How to Train for 70 – (Before and After pt.1)

A 69 year old’s decision to get fit.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. Janet’s training program was designed to be “comfortable”.

She was never pushed too far, or too hard. We want our clients to associate exercise with feeling good.

2. Her accomplishments were achieved without any tricks or cheats. 

No expensive supplements, drugs, meds, or hormones were involved. Her exercise and nutrition plans were (and still are) common-sense and completely sustainable.

3. She was consistent.

Janet succeeded because she was consistent and modified her lifestyle to prioritize her health. She never missed a day of training, and her nutrition was/is a mainstay in her life.

4. Our training plans work for anyone.

Humans are 99.997% genetically identical to each other. There are no exceptions. Of course, there is not a “one size fits all” training program, which is why we modify the programs based on age, gender, body composition, experience, health conditions, psychology, and more.

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison

Before DNA

Before DNA

The Beginning of the Rest of Her Life
I don’t think Janet understood what she was getting into. Back then, if I were to show her an “after” picture of her six-month future self, she wouldn’t have believed it.

At the beginning of 2015, and at 69 years old, Janet came to train with me because she needed help to “lose some weight, and get stronger for the big seven-zero”. She hadn’t exercised in over 30 years.

Little did she know that this was the beginning of the rest of her life!

The Formula
The first step was to provide Janet with a formula of a combination of elements to consume, in order to

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Tip of the week – Lower back stretches

By Marcin Makselan NASM – CPT, CF – Lv 1


We are introducing a new series of weekly tips that will answer some of the most common questions that our trainers encounter.  This week we will be discussing a condition that affects over three million people each year, but is usually self-treatable.  Lower back pain affects some of our clients and even trainers, but is preventable by focusing on proper stretching before and after exercise.  Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for low back pain.  It takes time and effort to rid yourself of it, so prevention is key.

One of the main reasons people hurt or injure their lower back is because they are not taking the proper steps towards prevention.  Although we always warm up the appropriate muscles before work-outs with dynamic stretching, you should consider static stretching a part of your homework.  Static stretching is best done while the body is at rest and therefore not associated with a work-out.  Just like your school work, this homework can also be checked and graded during your performance in the gym (overhead squats, I’m looking at you).  Lower back stretches not only improve your health, but can also help to improve your posterior chain mobility.

For those that already suffer from chronic low back pain there is help for you as well!  The best way to start to rid yourself of pain is to strengthen the antagonist to the affected muscle group.  For your low back, these would be your T.I.R.E. muscles, or your abs.  There is no quick fix for this though.  Just like any good work out routine, it will take time and consistency to see results.

Here are some lower back stretches that we love:

Thread the Needle Stretch

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Pigeon Stretch

Cobra Stretch






“It’s all about the trainers…”

There is nothing like the feeling of entering a CrossFit gym, WOD still unknown, bass beat booming, athletes from the previous session lingering, some still catching their breath, others chatting excitedly about feats completed. Trainers mingle, offering high fives for the day’s accomplishments and words of wisdom or inspiration to those about to begin the class. Everybody is giddy with anticipation or triumph. This feeling of exhilaration has been present at every CrossFit “box” I have trained at. However, since becoming a member of DNA Personal Training, it has become abundantly clear to me that there are critical differences between CrossFit venues.

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DNA Homework & Travel Workouts

The following workouts are homework to do while traveling. These will be challenging workouts, enough to keep you in shape and even make progress with minimal equipment needs. They are generally kept short and simple, though you should keep the intensity high! Like always, proper technique is most important!

Post results to the comments below.

1. Training Day
10 rounds as fast as humanly possible of:
5 Push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

2. Active recovery (optional)
If you:
<1 month of training (noob?) = 10 mins total run time
2 months in = 1.5 mile jog
>3 months = 5k (3.1 miles)

3. Training
100 burpees FOR TIME, 10 minute cutoff

4. Active recovery (optional)
Go for a Hike or,
Hike downtown and explore,
go on an adventure.

5. Training
Find a park & jungle gym/playground
For time:
as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:
3 pullups (substitute 6 jumping pullups)
6 pushups
9 squats

6. Active Recovery:
Go swimming or, as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes of:
100 flutter kicks
100 reverse flutters (belly down)

7. Training

As many walking lunges in 10 minutes as possible; every minute on the minute do 3 burpees!

8. Active recovery 10 minutes
Practice handstands, wall walks, and/or cartwheels.

9. Training
Complete as fast as possible in order:
50 push ups
100 air squats

10. Active recovery
As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
30 jumping jacks
20 sit-ups
10 burpees

There you have it! Do these on days you would normally train (if possible). If you finish any one of these thinking that it was too easy, then you didn’t push yourself hard enough (no slop)!


Pima Canyon Over Night Hike


On October 18 & 19, DNA Fit Club will be going on an over night hike to “Table Top”, beginning at Pima Canyon Trailhead. This will be a rugged 6 hour ascent up some rocky, and steep terrain, and will definitely be a test of endurance. We consider this event to be for the intermediate to advanced adventure seeker capable of packing their own supplies such as plenty of water, sleeping bag, and food at the very least. You pack it in, You pack it out!

We plan on carpooling as there are fees for overnight parking.

We don’t know at this point if we could expect wet weather, however, I put a list together that includes optional rain gear. Things you will need:

  • WATER! Arizona BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT suggests 1 gallon per person, per day. This varies per individual, but if you’re unsure about how much to bring, 1 gallon per day is generally a good start. October in the Catalinas shouldn’t be too hot, plus our rainy season might provide some emergency water sources if needed. 2 gallons of water weighs 16lbs, but too much might be better than not enough.
  • Very comfortable footwear. Try to avoid shoes that have mesh tops that would allow thorns through. Hiking boots might be the best option.
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tarp in case it rains. (a light weight tent if you’d be ok with hiking up the extra weight)!
  • Jacket/sweater. You might need this for hanging out in the evening by the camp fire. Type might depend on your preference.
  • Food. Ready to eat and/or canned food might be the best option.
  • Hat (optional)
  • Wear pants not shorts. (optional, though there will be some bush whacking). I love my convertible zip-off pants to shorts!
  • An extra pair of socks. I always take a spare on over-nighters.
  • Headlamp and spare batteries. Have you ever had to use the restroom in pitch black, at 2am in the middle of the woods?
  • Toilet paper. See above.
  • Fork/Spoon
  • Poncho. This is a very light and compact solution to rainy weather. Worth it IMO.
  • Insect repellent. Optional, but could keep you comfy.
  • Zip lock bags. 1st for food and stuff. 2nd to keep your phone/electronics safe in case of rain.
  • A couple of large garbage bags. Multi-use but could also be a rain cover for your backpack.


4 Signs Your Nutrition Plan Is Working.. Or Not!

The "Fat Pincher 4000"!

The “Fat Pincher 4000”!

Sometimes changes in health and body aren’t so easy to recognize. DNA’s nutrition program was developed with the intention of being a long-term lifestyle modifier, focused on sustainability. For most of us this means being patient and waiting for changes to occur from the inside-out, and sometimes those changes could take longer than we’d like them to.

A huge problem we create for ourselves is that most of us only focus on certain “problem” body parts, such as belly fat, while the parts we neglect to pay attention to, might be ones that make impressive changes but fail to get noticed. But, it’s those stubborn problem areas that are usually the last to change. That’s why it’s important to get measured once monthly, or at least take some pictures for comparison.

If you are on a fat loss plan, the most difficult time that EVERYONE goes through is “The Ugly Stage”. The Ugly Stage is a point during fat-loss, when fat starts to get soft and saggy, resulting in fat that looks unusually flabby. The good news is soft & squishy fat is an indicator that you are in fact, burning fat! Unfortunately because of this temporary saggy fat, many people think they look worse and lose heart, when in reality holding out for just a little longer would have resulted in a “Whoosh”.

Whooshes seem to happen over night;  when after an extended time (sometimes several weeks) of seemingly zero progress, a big drop in fat/weight occurs, as if out of nowhere. The reality is, sometimes cells have already burned the fat off, leaving behind a water filled cell (water is heavy). As long as one remains diligent, eventually the body signals many of these cells to purge this stored water, and the whoosh results in huge drops!

Becoming a scale-junkie is another common problem. Constantly getting on the scale is not a great motivator. Especially for the beginner to a strength and conditioning program. Lean mass consisting of muscle and bone are good and heavy. Realize that if you’re a beginner, your body probably needs to add some of this good “machinery” to get stronger and healthier. The exchanges of fat and muscle result in less movement on the scale. Step away from the scale! Get rid of it!

To know if your current plan is working, answer these 4 questions:

  1. Are You Seeing Increases In Performance?
    • If you’re consistently getting stronger, moving faster, and are generally getting better in your training, those are all signs that you’re eating an adequate amount of nutrients.
    • If you aren’t sure whether you’re seeing progress, then you obviously haven’t been using your log book!
    • If lately your training sessions haven’t been what they used to be, or you feel sluggish and/or unmotivated to train, this could be a sign of nutritional inadequacies. This often happens to those that have trained for more 6 months or more, as their energy expenditure begins to exceed their energy intake, creating a large caloric deficit. As you become capable of doing more, you should also be adjusting your intake to get more fuel too!
  2. Are You Regularly Feeling Good/Better?
    • From the moment you wake up, do you feel like all is good? Do you have energy throughout the entire day, and usually sleeping well?
    • Junk food will make you groggy, gassy, bloated and interrupt sleep.
  3. Are You Looking Good/Better?
    • The answer is a yes if:
      • Your body fat % is getting better (we test this anytime before class, just ask us).
      • You’re receiving compliments from people who haven’t seen you in a while, or even better, getting compliments from people you regularly see!
      • Your clothes are fitting looser.
  4. Is Your Blood Panel Good/Better?
    • Not everyone has regular access to their blood work so the general rule of thumb here is; if your answers were “Yes” to the rest of these questions, then this one could probably be a yes too.

If you answered “No” to more than one of these questions, then you might consider joining the DNA Nutrition Challenge, or at least re-evaluate your nutritional situation.

More than two “No” answers could be a sign of too many stresses, ill-health factors or worse. We’d  recommend you to seek help to remedy these issues. The potential for more serious health problems could result from prolonged stresses, and might be caused by adrenal fatigue. Sarah Cotten, one of our instructors, is an Adrenal Fatigue Expert, and DNA is also partners with Quality Of Life Medical Research Center. Together, we can help you figure it out and/or refer you to the right people.

If you answered “YES” to at least 3 of these questions then you’re doing something right. Keep on keeping on, and you’ll reach those goals as elusive as they sometimes seem.


The Best Nutrition Advice Ever!

The world of nutrition is literally filled with garbage. Too many people misunderstand how the human body uses nutrients, and because of that common ignorance fall victim to the sales pitches of every online nutrition “expert”. Quick-fix diet plans don’t work because those diets focus on selling some type of product, or offer a sketchy plan that is not sustainable. Fortunately…eating healthy doesn’t have to be a mystery. It is important that we focus on changing the long-term plan… your lifestyle. Apply these 4 simple rules to everyday life, and your health and physique will begin changing for the better.

  1. Eat Real Food! Real food is generally defined as food that is found naturally. If it could be Hunted or Grown, and is naturally occurring, and it fits the rest of these rules, then it is probably good for you. If humans were responsible for its existence, don’t eat it! Mix up your real food in as much variety as you can handle. Don’t be fooled by “food fakes”–> If it has weird ingredients that are difficult to pronounce – be wary.
  2. Eat meat! “Things that you could hunt” (including eggs), should be your main course at every meal. Notice I said MEAT and not Protein? Eating beans because they have protein isn’t the same as eating meat, which is high in all the amino acids our body needs. Also beware of processed meats, and mystery meats…they are JUNK FOOD don’t do it
  3. Eat Plants! Prioritize meat, then add fresh plant food as side dishes. Variety!
    • If it’s sweet it’s a treat, not a meal. example: fruits such as bananas, apples, mangos, and oranges should all be used as a dessert.
    • If it’s a plant that must be processed  to be consumed, you should not over eat it. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight and/or get healthy.
  4. Eat Junk Food! What would life be like without the occasional cheesecake, or Pizza? We invented these foods because they’re delicious. OK, OK, after all that DON’T EAT JUNK FOOD stuff earlier… let’s keep this rule sensibleLimit non-natural and refined foods (Junk Food) to ONE MEAL every:
    • Month if you’re very overweight and need to lose FAT. Yes, ONCE A MONTH!
    • 2-3 weeks if you still need to lose a bit of weight, but otherwise healthy
    • Week if you are happy with your current weight,  health and fitness level

The following chart is a helpful guide in identifying foods that are good for you. It’s not the holy-nutrition-bible, obviously nutrition can get much more complicated, but when in doubt it’s a good tool!

**Interactive Version**

**Printable Version** 

DNA's Real Food Nutrition Guide

Couples That Train Together Remain Together

It’s time to bring sexy back! In honor of all the GREAT couples we’ve helped turn into AWESOME couples, DNA is offering a couples discount! Through AUGUST 2014, couples that sign up together, each receive a 10% discount. That’s a $200 dollar savings!

Fine Print: Only valid with 3,6,12 month packages. Taking the same class time is not a requirement. Cannot be used with any other discounts. Current members are eligible with new sign-up of significant other. Other restrictions may apply.

Hall of Fame – Current Amazing Couples + Alumni!

Couple loses 85lbs in 6 monthsRicky AND Marina lost 85lbs combined in one semester (6 months).


Curtis + Tawnya Freeman


Chuck + Breshka Meyer


Eduardo Huerta + Marie Long


Ernest + Paula Clark

Photo Jul 04, 3 13 51 PM

John + Lina Walther

Photo Jul 26, 12 40 48 PM

Drew Maurer + Sara Burke

DNA Couples we’d love to get a photo of!

Fabiano + Alicia Moura

Bill + Christy Winters

Bob + Susan Baine

James + Kristen Anderson

Javier + Lori Badillo

Jim + Stacy Butler

Paul + Pam Hopman

John + LeeAat Dehnert

Steve + Diane Tooker

Dan + Anne Manka

Damian + Carly Langman-Cox

Luis + Susana Dabdoub

Pat + Kris Hanning

Ryan + Jen Madar

DNA Guarantees 1 Thing…

…that we can get you ripped in six months, training three times per week for thirty minutes. No BS, no pills, no supplements, no weird fad diets, and most important of all, NO hours of torturous training.







Caption: “We Can Get You Ripped by Summer”

When Angel walked in for the first time, he was unsure about taking on personal training. It was December ’13, I asked him what he wanted to achieve, and like many who walk through the door for the first time, he responded “lose a few pounds, and gain some muscle”. I looked at him and said “I Guarantee that if you follow my program I can get you ripped by summer, just in time to hit the beach the way that most people want to; defined and muscular”. The above photos tell the rest of the story. ~Dave

(see his testimonial here)

We at DNA can confidently make this guarantee because:

  1. We understand the way the human body responds to training. In technical terms this is called the hormetic effect of exercise*.  The study describes the benefits of low to moderate “doses” of exercise, as well as the negative effects of inactivity, and the negative effects of too much activity. With this knowledge, we are able to understand and manage the level and dosage of activity to get the best results for any individual. This is what most programs out there don’t understand, and people get injured, or get little results.
  2. We understand how the body uses different nutrients for different needs. Are you training for a marathon? Then you probably need a different food (macro) profile than someone who wants to focus on muscle building. Are you over the age of 45? Then your body needs a great blend of nutrients to reduce inflammation, and increase cellular function. Are you training for a sport or military? Then the macronutrient ratio in relation to caloric intake must be ideal to handle the sheer amount of volume of physical activity.
  3. We understand the psychological triggers that influence the actions and outcomes of the individuals in our programs such as;
    • Making lifestyle changes at home, work, school, and in your immediate circle.
    • The negative mental impact of participating in an exercise-you-to-death type of program.
    • The consequences of being too strict on a nutrition plan.
    • The positive changes of “getting things right”.

Those are just a few examples, but our program really is, you hiring scientists who understand you and your body, and are able to help manage you effectively.

Of course, this guarantee doesn’t suit everyone’s situation. It’s obvious that if you are very obese, then it will take more time to reach a goal to get ripped, but it can get done, and much sooner than expected. Especially if you’ve experienced mediocre results in a crappy program in the past. On the other hand, if you have an underlying health issue, then that can really complicate things. For those in the above categories we do, however, “Guarantee that the programs at DNA will change your life forever”.

Who’s up for the challenge? Contact Us

*Exercise, oxidative stress and hormesis
Zsolt Radaka, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author, Hae Y. Chungd, Erika Koltaia, Albert W. Taylorb, Sataro Gotoa,

The Rest of Me

It’s funny how things change, and how we can learn to appreciate, and embrace, different aspects of training.

As an age-group (i.e., not outstanding) distance runner in my 20’s and 30’s, I rarely stopped to rest. Many runners view rest as a sign of weakness; running the whole race without stopping is a badge of honor, especially at longer distances. I tried to make it as far as possible through training runs without taking a break, sometimes going for well over an hour at once. Elites did it, so I should too, right? I figured that avoiding rest was a good way to build endurance. Never mind that my pace was pretty mellow, in training anyway – LSD, long slow distance, was the name of the game.

As I progressed into triathlon and cycling, uninterrupted athletic efforts just got longer. My bike team would go out for six hours every Saturday and sometimes on Sunday, stopping just a few times for water. The intensity level varied, but was usually relatively low. Those water stops felt great and everyone enjoyed a good coffee (or burrito) stop during a ride. However, I never really thought about the difference that a little rest could make in my performance.

In swim training, I deliberately kept my rests short to try to improve my endurance. I worked on sprints as well as long slow distance, and my swimming improved drastically, possibly due in part to more frequent rests during each workout. Great coaching from Olympian Anna Wilson and the other Tricat coaches also made a big difference, but I doubt I would have developed very well as a swimmer if I never took a rest.

After having kids, my available time for training in three disciplines shrank, and I had far less interest in spending an entire weekend morning on a bike. I discovered CrossFit and kettlebells, and learned that I could thrive on short, intense workouts. I loved the increased efficiency, and also started to appreciate rest more. The intensity required pauses (sometimes so that I didn’t pass out) as well as more recovery, and I began to incorporate more rest into my training – with great results. I was less beat up and having more fun (usually!) than during my days of long distance workouts, and the rest periods became a treat and a necessity instead of a sign of weakness.

The older I get, the more I am learning about the value of rest. Taking a week or two off from lifting allows me to recharge, and usually to return with more strength; I recently bumped through a plateau on my press, and am improving even after six years of lifting (and aging!) I went swimming this morning and was thinking about how stopping every lap or two just felt better – I gave myself a chance to breathe, and the next lap was a little faster and less painful than it may have been without rest. For that matter, I have stopped in the middle of some DNA workouts just because I felt like I had had enough and wouldn’t gain much from continuing.

Granted, I am not training to break any swimming distance or speed records, but taking breaks when you feel like it may be the key to unlock lifestyle fitness. People get discouraged when they feel like they are working into a zone of intolerable pain, or any pain at all, and for some athletes – especially beginners – that discouragement can drive them right back onto the couch. A little exercise or exercise punctuated by rest is far better than none at all, and increasing rest and prioritizing recovery can keep an athlete training, uninjured, throughout his or her lifetime.

Now I understand why my mom loves to swim all summer, and is unconcerned with speed, taking breaks when she feels like it. She has always been active, and at 65, is probably in the top 3-4% of her peer group for fitness (depending how you measure it), without ever racing or forcing herself to do activities that she doesn’t enjoy. She found a formula that works for her, and has kept going over the years, resting as needed and varying activities with the season and the company. She walks with friends – the social aspect also matters.

Some workouts are designed to be short and sharp with no rest, and are best performed as such, but even those workouts are worth a strategy switch every now and then. I recently knocked a staggering 30 seconds off my Fran time (more than 10%) by giving myself an extra few seconds to breathe whenever I stopped, rather than jumping back on the bar as fast as possible. I have gotten stronger thanks to supplemental body weight training, which helps, but I was amazed with my latest PR as I didn’t feel rushed. I just took an extra breath and was faster when I got back on the bar than when I rushed my short recovery pause. A similar principle applies to rowing; taking a longer recovery stroke leads to a more forceful drive, and the “boat” goes faster with less (or similar) perceived effort. It’s almost a free lunch!

Next time you’re pushing yourself past the point of pain, try taking an extra little rest before you hop back in, and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Speaking of rests, after a 2.5 year distance effort, I have officially transferred my interest in DNA to David de la Pena, who is now the full owner. I’ve had a lot of fun and have really enjoyed meeting and working with our fabulous trainers and clients, and I am immensely proud of all of the positive change that DNA has catalyzed since we opened in May 2012. YOU have done the hard work; we just give you the tools to be successful, and you ROCK! I’ll still be around training and helping out with coaching periodically, but will be devoting more time to my responsibilities in the AF Reserve and other ventures, not to mention my family. I will also be taking more rest, and hopefully not working as hard!

I wish Dave and Tina the best of luck as they move DNA forward!

Photos that give Personal Trainers a bad rap


by AJ


Nice squat form, trainer.

Why does it seem like nearly every article about fitness includes a photo of a “personal trainer,” usually a guy, trying to stop a skinny, pony-tailed brunette in cropped yoga pants from injuring herself with tiny weights?

Have you noticed this phenomenon? I don’t see it on the CrossFit-related pages or in any material related to any other functional fitness program – RKC, Gym Jones, etc. – but the mainstream media’s perception of personal training baffles me. Perhaps these journalists have never been in an actual training facility, or spend all their “workout” time slurping Gatorade on the elliptical at a large commercial gym, trying not to break a sweat. In any case, I sincerely hope that these ridiculously non-representative images are not driving people to dismiss personal training as a waste of resources.

To demonstrate my point, I searched on images for “personal trainer” and found numerous examples – sadly, far more examples of tiny weight assists than of real trainers in action. Many of these photos border on sexual harassment. When was the last time a trainer spotted your press? There’s a reason that we stay out of the way: teach an athlete to use proper form, and the weight will move or it won’t. Pushing your elbows won’t help either of us.

Without further ado, I present the Cheese Trainer Montage. Try not to hurl. (I particularly like the guy who is helping his client keep her knees out over her toes, so that she can’t do a good squat because he’s in the way.)


(note:  Watermarks intentionally left in place for credit to the photo sites where I found them. Images are presented for entertainment purposes only.)

Guess what? Female trainers apparently do it too.


How can you help break the misperceptions of personal training that may or may not actually prevail in today’s society? Simple: tell people about DNA. If a friend is thinking about trying personal training but isn’t sure that he/she can handle the rigors of curling a 5 lb neoprene-wrapped dumbbell while a burly college student* in a fitted tee or sleeveless top supports his/her elbow, you can reassure that person that real personal training is much different. Tell them about how we teach proper movement, and work with our students to build their strength with real weights, at an appropriate pace that balances safety and challenge. Promise them that nobody will judge when they decide to wear shorts instead of cropped yoga pants. They will thank you, and so will we!

Our personal training looks more like this, and click here for more photos:

marybeth chinup600x315

Real strength. Yeah!

*Nothing against college students – I’m sure that there are some very competent, experienced personal trainers out there who happen to be college students. I just haven’t met them.

The Whole Hog: a Word on Pork and Bacon

I get questions every now and then about the role of bacon and pork in the nutrition plan. Let’s take a look at pork, bacon, and related delicacies.

dna personal training crossfit 520

Not a DNA Client.

The pigs that end up in the meat case at the grocery store today are raised much differently than the pigs of old. A Google search for “commercial hog raising” turned up…a lot of articles about sustainable pig farming. The megafarms don’t want us to know how our bacon got to us, as it’s not pretty. Wikipedia shed a bit of light on the topic, but in short, the pigs are kept in crates or very small spaces, fed plenty of grain to fatten them up fast (not necessarily their natural diet, and much of it is genetically modified corn, which has its own issues), shot with antibiotics to prevent disease in the closely-packed barns, and then butchered unpleasantly en masse. (Sidenote: commercial dairy cattle are also kept corralled and fed junk food as corn gets more expensive, including stale candy and cookies, which is one of the reasons we do not recommend milk as a beverage and we suggest sticking to organic  if you consume dairy products.) Commercial pig farms also produce a significant toxic waste burden.

Pigs don’t have sweat glands, and thus don’t release toxins easily, which are then stored in their ample fat. They are natural scavengers, and as susceptible to diseases like trichinellosis (flu-like symptoms) and worms. Numerous medical websites recommend avoiding pork because of the health risks, as do entire religions. PETA will tell you that piggies are smart animals, one reason why most Americans don’t eat dog meat.

The demand is rising for pastured pigs, but they require more management and are slower to raise.  Therefore, “clean” pig products are often twice as expensive (or more) than commercially produced ones. Increased awareness of pig farming methods and market forces such as Whole Foods have helped the small pig farmers grow, so better-quality pork is becoming widely available again (as it was before the dawn of CAFOs – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – around 40 years ago), but at a price.

DNA Personal Training Crossfit 520

Wilbur. Babe. Tasty?

Well, that was too much information…so should I eat it or not??

You are what you eat. Do you want to eat a fatty pig that ate a lot of junk that you wouldn’t eat? Or do you just not care – ignorance is bliss, and bacon is AWESOME?

dna personal training crossfit

I’m not sure that I would call this awesome. Creepy, creative, but not awesome.

Based on the facts, we can’t recommend commercially farmed pork products. However, life is too short not to eat bacon, and most people can’t afford $13/lb regularly for organic bacon. Therefore, if you want to eat pork, your best bet is to enjoy it on a limited basis, and get the good stuff whenever possible. Smoke a rack of ribs or a pork butt, roast a tenderloin, or braise a pork chop – whatever you love – but don’t do it every day, and make it a feast, not just a meal. Savor that bacon in the morning, and enjoy it on a salad, but ask them to go easy on it when eating out. In restaurants, you can assume that the pork is mass-produced unless the menu says otherwise, so choose accordingly. If it’s your birthday and you really want ribs at Brushfire, be all means, go for it!

Also, you have choices. Some chicken and turkey sausages have gotten pretty tasty – check the labels for lab-made ingredients, but brands like Applewood and Trader Joe’s carry some relatively clean non-pork sausages. I still can’t get into turkey bacon, but I’ll eat other meats at breakfast – steak and eggs, anyone? You can also just skip it altogether, and try other animals, like lamb and bison, that are always pasture-raised.

DNA Personal Training

You don’t have to eat pork. You can snuggle with it instead.

Of course, mass-produced chicken and beef have issues too, but we’re talking about pigs here. If in doubt, look for hormone-free meat and get organic if you have the coin. It may reduce your risk of serious disease, and your body will thank you.


The sheep-pig. 50% fat! Yes, it’s real!

Spring Leaning: the 21-Day Challenge

If you have checked your email at all in the last 2 weeks, you’re aware that we are holding a 21-day Spring Leaning Challenge, kicking off this weekend. The Challenge includes meal plans and group training for 21 days.

Sara and Drew: What Happens When You Do it Right!

Sara and Drew: What Happens When You Do it Right!

Why 21 days? Simple, but not what you think. Turns out that stuff about 21 days to make a habit is hooey. Apparently, developing a habit generally takes more than 2 months. In 21 days, you can get a solid start and get through the first big psychological hurdles, while keeping motivation and teamwork high. Also, most of us can get our brains around committing to 21 days of extra discipline; longer than that and the challenge can get daunting. Most importantly, people start to feel terrific after about three weeks of clean nutrition and good training. The graduates will launch from Spring Leaning with new motivation, well-prepared to keep up their healthy lifestyle!

SPRING LEANING Goal: get you back on track with nutrition, or to get you started right if you are brand new to DNA and training. Secondary goals: drop up to 4% body fat and feel great!

We’re excited to welcome about three dozen current and new clients who have accepted the Challenge, and we’ll be posting about their success as the 21 days progress. Meanwhile, please cheer them on as they launch into Spring Leaning!

For more information, click on this link.

Basic details:

Orientation @ Swan – 10am, Saturday, 12 April

21 Days: 13 April – 3 May

Tuition: $97 for new members, $29 for current DNA clients

Prerequisites: a great attitude and a desire to buckle down and get results fast!

It’s Mardi Gras! Stupid Easy Jambalaya Recipe

Laissez les bon temps roulez! It’s time for hurricanes, king cakes, beads, chicory coffee, and partying…or it’s just Tuesday. In either case, jambalaya is on the menu.

Our wonderful world has a few ubiquitous comfort foods that show up in every culture. They can be simple, complex, dressed up, stripped down, and interpreted according to the local spices and flavors, whether that requires a day of intense prep and cooking or five minutes with a bag of bread, jars of jam and peanut butter, and a plastic knife. You’re familiar with these foods and have eaten plenty of them. Here’s a partial list:

  • “The Wrap” – food wrapped in other food, usually making it portable and convenient. Examples include sandwiches, wraps, and rolls.
  • “Hot Bev” – leaves or beans broken into small pieces and steeped in hot water to make a beverage. Tea and coffee are the obvious examples.
  • “The Stew” – food chopped up and cooked in liquid, resulting in a hearty soup-like concoction. May or may not include spices, meats, starches (potatoes or rice in most cases), vegetables, legumes, and broth. Can be made from leftovers and whatever is in season, or is in the fridge.

Jambalaya is a cajun variation of the stew, and commonly involves chopped andouille sausage, green peppers, onions, shrimp, and spices cooked with rice in chicken broth, spiced to taste. It’s not very hard to make, but takes a bit of prep time and isn’t as easy as opening a can of Campbell’s Chunky. The web has plenty of great jambalaya recipes for home cooks who don’t mind chopping. Here’s an easy-peasy shortcut for those among you who could burn water and don’t exactly enjoy spending hours in the kitchen.

Stupid Easy Jambalaya Recipe
Recipe Type: easy
Cuisine: cajun
Author: AnneJ
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: how hungry are you?
Convenience version of the classic cajun dish
  • 1 bag of frozen fajita mix, with sliced peppers and onions (chop it up if you feel ambitious)
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp (raw is fine)
  • 12 oz package of andouille sausage – Trader Joe’s chicken andouille is great, and sorry but you will have to chop it up
  • 1 14oz can chopped tomato
  • 2 c chicken stock (one can or half of a box)
  • 1 c rice (or 1 c cauliflower if not a training day – see instructions)
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce and/or cajun seasoning to taste (at least 1 tsp seasoning)
  1. Grab a big pot, and set it on the stove on med-high heat.
  2. Tear open the fajita mix dump it em into the pot.
  3. Chop up the sausage and dump it in.
  4. Throw in the oregano, paprika, and cajun seasoning. If you don’t feel like measuring, just eyeball it. 1/4 tsp is “a little” and 1 tsp is “a good hit.”
  5. Optional: splash some wine or beer in there. Yeah. Cook it off for about 5 minutes.
  6. Open the tomato can and dump it in.
  7. Dump in the rice* and broth.
  8. Bring the heat up until you see bubbles (boiling), then turn it down to low, cover, and ignore for about 40 minutes.
  9. Rip off some parsley and throw it in, or if you are feeling fancy, chop it up.
  10. Throw in the shrimp, and cook on medium for 5-8 minutes, until the shrimp is pink and not frozen.
  11. Stir, scoop up a cup, and nail it with Tabasco! Enjoy!
  12. *Cauli rice: you can “rice” cauliflower with a food processor, or just knife the hell out of it, but it’s not the same – it’s a substitution if you’re not doing starch today, but goes beyond the “stupid easy” definition and violates the spirit of the dish and of Mardi Gras. I suggest using rice or just leaving it out and reducing the broth – meat and peppers with cajun spices is still a tasty dish.


The #1 Most Important Kitchen Tool

Whether you are an experienced cook or just getting started with the nutrition program, good kitchen tools make a huge difference in how well you fuel your body. While a full kitchen remodel can easily cost $20,000 or (much, much) more, you can drastically improve the quality of your cooking experience by investing a bit in high-quality kitchen tools. For example, if you still have the same warped frying pan from college in your cabinet – you know, the one that your mom gave you freshman year – you can replace it with a new heavy-duty stainless pan for $30 or more, and start sautéing your veggies without burning them. A complete anodized aluminum pan set can be purchased for as little as about $80. If you’re not concerned about budget, by all means, head over to Williams-Sonoma and pick up a beautiful set of All-Clad copper core cookware. Most of us do well with good old Calphalon! By the way, research is emerging that links PFOA, chemicals used in making nonstick coating (brand name Teflon), with cancer, so choose cookware that balances your risk tolerance with your level of desire to scrub pots and pans.

Gets a chef excited.

In addition to basics such as pots and pans, kitchen tools about for performing all kinds of culinary tasks with ease and style – silicone spatulas, European egg whisks, mango slicers and shrimp deveiners are all available for your kitchen. Rather than filling your kitchen drawers with every conceivable implement, we recommend figuring out which items get the most use, and buying high-end versions of these. For example, we fix eggs daily at my house, and having a great spatula makes cooking and cleanup a breeze. For just $10, you can have this little piece of awesomeness for cooking your breakfast, too.

Who knew that the spatula could be so fantastic?

Gizmos are subjective and everybody is entitled to have a favorite, but there’s one kitchen tool that can make a huge difference for ANY cook – gourmet or simple, vegan or carnivorous, novice or advanced, and that’s a GREAT KNIFE. I took a knife class (yes, they have those) a few years ago and was shocked at the difference that having a big, sharp knife can make in cooking. It’s more fun and a whole lot easier to cube chicken, slice steak, mince garlic, and perform and other cutting task with a sharp piece of high-quality steel in hand. You can get a decent knife at Target for $20, but if your budget allows, a more expensive knife is worth the cost. This set is a great value and includes a smaller paring knife for jobs that don’t require a big blade – though you can do most cutting tasks with one good chef’s knife.

Read this article to get a cooking geek run-down on knife options.

Also, taking care of your knives is important. Sharpening them regularly and always washing, drying, and putting them away immediately after use can make them last longer. Leaving knives wet (including putting them in the drainer) and running them through the dishwasher will make them go dull faster. Here’s a guide to knife care.

By the way, if a nice $150 knife is just not up to your standards, perhaps you would prefer the $40,000 Nesmuth diamond-studded knife. When’s your birthday?

I keep this in the glove box of my Tesla S, for roadside culinary emergencies.



Goal Posts

What are your goals?

If you’ve been training for a while, sticking to your nutrition plan, and seeing good results, but are starting to plateau on strength or just want to spice things up, goal-setting can be a great way to focus your efforts. DNA’s programming is designed on cycles that are designed to make you progressively stronger over time, but it still helps to have targets to aim for to keep you motivated.  Excelling at many things at once is very tough to do; people who win triathlons are rarely the fastest swimmer, cyclist, or runner, but they’re darn good at all three events.  All-around strength is fantastic for quality of life, but sometimes having a specific achievement in your sights can be the best way to push yourself to the next level.


A folding ITSA GOAL from Sheffield

Goal areas

You can set goals in any area of your life, but we’re going to focus on your body.  At DNA, many clients have a body fat goal. To attain 9% for guys or 15% for women, for example, much dedication to both nutrition and training is required, but the goal can help you stay on track when confronted with chocolate cake or a tall cold one. Your choice has context – you can indulge and enjoy, but you will take a step back from your goal.

Strength goals are easy to set. You can choose a lift that you love or hate, at which you excel or struggle. Time goals are great too – Fran time, 1 mile run time, 30 man-makers…all will work. Competition is great too – if you want to deadlift more than your spouse, for example, you have a goal!

Goal setting

I learned the SMART goal setting framework in the corporate world. It works well in the gym too.

imagesMake your goals SMART!

Specific: just what it says. A 300lb deadlift is a specific goal. “Get stronger” is not. State it clearly and own it!

Measurable: quantify – body fat percentage, run time, lift weight…your goal should be something you can describe objectively, preferably with a number. Yes / no also works – as in “successful strict unassisted pull-up.”

Attainable: start from where you are now, and pick something that you can realistically achieve. If your one rep max squat is 120 lbs, then 250 lbs is not a very good goal (for now, anyway). 150 lbs is a better choice. When you get there, you can pick a new goal!

Relevant: each goal should be relevant to your overall direction. If you want to get stronger, a deadlift goal is a great idea. If you want to build muscle mass, a fast 5K run is not the best choice.

Time-bound: self-explanatory. Time frames of a few months are generally better for motivation than longer ones, and shorter ones are sensitive to bumps in the road. For example, if I can do a 35 lb Turkish getup, setting a goal to lift the 53 lb bell in 2 months is achievable but requires that I do everything right. If I have a business trip in the middle of the 2 months, the goal may become un-achievable. A longer timeline of 3 months gives me wiggle room, and if I get there faster, then great!

What are your goals?

Pick a few goals – 2 or 3 will suffice – and write them in your logbook. Challenge yourself! You can work on your weak areas, or build your strong ones – it’s up to you, but I like a mix. For example, it took me a long time to break 300 lbs on my deadlift, and I worked on it for at least a year; I could aim for 325 lbs by July. However, I’m more interested in working on my pushups at this point, aiming for a one-arm pushup by July. I’m on Step 6 of 10 of Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning pushup progression, building on a strength, and drilling my close pushups a few days each week. I’m also on step 2 of the handstand pushup progression, which is a weak area for me, so giving myself more time to get to a HSPU (September). Both goals are specific, measurable (can I do a one-arm pushup and a handstand pushup, or not?), attainable (!), relevant (working on overall strength and specifically getting better at bodyweight exercises), and time-bound.

Will I get there? Yes! I’ve achieved SMART goals before – a 70 lb KB snatch, a 300 lb deadlift, a 200 lb squat – and I’ll do it again.

Will I have to work? YES!

Are these goals motivating and helpful in focusing my efforts? YES!

Write your goals, and if you need help devising a plan, talk to your trainer – we’ll help you get going!

Soup for You

We don’t have many cold, miserable days in Tucson, but every so often it gets chilly and soup is in order. We had a day like that in mid-December, which gave me an excuse to finally enjoy the chicken soup at Little Cafe Poca Cosa (on north side of the main library, 8am-2pm M-F, cash only, muy delicioso; I recommend the mole, and everything else for that matter).

Turns out that soup can also be ridiculously easy to make at home. Like everything else in the kitchen, you just have to shop and plan ahead a bit, and you can whip up a big enough batch to leave leftovers – the flavors are often better the second day. Here’s a very easy and kid-friendly recipe that we just discovered. Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Minestrone
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Comfort food
Author: Chef in a Flash
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 or so
Delicious and easy minestrone recipe – quick prep too.
  • 1 ounce olive oil (splash in the pan)
  • 1 carrot – peel and chop it
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, or 1 tsp crushed garlic from a jar (add more if you like garlic)
  • 1/2 of an onion – peel it and chop it
  • 1 celery stick – chop it
  • 32 oz (1 box) of chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf (not critical but adds flavor)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste, or 1/2 tsp each if you don’t know what that means
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian chicken sausage (other sausage will work fine, but these are low in fat and sugar)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (optional, if you tolerate legumes)
  • 1 bunch of spinach, washed and chopped (or just buy a bag of baby spinach and toss in some handfuls)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (optional but yummy)
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat for about 5 mins
  2. Saute (cook uncovered and stir periodically) the carrot, garlic, onion, and celery with the olive oil until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and spices, and simmer for 15 minutes (low heat, partially covered – put the lid on at an angle).
  4. While the soup is simmering, slice the sausages lengthwise and chop into bites, to your preference. I get out the ruler and make each piece 1 cm wide. (not really, but I do slice the sausages lengthwise into quarters)
  5. Add sausages, beans, and spinach to the veggies and heat through, about 2 minutes, The spinach will wilt.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve, and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.


Snooze or Lose, Part 1

Welcome to the first installment of a DNA series on sleep. Shuteye, 40 winks, sawing logs, catching some z’s, visiting la la land, zonking out…once we get past about age 9, we LOVE to sleep, and few of us get enough precious hours of slumber. Unfortunately, we can sabotage our training and nutrition efforts by short-changing sleep. Understanding your need for sleep and why it matters can help a lot in improving quality and quantity of sleep, and the results can be amazing.

If you have ever lived with a baby or someone who needs care around the clock, you probably understand how miserable sleep deprivation can be. Your brain feels fogged, you get cranky and have no patience, you can’t think clearly, and decision-making is a real chore. Many people get depressed and even suicidal with long-term sleep deprivation. On the other end of the spectrum, people who get adequate sleep each night have more energy and are generally sharper, happier, and far more upbeat than the unsleeping zombies. Most of us live somewhere in the middle, with almost enough sleep most of the time, punctuated by the occasional really good night’s sleep or late night online / partying / reading / etc. binge.


Why don’t we sleep enough?

Several societal factors influence our tendencies toward insufficient sleep. In short, we humans have done it to ourselves, and Americans value sleep less than many other nations.

  1. Electric light and other modern conveniences. Back in the days before we could easily light a room with the flick of a switch, people generally got up with the sun and went to bed with the sunset. Candles allowed some people to stay up after dark, but  people were probably so tired from performing manual labor all day that staying up after sunset was not preferred anyway. People spent a lot of time hunting, planting and/or harvesting or foraging for food, preparing food, building or maintaining a home, making or maintaining clothing, and performing many other basic tasks needed to live that we now take for granted. Two hundred years ago, people couldn’t go to the mall to buy new clothes and stop at the grocery store on the way home. Wealthy people after the industrial revolution had more shopping options than the caveman, but even then, someone had to get food, cook it, clean, and so forth. Automation of basics tasks and the increase of convenience has given us free time, which we have since jammed full of activities.
  2. Modern activities and distractions. The development of modern conveniences was intended to make life easier. While cars, washing machines, refrigerators, and the modern food distribution system are examples of amenities that have drastically simplified many basic tasks, we have invented a plethora of activities to fill the time previously occupied with basic survival activities. Late-night television has been around for decades, and many of us have traded sleep for Letterman on many nights, especially when we can watch in bed. The twentieth century brought the intrusion of the internet, so that now we can waste countless hours in front of the screen chatting with faraway friends, playing Candy Crush Saga, or even writing blog posts.  While the web now fulfills some of our social needs positively (or dysfunctionally, depending how you view it), online activity precludes sleep for many people. Further, many of us pack our days so full and take on so much that we work into the night, especially if we have to get kids to bed first. Some people just choose to stay up late to read, do puzzles, party, or otherwise relax, enabled by electric light.
  3. Culture and the badge of honor. Unfortunately, out workaholic culture does not value sleep. In some parts of the military, sleep is sometimes treated as a sign of weakness, and people who stay up for 3 days in a row are often viewed with admiration and awe. (Never mind that sleep deprivation has led to countless training accidents, many of them fatal.) Most offices value coming in early and staying late, to the detriment of productivity and usually sleep. Medical interns and residents often work  ridiculously long shifts, and older doctors view sleeplessness as a rite of passage; while the dangers inherent in depriving medical professionals of sleep are becoming recognized, this problem still exists, and will probably die hard. Anecdotally, the Baby Boomer generation seems to value sleep deprivation more than Gen Xers and younger workers, but companies will probably shift to recognize the value of sleep very slowly as different generations take charge.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Wow, that’s depressing. What can I do about it?

Start by recognizing the sleep drainers in your life. If you are staying up later than you like and / or waking up groggy with the alarm, and you know that you need more sleep, take a critical look at your schedule. What are you doing at 10pm and 6am? What can you eliminate from your daily or nightly activities that will allow you to get more sleep?

If you routinely go to bed later than you would like, set yourself an appointment. If necessary, set a sleep alarm – in reverse of the usual alarm clock – so that Mr. Smart Phone tells you to knock it off at the desired hour. Once you have developed the discipline to actually go to bed on time, bring the time forward 15 minutes. Repeat until you can get 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep each night. Implementation is not easy, but it’s critical to your long-term health.

Next time, we will examine why sleep matters, and in future posts I will cover the Golden Rules of Sleep and current research. Until then, sleep well!


A Note on Phases: they aren’t grades

We noticed a misperception among some of our nutrition clients who seem to believe that the program phases are progressive. In other words, some of you seem to think that Phase 2 is more advanced than Phase 1, and so forth. We would like to clarify.

Nope. Not quite.

Phase 1 focuses on quality of food, Phase 2 includes quantity, and Phase 3 brings in timing. Different phases are appropriate for different goals. Phases 2 and 3 are eating for performance, and if you are working on general fitness and strength but not working to drastically increase performance, then Phase 1 is appropriate and the others are not. Similarly, if you are going through a challenging patch – big deadline at work, new baby, sick parents, etc., then you probably need to focus on maintenance and basic lifestyle and not on performance. If you have been on phase 3 for a while and lifting a lot, you may choose to throttle back for a bit, to freshen things up and take a break.

Your training and nutrition will necessarily vary throughout your life. Switching from a performance focus to other goals is not a sign of weakness or giving up. It’s not really possible or healthy to relentlessly pursue strength goals without a break; your body will benefit from an extended rest from time to time. Remember, over training is a form of stress, and your body will fight with inflammation and stress hormones, both of which are detrimental to long-term health. In some cases, motivation can get in the way of progress.

Never feel guilty about throttling back, and changing from one nutrition phase to another; life is a marathon journey, not a continuous sprint, and switching gears is normal and expected. As long as you understand your choices and are comfortable and happy with the state of your body and mind, you are probably progressing just fine. Nutritional phase is just your fueling plan, not a grading scheme, and as such should be chosen according to the state of both your training and your life.

Client of the Month: Marybeth P.!

A.C.T. client Marybeth is our superstar of the month for September. Coincidentally, we also celebrated her birthday, and she is more fabulous than ever! Marybeth has literally worked her butt off in our Accelerated Custom Training program, dropping inches and pounds while gaining lean muscle and transforming herself completely. The photos say it all!

marybeth In the top photos, Marybeth had already been training for several months! We didn’t have a picture before that…

We asked Marybeth some questions to learn a little bit more about here. Here’s what she told us…

Favorite workout: Getting in the door! I can be in the worst mood, and when I get here, I feel great! I’m just grateful to be here – it’s a fun place to be!

Favorite thing about DNA: DNA changes people’s lives on a daily basis! I love the accomplishment I have been able to achieve here!

Favorite personal change: My arms!

Goals: Getting down to 17% body fat. I believe that I’ve learned enough from DNA to keep this going for the rest of my life!

Advice for people who are considering trying DNA: Just start! Don’t be afraid – just go with it…you’ll be glad you did!

Congratulations again to Marybeth, and GREAT JOB!!!

All kids love LOG! How to set up your logbook for success


Remember this?

At DNA, we require each client to keep a logbook. For our accelerated custom training clients, logbooks help us build each client’s program based on individual goals and progress. For all clients, logbooks serve some very important purposes that can keep you on track for meeting your goals and setting new ones.

1. Metrics:

The numbers don’t lie! Your logbook contains a record of your training and development over time. Inside the front cover, you should have post-its with your measurements and body fat percentage; if you don’t have these, make an appointment with David or Craig to get measured. You have a section for logging workouts, and pages for benchmarks – lifting personal records (PRs) by lift and rep count, running PRs by distance, and times and scores for beach mark workouts like Cindy and Fran. This written record is a vault of information that you can use to identify progress and plateaus, and to help you troubleshoot your training if you need an adjustment. Without a written log, you wouldn’t be able to measure your progress, and progress is a powerful motivator! If your max dead lift has gone from 140 lbs to 200 lbs in six months, how can you not be motivated by your stellar strength increase?

2. Accountability

Write a goal in your logbook, and you become accountable to those pages and to yourself. You can see in plain ink when you have been consistent with your training, and how far you are from reaching a goal. If you write down a goal, you are more likely to achieve it, as you have imposed a form of accountability on yourself. Show your trainers and your friends, and you’ll be accountable to them to! Watch for the Goals Board in the gym and add your goal to add public accountability!

Logbook setup

Here’s how to set up your logbook: you have two sections – daily log, and benchmarks. David recommends logging from the back and setting up benchmarks at the front, while AJ reverses the order – pick a method that works for you.

  • For your daily log, simply copy the workout from the board each day, and include the weights and any scaling you do. Also include notes about nutrition and sleep (including diversions, I.e., “nutrition on point” or “old roommate in town, drank 6-pack of Guinness last night,” “up at 2am and 4am with Junior”) and how you feel, if different from your usual self (“felt awesome today,” “slight head cold,” “sluggish for no apparent reason.”)
  • Benchmarks: label a page for each of the lifts below, and add a column for each of the reps listed. For example, the deadlift page will have columns for 5 rep max (5RM), 3RM, and 1RM. When you perform a lift, note the date and your max weight. If you attempted a higher weight and missed it, write the weight with “-” next to it. For example:

DL 3RM 255 265- (2)

This note means that I lifted 255 for 3 reps, and tried 265 but only got 2 reps.
Once you establish benchmarks, you can refer to your log each time the lift comes up in a workout. In the case of the deadlift above, I’ll know to start near where I left off (245 or so, after a warmup) and to try to get 265 or more for 3 reps. That’s how we get stronger over time! If in doubt, you can show your logbook to your trainer, who can help you figure out the right weight for you!
For running and benchmark CrossFit workouts, just give each workout a column for recording your time. You can put Fran and Cindy on the same page, in separate columns, for example. Just be sure to include dates.

Here are the DNA Benchmarks, each of which should have a partial or full page in your logbook (with columns for rep schemes as listed):

  • Deadlift: 5RM, 3 RM, 1RM
  • Front squat: 5RM, 1RM
  • Back squat: 5RM, 1RM
  • Strict press (sp): 5RM, 1RM
  • Bench press: 5RM, 1RM
  • Bent over row: 5RM, 1RM
  • Overhead squat (OHs): 10RM, 5RM, 1RM
  • Pull-ups, chin-ups, muscle ups, dips: each gets 5RM, and also max rep attempt – for example, pull-ups with 12kg for 5RM, or 10 strict pull-ups (if you max out at 10).
  • Olympic lifts: snatch (5RM, 1RM), clean (5RM, 1RM), clean and jerk (5RM, 1RM)
  • Kettlebell lifts: front squat (double bells for 5RM, 1RM), Turkish getup (1RM), swing (5RM), SP (both single and double, 5RM, 1RM), bottoms up press (both single and double, 5RM, 1RM)


  • 5k
  • 1 mile
  • 800m
  • 400m
  • 200m

Workouts: (include weight used)

  • Cindy
  • Fran
  • Helen
  • Snatch test
  • DNA total (sum of deadlift, bench press, front squat)
  • CrossFit total (sum of deadlift, sp, bs)
  • 30 man makers for time
  • Fight gone bad (include the whole tally)
  • Dirty thirty
  • Others that will be added as we go!

If you need help, ask a trainer, or ask friends to show you theirs as examples.

Bottom line – keeping a good record of your training is critical to measure your progress, provide Insight into your performance, and to make you accountable for your training. It’s a requirement of every DNA course and one of the elements that sets us apart as the best training facility in Tucson, ensuring that you are getting the highest value out of your investment, and helping us optimize your training. Make sure your logbook earns an A+ and practice good nutrition and sleep habits, and your results will follow!

Boring-looking but good. You can always decorate it!

Boring-looking but good. You can always decorate it!

Three Days with the Masters: AJ’s RKC II Adventure

On September 5, I snuck out of DNA under the guise of going on Air Force duty for a week. I did actually report for duty in Denver on the 9th (just in time for the epic rains), but I neglected to mention that I would be in St. Paul, Minnesota enroute, attending Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) Level II instructor training.

The RKC II starts with an entry test, which includes a 20 sec flexed arm hang (for females; the guys did weighted pull-ups), a press test, and requalification for Level I, i.e., a snatch test and technique tests of several other moves. I wasn’t concerned about passing any of it except for the press. The standards are graded by weight, so that women over 140lbs have to press a 20kg bell, and 139 and under pressed 18kg. I had the 18kg in the bag, but the 20kg was dicey – I had only pressed it once or twice. Therefore, my main preparation consisted of practicing my press for several weeks, plus a week on what I call the Nun Diet – nun-a-this, nun-a-that… mainly chicken breasts and veggies, very few fats or carbs, and no wine. My dual-pronged strategy worked: I weighed in at 138.4, pressed the 18kg, and then ate a nut bar. Yum.

Since I returned to the same training center where I attended RKC I, the intimidation factor was low as I understood better what to expect. I knew the class would be small. Rather than about 80 people at my RKC course, 13 of us shared the 3 master RKC instructors and 2 assistants. The personal attention was fantastic, and challenging! Master RKC Andrea Cu Cane was the first to zoom in on my lack of thoracic spine mobility, which I had not discovered in five years of training; the rest of the staff followed. The weekend was thus punctuated with reminders to open my upper chest and pull my lower ribs together. This correction alone was quite fatiguing and added an element of challenge to the weekend.


Sheer awesomeness on the right side of this photo.

The RKC system is very focused on teaching technique, and while instructor candidates and required to demonstrate excellent form, the Masters really emphasized ways to teach the various exercises and help clients build strength and skill. One major difference between Levels I and II is that Level I features mainly kettlebell work, and Level II includes several body weight progressions for building superior strength, as well as some advanced kettlebell moves. I did not expect to learn so much about the plank, pull-up, push-up, and pistol (one legged squat) as I did. The most useful component of these exercises was an introduction to activation of the latissimis dorsi, aka “lats” – the huge, powerful muscles in your back that will propel you to a whole new level of performance when you can tap into their power. I had no idea that I had been relying so much on my traps and other neighboring muscles, and despite coaching people to use their lats in pull-ups, I apparently wasn’t very good in recruiting my own.

Hello lat band…I learned one simple drill that woke up those sleeping giants, and that showed me how they feel when put to work. You may have had the pleasure of experiencing the lat band pull in the last week, as I have been using this great little trick left and right! Synopsis – grab a medium pull up band, hold it behind your back at “bra strap level,” and pull out with your hands. Relax and repeat. You will feel your lats working!

Another of my favorite newly-learned cues is “tailbone to navel.” While I understood this concept academically, I got a valuable refresher on the power of this one move for generating core strength. Squeezing your tailbone to your belly button forces you to contract your abs, powering the swing and forming the strong core tension needed for the plank and most lifts (body weight or otherwise). A solid lat crush, triggered by “bending the [imaginary metal] bar,” combined with a tailbone-to-navel core crush and a forceful exhale, generates a ton of force and allows you to do nearly anything.

Learning the thoracic bridge and the body weight progressions was exhausting, and I ended up getting far more fatigued than I did at RKC I, where we did more swings and I was more hungry. Fortunately, the staff were incredibly supportive and invested in our success in the course, dishing out tough love and some humor along with the physical instruction. Master RKCs Phil Ross and Max Shank walk the walk – each not only performs all of the progressions effortlessly, but they both demonstrated elite strength, playing around with one-arm handstand push-ups, front levers, and numerous other impressive feats.  Each owns a premier gym, Max in San Diego and Phil in New Jersey, and both of them shared their extensive experience in training a broad range of clients. Learning from true experts Andrea, Max, and Phil was incredible, and assistants (both RKC II) Leslie and Aaron rounded out the team with precision corrections and insight.

The RKC II test was less intimidating than my first RKC one. I was still struggling with the bent arm press and working on the kettlebell jerk, but had had enough highly supervised practice to perform and teach all of the moves. I had to relearn the windmill and was somewhat nervous about it as it requires thoracic mobility that I don’t have yet, but my pistol was looking fine and the pull-up was easy, thanks to a summer of weighted pull-ups in David’s Applied Strength program. Therefore, at the end of the weekend, I went away with a new certification, a much-expanded bag of tricks for helping DNA clients get stronger, and a renewed appreciation of both body weight training and the entire RKC system.


Girl Power!

I’m enjoying putting my new tools to work for you, and our whole training staff is learning these methods so that you can benefit from them too. Be on the lookout for more special opportunities to strengthen your skills, and have fun supercharging your training!

DNA’s Client of the Month for August: Bianca R.

Talk about amazing results…Bianca started at DNA in just March with a goal of making weight so that she could achieve her dream of joining the military. She dove into training and literally worked her butt off, not only crushing her weight goal but becoming a super-strong Xena in the process. We caught up with Bianca, a 5:30am devotee, and learned a little more about what she likes and what makes her tick.


Favorite lift: clean and jerk

Least favorite exercise: pullups. She has a goal of being able to do 5 strict ones!

Other goals: get stronger, and improve technique

Favorite food: chicken!

Best thing about DNA: Bianca will tell you that the training is effective, and there’s always room to grow and improve within the training. She used to spend countless hours between running and the gym, and didn’t make much progress. Bianca says that if you follow the nutrition plan and train at DNA, you WILL get results.

Inspiration: Shannon!  She’s a little older than Bianca and is evidence that being over 35 does not mean you can’t be ripped and amazingly fit!

Advice to newbies: stay consistent – the first 3 months are tough, and then it gets better. Training at DNA takes a lot less time, so you can lose weight and still have a life.

Bianca also highly recommends training at DNA for anyone preparing to enter the military. She was much fitter than many of her peers at the first PT test, despite being quite a bit older than many of them!

Congratulations again to Bianca on her selection as Client of the Month!


Amazing Transformation

drew-sarahDrew and Sara have been an inspiration to many people. In the time of one semester they have completely transformed their bodies, increased their strength and conditioning to a high degree, and most importantly adjusted their lifestyle towards health for quality living well into the future.

Their training regimen was Advanced Micro Training (A.M.T.), which consists of 3 sessions per week of heavy weight training, with a touch of sprint work among other things. The program was developed to maximize the body’s ability to adapt to low dose stimulus. Every so often a period of testing was thrown in to gauge changes in over all performance.

The couple are proof that 95% of success in training can be attributed to nutrition. Here’s what they had to say about their experience.

Q: You’ve been in DNA’s ADVANCED MICRO TRAINING (A.M.T.) class for about 6 months now, what made you decide to join DNA?

A: There were many factors that caused us to check out DNA. The least interesting being that it was close to where we were living. I had also heard good things about DNA from another member, CJ Doane. In addition to that, Drew had been wanting to get fit for several months prior and thought that the structure that comes along with personal training would help him be accountable and committed.. Finally, we were both stressed out, not happy at work and in need of something to give us balance. DNA was perfect!

Q: For those reading, the AMT program consists of 3 15-minute training sessions per week requiring no other activity! Before beginning this program would you have ever thought that you could see these kind of results in such short training sessions?

A: NO! We do not want to sound too much like an infomercial, but it is absolutely remarkable that one can get these results with such short intense training sessions. Before starting at DNA Sara was running for 2-3 hours/week. Now we still both run less than 1 hour/week +the 45 minutes of DNA training, so the overall amount of time spent working out is less than before but more efficient.

Drew and Sara before

Drew and Sara Before Training

Too be fair, we have also made significant lifestyle changes. Everything Dave says about nutrition is a 100% true and we are eating clean food with a purpose, which has been instrumental in our progress. Fifteen minutes of training leaves 23 hours and 45 minutes to make choices that are going to help those minutes count or circumvent your hard work. Dave taught us how to eat right amplifying the impact of our work in the gym.

Phase 4 Nutrition and intermittent fasting

Drew and Sara Before Training

Q: Both of you have seen mind boggling results! What are some key factors involved in your success/es in this program?

A: Similar to what we said above, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. Also, I think it has really helped that we were doing this together. It is much easier to stay on track as a pair than as an individual. For anyone getting started on a program like this, we would recommend trying to recruit your family or signing up with a friend/partner/roommate. The support, encouragement and camaraderie that comes along with doing this someone else really helped us stay on track.

Q: What kind of training were you involved in before AMT?

A: Drew played sports in high school and lifted off and on until about 2 years ago. Since then and before starting DNA, he jogged a bit and hiked. Sara had never lifted and was a runner before starting at DNA, running between 15-20 miles/week.

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Q: What kind of supplements were/are you taking? It seems impossible that these drastic results can happen with out any “help”!

A: Do sweet potatoes and lean protein count as a supplement? We were not taking any supplements until about 1 month ago. When we started phase III nutrition and the intermittent fasting we started taking BCAAs 20 minutes before we work out, but that is it. Since working out with DNA, we have never used protein shakes or any other sort of health supplement. We actually have both stopped taking multivitamins. Now that we eat better they seem superfluous, if not detrimental. It was just all real, clean food.

Q: Nutrition is a major factor, describe your experience with PHASE 4 NUTRITION.

A: Anytime we would start a new nutrition phase, the first week was challenging. After 1-2 weeks it seems routine. This was even true with phase I. With phase II, Sara could not believe that she was going to have to eat 193 grams of carbs on training days. Quickly, it did not feel like enough food, and now 299 grams is the norm. When Dave introduced the concept of intermittent fasting, we were both all for it. Not just for performance reasons, but mostly because there are extensive data showing that it promotes longevity, lowers cancer risk, and increases insulin receptor sensitivity. Our current nutrition plan has it so we only eat between 12 pm and 8 pm. The first day was really hard for Sara, she did not feel like she could do anything in the gym, and both of us had a hard time getting our macros in before 8 pm. Then we discovered sweet potato smoothies with kefir (it is fermented diary, so not inflammatory) and coconut water. After about 2 weeks, we both stopped feeling hungry before noon. It has only been a challenge when switching time zones, easy to go east but those 3 extra hours hurt coming home. Now it seems really easy to put away a lot of food in one sitting. One of the coolest aspects of experimenting with this phase of nutrition is to see how quickly your body can adapt to be entrained to shorter eating windows. The caloric intake remains the same, but the extra time off your digestive system gets results in a lot less oxidative stress. We are glad that Dave figured this out for us and we plan to keep it up indefinitely.

Q: What weight and body fat did you start at? finish?

A: Drew was 165 and 17.9% body fat. Yesterday, he was 157 and 5% body fat. That is a loss of ~21 pounds of fat and an increase in 13 pounds of lean body weight. Sara was 137 pounds and 28.5% body fat. Yesterday, she was 122 pounds and 12.7% body fat, with a total loss 15.5 pounds of body fat and an increase in 8.5 pounds

of lean body weight. That is just since February 26th!

Q: How long were your workouts?

A: Typically around 15 minutes not including rolling out and warming up. On occasion we would go up to 30 minutes, but that was rare. We were also running 2-3 times a week, but nothing long or serious and this was just for fun. Running is more of a hobby than exercise for us now. The exception to this was the 5 weeks that we were in Anne’s natural running class, which had us doing drills and cadence intervals 2-3 times/week that took around 20 minutes to complete. But this was more about fixing our poor running form than getting fit. Now we can run for fun and know that we are not going to damage ourselves. Quick plug for Anne’s course: proper form also made us a lot faster, which helped us get PRs on that dreaded 400m that comes after Dave’s applied strength “A” program.

Drew and Sara

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Q: What did you eat or how did your diet change?

A: We did not eat terrible before, but our diets were certainly not optimized. A bit better than the typical American diet. We ate a lot of organic green leafy vegetables and whole grains. We also ate a lot or red meat and little to no fish. Our biggest mistake was how much bread, pasta and pizza we consumed. Sara used to love her pasta. We also drank a lot of beer before. We both love craft beer and in particular high octane IPAs for Sara and dense stouts and porters for Drew. Enjoying a beer used to be almost a nightly indulgence for us. We also used to eat out a lot more, especially for lunch. I think our biggest mistake, other than the beer, was mixing fat and carbs, for example, fried chicken and waffles and mac ‘n cheese were not uncommon. In the most recent phase of nutrition, Drew had to make the transition to drinking black coffee (rather than coffee with cream/milk).

Q: What food did you miss?

A: This is a really interesting and not straight forward question. The first month, Sara missed ice cream and beer and Drew missed snack food and beer. Dave did a clever thing after our first month of training, however. We both had a great weigh in and he gave us a cheat meal allowing us to go all out with beer and whatever else for one meal. Sara ate a lot of ice cream and Drew had snickers. We both drank more than a couple beers and felt really crappy afterwards- a sugar along with alcohol hangover. Since we were so used to feeling great most of the time, this kind of took away our cravings. In neuroscience they call this ‘aversive conditioning’, Dave called it “de-conditioning”. Now there is not much that we miss, mostly because our palates have changed and we have discovered new things that we love. Sara does not miss ice cream because frozen kefir is amazing and on carb days we can eat it on gluten-free sweet potato pancakes. This is perfection! We have also discovered grilled tilapia with a citrus marinade…yum. Drew makes the analogy that it is like moving to another country. You probably will not be able to find good tamales in New Zealand, but the lamb and seafood will more than make up for it. Neither of us miss pasta at all.
That is not to say there aren’t cravings. Deep fried oreos or chocolate covered pretzels still sound good to Drew, but it is a transient craving that can be replaced by something better.

Q: Were you hungry?
During the first month of phase I nutrition, neither of us were ever hungry, although we also never felt totally full. We both think that this is because by cutting out grains and most carbs, we never felt that bloated feeling often associated with being full. We no longer have this association and being full now means that we are on track for getting in our macros. After the first month, it was a little different between the two of us. Sara usually did not feel hungry, except during the first week of starting intermittent fasting. Sara had also done Weight Watchers before (many years ago in grad school), and definitely felt less hungry with this nutrition plan compared to previous diets. Drew has had episodes where he has certainly felt hungry and like he “cannot eat enough”. This is usually before he meets with Dave to adjust his macros again. The point is that we never felt like we were starving ourselves to lose fat.

Q: How long did it take you to notice a change in your body? What change in your body did you notice first?

A: Both of us agree that we started to notice changes in about 3 weeks. For Sara, it was her calves having more definition. We were living in a house with no full length mirror, however. After about 6 weeks, we went to stay at the Tubac Golf Resort for Sara’s birthday, and when Sara saw her abs in the bathroom mirror of our cottage, she was blown away. For Drew it was his stomach definition coming back. His abs became prominent after about 3-4 weeks. Also, after doing Anne’s Natural Running Class we both noticed a new muscle on the top outer portion of our feet develop. This may have also grown from lifting in minimal shows, but it is funny to see something develop that you did not even know was there.

Q: Did you energy level increase?

A: Yes. Both in and out of the gym. We often talk about our second day in the gym in which we did a modified “Helen” (we ran 200m instead of 400m and neither of us were near Rx weights for the swings). It was an atrocious, nauseating, ear-throb inducing tragedy. In terms of conditioning, there was no where else to go but up. Now, we have more of an interest in the “most-fun-you-never-want-to-have-again” workouts like FGB (with a special preference for how DNA conducts it). Getting to prescription level was exciting as well as pushing for a higher score. Sometime early on, one of the trainers said “If you’re tired, you’re most likely not eating enough”. This was also something important to learn, but once we had our diet tuned to our macros (and spaced so we could fit them into one day), the afternoon sleepiness that traditionally followed lunchtime went away.

Q: Did you sleep better?

A: This is complicated to answer and not straight forward. Overall, we go to bed earlier now and have better sleep hygiene. But we are also drinking a lot more water, so we both have to get up to pee 1-2 times a night. Then there are the nights after a really intense, long workout in which we both have had problems sleeping. This has only happened twice. Neither of could sleep after the Memorial Day Hero Workout “Murph”. Sara could also not sleep after doing the “filthy fifty”. We suspect that there is an inverted-U shape curve with regards to physical activity and sleep.

Q: What is in a normal day’s menu?

A: We always start the day with 1-2 cups of black coffee. It does not have any calories, so it does not break the fast. Drew loves his coffee and likes to find fun facts about its benefits. Here is one fun fact: Coffee may ward off cavities!
Off days: Some sort of grilled protein (fish, lean beef, chicken), sauteed scallops or shrimp, riced cauliflower, salad (with yogurt-based salad dressing to cut fat- the brand is called Bolthouse Farms and is sold at Whole foods. Ranch and bleu cheese), nonfat greek yogurt with a little bit of blueberries, kefir and some other non-starchy vegetable. We avoid soy (except soy sauce, which is fermented), milk, corn, corn syrup and all grains. We still eat hamburgers and sandwiches, but with romaine or butter lettuce cups instead of buns. This is now our preference, as the bun takes away from the flavor of the protein and the lettuce adds a nice crunch making the texture better. Also, we have discovered a dark chocolate at Trader Joe’s with limited sugar and no soy lectin. Drew has one small square of this every night and Sara has one on off days only. It is a small indulgence that keeps us from craving other sweet things. Also, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and good for your brain.
Training days: We start off at noon with ~20oz of sweet potato smoothie (2-4 sweet potatoes, 1 cup kefir, 1-2cups coconut water, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste)…yum! We cannot get enough of these. Rice with veggies, egg whites and chicken breast, grilled fish or shrimp, and more potatoes or rice. We may also eat a slice or 2 of rice/pecan gluten free bread with cinnamon (we make sure it is a bread without sugar). Cinnamon is an amazing substitute for sweetener. Sara puts it in yogurt, on bread and in smoothies. We also get carbs by eating organic gluten-free rice cereal with kefir. Our favorite is Erehwon. On Fridays, after training, we go for all-you-can eat sushi at Sushi Hama. We avoid the rolls and fill up on nigiri (ordering mainly lean fish, limited salmon, and no Krab). Finally, we still eat salad on these days, but not as much relative to the off days.

Q: Did you drink alcohol?

A: Very sparingly. We were both interviewing for academic jobs during this time, and would travel for this almost once a month. These interviews are 2-3 days and involve some wining and dining so we would typically have 1 drink at dinner, which was expected by search committees. The major change for us regarding our alcohol consumption is that there now has to be an occasion to drink. We both had a few drinks on the 4th of July and at Dave and Tina’s engagement party. Once, Sara had a beer after work for no reason but then went for a run immediately after, which made for a good run 🙂 Dave put the cost of drinking alcohol in perspective for us after we rowed our first 5K. It took Drew 19:59 and Sara ~22:00 minutes and it seemed hard. We burned around only 200 calories. Dave pointed out that we had just burned one beer. It seems easier to save the beer for something special. We should also note that with the exception of the engagement party, which fell on a Friday, we NEVER drink on training days. When we drink, there is also a big effort to eat lean protein and very little carbs.

Smoking a Joint

(How’s that for a post title??)

I bet that you or someone you know has, or has had, joint pain at some point in your training career. (I don’t care if you have only been with DNA for 3 classes – you have a training career!) Plenty of people show up with a history of knee pain. Shoulder and elbow injuries crop up in training, and occasionally someone gets a wrist or thumb issue.

Joint pain stinks because of its persistence – it nags and seems to take ages to go away, and rest and ice only help temporarily relieve the pain. What’s an athlete to do?

Check for a referral

Chances are that your joint pain is not originating in the joint. Pain (or other sensations) “refer” when the sensation originates in one place and is felt elsewhere. Reflexology is based on referral – pressure on different parts of your foot can refer to different areas of your body, thus causing or alleviating tension elsewhere.

Precarious balance

Even if you consistently train functional movements, muscle groups may develop unevenly, causing muscle imbalances that can pull a joint…out of joint. For example, tight pectoral (chest) muscles may cause shoulder pain if your lateral and trapezius muscles (in your back) are less developed or looser, and vice-versa.

The other critical pieces of the puzzle

You’ve heard us say this a lot, but you need ample protein and plenty of sleep for your body to repair itself. If you are surviving on a teeny portion of chicken and 6.5 hours of sleep each night, your body is lacking the resources it needs to rebuild itself. You need food as the building blocks, and sleep for hormone release and tissue repair. Don’t skimp – hit your macros, and get 7.5-8.5 hours of continuous sleep! (Sleep-deprived population caveat: new parents, women in menopause, etc. – do the best that you can!)

Troubleshooting the Top Three Joint Problems

1. Knees

Chances are that your feet are causing your knee trouble. If you are wearing bulky shoes, especially cushioned running shoes, your body has to fight for stability through all that mushy rubber. Your feet are designed to deal with stresses from a solid dirt surface, not a pillow. If you are a heel-striker when running, you’re sending a shock through your knee every time you land. Watch a small child run – they pick up their feet and fall forward! Even orthotics can cause problems by artificially positioning your feet.

Troubleshooting: Try flat shoes, especially for heavy lifting and running. For running, start easy – don’t run a 5K on the first day. Some people (moi) get to throw out their orthotics after 15 years, thanks to Vibrams. Give it a try.

2. Shoulders

As mentioned above, your chest muscles and back muscles are probably imbalanced. Most people have trouble activating their back muscles as actively as their chest muscles…after all, you can’t see them! Extra mobility work will help a lot, as will working those bent over rows and pullups. If you have been building 5 rep maxes, rewind and work technique at a lighter weight.

Troubleshooting: Ask a trainer about multidirectional band stretching, and practice it daily as part of your warmup or cooldown. Also try Mark Reifkind’s shoulder stretching tips, and make friends with a pain ball for pecs and your back.

3. Elbows

Pressure in your wrist can make your elbows hurt. Tennis elbow works that way, in fact. If you have been working on muscle ups, heavy bench, or even lots of pushups and have been putting a lot of pressure on your wrists (especially with flared elbows), you may have elbow pain as a result.

Troubleshooting: Take a break from muscle ups, or work bar muscle ups for a while to switch the pressure direction on the wrists. Lighten the load on bench pressing – rewind the weight and pay attention to the angle of your wrist as you lift. Straight wrists are generally better.

Finally, remember to pay attention to your nervous system. Activating your nerves better is a great way to tap into strength, and the neural aspect of the motor units in your body don’t get the respect they deserve. Explosive movements, such as tuck jumps, light thrusters, burpees, or jumping squats, and motion drills such as those taught in Z Health are good ways to prime your nerves for activity. Waking up nerves is a little abstract, but if you have ever felt an electrical storm in your lower back during “Fran,” you can appreciate the amazing power of nerves.

Don’t let a smoked joint slow you down – talk to a trainer for a plan to fix it!

DNA’s Client of the Month for July: Ernie C.

If you’re not normally an early riser, set an alarm one morning (after going to bed early, to get your 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep!) and come to DNA to meet the 5:30am crew. Our first class of the day is a tight-knit, fantastic bunch of athletes who are making great progress and setting the standard for the other classes to follow. Though many of them are worthy of distinction, only one could win our first Client of the Month award. Meet Ernie!


Ernie is not shy about his checkered past, and credits DNA with “saving [his] life.” He has tremendous

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HOTSHOTS – 10 August 2013 @DNA

hotshots2We at DNA believe in giving back. Last year, we hosted the 31 Heroes workout in early August. We considered doing it again this year, but after the Yarnell Hill fire disaster on 30 June, we decided that we wanted to help some special people closer to home. Therefore, on 10 August at 7:30am, we will host the workout below. Entry donation is $20 per person, and all proceeds will be donated to the families of the HOTSHOT crew lost in June.

Check-in/warmup time is 7:30am, with the workout starting no later than 8am. We will NOT have other classes that day.


Teams of 5 (RX+: team of 3 or 4) — groups can be of mixed ability levels, except for RX+ who should all be advanced!

Complete the task list as a team. 45 min cutoff.

  • 19 rope climbs (scaled: halfway)
  • 19 stretcher carries 200m (2 team members carry 2 bars; bar weight scaled for each team)
  • 19 sandbag or med ball carries 400m
  • 190 pushups
  • 190 KB squats
  • 190 ab mat situps
  • 190 American swings


  • 19 burpees per team member (each person does 19)
  • Continuous carry: one object (TBA) must be carried at all times on the 400m loop, and every participant must carry it at some point during the workout. The object may not touch the ground.

Team members must work together to count the completion of the task list, and to ensure that everyone present carries the object at least once.

Optional: bring a DNA-approved breakfast item to share afterwards. “DNA approved” does not include donuts, unless they’re made with coconut flour, but does include fruit, quiche (no wheat), etc.


Entry donations will be accepted HERE or at DNA on the day of the workout. We look forward to seeing you there!



Tri, tri again

Two months ago, I signed up for the Firecracker Tri and decided that I was not going to train specifically for it. Now that I have more or less recovered from the race last Sunday, it’s time to evaluate the results.

I was probably more excited about Natalie racing in her first tri than I was about my own race. At 5:51am, my 8-year-old jumped into the pool and hammered out a 250m swim. She also had not been practicing lap swimming, and had never traversed a 50m pool before, but she did just fine and got herself to the transition with a smile.  I helped her get her shoes and helmet on, and away she went for a lap around the U of A. Her second transition was blazing – it’s easy when you just drop the bike and remove the helmet – and she ran her mile in under 12 minutes. She finished 4th (last) in the 7-8 females, but she beat a few 9-12 year olds and had a lot of fun! She was also thrilled to be allowed to eat bagel…(ick)



Individual sports are more fun with friends, and in the fuss of getting two sets of equipment to the transition area just before the cutoff time, I saw Gene McDougall from GTX. I’ve known him for a while – he’s a fellow

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Level Testing

In June, we held a week of Level Testing, which served several purposes:

  • Assess the fitness level of our clients
  • Provide a challenge
  • Help you understand where you are on your fitness journey
  • Create some healthy competition
  • Collect some data

130619 Board

We defined the levels as 1: Novice, 2: Intermediate, 3: Advanced, 4: Elite.

David developed the standards over several years, and

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Kudos!! You’re Awesome

I’ve been working on developing a recognition program for DNA clients, and have been on the prowl lately for special client accomplishments that deserve attention. On Wednesday, we asked for Client of the Month suggestions on Facebook.

You people are making this project really hard.


Too much kudos to hand out!!!

Congratulations on making it through Test Week – with flying colors. We had so many outstanding accomplishments this week, that picking just one person to highlight as Client of the Week or Client of the Month is impossible. Therefore, I am going to brag about a couple of feats from this week that really knocked my socks off, with the help of the trusty whiteboard. (I want to add more pictures of the athletes discussed here and will thus be stalking you with a camera next week!)

Let’s start with Monday. If you look closely, you’ll see that Bianca pressed 92.5 lbs, ran a sub-8:30 mile, and got 125 situps and 325 air squats. To my knowledge, 92.5 is the gym record for press for females at this time. Tawyna kicked butt in a different style with a 7:21 mile, 325 situps (how can you even do that?), and 110 squats – as Ernie says, she’s a monster! Oh yes, and the guys showed up too: Casey stunned us even more than usual with a 205 lb press, 5:26 run (!!!), 22 pullups and 325 squats, Chris ran a 5:37 mile, and look at Marcos – here’s a guy with two tiny kids at home who was just another unconditioned desk jockey last year, and now he’s running a 5:45 mile and pressing 155.

130618 Board

That’s just the start. I see little “PR” notes all over this board, and we could go on about all of your awesome accomplishments (especially all of the ladies repping out pullups), but I want to move on to neuro researchers Sara and Drew.

This dynamic duo have been working hard in the

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