About six months ago I joined Ambitious Athletics, a gym in downtown Washington, DC. It’s a strength and conditioning facility; we have racks, barbells, kettlebells, bands and sleds. For the record, I enjoy having a variety of fitness in my life: I just ran a 10-miler last weekend and you will see me at the local spin, yoga, and barre classes often (my fiancé sometimes drags me in but that’s a different story).

That being said, a weight room like Ambitious is my “homebase” - I NEED to have a barbell in my hands. The owner, Carmen Sturniolo, is a friend and customer of mine at TeamBuildr which means that we spend a lot of time together between training, attending clinics and generally hanging out. Of course we talk training a lot and it got me thinking about the kind of training I do with Carmen in comparison to the training I did for 8 years as a high school and college football athlete. This blog is to bring up a few of those comparisons.

 

What are my goals? Where should my focus be?

Those two questions should be in anyone’s mind before they commit to a training regimen. When playing football, the answers are pretty clear: You want to be powerful (strong and fast), you want to be able to have a lot of work capacity, and you want to be resilient which I would say includes incorporating more flexibility, mobility and recovery into training. However, time and resources are still somewhat limited when playing competitive football which means that training was implemented in the order of priority. That results in strength and speed development being the first course on the menu followed by conditioning and speed work, and don’t forget about the skill component (throwing, route running, etc.).

All that stuff was great but things are different now. I spend 8-10 hours in front of a computer almost every day and my body has different demands from me. Therefore, the two questions mentioned above have different answers now.

Training today is now centered on being healthy. I define myself as a young professional and that means my goals are: To be as productive as possible in my career, to be an active partner that can support a fun-filled and stimulating relationship with my wife and others around me, to have the energy to raise my future children with vigor and enthusiasm, and to live a long, healthy life for my grandchildren some day.

Needless to say, these are important life goals that require a holistic approach including diet, sleep, lifestyle and other aspects.

The way I train today is helping my pursue all of these goals.

 

Variety in Training

I get so much variety in training today vs. what I was doing in college it’s ridiculous. I love it. One day we are outside sprinting and doing reactive agility drills, the next we are inside hitting majority TRX workouts and another day we are just bro’ing out with some major upper body beach pumps. Some days I just want to pull big weight off the floor, and I still get to do that. But I also get fed the programming I would never prescribe for myself otherwise such as exercises meant to correct posture, support stability, or increase flexibility and mobility.

 

6am “Fun Run” on the Mall

6am “Fun Run” on the Mall

Most people at this gym sit at desks all day hunched over and it’s hard for us to get consistent activity during the day. In addition to that, the training ages of each individual are vastly different - you can have some like me that have lifted weights for over a decade to someone that just walked into a weight room for the first time. That’s a big challenge for a trainer to program for but we get it done. What happens then is a training environment with an awesome team mentality promoting encouragement and accountability. I love that.

Best of all, I love having a coach in my life again. The majority of my life I have had a coach involved in some way. Once I graduated college, I was without a coach and navigating my own way. This is fine, but there is a reason why the best athletes in the world are surrounded by coaches – there is a lot of merit and benefit to having an expert instructing you on anything and everything, from mindset to tiny details in a rep.

I’m not going to lie, having been a collegiate football player and walking into a general population weight room can have you feeling overconfident. That’s how I felt… like I was going to tear the place up and end up coaching other people. LOL. No. My coach probably corrected me 20 times that first day on tempo, form, posture, grip, etc. It was a wake up a call; and, man, I loved it. Even today, I learn something new every day such as the principle that you don’t always need harder workouts, you just need to work harder in your workouts!

I am strong. I am challenged. I am healthy. I am fit. I am happy.

Those are all very important things and I am grateful to be getting all that from my gym.

Oh yea, did I mention I look better too?

before/after

before/after

before/after

before/after

This is a 5-month “before and after” from going to Ambitious Athletics. The biggest changes were hidden in my gains in core strength. I feel lighter when doing anything physical while also feeling stronger. I actually weigh about 13 pounds less in blue shorts than I do in the 5-month “before” picture - I’m not really sure how to explain that.

 

Hewitt Tomlin, former DIII quaterback at Johns Hopkins, co-founder @ Teambuildr