Billy and Brian talk to endurance athlete, personal trainer, and owner of Performance Running Gym Aaron Boike.
Like what you heard from Aaron Boike? Contact him at:
Website: www.3clickfitness.com & www.performancerungym.com
Facebook: Performance Running Gym
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Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches, as we share our life experiences — both the good and the bad — in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host Billy. And as always, I'm joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how are you doing over there, man?
Brian: I'm stimulated, Billy.
Billy: Oh, why are you stimulated?
Brian: Because I just got back from Las Vegas.
Billy: Oh, that is definitely going to stimulate up human being right there. What did you do to stimulate yourself while you're in Vegas?
Brian: What didn't I do to stimulate myself in Vegas? It's Vegas, you know. You know what's funny about Las Vegas now that was not that way before? Because I've been to Las Vegas a lot now. I mean, I go — probably, pre-pandemic, I was going eight times a year.
Billy: It's one of your favorite cities. Is it?
Brian: Oh, God. Yes, I love gambling. I love playing poker. I love doing the craps. There are shows to do. There's live music. There's anything you want. Funny, down on Fremont Street when we were there, somebody says, "Get a live band." No. Vegas is like, "No, no, no, we're not going to get a live band. We're going to get three." They have them all playing at the same time on Fremont Street. So, as you walk down, it's like you hear country, and then the pop guys, and then you're at the rock guys. It's pretty cool. But yeah, we saw a UFC fight, too. So, that was really incredible. I saw Nunez tap out, which was unheard of. The arena was just electric.
Billy: So, I don't know when this episode is coming out. I think it's coming out in March. So, if people are like, "The Nunez fight was way back in December," yes, we're front loading all of our episodes right now. But yeah, Brian, you're at the Nunez fight. What an upset.
Brian: It was a huge upset, and the arena reflected that. It was so loud during that fight and building up to that fight, and during that fight when they would have exchanges. Because UFC, obviously, they're squared up and they're dancing around. But then boo boo, boom, there's flurries of punches. Every time those flurries would happen, it was deafening. It hurt. It had to have been 130 DB in there. It was just crazy.
Billy: As you were watching them, did your time working out with Delisco James come true a little bit?
Brian: Actually, yes. I discovered that those fighters are much better at doing what I was trying to do.
Billy: So, probably a good thing you weren't in the ring.
Brian: It's second nature to them. I'm like, "I'm still got to think about it when I'm dodging and stuff." Not those guys, man. It's innate. You can tell in some of these fighters that it's just — I mean, it's built into them. They've done it so many times. It's automatic. It's quite incredible and fast. That's another thing I didn't realize, it's how fast these athletes are.
You see it on TV. It's the same with football. You see football and you're like, "Oh, that's nice." But when you're actually standing down there on the field — I've gotten a chance to stand on the field for an NFL game. Randy Moss just actually caught a pass right in front of me against the Seahawks. These guys are moving. You don't really gain an appreciation for how fast these guys are, until you're standing there in front of them. Oh, we saw Joe Rogan, too. That was cool.
Billy: Oh, nice. Did you pitch your podcast to him?
Brian: It was a little tough. I was a little far away from him, but he was probably 100 feet in front of me.
Billy: That's awesome. That's so cool. Well, it's fitting that you just got back from this UFC fight where people are showcasing their athletic talent. Because I feel like one of the hardest things for people, particularly our age or maybe even just any age, is to really embrace fitness or to make fitness a consistent part of their life. So, we decided to bring on Aaron Boike.
Aaron has been an ACE-certified personal trainer for the past 13 years. He has a Bachelor's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, and is a running coach and ultra running coach with UESCA. Aaron is also a dad, husband, business owner, and accomplished trail and ultra runner. He's completed over 40 races at/or beyond the marathon distance, including five 100-mile races. Where do we find these people, Brian? This is amazing.
Brian: Wait a minute. Am I to understand that you've run 100 miles in a single setting?
Aaron: More than that. And through the mountains, yes.
Brian: Oh my gosh.
Aaron: It's a lot of fun. You should try it.
Brian: That's amazing. That doesn't sound like fun to me.
Billy: It doesn't sound like fun, whatsoever.
Brian: But kudos to you. I mean, that is incredible. I don't think there's many people that can say that, honestly.
Billy: Just this year, he completed the Ouray 100, a 100-mile foot race with over 42,000 feet of elevation gain.
Brian: Oh my gosh.
Billy: And at an average altitude of over 10,000 feet, and is widely considered one of the toughest running races on the planet. I'm exhausted just reading that sentence. That is phenomenal, Aaron. Let's give Aaron a hand. Welcome to the show. Aaron, thanks for being here.
Aaron: Thanks for having me.
Billy: Here's the thing, just knowing Aaron — I know him because he owns Performance Running Gym with his wife, Isabel, and that's where I go workout — I know that Aaron is extremely humble. So, these accomplishments, I'm going to tell you, they're absolutely amazing. But I know you, Aaron. You're just going to be humble about it.
Aaron: Normal people can do extraordinary things, too.
Billy: See, listen to this guy. I love it. I love it. So, Aaron, when we have our guests on, we'd like to have them share the 10 roles that they play. So, what are the 10 roles that you play in your life?
Aaron: Yeah, so, I picked first father, husband, business owner, coach, runner, outdoor enthusiast, musician, mountain man, craft beer aficionado, and morning person.
Billy: Okay, we're going to get to the three that you're most looking forward to in the second half of life. But there are definitely some things here that have caught my attention. Let's start with craft beer aficionado. What are your go-to craft beers?
Aaron: Oh, man. Just by definition, I avoid getting the same thing twice if I can. There are so much out there now. One of my favorite things to do is just constantly have something new in the fridge. So, I love our local breweries around here, but I also am a big West Coast guy. I spent a lot of time in California, in Seattle, and all of Washington State over the last couple of years, and then also Colorado and Utah. There are just so many great breweries. So, I really try to avoid having the same thing in my fridge for more than one week at a time. Being a fitness enthusiast, too, I limit myself typically to one a day so that I can focus on my big goals as well.
Billy: But I think that's important for people to hear that, as a fitness enthusiast, you still enjoy a beer.
Billy: So, I think that's important for people to hear that you don't need to restrict yourself. You can enjoy it in moderation, right? So, I'm going out to Seattle — Redmond, actually in January. I'm going to be there for a month before I go to Thailand. I'm going to take a little road trip down to Portland. What breweries and craft beer should I try on my way down there?
Aaron: So, the Alaskan Brewing Company is actually based out of Seattle, Alaska, or at least they have a taproom in Seattle. They've always got great stuff and lots of good stuff there to try. So, that would be probably the first on my list.
Billy: Got it. Alaska?
Billy: Alaskan. Got it. Okay. I'm going to give that a taste. So, another thing that you put down here is musician. Obviously, that speaks to Brian and me. Because I like to think I'm a musician. Brian is actually a real musician. What do you dabble in?
Aaron: Yeah, so it's dabbling now. But actually, until I was really big into the fitness industry, music was my life. I grew up a guitar player. I played since I was six. I played in rock bands right up until I was about 22 years old, when I actually started my first real business venture and had to start making some decisions as to what I was going to do with my limited time resources.
But yeah, I went to an arts high school. Really, guitar was my career path until I found fitness. So, if I wasn't here talking about fitness, I might be here talking to you about my career working as a professional musician. Because that was the original goal.
Billy: That sounds fantastic. So, we had Greg Scheinman on earlier this season. He is in a rock band down in Houston. Now we have you. Brian, we are building what could truly be the greatest dad band of all time right here.
Brian: You know, I think Dad Rock is ready to make a comeback, and we should be that vehicle by which it comes screaming back.
Billy: I wholeheartedly agree. So, speaking of dads, you said one of the roles that you're most looking forward to is being a father, I believe you have two children. You said earlier that you are going through a difficult transition phase at this point, because they're pretty young.
Aaron: Yeah, my wife, her name is Isabel. Then we have my son Killian, and my daughter Emmy. Killian is three, Emmy is two. They kind of went through this angelic phase when they were one to two years old, and then things start to change. Then they start to get really bad. They start to get a mind of their own, but they still can't communicate very well. So, it's just a recipe for disaster.
You throw potty training into the mix. Yeah, it's an adventure every day. That's for sure. But I love it. I'm really looking forward to it. When I think about things I'm really looking forward to in midlife, I think about being able to share my passions and my world with my kids. That's the thing I look forward to the most.
Billy: So, one of those passions that you have is being a runner. That's another thing that you're looking forward to in the second half of life. Clearly, you have run these ultra races. We're going to get into your fitness journey here in the next segment. But tell us how you got into the ultra running.
Aaron: Yeah, my foray into running was actually straight into ultra running. Just as a fitness enthusiast, in college, I would run sprints and stuff on the track inside at the field house. I never ran more than a mile. Honestly, up until I was 22 years old, I don't think I ran a full mile outside of high school gym class. There, I even failed. I couldn't run in 12 and a half minutes, because I grew up a chubby kid and couldn't run that fast.
So, my foray was directly into ultra running. I think we're talking about this later. I actually came from more of a powerlifting background. I met some runners that ended up being personal training clients of mine. I really just fell in love with this idea of being able to explore the world on my own two feet. That was really exciting to me. It seemed like ultra running was the best way to do it. Because otherwise, you're limiting yourself to 10k at a time or a marathoner design. But I knew this guy was out there running 100 milers, and I was strength training him in the gym to help him do that. I thought, "Wow. Imagine the cool places I could see if I could experience 100 miles on my own two feet."
Brian: So, just for the stupid people, me, what's the difference between running and ultra running?
Aaron: Basically, the only difference is the duration and distance.
Brian: Oh, okay. All right. So, it's just longer races.
Aaron: Yeah, so, ultra running is just literally defined as any race beyond the marathon distance. Largely, the marathon is considered the ultimate pinnacle for most people, for most runners. Ultra runners are the people who who no longer see that 26.2 as a limitation.
Billy: One lap around the Bde Maka Ska is my limit. That's because I can keep my attention for 25 to 30 minutes. Bde Maka Ska is a perfect 5k. That's what I'm dialed into. But it always impresses me — people who can commit to doing these longer runs. We are going to touch on this a little bit later, just this idea that you started barely running a mile, and now you're doing this. At the beginning, you said that there's no limits to what we can do. So, I'm very excited to have you on to talk about this here.
You're also a new business owner. Tell us a little bit about transitioning into this new role. Because part of our theme here this season is reinventing ourselves. So, I imagine being a business owner is part of a reinvention for you.
Aaron: Yeah, a little bit, I'd say it was an unexpected one. Actually, my wife and I have co-owned a personal training business now for — gosh, it's going to be the last eight years. So, that was something that we've been into for quite a while. I think we'll talk about that a little later. But just this past May, I became a gym owner. A good friend of mine, a guy named Mark Johnson — who founded Performance Running and really started this place — approached me. He was looking to move on to some bigger and better things with his life. The gym was holding him back from really living that life to the fullest. So, he was looking to transition it to somebody who he knew would take good care of it. Him and I had become good friends over the last few years. I was a very committed member, as well as a business partner. Because our personal trainers had trained at the gym for quite a while.
Billy: That's 3CLICK Fitness, correct?
Aaron: Correct, yep. So, we decided to make the purchase. Honestly, when we first decided to do it, I thought, "Wow. Buying a gym in the middle of COVID, this is probably the stupidest thing I could ever do."
Brian: I like brave. That's so brave.
Billy: Yeah, you were brave.
Aaron: But man, the passion for running and for this community that we have at Performance Running, it would not let me say no. No matter how many times I ran, the numbers — no matter how much of an insurmountable mountain it initially looked like to get things where I wanted them to be — I could not bring myself to say no. I love the community we have there. It's something special, and it's something that I'm really proud to be able to continue to carry on.
Billy: And I'm proud to be a member of Performance Running Gym. I have been a member for a few years now. You're right. Mark is just one of the nicest human beings that's ever existed on this planet. He's such a wonderful person. To see what he started, and what you have grown here in the short time — you guys purchased it over the summer in May, correct?
Aaron: Yeah, beginning of May.
Billy: Yeah, and the two of you have done such a great job, you and Isabel. What is it like running a business with your wife?
Aaron: That's a good question. So, we've been doing it for a while now with 3CLICK Fitness. She joined the 3CLICK Fitness team back in 2017. So, I had purchased 3CLICK Fitness from my former business partner who had owned it outright initially in 2016. She joined the team in 2017. She has the skillset and a gift for working with people. She's just phenomenal, a phenomenal people person, a phenomenal communicator. She's got gifts that I will never have. We complete one another in terms of a full spectrum set of business owners. Because I've got a lot of the behind-the-scenes skills and the skills to grow a business and manage a business. She's got those skills to grow the community and talk to people, and get that interpersonal side of things. That's so important not only from the customer side, but also from the perspective of our employees.
She's just so great in managing our team. She manages our training team now. Honestly, it has its challenges. There's no doubt that there are days where we both come home, and it's hard to not talk about work when we really do need to not talk about work. But at the same time, I can't imagine somebody better to be running these businesses with. Because she completes a piece of the puzzle that I can't dream of completing myself.
Brian: It's funny you say that, because my wife and I are like that, too. She has the skills that I just don't have. In parenting, too, even. She just seems to come up with these ideas. I'm like, "Gosh, that just makes so much sense. You're a natural at this." But I can relate, in that my wife's the same way.
Aaron: Yeah, I'm a big believer in finding what you're really good at. Not that we shouldn't explore things that we're not good at. We want to get out of our comfort zone sometimes. But when it comes to your job, you want to find that spot where you've got a gift, and really use that to its fullest. Bring in some other people that have gifts that complement yours that can help you grow and thrive.
Billy: I like that you said that grow and thrive. Because as we get older, we sometimes have a tendency to grow out. Because fitness isn't as much of a priority for whatever reason, we can always find excuses. We want to make sure that as we talk about this idea of reinventing ourselves, just how important it is to make sure that we maintain our fitness and our health. What we want to do is we want to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to continue talking to Aaron Boike from 3CLICK Fitness and Performance Running Gym, about how we can put our healthiest foot forward as we navigate midlife. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with personal trainer and gym owner Aaron Boike of 3CLICK Fitness and Performance Running Gym. We talked earlier this season with Greg Scheinman. He has the six Fs. Two of the six Fs are fitness and food. I feel like as we get older, it's tough to manage our diet. It's tough to manage our fitness, our health. And so, we wanted to bring Aaron on here today to talk about how we can navigate our health and our fitness as we get older.
Aaron, you have an interesting story about how you got into fitness. I asked you before we got on air — I hope this wasn't an insult, because I know you come from a powerlifting background. I wouldn't say you look like a traditional power lifter. So, can you talk about how you got into powerlifting and how that transitioned into being a runner and an endurance athlete?
Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. Just like I told you when we were off air, I think it would actually be more of an insult if you told me I did look like a powerlifter. It's hard to look like a powerlifter and run 100 miles in the mountains. That weirdly wouldn't work too great. My fitness journey, actually, it starts back when I was a kid. I grew up a pretty chubby kid and a chubby adolescent. It really felt out of control. I felt like I had no control over my body. Most of the people in my family were very overweight. I just assumed that that was going to happen to me, too. I had just accepted it.
Then one day, I just decided I want girls to like me. That was literally what I thought. I'm like, "Well, I should probably start trying to see if there is anything that I can do about this." I started with just one walk a day. That was literally all I did. After dinner every day, I would go for a walk. Sometimes it was 20 minutes, sometimes it was 30 minutes. I think when I started, it was like 10 minutes at a time. It was just trying to get moving. That's something I'd never done before.
After that, actually just walking alone, I had ended up losing about 50 pounds. Then it took about another 25 off over the next six months and got down to the point where I was really skinny. So, I went from being really fat to really skinny. I found out that both feel about the same. It doesn't feel good to be really fat. It also doesn't feel really good to be really skinny and be out of shape. Like no matter what, if you're out of shape, it doesn't feel good whether you're skinny, fat, anywhere in between.
So, I figured that out at that point, that if I wanted to feel good, I had to actually work to get in shape. Not just control my weight, I had to actually work to get in shape. So, I started lifting at the gym. Eventually, I really fell in love with fitness at that point. Because I figured out a way to feel like I had this control over my body and how I felt about myself that I'd never had as a child and as an adolescent.
Long story short, I ended up managing a local 24/7 gym. I met a colleague there that was really into powerlifting. He was actually one of the best in the state, and ended up working out with his crew a little bit and really falling in love with powerlifting. Powerlifting was a way for me to compete with myself. I grew up never playing sports, never doing athletics. So, to have this vehicle where I could measure this continuous improvement, it was really empowering. I loved it.
Eventually, I fell out of love with powerlifting just because of the aches and pains and stuff you just shouldn't feel as a 22- or 23-year-old. Shortly thereafter, I ended up meeting a personal training client. I'd become a personal trainer during this whole time period. I ended up meeting a personal training client that was training for 100-mile ultra marathon. One day, I just asked if I could go on a run with him. This guy, his name is Tony, a good friend of mine. I went on a run with him on 20 miler and fell in love. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. This is something I could actually do."
Billy: Wait. Your first run was a 20 miler?
Aaron: It wasn't my first run. I had run a 10k with a couple clients before. But it was, by far, my biggest run. I had never run more than 10 miles at that point. I remember the run fondly. It was actually myself, my friend, Tony, and another colleague of mine named Jess. We just decided one day, we were going to go for a 20 mile or up the loose line. We didn't really know if it was going to work or not, and it did. I was really sore the next day, but we got it done. So, I asked if I could go along again next week. That's how it all started.
Billy: Did you feel what I keep hearing as a runner's high, as you were going on this or was it more of this f***ing sucks at some point?
Aaron: Very much this f***ing sucks. But I enjoy pushing myself. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. At the same time, it sucked in physically what a huge challenge. On the other hand, it was remarkably empowering. I just ran 20 miles. To go from a point where I had literally not run more than a mile two years prior to running 20 miles with a friend, that was a big deal.
Billy: So, Brian and I are older than Aaron. Aaron is 33. We are not. But just out of curiosity, it sounds like you changed your approach to fitness. That's something that I think I have a hard time letting go of, because I feel like I'm still exercising the same way I did 20 years ago. Though there are bread and butter exercises, I feel like there's the core six styles of exercise when it comes to strength training and hypertrophy training that we need to do. How have you shifted your strength training or hypertrophy training over the years?
Aaron: Yeah, that's a good question. When you get into endurance sport, your goal is no longer hypertrophy. Hypertrophy — for those of you who don't know — is literally the micro tears that happen in your muscle fibers when you lift heavy weight. That actually grow bigger and stronger. That primarily happens by using the overload principle, lifting more weight than your body is essentially adapted to. That mostly happens on the down phase of exercises. So, there are various ways that you can maximize hypertrophy. You're never going to get rid of hypertrophy no matter how you lift. But you can maximize it in certain ways by lifting in certain rep ranges and with certain tempos and everything like that, and doing certain types of lifts.
I'd say, largely, when I think about the way that you work out, Billy, and the way that I work out, we probably do a lot of the same lifts. But I think about things a little differently. I'm thinking about power production as opposed to hypertrophy. So, I focus on the speed of my lifts. I do a lot of plyometrics. I still do those big compound movements, though. But instead of focusing on the traditional 8 to 12 reps that a bodybuilder might, I'm focused on how am I going to maximize my strength and power to complement my running. So, I use lower rep ranges, heavyweights, and then plyometric style exercises to really work on building power versus building brute strength and hypertrophy. So, it's a different approach but using a lot of the same movements that I think you would probably be doing at the gym.
Billy: So, I think it's important for people, as they get older, to understand why it is so important for them to lift weights and to do strength training, to do hypertrophy training, to do something where you're fatiguing somewhere between that 6 rep to 15 to 20 rep range rather than cranking out 20 reps with a five-pound weight that you could do 100 times.
For people who are approaching midlife and even beyond that, as we get older, why is it so important for them to get involved in some strength training, whether they're doing it one day a week, three days a week? Talk about losing muscle mass as we age. Because that's what happens, right?
Aaron: Yeah, so, there's a lot of reasons to specifically do weightlifting as we get older. But one of the biggest ones is just starting at around age 30. For most people, we experience a change in our hormonal profile that no longer supports just keeping the lean mass that we have. If we do nothing, it starts to go away. So, we typically will lose about 1% lean muscle mass per year after the age of 30 if we don't do something to stimulate it. What the research shows is that, you're going to get a little bit of retention by doing aerobic exercise, specifically aerobic exercise that has some impact to it. But that's not going to be enough to maintain that lean muscle mass as you get older. You have to specifically do strength training in order to do that.
So, that's the biggest reason why we have to. It's just there's that natural loss in lean muscle tissue. If you think about the consequences of that, that's going to impact everything else we want to do in midlife and beyond. If we're losing muscle mass, we're losing strength. We're losing functionality. That takes away our ability to really enjoy life to the fullest.
Billy: And I feel like cardio and aerobic — for people who are new to fitness — that's sort of the gateway into it. But what barriers, what hang ups do you see getting in people's way when it comes to the importance of strength training as we get older?
Aaron: There's a few key ones that we run into a lot running a personal training business. We see these a little bit at Performance Running, too, but I might say we have a pretty motivated group over there. The things that we run into the most often is just a lack of direction. We live in a world where there's so many fitness fads out there. There are so many different options to choose from, that you can just get decision fatigue. Where do I start? What's the best workout? The truth is, just get started with something.
Then lack of accountability, lack of motivation — so, this is where a trainer can really come in handy. It's having that partner to keep you accountable, to keep you motivated on your fitness journey. We have so many things in our life that we have to exert our willpower for. So, to add on top of that fitness, that's a real problem for a lot of people. Because they're already dealing with managing their willpower for so many other things, that to add fitness on top of that can be a big problem. That's where having a partner or a trainer can come in handy.
Another big issue we run into, that I think prevents people from making real progress if they start their fitness journey, is thinking about extrinsic motivations versus intrinsic ones. I'd say that, you can tell when a client is going to be successful. Because they typically have a motivation that really comes from themselves, something deep in their soul that they really want to accomplish for themselves, versus something that they want to complete or accomplish for somebody else like their doctor or to impress their husband or wife. They're not likely to be successful if they're thinking about those extrinsic motivators. You got to have something that's truly internal and important to you in order to succeed. So, I'd say that's the second biggest thing we run into. It's people not understanding their why, not knowing really why they want to get in shape. They just think they want to get in shape, but they don't have that real reason for it.
Obviously, there's the constraints on time, family, work obligations that come up in midlife. We're just busy. We're managing kids. We're managing our jobs. Typically, we're making advances in our career during this point in time. So, it's just another thing to manage. Constraints on time can be a big thing.
Then the last thing that I thought about with this, is just the cascade that happens as we get older if we're not physically active. If we spend time not being physically active, that cascades to a decrease in energy and a decrease in ability to be physically active, which eventually leads to chronic disease, obesity. It's really hard to get started at that point. Definitely, not impossible. But it gets progressively harder to get started.
Billy: So, then if people get to that point, is that where maybe you would recommend just like what you did when you were younger, hey, maybe you just need to walk for 10 minutes a day and build that up to 15 minutes a day, just doing something consistent and creating a discipline for it?
Because when we had Scott Welle, who's also an ultra-marathoner, he talked about there is a distinct difference between motivation and discipline. How do you have that conversation around there is a difference between motivation, and there's a difference between discipline? Do you set times with your clients and say, "Hey, when are you actually going to do this? I'm going to hold you accountable to this"?
Aaron: Yeah, I totally agree with your other guest. What was his name again?
Billy: Scott Welle.
Aaron: Scott Welle, yeah. Motivation tends to be a fleeting thing. A good example, I just watched this awesome documentary on Netflix called 14 Peaks. If you guys haven't watched it, this is amazing what this guy did. He climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world, 14 18,000-meter mountains in seven months. The previous record was almost eight years. It's just an incredible achievement.
But either way, you finish something like that, and you're like, "Damn, I'm going to hit the gym hard tomorrow." This guy's a beast. He's just somebody that almost anybody in our position would idolize. But that motivation is going to be fleeting, right? You're going to feel that motivation until you hit the gym, and then workout is going to be hard. It's going to be hard to keep that up. Or maybe you're motivated for that first week, but it's hard to keep it up long term because that motivation is a fleeting thing.
The discipline comes in where you say, it doesn't matter if I'm motivated today or not. This is something that I have on my calendar. This is something that I've committed to. Whether I feel excited about it or not today, I'm going to do it. I just told you, Billy, as I walked into the studio, I had a super busy day at work today. I felt like there was no chance that me getting a solid work out here. But I just went out for a brisk walk right before we came into the studio. It's that small little building block that I know is still putting me on the right trajectory towards the big goals that I have. It seems like nothing. I went and walked for 30 minutes. But I know that that is a step in the right direction. I always say what you just said. If you can just start with a walk a day, if you can just start with 10 minutes, if you can hit the gym once a week, do what you can do, and get that discipline around that thing that you know you can commit to.
Billy: I think that's really important for people to hear that, hey, maybe you didn't get the gym in. Maybe you didn't PR anything. But you got a 30-minute walk, and you were active. Being active may translate into being active again tomorrow and again tomorrow and again tomorrow. That's the hardest piece for me. It's the consistency. It's to consistently get to the gym. Brian, I know you're in the best shape that you've ever had, right? That you've ever been in. So, what is it for you? How do you discipline yourself? How do you stay consistent?
Brian: It's the same as Aaron. I need the energy. It's almost counterintuitive. You'd think, "Oh, I'm moving all the time. My body's going to be tired." That's not the way it works. Once you get started moving, you get more energy from moving. So, for me, I need that energy to keep up with my five-year-old and my 12-year-old and my 10-year-old. I have three boys. That's my main motivation. It's just doing it because I feel better when I do it. Same as you. You get that energy. You're able to do more if you keep your body healthier, and you're moving all the time. It feeds itself.
Aaron: Yeah, it's such a trap to think that you have to have the perfect workout for things to work.
Aaron: You just need to get out there and do something.
Billy: I think, too, there's something to be recognized in the rest aspect of it too, in the recovery aspect, after a workout, in that you can't go hard each and every single day. You have to get a good night's sleep. You have to fuel yourself accordingly. Otherwise, you're going to feel sluggish. You might not get back in there the next day, just because you feel like shit because you fueled yourself with shit, or you got a bad night's sleep.
I think it's okay for people to recognize, too, that this just isn't my day. I am just going to do that 15-minute walk. Because if I go and lift a weight right now, I'm going to hurt myself. I'm glad that you brought that up, that you didn't have time today to get in and do a workout at the gym. You own a gym, but you weren't able to say, "I'm going to get in walk. For sure, I can at least get in a walk." I imagine going to the gym and working with a trainer, especially if it's something someone has never done before can be an intimidating experience. I know you're not doing training anymore that you own the gym, but you have your trainers at the gym. So, walk us through what a pre-screen and a consultation might look like with a trainer.
Aaron: Yeah, so, we really try our best to remove that intimidation factor. There's a few things that we, of course, have to do. We have to do a brief health history questionnaire. We have to make sure that you're safe to jump into an exercise program, even if you're not. There are ways around that. 9 times out of 10, the doctor is going to sign with a big smile and say, "Absolutely. You can work with a personal trainer." But either way, after we get through that simple step, which takes off about two minutes, we really work with the clients on three main things.
We're going to work with them to establish three specific and measurable goals. We're going to dive in to why those goals are important to them. I think that's where we try to start to discover some of those intrinsic motivators. Because a lot of people, they have that surface idea of what their goal is on their mind, but they don't really think about why it is they want to achieve it. When we start listing out the reasons why they want to achieve it, and why it's so important to their life, then they start to get really excited about it. Then they can really commit. That's the first thing we do. We set those three specific and measurable goals, and we discover their why.
The second thing that we work with them on is, we figure out a basic outline of a workout plan that's going to help them achieve their goals based on what they've told us. So, we're going to figure out what specifically, paint the picture of what specifically that workout plan would look like. Then we're going to finish with giving our specific recommendations on how a personal trainer can be a part of that plan, so that they can have a better result and a better experience and have that motivation, accountability, remove all the guessing and the thinking, which I think holds so many people up. They spend all day thinking about, what should I do at the gym? The trainer is going to answer those questions for you, and you have that partner. That is just, I think, one of the most important things. It's to have that partner.
Billy: I think that accountability partner piece is important. Because I used to go to Orangetheory, and I felt like the group atmosphere held me accountable a little bit. It also pushed me a little bit because I imagined other people are like this. I would look around the room and see who my competition was, and I liked that. But there was also the piece for me because I have my personal training certification, too. I'm like, well, I feel like I'm missing this aspect to my training. So, I would couple the two together. So, maybe go to Orangetheory once or twice a week and then go to the gym to do hypertrophy or strength training once or twice a week just to marry those things together.
One thing that you talked about before was, you were working with a high performing athlete as their coach. I think it's important for people to recognize that even high performers work with a coach in some way. So, when you take a look at the benefits of working with a coach, what are those? Why do you think it's important for people of all varying degrees to work with a coach?
Aaron: The benefit of working with a coach — for me, I actually work with two coaches in my life. I work with a business coach, a guy named Troy Schuette, who's a local EOS implementer. He's done awesome things for our business. Then I also work with a running coach myself. There's a lot of different elements to why I personally love working with a coach.
But one of the best ones is having that outsider perspective, the perspective on your goals from the outside without the emotional involvement that you have when you try to tackle them yourself. Then there's also the element of taking the guessing and the thinking out of it. When we're in midlife, we're dealing with all of these decisions — decisions about our kids, decisions about our work, decisions about how we're going to manage our relationship with our spouse. There are all these things that we're thinking about, and it can be overwhelming. If you're adding on top of that, I want to start a fitness journey, and there's 9 billion options out there and 6 billion exercises I could choose from, that's an overwhelming proposition.
So, to have somebody there who's doing that legwork for you, thinking about what specifically is going to achieve this person's goals — the fastest and the most efficient way — it just takes that burden off of you. You know you're doing the right thing. So, you're that much more motivated. Because you know when you hit the gym, or when you hit that run, or when you're making that business plan, that it's the right decision because it's been thought through, and it's from somebody that you trust.
Billy: I'm glad that you mentioned essentially the paradox of choice right there when it comes to being overwhelmed. Because you can look on social media and see 8 million workouts. You graciously let me train at your gym last winter. My approach was we're just going to do strength foundations, we're going to do a squat or a lunge exercise. We're going to do a hip hinge exercise. So, like a deadlift or a hip thrust or something along those lines. An upper body push, so a bench press or shoulder press and upper body pull. Then we would rotate, and then we would do a carry exercise. So, I feel like even if you're new, you can work in those six exercises into a workout. It might only take you then 40, 45 minutes to do a good workout.
If you have a trainer, then they'll be able to say, "Hey, I'm looking at the way you're moving right here during this workout. Maybe we need to go lighter. Maybe we need to shift here. Maybe we need to not do that exercise at all, and move over in this direction here, and do something else until we build up the strength or the stamina to move it over here. I think it's important then for people to recognize what they should be looking for in a trainer. As an employer, what do you look for in a trainer? What should people look for in a trainer when they're going to work with someone?
Aaron: Yeah, that's a great question. I'd say one of the things that's led to our success as a business over the last few years — with 3CLICK Fitness and now Performance Running, we actually share a lot of employees between the two businesses — has been that we have the right people. We say it openly. We have the best trainers in the Twin Cities.
What makes for the best trainer? It's not necessarily just the education and credentials. We got some people on our team with amazing credentials that have really worked hard to advance their careers. But that's not the reason we hired them. The reason we hired them is because they're a personality fit. They match what we're looking for, that we know is going to be able to inspire, motivate, and have a positive effect on our clients. That's the most important thing that you should also be looking for as a consumer when you're looking for a trainer. Is this person a personality fit? Do I like this person? Can I see myself building a solid rapport with this person? If you say no to that question, you're probably not going to stick with that trainer long term. You're probably going to have trouble trusting that what they're telling you is in your best interest.
The second thing you should look for is, make sure that they have an NCCA-accredited Personal Training Certification or a degree in a related field. There are so many kinds of fake personal training certifications out there. Anybody can go on the internet, spend a weekend, and walk away with a certificate printed off their computer. It doesn't mean anything, though. You want to make sure that you have somebody who's done a legitimate certification. The NCCA is the organization. They have a website. I think it's just nccaa.org. You can look up somebody's certification to find out if it's legitimate or not.
Billy: And you have an ACE certification, correct?
Aaron: Yeah, and to be honest with you, exercise is great. But I would argue that if you're looking somebody with just an ACE certification, no experience, no degree, that's probably not enough.
Billy: What if they have an NASM certification, would you say that they have then accomplished the gold standard of certified personal training credentials?
Billy: Damn it.
Aaron: But get some good experience, and you're on the right track,
Billy: And that's why I appreciated you letting me train at your gym, because I got some experience training with some of the clients there. So, thank you very much for that. What else should people look for in a trainer?
Aaron: I think the last thing, and one that's probably just about as important as the first point of, do you like them, to see yourself building a rapport with them and having trust in them, is do they care more about your goals than their own agenda? Fitness is very tribal right now. Just like everything in our world, everything's very tribal right now. Fitness is no exception. You might go see a trainer who just train one way. They just train based on the big three exercises — bench press, deadlift, squat. They just train hit style, whatever it is. They might have their own agenda. That's what they do. I personally really advocate avoiding that, because that might not be where you're at. That might not be the best for your goals, and it probably isn't. So, you want to make sure that the trainer you're talking to clearly cares more about your goals and how they're going to help you accomplish your goals, then how they're going to put you through this awesome workout that's going to leave you dragging by your ass on the floor.
Billy: I'll give a shout out to one of your trainers, Jacob Oak. Because when I came back from my trip, I did not exercise at all. I didn't do a single push up while I was overseas in Portugal, in Spain. But I walked every single day. I was walking 35,000 steps so I was able to, I guess, keep the weight off from whatever I was consuming just because I was walking so much, and I was climbing here and there. But I definitely feel not as toned. I take great pride in the strength that I had developed over the years, and now I've lost a lot of that. Because I was out of sorts and I wasn't consistent with working out, I'm like, I'm losing this motivation to go to the gym. Because I know that if I pick up a weight, it's going to be a significantly less weight than what I was lifting before.
You have Saturday group classes that are free to members and free to first-timers. Jacob is one of the coaches at those Saturday classes. I was like, "You know what? I'm going to go and do the Saturday class, because I just need someone to walk me through this and guide me through this." Jacob is a great young man. I love working with him and he fits for me. He's a great personality fit. He's accredited. When I told him like, "Hey, you know what? I don't want to do a whole lot of overhead stuff because I have some issues with my neck, da, da, da, da. He was great at making sure that the exercises fit to what it was that I was there to do. It was a great workout.
Aaron: Awesome. That's great to hear. Yeah, Jacob is awesome.
Billy: Yeah, absolutely. So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take a quick break. Then when we come back, for you, runners out there, Aaron is going to talk a little bit more about why it's important for you as runners to make sure that you are lifting weights, and to avoid that stigma of being bulky as a runner. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with certified personal trainer and business owner, gym owner, Aaron Boike. We've been having a great conversation here about the importance of fitness as we get older. We want to shift gears here a little bit. Because Aaron does do a lot of ultra running, and he does a lot of coaching with ultra runners. If there are ultra runners out there, or there are people who are interested in getting into ultra running, we encourage you to contact Aaron.
Now, Aaron, there seems to be this stigma with runners that lifting weights will hurt their running by making them too bulky. I remember talking to a marathon runner one time and asked him, "Hey, do you ever lift weights?" He's like, "No." I'm like, "Oh, you don't ever go into the gym? Like once or twice and just do some strength training?" He'd say, "No, that would get in the way of my running." So, he was running six days a week. Just over time, I've heard that from runners that, no, they don't want to go in and lift. I'm just wondering, what advice would you give to the running community out there when it comes to that mindset?
Aaron: Yeah, I'd say that that's an old school mentality. Your friend who runs marathons, he might be stuck in the past. Because strength training is largely accepted by the running community at this point. If you look at any of the elite runners out there, they work with a strength coach. It's a piece of their program. That's for a myriad of reasons. The research of yester years was based on this principle that endurance athletes should lift lightweights for high repetitions. Because they're endurance athletes, they should be working for over a long period of time.
No wonder they didn't get results, because that's essentially doing the same thing that you do when you go out and run. If you're going out and lifting 30 repetitions of a squat, you're working your legs much like you do when you're out running. You're not building any additional capacity.
Since then, the research has shifted to, what happens if we have runners lift for power, if we have them lift heavy weights for low repetitions, and we have them do plyometric or jumping exercises, focused on power? The research has been remarkable. Not only does it improve Vo2 max, which is the ultimate measure of what your capacity as is in aerobic or endurance athlete is, but it also helps to build more power and muscular efficiency and ward off injury.
Any runner knows that one of the biggest plagues that runners have, particularly long-distance runners, is injury. In an average year, over 70% of runners are going to end up with an injury of some sort. That injury is going to put them on the couch for a while, and that's going to hinder their progress. Just by strength training alone, you can ward off a lot of those injuries because you're strengthening your muscles, your tendons, your ligaments, and your joints, so that they can handle the pressures of your sport. On top of that, like we talked about, if you improve your your power through your musculature, that power translates into your running. You become more efficient. You become faster, and you become more economical.
Billy: What importance does the role of stretching and even recovery lifts like face poles, or band walks, or anything like that, what role do those play? I imagine that we have listeners out there who do yoga. I think yoga is very underrated in strength training. Maybe even in the runner world, I'm not sure what your thoughts are on that. But, at times, I think it's overrated. Because we will hear people do yoga five days a week, but they don't incorporate any strength training. I feel like we need to blend all these modalities together. I'm curious what you think about that. Am I off base on that?
Aaron: Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of it comes down to, what's your time commitment? What can you get away with there. You have to pick what is going to produce the most improvement for you based on your life and what you want to accomplish. For some people, that might be yoga. If you're getting into running and you're incredibly immobile, and that's hindering your performance, well, then, a yoga class on a weekly basis, or even a couple times a week is probably a great thing to do.
But if you're looking at injury prevention or just becoming a more functional athlete, that's where the strength training is really going to shine as well. I think it all comes down to time. When you're thinking about all these different things that you could do, think about the ones that are going to be the most impactful for you. That's the place to start.
Billy: So, what is your training then look like now? Because like we said, you came from a powerlifting background so I don't imagine that your deadlift in 475 anymore, anything like that. So, what is your training regimen look like?
Aaron: In the fitness world, we're taught that endurance and strength are on this continuum — with endurance being on one side, strength being on the other. It's hard to maximize improvements in both at the same time. So, when I'm working out at the gym, my goal is not necessarily to get back to that 500-pound deadlift that I had in my early 20s. My goal is to complement my running. I'm sure most of the people that come to performance running, that's probably what their goal is, too.
On a weekly basis, my program — I work with a coach, like I said. It varies wildly depending on what I'm training for and the time of year. So, right now, I'm getting ready for 100 miler in February and a marathon in the spring. I have to think about both of these things at the same time, because I have to work on my up tempo runs and running quickly and turning in turnover and leg speed getting ready for this marathon.
Just real quick. What's the recovery difference between 100 miler and a 26 miler? Do you have to take a certain amount of time off after both of them?
Aaron: That's a good question. I like that. This could be a whole can of worms, but I'll try to make it short and sweet. 9 times out of 10, that person that just finished the marathon and was running really hard for 26.2 is going to be sore as hell the next day. The person that ran the 100 miler, they might not be nearly as sore. So, the physical recovery you'd actually be surprised for, at least for experienced ultra runners is far less for 100 miler versus a marathon.
Aaron: It's because the intensity level is so much lower than 400 miler. You can't go out and run six-minute miles for 100 miles. But you can do that for a marathon, right? So, it's just that you're running at such a small portion of your total max capacity to be able to run that kind of distance. You're, in some cases, doing less ultimate damage on your muscle fibers. There's less of a physical recovery.
Now, after 100 miler, there's a whole another can of worms that is the mental recovery from such a massive event, from such a massive undertaking. There's recovery that we don't really completely understand yet — systemic fatigue that goes deeper than just muscular fatigue or tiredness. You can think of some of the long haul COVID symptoms. A lot of those carryover in your first weeks after 100 miler. I've experienced all of that even just this year, even to the point of dealing with some depression after the year I 100. It is really strange when you train for something this intensive, this large. In this case, this is a race that takes most people over two days to complete. It took me 46 hours. When you're out there for that long in the mountains, subjecting your body to something that's this intense, there's a tremendous mental and systemic fatigue that I don't think we completely understand at this point.
Brian: That could have to do with the dopamine release because of the run. A lot of things going on there maybe.
Aaron: Yeah, there's no doubt. You're messing with your your hormones and everything. I never said it was healthy, but it's a lot of fun.
Billy: Well, I think that maybe brings up the other side of things. Because I was just reading an article about the role exercise plays in alleviating anxiety and depression. So, I was wondering if you could speak to that. You were speaking to the other end of it, that after the training is done and after that long run is done, that you maybe are feeling these emotions. But on the flip side of that, when you're routinely working out, it can alleviate these feelings of anxiety and depression. So, can you speak to that a little bit?
Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. So, this is something I'm really passionate about. Because I have people close to me in my life that deal with pretty major anxiety and depression. There's absolutely no doubt about it that specifically, when you get consistent with an activity or exercise routine, there's a tremendous ability to overcome these feelings of depression and anxiety and manage them. It's not necessarily a cure all, but it definitely helps you manage them. There are several reasons for that. There's the actual dopamine and endorphin release that you get from your workout. Also, there's that commitment to a positive thing, something that you really have control over, that you know if nothing more, I'm going to take this half hour every day to go out and go for my walk, or I'm going to hit the gym. Having that positive, consistent element in your life, I think can really be a massive help for people that are struggling with anxiety, depression, and mental illness.
Billy: I can kind of relate to that today, because I was hyper today. I don't know if I was stressed out. I'm just anxious all the time. I was at someone's house. I said, "I need to go to the gym. Because if I stay here in this current state, I am going to drive you nuts." I'm like, "Okay. I'm going to go to the gym. I went to Performance Running Gym. I did my workout, and it felt great. It did clear my head a little bit. I liked that you talked about how exercise and working out is a positive progress in some way, where you see like you're doing something that is creating growth within ourselves. It's important for us to be continually growing.
Aaron: Yeah, when you think about as an average person going into midlife, all the obligations and everything that we have, there's so many things that we do for other people. There are so many things that we commit to for other people, for our business for our kids, whatever it might be, to have that thing that is yours, that you have control over. It's a positive thing. It's something nobody's going to look down on you for taking a half hour to work out.
Everybody knows that's going to help you in every other aspect of your life. So, it's that thing that you get for you. It's a positive thing, and it helps you. Like you just said, Billy, hit that reset button. I mean, that was half the reason I went out for a walk before I came in here today. I wanted to be able to give a good interview, and I wanted to be relaxed for it. My mind was moving at 500 miles an hour when I pulled in the parking lot here, because I had a crazy day. So, I just wanted to slow that day down a notch a little bit, get out, move a little listen to some good music and come back in here with a clear mind.
Billy: Well, if that isn't reason enough for people to put their healthiest foot forward, I don't know what is. Aaron, we want to thank you so much for being here today. You can contact Aaron at aaron@3CLICKFitness.com. You can follow him on Instagram @trainerontherun. You can follow 3CLICK Fitness at Three Click Fitness on Instagram. You can follow Performance Running Gym, at Performance Running Gym on Instagram. Aaron, thank you so very much for coming in today. We really appreciate it.
Aaron: Awesome. Thanks for having me.
Billy: So, for Aaron, for Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.