In June of 2008, I married my wife Crystal. Prior to our wedding, I was training in South Florida under world-renowned Performance Coach, Pete Bommarito . My ambitions to start Dynamic Sports Training had formed many years prior, but the true catalyst was - and still is - my wife. The first month in Houston, we lived at her good friend’s house until we could find affordable living near her school and a park that could allow me to start training. We found our apartment home near Briarforest and Gessner and I pinpointed Briarbend Park as a good park and community to train. I had very few contacts and zero idea how I was going to start.The Beginning
A Boot Camp seemed like the most logical fit, so I set out going door to door leaving my flyers and brochures at doorsteps and mailboxes. I ended up dropping them off at a few hundred houses. I believe I was too busy preparing and working on the next thing to realize it, but let’s just say my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook with people looking to train. Finally, the night before I was to arrive at the park, I received my first phone call. I thought the call went really well, but then she asked how many people were going to be there. I had to tell her I didn’t know because she was the first to call, but assured her that my wife and a friend were going to be training with her and I expected others to be there. She sounded a bit hesitant and then asked if it was okay if her husband could come, and of course I said yes! It wasn’t until I arrived at the park at 6am that I realized her hesitancy -- there were only 2 street lights that could barely cast a shadow on the park and it had a hedge of bushes that looked as if someone could snatch you into the abyss (FYI… before starting a bootcamp at 6am, make sure there is light !). Thank God she showed up with her husband because no one else did! * Welcome to the humble beginnings of DST *The Start of a Great Partnership
It was obvious I needed to have some sort of supplemental income to take some of the financial burden from my wife, and my client list of two wasn’t going to cut it. I registered with Spring Branch ISD to substitute teach (funny how I used to salivate during my adolescent years when I had a substitute, for some reason it didn’t give me the same feeling now that I was about to be on the other end).
I continued to survey the area for potential opportunities and found a place called Baseball USA . I preferred to go to the places I thought would be interested, so I could make personal connections. When I arrived at Baseball USA, I spoke with pitching guru, David Evans. David informed me they were not looking for anyone with my type of background but mentioned that Houston Christian ’s baseball coach might be interested and he gave me Ron Mathis’ contact info. Now, for those of you who know Ron (he fathered Houston Christian's nationally-recognized baseball tradition), know he can be difficult to track down. I was finally able to get in touch with him and he was gracious enough to take a meeting with me. The meeting went well and he informed me he was only able to supplement me with a small stipend and that he understood if I could only train them minimally... I took it and ran like Usain Bolt!
It was DST’s first opportunity to start training athletes and I couldn’t have been more excited. I developed a comprehensive training program and we got after it the entire fall. That was the beginning of our relationship with Houston Christian!
My next step was to scour the professional teams that had athletes from Houston, Texas as the off-season was approaching for MiLB and MLB players. When I searched the Tampa Bay Rays roster, I saw that Carl Crawford was a native Houstonian. At that time they were advancing to the World Series, and I reached out to Cliff Floyd whom I had trained that off-season. I was surprised he picked up the phone, as many players are difficult to get a hold of during the season, especially during the World Series. I asked him if he knew Carl’s plans, he said he didn’t know but he would ask… a few minutes passed and he responded that Carl was looking to move back to Houston from Arizona and that he was interested in training with me. I was floored, but I also knew that didn’t mean anything would happen. God definitely worked in this situation because I was also able to get a hold of Carl’s agent to set up a meeting with both of them.
Carl was coming off a World Series run, but was limited during the year due to some hamstring issues. After touring the Houston Christian Facilities and talking with them about my training philosophy, he committed and became DST’s first professional client! We had a tremendous off-season as his hamstring issues went away and he was able to sprint full-speed for the first time in over a year.
After a successful baseball off-season, the Houston Christian baseball team performed on the field. With their leadership and great talent, they played in another State Championship and their star pitcher was drafted by the Orioles after the season.
The work that I was doing with baseball got the attention of then-Head Football Coach Mike Johnston. Johnston is a Texas football legend and is credited for being the catalyst in Katy High School becoming the dominant force they are. Coach Johnston communicated to me that he had never seen the level of enthusiasm the baseball team was demonstrating in their off-season training before. He later asked if I would be interested in implementing something similar for the football team for their off-season and, of course, I accepted. I couldn’t believe how things had turned around from that first morning at Briarbend Park
Yes, Year One definitely had amazing highlights and was filled with blessings, but it also couldn’t have had a more humble beginning. That’s why it’s so important to stay resilient and relentless in pursuit of your dreams.
-- Lee Fiocchi
To keep and improve flexibility.
When we are born, we have excessive joint mobility and flexibility. As we grow up, we lose the mobility we don’t use and retain some based on the activities we do and sports we play. This plays a role in the compensations we develop. For example: As a baseball player, you partake in thousands of reps of swinging and throwing using one side of your body prior to high school -- this is what we would label “functional compensations” -- as the excessive range of motion a pitcher gets in the shoulder is a big contributor in how well they can throw a baseball. On the flip-side, it is likely to cause certain issues when performing other activities that require more symmetry. Lifting weights and learning how to perform your basic movement patterns properly will help to improve and maintain joint mobility while building stability and strength.
Mobility without stability is just as much an injury risk as an overly stiff body that lacks mobility.
By creating stability in a given range of motion, you are more likely to retain that joint mobility. Think of resistance training as pressing the save button. If you only quarter squat, you will likely lose the ability to achieve full hip flexion compared to someone that squats with load through a full range of motion. By training from a young age, we develop the functional mobility and strength that sets the athlete up for greater improvements down the road, along with a decreased risk of injury.
Gravity is resistance
I had a parent ask me recently, after seeing one of our youth athletes doing cleans, when the time was right to start resistance training. I explained to him that everyone does resistance training in life as soon as they are born. Let me explain. How does a baby stand up for the first time? Well, after trying over and over and failing to overcome their own bodyweight and gravity, they eventually build up enough strength and coordination to stand up and walk without falling. Fast forward a few years and those kids are running, jumping, and exploring the world through movement. Each ground contact during running is upwards of three times your bodyweight. Even some of the strongest NFL players will never lift anything that heavy in the weight room. Ever seen a young child jump off the monkey bars or from the swing and land on the ground from high up in the air? Did you worry about them and the health of their body? These are joint forces that are much more extreme than anything they could do in a controlled weight training session with a knowledgeable trainer. By participating in resistance training, a good coach can teach proper mechanics and help build a more resilient body, thereby reducing the risk of injury in sport.
Where are all the farm boys with stunted growth?
It doesn’t matter if we are lifting barbells or a bail of hay, resistance is resistance. Most people have heard that lifting weights at an early age will stunt the growth of a growing child. If this were the case, why aren’t children who grew up on farms (or other scenarios where physical labor was unavoidable) deformed and broken? Bails of hay, buckets of water, and wheelbarrows full of dirt all add up and are relatively heavy just like barbells and dumbbells. We have yet to see an epidemic where these children grow up to be hindered by it. Most of them reap the benefits of a strong mind and body as well as a robust general capacity to do physical work.
The bird dog is a rotary stability movement that resists movement of the spine, moving from four points of contact with the ground to two points of contact. Start with both knees and both hands on the ground. Alternate between raising the opposite arm and leg off the ground and reach as far as you can in opposite directions. Make sure to keep the core tight, limiting the amount of body movement from the original position.
The alternate leg lower is a core stability movement. The goal is to help maintain a neutral spine and resist against extension in the lumbar spine (lower back). Start with the back flat against the ground, the lower back pressed into the ground and the core tight, both legs straight in the air at a 90 degree angle from the ground. Keeping one leg straight in the air (knees locked), slowly lower the opposite leg until just above the ground. Raise the same leg back to the starting position and repeat with the other.
Both movements improve core strength and stability to help prevent injuries as well as help address other minor issues, including reducing energy leaks during athletic performance or exercise. Incorporating these exercises into a workout regimen can decrease chance of injury, as well as improve the body's ability to function through exercises involving the core.
I was recently asked the question, "How has the journey been so far?"
Well, it’s the beginning of April, so it’s been about three months since I started my journey here at DST.
I had no clue what I wanted to do with my degree after graduating from UTSA last December. A mutual friend introduced me to Dennis "DK" Koenck who told me that his company was looking for a business intern, so I applied and got an interview with Josh Graber, the Director of Business Operations. I showed up dressed as a business professional because this was my first big interview right out of college. I remember meeting Poppe (Kevin Poppe, Director of DST North) that day and him telling me "nice tie." Turns out, I was a little overdressed for the interview!
Beginning the new year, I was your stereotypical “new guy” at the company: a little shy, timid, and uncertain of myself. Eventually, I opened up and started to fit in nicely with the staff here. Since I played baseball in high school and club ball in college, I knew I should be working out, but I could never find the motivation to do so consistently. When I started working at DST, I knew that I should take advantage of what was in front of me: a top-class weight room, helpful trainers, and great motivation from the entire DST staff.
I started out using a generic program designed to get me moving and sweating. Then one day as Josh, Rachel (another business intern), and I were brainstorming during a meeting, we decided to challenge each other to a health and fitness competition utilizing the trainers we have on staff. Josh teamed up with Sammy, Rachel teamed up with Stephen, and I teamed up with Garrett. And thus, the DST Three Month Challenge was created. We would be competing against each other for three months to promote DST and our trainers. We were each assessed, took a BMI test, and all took before photos to compare when we’re done.
We decided we needed more than just pride on the line, though. The losing team has to bear the shame of singing karaoke in front of our summer camp -- Oh, and the other teams get to decide the song! If this wasn't going to motivate me, I don’t think anything would have!
So Garrett and I got to work. He built me a personalized training program along with a nutrition plan. He couldn’t stress enough to me that I needed to commit to the diet in order to thin down and get strong. So I did.
The first day I weighed in at 203 lbs, which is considered overweight for my height. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. The first day was honestly the toughest because I was extremely out of shape and I hadn’t trained hard in over five years! I was able to tough it out and finish the first week without actually dying. I can't even express to you how sore I was. When I got home that first night, I couldn’t get up from my chair without immediately falling back down. Day one was so bad my legs had given out on me!
Another surprise to me was just how hard it is to stay to a good diet! It’s tough to cook and eat as healthy as Garrett wants me to! My first time meal-prepping for the week took me over five hours to shop, chop, and cook all of my food. 5 weeks in, I’ve cut that down to 3 hours, which is a big difference.
Typical Day :
Breakfast Shake: 1 scoop of protein, a cup of strawberries, half a cup of blueberries, two cups of milk, and 5 macadamia nuts.
My first snack is an ounce of deer sausage, half an orange, and 15 cashews.
Lunch is a bag of frozen veggies (broccoli, water chestnuts, and carrots steamed), usually 5 ounces of chicken, a handful of grapes, a handful of carrots and a cup of strawberries.
My second snack of the day is the same as my first snack, 1 oz of deer meat, the other half of orange and 15 cashews.
Dinner is 5 ounces of meat, a cup of onions that I steam with 12 spears of asparagus, and a half cup of green peppers. A cup of strawberries or half a cup of watermelon and a handful of grapes with 25 peanuts or 15 almonds.
I’ve never had what you’d call a “healthy diet” so this was all very new to me, but it’s been a huge success so far.
So here we are, halfway through our challenge, and I feel great! My weight is down to 191, I've lost a little bit of my belly, my arms are toned again, and I haven't felt better since my senior year of high school. I’m motivated to stay active and competing against some pretty awesome people is motivation as well. With Josh already in good shape and Rachel just coming back from Iceland after playing professional soccer there, I knew this competition was going to be challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I need Garrett to push me hard, but I also know I have to bust my butt to get on their level. You have to be resilient and relentless if you want to be successful, and this challenge has definitely tested me on that.
Physical Principle: Tempo
By Sammy Knox
When discussing tempo in training, we are referring to the speed at which we execute the exercise. Training with different tempos is important because it will provide the athlete with a different stress, therefore causing a specific adaptation to that stress. There are three different tempos we utilize in our training because there are three different types of muscular contractions.
Isometric – a muscle that does not change in length while contracting
Concentric - a muscle that is shortening in length while contracting
- The better you are at eccentric strength (a slow descent in the squat), the better you will be at absorbing force. This is important for both preventing injury and increasing performance. When sprinting, we want to spend very little time on the ground while still being able to apply enough force to be fast. The stronger the athlete is eccentrically, the better they will be able to achieve this.
- Isometric strength (holding the bottom of the squat) is beneficial to being a well-rounded athlete, as you are required to hold static postures under high forces and velocities while sprinting. Our core muscles must be strong isometrically during sprinting and other athletic feats to transfer force in the most efficient and effective way.
- Concentric strength (standing up from the bottom of a squat) is all about force production and can also be referred to as “starting strength.” This is very important in the acceleration phase of sprinting, which is the first 10-20 yards. This is the case since we are not able to utilize the stretch reflex as effectively to propel us in the direction we want to go; therefore, we must use more concentric strength to get us going.
As you can see, all three tempos are important and useful for athletes to develop maximum strength.