Back Again

December 31, 2016

Three years since I updated this blog, and it’s been about that long since I led a full-length yoga class. I still practice on my own, but far less frequently than I should. As my career as a personal trainer has grown, I’ve focused more on the resistance training side of fitness to the detriment of my cardiovascular health and yoga practice.

And as life tends to do, it has gone on with surprises and decisions and I find myself 2 hours away from teaching yoga at my gym for (probably) 20-30 yoga enthusiasts. This begins the new group fitness schedule at the gym which has me teaching twice a week. I’m excited, sure, but also nervous. It’s been so long since I did this.

So, as is my nature, I have overprepared. I went back and watched a handful of the DDPYoga DVDs. I wrote out the entire routine I want to teach today. I got here early to test the sound system. But there is a part of me that feels like the attendees will know I’ve been neglecting my practice. I’ll direct everyone to get into Down Dog for the first time and they’ll see my legs unable to completely straighten and they’ll… what? Throw their yoga blocks at me? Boo and hiss?

I suppose if you are going to upset a room full of strangers, a yoga class would be your safest bet.

If you’re in the OKC area, come take class with me Mondays and alternating Saturdays at 10 am! Gold’s Gym Quail Springs. Bring overripe tomatoes.



September 16, 2013

The more things change, right? A few months ago I was about as far removed from yoga and group fitness as I could be. Heavy lifting, eating for mass, trying to lift more weight and gain more weight.

Then I let my form collapse while deadlifting 240 pounds. Just like that, I aged 50 years. Later that day, I couldn’t even bend over. For weeks now, I’ve been forced to take a deep breath and tighten my core in order to perform the simplest of movements involving my lower back. I’m not talking weight lifting. I mean things like picking up a pen I dropped.

Thus, re-entered YRG (now called DDPYoga). I put a bootcamp through a 45 minute session that was mostly beginner and intermediate moves and felt great. Today I did a 75 minute routine called “Double Black Diamond,” the hardest routine I have on DVD.

And, of course, it was incredible. A few weeks ago, I was working so hard to push my body into something that maybe it’s just not meant to be. Stronger is fine, but perhaps I don’t need to weigh 165 pounds, huh?

As I was bending, stretching, sweating and smiling, my mind drifted back to this blog. I took a few minutes to look back at some of the posts I’ve made, some of the goals I set. It was a happy reminder of the places I’ve been.

It’s much like the passage in the Bible I’ve been studying lately. In 1 Samuel chapter 7, the eponymous prophet, mindful of the provision God has given His people, sets up an altar and calls it “Ebenezer” meaning “stone of help.” He praises God for helping the Israelites through their difficult times, perhaps, according to some scholars, even FOR the difficult times.

The reason we exercise is to stress our bodies and make them respond. Unless we let our form collapse, the response is that our bodies get stronger. Without the stress, there is no response.

This is life! We undergo stress and if we deal with it correctly, we will get stronger as a result.

So, today I raise my Ebenezer, thanking God for the good times that have given me hope, joy and peace, and for the stress that He has helped me through and made me stronger.

Thanks for reading.

30 at 30, 31 at 31, 2 at 32?!

June 8, 2012

Hey, everybody. Quick post to make official what I’ve been telling a few of my close friends.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time knows I have a history of making goals. Recently, I took a cue from my friend Heather Hubbard and made 30 goals when I turned 30 to achieve before turning 31. Then, I made a new list of 31 goals to achieve before turning 32.

The question I faced was “When’s it gonna stop?” Would I be racking my brain for 50 at 50? Turns out it stops now.

When I turn 32 I will be making just 2 goals:

1) Clean up my diet (in all likelihood going for the Primal Diet)

2) Win American Ninja Warrior 2013

Now, neither of those will be easy, so I think two will be enough for a year.

For those of you new to the blog, read some of the older stuff. For those intrepid friends who have stuck out the last few years with me, get ready. Things are about to get intense.

Jonbarr Ninja Warrior, here we come.

Why I Believe in Group Fitness

March 31, 2012

(I’ll admit to being biased, since I got my start in group fitness, but since I’ve gone on to be a personal trainer, I’m probably less biased than most of my peers.)

We’re just a couple days from starting BodyCombat technique classes at Gold’s Gym Edmond, and only a few weeks from launching it in earnest. I’m pretty excited. We’ve been talking about this class for months! I look forward to the changes people are going to see in their lives thanks to Combat.

But most of the employees at Gold’s are… less than hyped. This isn’t a huge surprise, as I’ve never seen the staff get excited as a whole for group fitness. The reasons vary from person to person, and there are some notable exceptions, but from trainers to front desk staff, the general feeling toward group exercise is one of ambivalence.

I am far from ambivalent, and I’d like to tell you why I believe in group fitness.

1) Accountability – Although there’s nothing quite like a personal trainer to get you to the gym (both the motivation of the trainer and the prospect of losing out on the fees you’ve already paid), the camaraderie I’ve see between regular class attendees is huge. They know who is coming and why those who aren’t coming have to miss. They save spots for each other. They pester each other on Facebook about their weekly group fitness schedules. It’s amazing how close they are. With friends like that, falling off the wagon is nigh impossible.

2) Affordability – At least with Gold’s, group fitness classes are included with your membership. No extra cost, period.

3) Affability – As a whole, our instructors are friendly and happy to be teaching. This passion is evident through their teaching and all but a job requirement. Personal Trainers can show up and take it easy while they work, but a group instructor is right there with you, working just as hard (if not harder) and sweating just as profusely (if not profuselyer).

4) Results – When the revolution comes, and the fight breaks out between loyal group fitness folks and hardcore freeweight lifters, put me down on the group side. Not only do they love each other, but a girl that does BodyPump three times a week is usually more flexible, more toned and has better cardiovascular endurance than a tattooed meathead. Plus, after a few months of BodyCombat, those chicks will be killers.

Put some group exercise in your current workout plan. One BodyPump and one BodyCombat every week in place of one weight day and one cardio day. I dare you to try that for a month and tell me I’m wrong.

Jonbarr – Lead Personal Trainer

March 27, 2012

I’ve been a Certified Personal Trainer at Gold’s Gym for just over a year. Much of that time has been characterized by my watching and learning from the other trainers. Whether they were new or old, male or female, respected or… not so much, I was, and still am able to learn something from everyone.

Lately, I’ve been getting more comfortable and doing a bit more of my own thing. It’s been a lot of fun to let my creativity run a little wild when designing workouts. Others have taken notice and been complimentary for the most part.

So it is with a mixture of excitement and humility that I accepted the role of Lead Personal Trainer this week. The responsibilities are confined mostly to weekends, when my boss (the Senior Fitness Manager) takes some time off. While she’s at home, I’ll be doing paperwork, keeping stuff organized and generally just staying out of the other Personal Trainers’ way.

More than anything, I am looking forward to taking a bit more active hand in shaping the gym into a more friendly and inspirational place. I believe there are barrels of untapped potential at Gold’s, and this new title is my license to drill.

End a blog post in a mixed metaphor? Don’t mind if I do.

The JonBarr Success System

February 28, 2012

One year ago today I was hired as a Personal Trainer at Gold’s Gym. The fella in charge of hiring at the time was, luckily, not all that good at interviewing. Well, that’s not fair of me. He might have been a phenomenal interviewer, he just decided not to interview me. Perhaps it was the fact that I’d been teaching group fitness for over two years, or that he’d seen me working out so many times. Maybe he was impressed that I’d gone out and gotten the toughest certification I could find.

I’d like to think he just recognized potential when he saw it.

Because a year ago, I was not the best personal trainer in the world. I learned early in my training that every personal trainer has to think they are the best just to survive. A year ago, with no experience, I was not that guy.

But over the past year, I’ve gotten really good. Maybe not the best in the world, but really good. Here’s how I did it, and how you can get really good at whatever it is you do:

1) Never stop learning – I can train people for 25 years and I’ll still be actively searching out new research, tools and methods to improve. The day you think you know it all is the day they bury you.

2) Ask everyone questions – I don’t really care about reputations. Chances are, I can learn something from everyone. Be sure you’re asking people questions relating to their strengths, but even the worst salesperson can teach you something about sales, even if it’s what not to do.

3) Be confident – My personal training business started making great strides the day I realized I was super qualified and incredibly driven. With those two traits, I knew I could be successful.

4) Listen – To the customer (client), to your boss(es), to coworkers… to everyone. The most annoying guy in the world is the one who wants to talk but can’t stand to listen.

5) Work to your strengths – In the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” the authors explain that trying to develop your weaknesses will only result in making you average. Focusing on your strengths and making those even stronger will result in you standing out and being great. I know what I’m good at, and I spend my energy becoming excellent at it.

It’s not a fool-proof plan, but you’re not a fool, are you reader? It’s your life, get out there and own it!

One Year as a CPT

February 24, 2012

One year ago today, my half birthday, I passed one of the toughest tests of my life to become a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT). Just days later I started as a PT at Gold’s Gym. My immediate supervisor was unhelpful, my client list had zero names on it and my practical experience was nil.

There were times in the last year that I thought about giving up and walking away. Leaving behind the challenges of creating new and inspirational workouts. Trading in my trainer shirt for something more familiar if not more comfortable. At times, there seemed to be more hills to get over than golden valleys to strive for.

But I remember the turning point well. I was in the locker room at the gym changing into the clothes I would wear to bike home. I’d been at the gym for all of one hour and felt like I was wasting my time. I said (out loud, actually) “It’s time to stop fooling around.” At the time, I didn’t know if I meant it as “Stop pretending to be a personal trainer and just go sell cheeseburgers full time” or “Stop doing this halfway and OWN IT!” I knew something needed to change.

The very next day I was working out with a client who told me that with my help she was not going to need invasive knee surgery after all. Her weight had come down to a point that it wasn’t putting undue strain on her joints anymore.

At that point, my mind flashed back to the locker room. Selling cheeseburgers would be easy, fun and comfortable. Completely unchallenging. But as a Certified Personal Trainer, I could change lives. I stopped fooling around, got serious about my job and now, a few short months later, my client list is exploding, my creativity is expanding and my life has a clear direction.

I don’t know what challenges you are facing, but decide today to stop fooling around. Make a bold leap into what you are passionate about and never look back. Own your life!