BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL

April 29, 2013 • 10:57 AM

SURFERS ON A TIDAL WAVE

Last Friday was a pretty big day around here. For the last five years I've been working out at the Equinox gym in Century City, which is pretty much where the development of the Carter Cuff took place. At some point the people who run Equinox started watching too, because I got invited to their annual National Forum to receive this year's Amazing Amazing Award. It's essentially their national member-of-the-year award, and the only award that goes to a member – all the other awards presented during the evening were given to Equinox's top clubs and trainers, and most folks were flown in from all over the US and the UK. This took place at the ultra-hip London Hotel in West Hollywood, right on the Sunset Strip, and I got to get up say and a few things as part of receiving the award. Though you can't see it from these photos, I was speaking to a room filled with about 300 of the top fitness coaches in this. It was really something to just to be in the same room with so many ripped and toned folks, and if my trainers and I got recognized by these folks, then we definitely did something right.

Since we didn't get it on video, here's the transcript of what I said:

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There are moments in life where a few seconds can instantly validate years of work, and when I got word that I was this year's recipient of the Amazing  Amazing award? That was one of those moments. I felt like I was a jar of Jif and that you guys were a bunch of choosy mothers.

This is a story of evolution that involves a lot of people. I'm standing here now because at the end of 2007 I evolved as a lawyer to the point where Sony Pictures decided to upgrade me from a contract position to a full-time employee in their music business group, and I celebrated that by giving myself a gift that would keep on giving, which was to upgrade my gym membership from a large, crowded gym to the best gym I could find in West Los Angeles. After a couple weeks of searching around, it was obvious that Equinox's Century City location was it. It was smaller, it was cleaner, it was less crowded, and they even do their laundry for you. Sold.

Now at this point I was in pretty good shape by most standards, but I wanted to get into better shape for my 20th high school reunion, and I did that with the help of the Tier 4 coaches during the spring of 2008. I got excellent results and I went to that reunion in the best shape of my life, even if the concept of training with a different coach each time seemed odd at first.

But then in the fall of 2009, something happened. To back up just a little bit, just before I started high school I was involved in an electrical accident that resulted in the loss of my left hand. I got off easy because I should not have survived. And while I have remained a gym rat for most of my adult life, the prosthetic technology that was available limited what I could do from an exercise standpoint. In short, any upper body exercise that involved pulling towards me or pulling down was painful or impossible, so I compensated for that by building up my legs and my right side. And then one day I finally had had enough of the frustration and the imbalance, and I realized that what I needed was some sort of armband that could hold my prosthesis in place but also allow me to attach myself directly to weights and weight machines, and therefore not have to worry about how to hold on. And when I went to my prosthetist and was told there was no such armband yet, I realized I was going to have to do it myself. So I drew up some plans and had one made, the Carter Cuff was born, and every physical limitation I'd had for 25 years was gone overnight.

And it was at this point that the Tier 4 coaches became life-changers for me. I knew I had something good, but I also knew that there was a lot more that I did not know. I knew that I would not be able to maximize the potential of this new invention without proper perspective and direction. I also knew that I would not maximize my own potential without the direction of people who would be training me the right way, and not the way I thought was the right way. And that's when I opened my mind's floodgates and allowed the Tier 4 coaches to ride in like surfers on a tidal wave. I looked forward to my sessions like never before, I worked harder than I ever had, and I started listening to and living by what I was being told. The whole thing became kind of an ongoing science project for all of us, and it's a successful one. And the Gestalt psychology that is the foundation of the Tier 4 training concept has transported all of us to new places and has transformed me from "pretty good shape" to something far beyond that. Each of these coaches is an individual star in their own right, but all of their energy and enthusiasm and creativity put together adds up to something that is far more powerful. And the more effort I put in, the more of that "something" comes back to me in return. And it feels good.

This award is meant to recognize the efforts of a number of very exceptional people, so let's do that.

I'd like to thank David Harris, who invented the Tier 4 training concept. When I tell people about it, I always say it's like turning up at the Hall Of Justice and getting your butt kicked by a different superhero every time, each with their own unique set of powers. And the reaction to that is generally one of "Whoaaaaaa. That's cool!" Yes, it is. And now I'd like to acknowledge and thank the following superheroes:

Matt Berenc, for his demands for machine-like precision and his calculated pacing, and also for handling my scheduling like a pro.

Kirsten McCormick, for her optimism and her yoga training, and for teaching me to approach just about everything with a little more grace and flow.

Jacob Boonsook for his ability to get great results out of me when I turn up for a session in an angry or rotten mood. He drew the short straw on this several times, and he turned them into some of the best training sessions I've ever had.

Ryan Williams for his sense of humor and his ability to make some of my least favorite exercises sound like a really, really good idea, even at the tail end of a session.

Jed Sowder for bringing his drummer's cadence and overall rhythm to our sessions, along with some great music conversation.

Tilita Lutterloh, for setting an example of how hard we should be working, and also for showing us how to maintain a positive attitude when things get difficult.

Jackie Casado for being the classic example of the fitness coach who comes across all sweet and friendly, but who will then work you much, much harder than you ever thought you could work. And she'll laugh about it, too.

Juan Ruiz for bringing new levels of thoughtfulness and depth to my strength training, and for being the guy who can put up with me talking at great length about fantasy football.

Clarissa Dela Cruz, for her unwavering affirmation and encouragement, and for her incredible attention to detail and her intense focus during our sessions.

And last but not least, my primary coach through all of this, Zamia Cohen. She designs incredible programs. She's taught me how to eat properly. She knows where my limits are and how to push beyond them in the right way, and at the right time. And now sometimes I can even get through an entire set of an exercise with her without being corrected! And over this time she's become a trusted confidant and a good friend.

Thank you, all of you, for all of that.

I'm very fortunate and very lucky. I'm receiving this award because I happen to be a conduit through which thousands of hours of work and energy has flowed. As much as anything else, I am consistently evolving into a physical and a mental manifestation of what Equinox's Tier 4 program can do for someone who is willing to put the work in and who is willing to open their  mind to the coaching and the mental connections that will propel them to places that they once thought were impossible to reach. It's been an incredible journey, but sometimes the point of a journey is not to arrive, and that’s definitely the case here. We still have a lot more evolving to do, so I will see you folks back in the gym at 6:00 a.m. sharp. Thank you.

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