Coach Theo and Amber



March 2016


david blaine


Here’s an interesting fact: the first book I ever remember reading was David Blaine’s Mysterious Magic. When I first changed my life around at 21 years old I found myself in a book store ready to start absorbing a new perspective on life. For some reason David Blaine’s book popped out at me and I took it home and began digesting his mindset and philosophy on pushing past your perceived limitations.

Of course this would be fitting since as a fitness coach and athlete, that’s what I love to do myself. It’s not so much Blaine’s card tricks and illusions that attract me, although those take an admirable amount of practice and dedication, but more of his physical and mental endurance challenges like being buried alive for a week in Times Square, encased in ice for three days, and standing on top of an 83-foot pillar in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, that I find fascinating.

Recently I watched his incredible TED talk about how he broke the world record for holding his breath under water for more than 17 minutes.  What he reveals about his training process and how he accomplished this feat is a life-changer and proves that when you say “I can’t do it,” or “I don’t have what it takes,” or “It’s not in my DNA,” you are lying!

If you have time, watch the speech yourself here (David Blaine Ted Talk). But if you don’t, then check out my main takeaways from his speech below. Although he wasn’t focusing on secrets to success, or essential practices of leadership, or how to be the best version of yourself, what he shares about his experiences provides more insight to all of the above then what I’ve heard in a long time.

From David Blaine’s speech I pulled out THREE COMMON DENOMINATORS FOR SUCCESS:

Do you think David Blaine woke up one day and held his breath for 17 minutes to break the world record? Not even close. He explored, researched, and attempted multiple avenues of training and failed many times before discovering the right route to take. Some of his ideas were crazy but he still needed to test them out as a process of elimination.

And here’s the thing, he would have never discovered the right route to take without all of those failures. Failure is a recipe for success. If you’re not failing then you’re not trying. And if you’re not trying then you’re probably stagnant.

Last week at our gym an unprecedented fourteen kids came in and accomplished a new feat for the first time (I have a theory but it’s for another article). We actually started the 1st Time Club to highlight their accomplishments. One guy practiced for a year to complete the 14ft warped wall, one girl practiced for 4 months to get the 9ft warped wall, one boy for three months to nail the 12ft high monkey bar ramp, and another girl for fifteen attempts before passing the T-Agility test. At our gym we tell our kids there’s nothing wrong with failure. We want them to fail at a fitness challenge or obstacle because that means they’re trying to get to the next level.

“If you’re going to get better, you have to push yourself. If you push yourself, you’re going to fall. If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing. Falling is part of getting better.” -Jerry Hardy, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster

We all claim to have goals in life but rarely, and I’m just being honest. do our actions show it. One of the hardest things for people to do is lose weight. It’s a subject that’s really hard to talk about and quite frankly, I tend to avoid it now. It’s not usually a matter of knowing what to eat, it’s not a matter of knowing you need to get physical, it’s a matter of just doing it. But there’s a whole slew of mental and emotional barriers that can block us and until we recondition our minds, establishing new behaviors and habits is really difficult.

Discipline is not easy. It is #Truth that we all possess it, we just have to choose to channel it. Leading up to David Blaine’s world record breath holding attempt on Oprah, he spent months and months living a strict, disciplined lifestyle. He ate a healthy diet so he could lean up and lose 50lbs in three months and as a result, lower his resting heart rate to 38 beats per minute (which is lower than most Navy Seals & Olympic Athletes). He put himself through extreme measures to practice holding his breath under distress, like submerging himself in a shark tank for a training session. And every morning for months he would wake up and hold his breath for 44 out of 52 minutes to get his day started, causing himself to be in a mental fog and have headaches for the rest of the day.

It does seem crazy. It’s rare. How many humans would do this? I’m sure if you’re like me you’re not holding your breath or going under water for any length of time. But you probably do have other goals to shoot for. What’s stopping you? Most likely it’s you. No one said it would be easy but if it’s worth it, then you need to saddle up and get disciplined and strict already and go for it.

How many times do things go as planned? Usually when they do for me it’s because I didn’t plan anything to begin with. Just last week I had everything organized and ready to go for my Fitlets (5-6 yr olds) after school camp. I was super early, set up everything, did a few extra things, and as a bonus, even had three other adult coaches with me for the camp. The ratio was 1:4 adult to children. We had eyes all over the place to watch for safety. And guess what happened? Lucy, who’s like my third child, accidentally toppled over in the slide and came out head first, landed on her arm wrong, and broke it. It seems that every time I think I have things under control, God smacks me upside the head with a reminder and says, “Nope, you don’t.”

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare. But there’s also #Truth in knowing that things aren’t going to go as planned and you should be prepared for that.

Right before David Blaine is about to enter the water tank on national television, the producers decide to change things on him, making him stand up facing the crowd instead of lying face down like he trained for. Then when he enters the tank, things go haywire and his heart rate is much higher than it’s supposed to be, 150 at times instead of his planned 40-60ish. Not even a few minutes into his challenge and his nerves are rattled. He doesn’t think he’s got a chance to make 17 minutes, making it even harder to keep his heart rate down. Close to the 16 minute mark and he can feel his heart rate doing some dangerous stuff, like he’s about to have a heart attack stuff. But he fights on just a little bit longer and says he decided to release his feet from the straps, float to the top while still keeping his head under water, this way divers can grab him if he does have a heart attack.

Wait a second. He was willing to have a heart attack before he would quit and poke his head above water? Again, crazy. I’m not doing that. Things didn’t go as planned for him. But he refused to quit and did everything he could to adjust, fight against his fears, and focus on attaining his goal.

In conclusion, last week I came across an advertisement that said, “Lose Weight Effortlessly.” I’m not diverging to weight loss again but just in general, what a sad mentality. Why do we want to earn anything effortlessly? Why would anyone want to have money handed to them without working for it? Why would you want to win an event without training for it? Why would you want to win the girl of your dreams without fighting for her? Nothing feels as good without effort. It’s not until you pour some blood, sweat, and tears into an endeavor that you really feel alive, victory or not.

When I watch videos like David Blaine’s it’s just another reminder that success is in your reach. But it’s not going to miraculously float into your hands with out doing your part and extending your arms. You have to stop making excuses. You need to stop thinking you don’t have what it takes. You need to stop saying you weren’t made to do it. David Blaine’s aren’t born, they’re made. You can be made too. You need effort not a magician.

“It’s practice. It’s training. And it’s experimenting while pushing through the pain to be the best that I can be. That’s what magic is to me,” says Blaine.

So get out there and fail, live a strict and disciplined lifestyle, and reach for success today. And it may just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.


Coach Theo



SomethingsGottaGive“We are the sum of all of our choices.”

Do you ever feel like you’re doing too much sometimes?

The third sickness in four weeks. First it was strep, then the viral upper respiratory flu thing that didn’t want to go away, capped off with the stomach bug. As I pulled my head away from hovering over the toilet I had to laugh. “Seriously God, can’t I catch a break!? I need my energy back!”

I’ll tell you what He said later. All I know is when things get out of hand my hashtag becomes #SomethingsGottaGive. So I fall back on three training principles that help me stay grounded and on a path to peak performance in life. My guess is you may need to apply these same concepts to your own life.


It’s like the guy who told me he was going to run a 10 mile race even though he never ran more than 3 miles before. I told him he could probably force himself through the 10 miles but it wouldn’t be smart. Most likely he would put himself at major risk. His ligaments, joints, tendons, muscles, and respiratory system weren’t prepared for that increased distance. So although he may feel ok during the event, he would be paying for it afterwards.


Body awareness is a difficult thing to teach clients but a crucial component to maximizing one’s training.  Understanding your body and where it’s at in space, or how it’s moving both properly or improperly, where you’re supposed to feel something during an exercise, how to make things more challenging, or how to modify to avoid pain, is invaluable awareness that doesn’t come easily for many.

If I call out 30 burpees in a class setting and you have nagging sciatic pain, you should be prepared to do a modified version so you’re not putting your hips and back in a vulnerable position. You can’t worry about what others are doing or try to compete at a level you’re not at yet. In all that you do at the gym you need to know where you’re at and where you can take it.


Chances are you know someone who jumped into a ninety minute workout session after not working out for three months. Perhaps you are that person. Or you saw a young athlete try to max out with 100lbs more than they can handle and you cringe when they almost dropped the barbell on their chin.

Progression should be gradual. You can’t load up too quickly. Ironically, sometimes de-loading will get you more results. Go light and do it right. When you slow down the movement, control reps with full range of motion, and lighten the volume, you may gain more in the long run.

Tell me these concepts don’t apply to life.

I have come to the realization that I’m not superman. Maybe you’re the type of person that can juggle an insane amount of workload. I know I can’t. When I have too much going on I can only give people and experiences a portion of my potential and in my opinion, that’s not fair nor is it peak performance.

Phases happen and we’re all going to get caught up in the commotion from time to time. The challenge is to be aware of it and catch it, so something else can give before we do.

As I sit here writing this article my eyes draw up to a large framed picture hanging on our living room wall. The words state, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

I’m not going to attempt a mega conclusion here.  It comes down to this, the above three training principles will help us better fulfill this scripture. We can’t do what Mark 12:30 says, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” when our life is full of distractions and our energy is depleted.

You may say you can get by on five hours of sleep every night. You may think you can add more to your schedule and enlist in more activities. You may be able to manage a life full of chaos. But I would say don’t get caught in the trap. God won’t give us more than we can handle, but the enemy will. Even great, positive, productive things he’ll put in our way to prevent us from pursuing God.

God’s response by the way, “I’ve got you right where I want you. Cast no other idols before me. When I am number one, all will work out better than you could ever imagine.”

I’m guilty.  I say I put God first.  Doing less, knowing my limits, and going light and doing it right will make my actions show it.

I encourage you to do the same.

And it may just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.



Coach Theo

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