Ode to L.A. (Henry Rollins, Compton Train Ride & Barb Wire)

Writing my first fitness book Annihilation: Total Body Training System was a much bigger job than I anticipated. It took me and several other awesome people on my team over a year to complete.

The book was a labor of love. The editing was even more challenging. After firing my first editor I had the great fortune of finding a wonderful editor Kisha. We exchanged many emails and hours of phone calls before we were confident enough to release the final product. It was a stressful obstacle filled journey but the end result was worth it.

Last year I accepted an invitation from my awesome editor Kisha to come spend a couple of days in L.A. (Los Angeles not lower Arkansas) to celebrate the launch of Annihilation:Total Body Training System  

When I found out that Henry Rollins was going to be in Beverly Hills that same weekend…the deal was sealed.

Henry rollins screaming
Henry Rollins

 

I scheduled people to cover my training sessions and booked the hotel…I was getting on a plane.

I was staying in downtown Long Beach but the show was in Beverly Hills.

I was going to get the whole L.A. experience on my way to see Mr. Rollins.

The distance to the venue was about an hour train ride and 30 minute cab ride. Los Angeles never ends, the city is huge.

The only thing I knew about Long Beach is that it was the home of Snoop Dog and the LBC…

Then the train took us through Compton…the only knowledge I had of this city was from Eazy E, N.W.A. and Boys In The Hood.

I saw the Staples Center in Inglewood and finally Beverly Hills…

A rare actual pic of me
A rare actual pic of me

I was amazed…when you see things in real life they are never as awful or as awesome as you have imagined…

No Crips and Bloods turf wars in Compton…

Beverly Hills was just some streets and stores…nothing magical like it looks on television.

The theater Henry Rollins was performing in was small. It reminded me of my old high school theater…

I was in row six and could see Henry’s sweat beads on his forehead…WINNING!

Henry Rollins talked about his meager beginnings and what it took to overcome where he started. How he went from making minimum wage managing an ice cream shop to lead singer of Black Flag to author to actor…it hit a chord with me and my journey to overcome my small and adversity filled beginnings. I love his message, no matter what career or dream you choose, what it takes to make it happen and to compete with people who come from more fortunate beginnings.

The show was everything I expected and more…I walked out of that theater ready to knock down skyscrapers and invade a small country.

After a wonderful weekend I got on the Metro and headed to LAX to fly home. It was a long ride through Compton and a 30 minute wait in Watts. I got my notebook out and I wrote down some of the things I noticed.

Every where you looked homes, businesses and playgrounds were all surrounded by tall fences with barb wire.Barb wire

Every window had a security grill and every door had iron bars.

It looked like a prison with people and children walking around.

It made me think…

Is all that barbwire there to keep people out?

Or does it keep people in?

I grew up in the projects so I was no stranger to crime and violence and poverty. I experienced all of them.

It was no traumatic experience as educated Midwestern theorists would have you believe.

It was just our environment…we were unaware that any other options existed. The fences and barb wire succeeded.

It was when I left that environment that I felt fear and insecurity.

When I began my first real job as a trainer I was in charge of the 5am bootcamps for all these suit and tie guys who worked for Texas Instruments and IBM. Here was this 18 year old kid from the projects ordering around a bunch of 30 and 40 year old executives in a parking lot every morning.

I was terrified at first…I thought to myself all of these educated high income people would never pay me for my advice and guidance.

A teenager from the projects, I was the polar opposite of them. I was always in an extreme state of hyper vigilance. I was always guarded and prepared if someone should try to question me and my abilities. My workouts and my training style wasn’t coming from a position of confidence and assurance…it was coming from fear and insecurity.

The fear that all of my clients didn’t believe I was capable…That I was in over my head.

The insecurity of believing I didn’t belong there and the first small error I made  I would be terminated.

It took me a long time to realize that it was not them that were thinking I wasn’t capable…

It was not them that believed I didn’t belong there.

It was me.

I was the one who believed all of those things.

The high fences and barbwire did not keep me safe from the world that I feared I didn’t belong in…

It kept me a prisoner…afraid to give up the world I knew so that I could have the world that I deserved.

I made the common mistake of believing that my success and accomplishment in life, or the lack of it was determined by where I began.

The realization that the only thing keeping me from having everything I had dreamed of was the fence and the barbwire changed my life.

That barb wire that I believed was there to protect me actually was robbing me of my chance to shine.

Ever since then I have become educated, experienced and fiercely dedicated.

Now I am dedicated to helping as many people as I can realize that those fences aren’t real.

Next time you walk into the gym, new job, new school or new city and you have the fear of what others are thinking or believing about you…

It isn’t them, it is you.

It isn’t the rich kids that had everything handed to them holding you back.

It isn’t the person with the degree who has never done a day of labor in his life that is making your life hard.

It isn’t your parents, the government or the city or neighborhood you live in.

It is your own fear and insecurity that comes from daring to  reach beyond your comfort zone and station in life.

While you may hate the fences and barbwire, when it is all that you know it is easy to relax and accept.

It takes courage to climb that fence and risk getting cut and tangled in that fence only to end up in a world that you feel you don’t belong.

If you start from the bottom just work longer and harder,

read more…

do more…

make certain that though others may have started with more than you.

They may have been born with more money, more talent, more opportunity…

Never let them outwork you or out learn you.

Never let them hold you back.

Not in the gym, not in the workplace or not ever in life.

Climb that fence…and never look back.

41 Life Truths That Have Helped Me Live A Badass 41 Years

 

That’s Right!

It is that time of year again…

I just turned 44!

I got some great gifts and even more over the hill jokes…

I’m nowhere near washed up…

Many people think it’s time for me to slow down…Actually I am just getting warmed up.

Well I must say that my first 44 years on this earth have been one up and down crazy adventure. I have laughed. I have cried. I have punched walls and punched people. Experience is a test you get before you get the lesson.

I have started from meager beginnings and overcome great obstacles.

I have traveled the world and lived my dreams. I’ve made great friends and lifelong enemies. It has been anything but boring. Mediocre has never been my style.

I have succeeded in big ways. I have failed in even bigger ways. I never give up.

I was once told that I wasn’t smart enough to quit…

I took it as a compliment.

I have learned that life just kind of happens whether you want it to or not.

Most people just kind of exist…

They aren’t happy. They are just making it day-to-day.

They are living everyday wishing for 5 pm and Friday afternoon.

They are just getting by…

I would hate to see you fall into the same trap.

So to celebrate my 44st  birthday I am going to share 44 Truths I learned that helped me live a Bad Ass 44 years that I hope you find useful as well.

1. The world owes you nothing, it was here first.

2. Self pity is the most powerful and addictive narcotic ever made. Don’t become a junkie.

3. If you ever find that you are feeling sorry for yourself watch a Rocky Balboa speech.

4.Read every single day. Read good books like biographies, motivational stories and quotes that are designed to encourage and empower you. Never watch the news or read the paper. They are designed to depress you and enslave you.

5. Never Fear Failure. If you are afraid of losing you will never win.

6. Life will knock you down and then kick you while you are on the ground. The more you cry the harder you get kicked. Don’t cry. Get back up and dare life to knock you down again. Then get up again. Repeat.

7. When you do fall, fall flat on your back. If you can look up you can get up.

8. Most people are just living to die. Be a person who is dying to live.

9. Where you began your life was someone else’s decision. Good or bad. Where you go with your life is your decision. Make good ones.

10. The world will not break your heart. It will crush your heart. Acknowledge, move on.

11. People love to watch a fire burn. Set yourself on fire and inspire all those around you.

12. Who you surround yourself with determines your level of success and your mindset. Iron sharpens Iron.

13. If you surround yourself with morons, so that you can feel like a genius, just remember you aren’t a genius. You are just a better moron.

14. Some people are born with bigger advantages and more talent than you. Stop whining about this and just accept that you will have to work twice as hard and be twice as tough. Hard work will always beat talent.

15. We are meant to be individuals. Followers never win. Be a wolf not a sheep.

16. Stop wasting time trying to fit in or make people like you. That is investing in other people. Invest in yourself. You are worth it.

17. You never have as many friends as you think you do.

18. You never have as many enemies as you think you do.

19. Always be the happiest person in the room. It won’t make you popular, but it will irritate all of the unhappy people and drive them out of your presence.

20. Never be afraid to take action. Remember that when you take action with a big idea that things will go wrong, you will screw up. So what. You can fix them later. Massive success is a byproduct of massive chaos.

21. Never stop learning from people who are more experienced. They can help you avoid some big landmines.

22. Never stop learning from people who are less experienced. They can help you from becoming outdated and old.

23. You are never the exception. You are always the rule. Listen to people who have been through what you are going through. Over the years people do not change, only the technology changes. You are not a special exception.

24. When you tell people your problems always remember that 90% of the world does not care about your problems. The other 10% are happy that you have them.

25. If you think that other people, Republicans or Democrats, Conservative or Liberals,  your ex spouse or the city you live in is your biggest problem, then YOU are your biggest problem. None of those people care enough about you to make your life hard. If you hate the city you live in, then move.

26. Being bitter is like drinking poison and expecting the rest of the world to die.

27. If a friend, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or employee wants to leave you, don’t beg them to stay. Hold the door open for them. Let someone more deserving have the great opportunity.

28. When you walk your own path in life you will do it alone. People will be irritated and offended. Let them be. They are just crabs in the bucket.

29. If you don’t know what crabs in the bucket are read:

https://bdjfitness.com/crabs-in-a-bucket/

30. There are 3 kinds of business. YOUR business which is your thoughts and actions. OTHER PEOPLE’S business, which is their thoughts and actions. LIFE’S business which is weather, traffic and the economy. Only concern yourself with YOUR business. All the other types of business are out of your control.

31.Chase your passions not money. Never spend years sacrificing and studying to be something that does not interest you at all just because it pays well. If you chase your passion you will be great at what you do and the money will find you. If you chase the money you will not own things, they will own you.

32. People could care less how much you know. They are more concerned with knowing how much you care.

33. Shrinking yourself down so that you won’t make those around you feel bad does no one any favors. You were meant to shine. Truly great people make you feel that you too can be great. Only surround yourself with those people.

34. The most important skill in life is making people happier and feeling better about themselves. If you master this skill you are a winner. If you make people sad or reinforce their insecurities you are a loser.

35. People who are born with stripes do not die with spots. When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time.

36. Once is a mistake, twice is stupid. If you pick a rattlesnake up 5 times it will bite you 5 times. Leave the rattlesnakes alone.

37. Being successful means you have to break away from the pack. It is scary and painful but you can’t take everyone with you. You are only able to push people. If you try to pull people they will only drag you down.

38. There are no secrets or magic formulas. Nothing is natural or easy. You won’t make money sitting on your ass and you won’t get healthy and thin eating fast food and popping pills.The magic formula  is hard work. The secret is getting off your ass.

39. If you are fortunate you may have 3 or 4 friends in your entire life who want you to succeed. The rest are just acquaintances who never want you to have more than them.

40. Never beg the world to let you…Dare the world to try and stop you.

41. Love your life and love yourself…the days you are wasting right now you will soon be begging to have back.

42. Complain about this country all you want…It is not perfect but if you are born into the worst ghetto in Detroit, you are still a thousand miles ahead of the rest of the world. This is the only country on the planet that provides you the opportunity to change your station in life.

43. Just because you have been hurt, mistreated and lied to, do not let that turn you into a hammer. If you only have a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.

44. Letting the way people have treated you in the past influence how you treat others in the future is a sign of weakness. True strength is trusting after you have been lied to, being happy when everyone would understand if you were sad. It takes strength to believe in yourself when others have made you question your worth.

BDJ

 

 

Born To Be A Rebel…

 

I must admit the truth…

I always have been and always will be a bit of a rebel…

Not in the “get stupid drunk, snort a bag of cocaine and wrap my car around a tree and teach my parents a lesson” kind of way…

I am a rebel in the sense that I am never satisfied with a status quo. My greatest fear is mediocrity.Being a sheep led to the slaughter.

I am always rocking the boat. It is just my nature. I don’t intend to make people uncomfortable or give them anxiety. It just happens that way.

I believe in consistently raising the bar…

If you aren’t growing you are dying…it’s that simple.

My whole career I have seen people accomplish great things.

Reach amazing goals and then just take it easy. Coast along.

Become content with  mediocrity.

That has always been my greatest nightmare.

When you become content that means it is over.

That is when you become dated and obsolete. A dinosaur.

I remember those trainers when I was younger. Telling stories of what they used to do. Talking about THAT client that last 30 pounds 10 years ago. Watching them operate on auto pilot taking clients through the same boring workout that THEY loved, not noticing that their clients were bored to tears and seeing no progress.

That is my greatest fear…becoming THAT trainer. That fear is what motivates me to come up with new things, new ideas different ways to motivate people.

It doesn’t matter if they are 25 year old pro boxers or 45 year old wives and mothers, I want to make sure that they are always working at their full potential and getting awesome results.

This is much more difficult than most people realize…

You see the fitness business has been around a long time. I have had the great fortune of being involved in this business for over 20 years.

During the last 20 years I have had the privilege of working with many different expert trainers in many different sports and specialized training systems.

My background was in boxing. The old school sweat box hit the bag, run 5 miles a day and jump rope type of gym.

Weights were forbidden. The theory back then was weights made you big and bulky and “muscle bound”.

When I first began as a trainer it was nothing but weights and aerobics.

You did 3 sets of 8-10 if you were a man, 3 sets of 15-20 if you were a woman. So you wouldn’t get bulky of course.

Only women did cardio classes. Hi-Lo or step aerobics were your only choices.

Spandex workout outfits were required.

Powerlifting was only for college football players.

Yoga was for hippies and senior citizens.

Pushups and line drills were for high school gym class.

You picked your training system and you stuck with it. It was that simple. Everyone believed that their way was the only way.

You chose your system and you stuck with it.

No deviations.

If you were a weight lifter and you did an aerobics class or some pushups you were forever ostracized and ridiculed.

So when I started out as a boxer, then started working with body builders I upset some people.I was hired because the owner of the gym was a boxing fan and wanted to help me out. So he and the other trainers taught me every thing they could about lifting heavy and getting big. I knew I had to be knowledgeable if I was going to be a 140 pound boxer training people to get big and strong. So I learned and worked with some awesome trainers. I never trained any Mr. Olympia competitors but I did have some success helping many  people get outstanding results and gaining some outstanding knowledge.

Aerobox, yes it was real.

When I was recruited to teach a boxing aerobics class, I was the butt of many jokes. I had never even done an aerobics class. This aerobics class was nothing like the boxing training I had done. So I studied with some awesome aerobics instructors and learned all about 8 counts, 16 counts and 32 counts. Although AeroBox was a big failure it was a great learning experience. The most valuable thing I learned is that I was not an aerobics instructor.

When MMA first began in the early 90’s I met a strength and conditioning coach who trained some top contenders at that time. Their background was in college wrestling and throwing punches was a totally foreign concept to them.He pointed out, in a not so polite manner, after watching me train some people that I didn’t know s**t about strength and conditioning. So we made an agreement. I would help him train his athletes in boxing and he taught me about strength and conditioning for athletes which was vastly different from what I had learned about weightlifting. Strength and conditioning focused on becoming stronger and faster, not just becoming bigger. Once again I learned a new method and training system.

One door closed and another door opened.

"Enough with these ridiculous polo shirts! If we are fitness trainers why do we have to dress like waiters at Applebee's?"
“Enough with these ridiculous polo shirts! If we are fitness trainers why do we have to dress like waiters at Applebee’s?”

As I went through the years I still remained primarily the cliche 3 sets of 8-10, 30 minutes of cardio and clipboard carrying trainer. Not to mention that in the 90’s all the gyms wanted you to wear those stupid polo shirts and khaki shorts. It was horrible. I felt ridiculous.

I was no longer inspired as before.  I always attacked it with enthusiasm but my heart wasn’t in it, I was just making a living. It was just a job. I was just a sheep. A follower. Mediocre and common.

I stayed in the fitness business but actually got away from training for a few years. I decided after a brief period to go back to my first love…Boxing.

I began training some amateur and pro boxers. Experienced some great success and found my original passion once again. I started out at the bottom in small smoky halls and ended up in huge arenas in Vegas,Berlin and Budapest. It was rewarding having top 10 ranked professionals and a world champion.

When I decided to take a more limited role in the boxing game I had the idea to turn the skill of boxing into a personal training program. My idea was met with some doubts and criticism but I decided to launch it anyway. I will admit I was skeptical at first, especially with the failure I experienced with AeroBox. What I learned from that experience is that Aerobics instructors trying to water down a sport and set it to 16 count music is a formula for disaster. I wanted this to be REAL Boxing. Hitting the mitts, hitting the bag. Learning to slip punches and counter-punch. I really honestly believed that if people ever experienced that feeling of adrenaline and confidence they would definitely be back for more.

There was some skepticism that people would actually pay to learn how to box if they never had  plans to compete in the sport. Being the rebel that I am, I ignored the critics held my breath and jumped in head first. The results would be my vindication…

http://youtu.be/BquE3YsNTUw

Well I am happy to say that BDJ Boxing For Fitness has been a huge success ever since it began. The results have been amazing. I have seen some major transformations in the people I have trained, anywhere from 10 pounds to 60 pounds!

People started telling their friends and coworkers how sore they were and how much fun they were having working out. The conditioning drills I was using at the end of my sessions were just as popular as the boxing. Members were crowding around the doorway just to watch people workout. Soon after I took the popular conditioning drills and formatted into an hour training session and boom!!!

Annihilation:Total Body Training System was born!

I had many critics who warned me that lowering the cost of personal training and doing 3d-03small group sessions was a horrible idea. As usual I plodded forward and was happy I did. I have worked with tons of awesome people and even trademarked the system, licensed it to other trainers. The beginning of this year I published an e-book.

If only I had some of my old English teacher’s address, I would send them a copy.

A few of them doubted I would ever do anything but hard time in a correctional facility.

 

I didn’t intend for this to be a history lesson so I will just make my point.

Sometimes the key to success is never accepting the status quo.

Realize that when you believe you know everything you stop growing.

If you stop learning and stop growing you die. Just that simple.

Be brave, but not reckless. Never fear failure, but when you do take away some knowledge 792151_10151222747092076_40541657_oand apply it to your future successes.

Failure is not losing, failure is simply quitting.

So be a rebel.

You won’t always win.

You will pay a price.

It won’t be easy but I promise it will be worth it.

When everyone tells you what can’t be done, tell them to stay out of your way while you are doing it.

Thanks for reading,

BDJ