Masks. Let’s talk about them:

Mine isn’t comfortable. It fogs up my glasses causing a need to remove them shortly after donning the mask. My voice is muffled wearing it which restricts the ability to coach athletes effectively. Facial expressions are suppressed/removed which is part of my (nonverbal) communication and therefore coaching style.

Other than discomfort… Not much negative to wearing it when considering the possible positives.

I’m not here to speculate on what could/will happen. I’ll just say I don’t want to go back to mandatory quarantine and the shutdown of our facility or other gyms in the area. I believe in the product we provide and know it’s extremely valuable right now. If the quarantine order is given again we lose the facility, community and coaching. I’d rather adapt my coaching around a mask than feel minimally effective online. My coaching style must evolve to the new stimulus as required.

Regardless of politics. Regardless of the shape of the curve. Regardless of our beliefs–an obstacle is set before us. As a community we have the ability to embrace some new levels of discomfort. Think about a normal day at Konza. You show up, load the bar and choose to sit in the bottom of that squat. The deepest darkest spot for 5 seconds with 86% 1RM on your back. I believe you’ve been asked to do harder things in multiple workouts. You choose to do each one and find new abilities and capabilities every time. How much different is this?

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Encouragement. Post workout sweat angels. Pre-workout instruction. Intra-workout cues. Pain reduction. Spot Checking. Cool down exercises. A balanced program to help you achieve goals.

Everything above is what a coach can provide you.

If they can’t, there are other classifications for them. Ben Bergeron broke them down for me in an Affiliate of Excellence seminar back in 2017. (His podcast Chasing Excellence is in our links tab)

1.) Cheerleader
Enthusiastic. Controls the music. Helps you achieve a sweat. No real coaching happens.
2.) Tactician
Points of performance are understood and taught. Cueing athletes from the general understanding of the movements.
3.) Trainer
Capable of short, direct and actionable cues. Has a broader understanding of the movements and complimentary/accessory work that will yield results when deficiencies present themselves.
4.) Coach
The coach understands the human side and where athletes are in their journey. They know it’s more how you respond to them than what they say.

Your effectiveness as a coach is measured at the listeners ear, not the tip of your tongue. Comprehension of cueing is important. “I told them to _______, they didn’t get it,” should be scrubbed from a coach’s vocabulary. We can do better as a gym, community, industry.

It’s common for coaches to switch from athlete to coach when we care about other people, have a competitive drive, or find we have an affinity to teach.

So if you care – Care deeply. Deeply enough to know that encouragement is good but it’s not great. People need help as they get tired to know they are in good position. You’re their lifeguard to stave off injury and combat disfunction.

If you’re competitive – be the best. Keep track of who you taught what. Keep your classes full and PR bell echoing. Be sure you are the coach everyone wants to go see about a new goal. Become the coach you would trust.

If you’re an educator – educate. Find ways to demonstrate and explain that connect personally to your athletes. Make the cues hard to forget. Educate them so well people will ask them where they learned that. Understand words might be enough if you only knew the correct ones to say.

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Konza Strength is a Functional Fitness gym. What is functional fitness? 

Functional – designed to be practical and useful rather than attractive.
Fitness – the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.
Functional Fitness – useful qualities which help people achieve a task.

Modern life requires little of our flight or fight responses for survival. Our major challenges don’t include battling sabertooth tigers for our dinner or wandering deserts in search of the promised land.

No matter your religious or scientific views, at Konza Strength, we’re helping our community become more capable humans. Whether that is to help someone off the ground, move a couch (without hurting your back), or chase down a car whose coffee mug is on the roof and not pull your hamstrings.

This general readiness encompasses every type of fitness practice but relies specifically on one: Resistance training. External sources of resistance, appropriately applied to the body, will create desirable changes to the body, conditionally increasing strength.  Strength as a skill.

We learned hard lessons before there was a Konza Strength. They came with the realization that we don’t want to learn all lessons the hard way. So, we gather information and discern knowledge from intelligent people. They provide years of insight and understanding to different training principles. We adopt what is useful and set aside what doesn’t appear to be, but what good is a collection of lessons if it’s not shared or applied?

Today we pour the principles into our population and programs at Konza Strength.  We share what’s been useful for those who are willing to listen or hungry to learn.  Strengthening your legs, lungs and grip are the most basic of our lessons. Increasing these things drive positive changes in our bodies and performances.  

So, if we define Functional Fitness do we need to define the role?

No, you do.  Define what role functional fitness has in your life. Maybe that happens before you start, maybe it becomes clear after you’ve started. No matter when you define what role functional fitness has in your life, there is one thing you can trust. We will work with you to increase your strength.

Read more about Legs, Lungs and Grip here: 
Future Blog hyperlink


It’s snowing like we’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie today. Seems like a good time to talk about–Warming up.

Each class has a general warm up for the workout. At times the warm ups get more specific to the movements. Patterns can be seen with each coach based off what they believe works. YOU ARE NOT LIMITED BY THE GENERAL WARM UP. First, remember why you are with us. Remember your goals. If you have specific needs: act on them.

I have specific needs. So I like to get to class early and warm on my own. Some days my needs are so specific I opt out of the class because I need more time to work out or warm up an issue that has been consistent. Investing this time into my warm up creates a better result in the time I’m involved in the class structured workout.

What I do:
1.) 18 calories on the Assault Bike:
(3 cal forward both legs; 3 cal backward both legs; 3 cal forward/3 cal backward left leg-no arms; 3 cal forward/3 cal backward right leg-no arms)
2.) ~3 minutes of bear walk/crab walk with opposite hand opposite foot transitions (inchworm in the mix here)
3.) 3-foot-position good mornings: toes straight forward, slightly out, slightly in
(I use the VooDoo Floss bands at this time if my legs are feeling junkie)
4.) Lunges and Spiderman lunges
(If the legs are super junkie I leave the Floss bands on through the lunges)
5.) Deadbugs
(I make them specific to what I’m doing)
6.) CrossOver Symmetry Activation
7.) Empty Barbell Romanian Deadlifts + Cleans + Paused Front Squats
(light weakness work I’m weak in Cleans)

These are things I have identified as staples that keep me healthy and moving well. Is it a lot to do? Before a class warm up? No. You know why?

Because I’m here to get the most out of me. I’m invested in my involvement. If we look at the list:

Everyone hates the assault bike. I use it as a warm up because every time I get on and off of it and don’t need to puke: thats a victory. I stack wins in that column. Eventually a love/hate relationship shifts and the assault bike is now one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

Everyone hates the crab walk. The top position I cue people to hit is the also known as The Tomb of Hercules. Old time Strong men used to take this position and have a plank laid across their hips so people could cross the plank as a bridge. Some were strong enough for horses and cannons to cross. You really can’t get your hips a little higher?

Everyone hates the deadbug. Not me. The deadbug was introduced to me by a friend of mine out of necessity. I did a rowing/ deadlift ladder that nearly broke my body. I was forced out of the gym for a while due to inability to maintain a neutral spine under load. My friend came to town shortly after, showed me the deadbug and my thinking was changed. I could make this movement mimic any and every position. Snatch, clean, back/front squat, pull up, anything.

Now when I do the deadbug and my legs start shaking, I remember my back pain. When I feel like I want to let my feet fall, I remember when I couldn’t hold them up. I hold on to the positions for every time I couldn’t. I embrace the pain of discomfort and growth because I had no choice but to feel the pain of injury and destruction.

There are more opportunities for fitness advancement if you start paying attention to what works for you. Understand you have the option to invest 5 minutes in yourself where it’s needed. You can make your why stronger each time you walk through the doors. Don’t know where to start? Ask. If you don’t:

Start with deadbugs.

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Time and Energy.

Coach says, “Grab a rower” or “Let’s line up at the rig facing the windows.” Taking the first step toward the rower or rig initiates your involvement in the class. It started. Your hour of involvement.

Coach closes the class by checking with you for questions. Typically you say you have no questions, grab your things and hurry out the door. End of hour of involvement. We invest in you at any point we can. From equipment, to courses; programs to professionals; our aim is certain:

Improve performance and increase quality of life.

It’s time for you to invest in yourself. Time to pay attention. Time to write down the cue that coach threw that resonated with you. Put it in your notes and next time that exercise comes up, cue yourself. Start with that cue and make it objective 1 of the workout.

Don’t touch Coach’s hand

Invest in yourself by showing up and adding the small things that increase your ability. Deadbugs before Deadlifts. CrossOver Symmetry before snatching. Don’t know how? Ask me. I’m not there? The training manuals-CrossOver-are on the bookshelf. How much time do you want to invest into reducing issues and increasing progress? *Cough* Nutrition *Cough*

Invest in future involvement by stretching or rolling the muscles that feel most worked afterwards. Find recovery protocols that allow you to minimize soreness and maximize growth. And when you find something that works. Share it.

Look for opportunities to invest outside of involvement. This will increase the margins for success.

-Coach Aaron

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This is a repost from Facebook last September.
Fellow Coaches and Trainers:

Loyalty isn’t rare. We all have our OG members. The originals that have been with us from the beginning. It’s likely they’ve seen us progress from continuously shouting about the weight staying in their heels —to us making comments about an early arm bend in olympic movements. Simple to complex. There are also the members that started with us and have become engrained into the culture of our gym/training.

Loyalty isn’t fair. As gyms and trainers move through different points in their careers it’s easy to lean on the loyalty of our community. We tax the relationship by taking more than we have given in the recent training sessions. This can’t happen.

Loyalty isn’t one-sided. Consider this a call to action. Invest in yourself with the aim to better serve your community, build better relationships and deliver specific goals. We can’t reward our loyal members enough. Their interests, goals and personal records must be the focus of how we educate ourselves. Seminars and clinics must be an annual occurrence. Books, videos and online courses must be cycled constantly.

Loyalty isn’t guaranteed. Our relationship with our communities is what sets us apart, but it is one sided. As trainers we must not cling to our communities. We should fear destroying their growth or tainting an opportunity. We must remain dedicated first to our craft, then the community. Understanding it will change over time and we have no control over that. What we do have control over is how the community builds a relationship with their own fitness: no matter their physical location.

Loyalty isn’t questionable. It’s actionable. Now deliver.
-Coach Aaron

Coach Aaron reading in the bottom of the squat.
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Most hotels have a fitness room equipped with some dumbbells and cardio equipment. Sometimes the picking is slim. The following workouts are for spots with very limited equipment.

12 Minutes of lunging
Every minute on the minute:
5 (Pick one or a combination of:  Burpee, jump squats, pushups, dips)
(reps can be above 5)

Sit Up Cindy
20 min, 10 min, or 5 min AMRAP
5 Push ups
10 Air Squats
15 sit ups

4 rounds:
36 second plank hold
24 mountain climbers
12 second Handstand hold
24 mountain climbers

4 rounds:
10 glute bridge
5 single leg glute bridge R
5 single leg glute bridge L
400 m run

4 rounds:
1 min front plank
rest :45
1 min reverse plank
rest :45
:30 side plank
rest :20 seconds
:30 side plank
rest :20 seconds

These are just a few ideas. If there is equipment, a pool, an ocean, mountain trails; adjust these to accommodate. This is just the to get your day one started.

Remember: DeadBugs are a must.

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Konza Strength Coach Aaron

I have nothing new to say on strength and conditioning that hasn’t already been said. I didn’t write a book, invent an exercise or piece of equipment. I’m not a National or International level athlete in any sport.  I don’t have a degree from a 4 year university. I’ve never coached someone from a low level to a high level of competition.  

I do have a deep seeded curiosity that has led me to my current state in Health/Fitness or Strength/Conditioning. Any skill I have in coaching is due to approach:  Training should increase quality of life.  This has given cause to expand my knowledge base by any and all means available. As I learn, I pass the information along to those who seek it.  

I believe fitness can be attained through many avenues and disciplines.  You will see that reflected here in multiple forms.  

Coach Aaron
Post Script:
This is my first blog post from a few years back.

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