Hudson Avenue is an intimate personal and semi-private training studio that partners with committed individuals seeking to improve their health. Our coaching philosophy dictates that individuals of Hudson Avenue deserve personalized programming to help promote their own unique physical and psychological needs. The result is a client that looks, moves and feels better. If you desire to invest in your health then we are the coaches for you.”

The other way to answer this question is with an acknowledgment towards the origin of the name Hudson Avenue. In short, Hudson Avenue is a street name in San Francisco, California. My cousin has a house there. During the summer of 2016, he graciously hosted me while I recovered from a nasty burnout following years of mental and physical exhaustion. Hudson Ave. is also the house, community, and culture that was part of my network of support during these trying times. Here, I was reintroduced to unconditional fun, work-life harmony, and like-minded individuals. Most importantly though, the moments of clarity that I was exposed to helped encourage me to eventually return to the health and wellness world.  At the time, I didn’t know in what exact capacity I’d return but knew I would. I also knew that I would call this endeavor, Hudson Avenue. It would be an ode towards the time spent there and a constant reminder of the highs, lows, successes, and failures that helped shape the brand.

Hudson Avenue may evolve into many things. As of now, we’re a personal training and semi-private training studio that partners with committed clients looking to move, feel, and look better. As we grow, we’ll succeed, fail, learn, adapt, shrink and grow. However, the foundations will never be moved. They’ll always be rooted in the lessons learned on Hudson Avenue.




 

On Ambassadorship
IMG_2341.JPG

Privilege - Make the fitness industry great again!

Having moved to Montreal from N.Ireland 6 months ago I feel privileged to live in a culturally rich and diverse environment. At Hudson Avenue it's our privilege to share the passion we have for our vocation with Montreal. However, coming from an underprivileged socioeconomic climate I appreciate that our service can seem esoteric.

Residing in the 'insta-age' we watch the contrived and the curated every day, its unavoidable. We've all seen the work of health and fitness influencers.  At best its some good looking people taking selfies and quoting greek prose in the hope that we feel inspired by their chiseled torsos.  At worst it's under-qualified coaches using pseudoscience to sell dangerous and misleading diets or exercise routines. 

So, in retaliation, we want to start our own brand of ambassadorship. We want to make the industry great again! We want to change industry perception and use sports science to re-educate the masses. We'll be calling our ambassador programme: 'Not an Influencer'.

Each month we will be selecting one person to avail of 1 private session per week for the whole month worth $280 via our Instagram account. What do you have to give us in return? Literally nothing! That's the point. 

Our first ambassador is Olivia, we've trained her a few times now and her energy is infectious. Thanks for letting us spend time with you Liv.