Best of the Gram 2019

“I’m a realest, and an optimistic,” my phone’s alarm rang at 4:30 in the morning with State Champs’ All You Are is History blaring. I hopped out of my bed and into a cold shower, throw on my work clothes—a dry shirt and joggers—and bundled up to brave the peak of the Vermont winter. It was pitch black. “Scrape, scrape scrape,” my windshield called as I protruded the ice from it. By 5:30, any sleepiness I had was whisked away by my need to be a professional best. You never knew when I new person would walk into our 5:30 am adult strength training classes at Fit 2 Excel. Especially being the turn of the new year into 2019, new gym goers are a frequent phenomenon.

Now in December 2019 my day starts elevated 14 stories from the ground. I tip-toe to my alarm going off at 7:15. I can’t wear sweatpants everyday anymore, I have to actually look good. Weird. After a quick shower I call the elevator and strut onto Fifth avenue. No more scraping off snow from my car. I don’t miss that. A small dog with a jacket and shoes strolls by with an undoubtedly wealthy owner. I take the elevator up for some classes, or walk underground for others.

December 2019 and January 2019 feel like two different worlds.

As I’ve evolved this year, so has my content. Entering 2019, my writing was authoritative, almost bossy. Helpful? Yes. Insightful? I like to think so. But now the thoughts prodding my brain spilling onto the page feel more like the kind of reading I always enjoyed. A story with a theme wrapped inside, perhaps possessing a poetic sound I once thought implausible.

This is an article for my own reflection. And also, I suppose, for the middle schoolers who constantly complain my Instagram captions are too long.

Lastly, Instagram culture is biased against content even a few days old, to the extent that acknowledging someone’s previous content with a like is considered creepy. So, here you can give the proverbial double tap without any awkwardness.

June 18, 2019

Time. It’s one of the most mysterious components of life. We’ve all had that perception of time flying. Especially this time of year, with another school year ending, we can all be prone to that feeling of time slipping from our fingertips.

Time is the one thing we all want more of, but that we can’t get. So, we must change our relationship with time, and develop strategies to make the most of it. Whether on a grander scale, or just in our day to day life.

We’ve all had to do long-term projects, that we slowly dragged out until working incredibly efficiently in the last two days before it’s due date. If the project were due two days after it was assigned, we would have done it in two days. The approaching deadline gives us the urgency we need to make the most of our time.
In our lives, if we can envision and create deadlines for ourselves, we’ll be regularly thrust into periods of urgency, presence, and appreciation. What do you want to experience, accomplish, and savor about the next month, week, or day? Create that deadline for yourself.

This year, 2019, I’ve broken up into distinct chunks.

The start of the year was the end of my final season of junior hockey. I knew how quickly it would end, so I was able to enjoy and appreciate every day.

Then, I was traveling. Each day was a chance to experience something I may never get to again, and so I was thrust into hyperpresense and appreciation.
Now I’m home again, but I only have three weeks left before I leave for an internship. It’s the last three weeks that will ever resemble my normal life. With this deadline, I can appreciate what has normally seemed mundane.

Once the internship ends, the start of school and my move to New York will be right there.

You don’t have to break up your time as drastically as I have this year, but if you can envision your life as broken up into smaller chunks, you’ll be thrust into a sense of presence and urgency that is difficult to achieve without some sort of impending deadline.

Yes, right now this life feels it will be as long as we need it to be. But the reality is that if we don’t strive to be present, it will pass by, and we’ll be wondering where the time went.

June 27, 2019

“Hey David, can you write me a workout plan?” I’ve gotten about one of these requests weekly for the last two years. I always comply. Especially for old friends, it’s the least I could do for them.

But, in about 90% of these cases when I follow up with them several weeks later, I discover that they hadn’t followed the program to its completion. “Hey man thanks so much but school got really busy this semester.” “Yeah the program was great I just didn’t have the time to lift during lacrosse season.” “I followed it for a few weeks but then I just fell off the bus.” These people were not lacking willpower, or time (we can all find time for exercise). What they were really lacking was ACCOUNTABILITY.
I get it. I have days where I don’t go to the gym even though I should. We all have gaps in our motivation and willpower, and that doesn’t make us weak, it just means we need a better system to make us go do our workouts.
But how can I keep everybody accountable? It’s unreasonable logistically and financially to have them come do personal training with me.
That’s when I came across the concept of ONLINE TRAINING.
With online training, the trainer provides the client with, on top of a customized program, unlimited access to the trainer to check-up regularly, ask questions, help schedule the workouts, and anything else the client may need.


Upon this realization I decided to become a Certified Online Trainer (OTC). For the first time, I am now opening this up to anybody who thinks that this is the right fit for them.

College students with busy schedules, but who know they need to exercise.

Athletes who need to be held accountable to lift during the offseason.
I’m currently only going to be taking on a select few clients to ensure that I can provide the best service possible. If this is something you’re even remotely (pun intended) interested in, fill out my Online Training Application, which you can find in my bio, and we can talk and see if it’s the right fit for both of us.

With love,

July 4, 2019

It’s a day of celebration, and as with many days this time of year, it will be spent playing yard games, sitting around a campfire, or on a patio with friends.

Each year that goes by (for my friends and I it has been two years since we graduated high school), our lives get more and more different. We’re doing this internship, or studying that, or working here.
Among everybody’s journey, there’s a common theme among those most excited about what they’re doing.

They have taken initiative.

Initiative is starting, taking the first step. It’s reaching out to that person you want to intern for, or introducing yourself to the author who changed your life.
It’s going out of your way to seek out opportunities, rather than wait for them to come to you.
When you take initiative, you go from the sidelines to the playing field. You may get that opportunity simply because you asked for it and showed enthusiasm.

You’ve started the race while everybody else is still waiting on the starting line.
This applies to jobs, sports teams, colleges, relationships.
Of course, this sounds obvious. And it is. But are you doing it?

And further, It’s a skill that takes practice just like anything else.
That first time you reach out to someone, whether it’s a colleague, potential employer, or the cute girl in history class, it will seem scary.
This is the hardest part. Butterflies will rise in your stomach. The excuses will come as to why you shouldn’t introduce yourself.
But if you can past this first interaction, than the second will become easier. Initiative and action taking will become your default response. “Default aggressive,” As Jocko Willink would say.

Once that habit is built, that’s where the magic happens. That’s where you’ll develop great, fulfilling connections.

Take the leap, initiate.

July 8, 2019

When I was eleven years old, I did my first Fit 2 Excel Summer Athletic Performance Class.

Almost immediately, I got results, and those results inspired me to do more and more.

I became obsessed with improving my performance, as I learned more about the gym. And thankfully, I had two incredible mentors at a young age to guide me in that process.

John and Sheila have been with me nearly every step of my athletic journey, encouraging and pushing me to be better.

After high school, I wanted to continue, I wanted to be a coach. I wanted to be the inspiration and support for athletes that they had been for me.

I was an 18 year kid with on paper, no qualifications.
Regardless, John and Sheila took yet another chance on me, hiring me right out of high school.

Of course for me, it was a great stroke of luck.

But at the same time, I’d been preparing for it my whole teenage life. Nearly all my free time was spent watching YouTube videos or reading books on working out.
Sometimes life places us at the right place at the right time. Other times, we place ourselves to be ready for a great opportunity.

Here, it was both.

Yes, I was presented with a great opportunity. But I was ready to take it and run with it.
I think it has been a mutually beneficial relationship.
And yet now, I say goodbye to the place where I have learned and grown so much.
Thank you to John and Sheila, for giving me this opportunity.

Thank you to my parents for always supporting me with whatever decision I made.

Thank you to each and every athlete who has walked into our doors, and trusted me to help you improve. For you, this goodbye might be the hardest.

July 11, 2019

Today’s world is busier than ever.
Each second something is vying for our attention.

It’s too easy to overcommit ourselves, and leave us no room for the things that truly matter.

I’ve been a consistent victim of this.

The nature of life is trade-offs. Anytime we say yes to something, we’re inevitably saying no to something else. So, we must ask ourselves, “Which do I want? What am I sacrificing by doing this?” It’s about prioritizing what’s important to us.

Personally this meant blocking out hours in my schedule for my essential activities, like writing and relaxing, while sacrificing extra work hours and new clients.

It’s in the days with down time scheduled where I’ve done my best writing, where I’ve had the best conversations with friends and family.

Those are things that will ultimately help me serve the world the best way I can.

It’s what keeps me inspired to help clients, to keep getting better.

It’s what will keep me fulfilled, and focused on the missions that I was put on the earth to undertake.

For me, creative and down time was where I was underinvesting.
What’s one area that’s important to you where you’re underinvesting?
What must you give up in order to allow yourself to focus on what truly matters to you? (Here is a beautiful photo of my dog, and the place I have the privilege to call home)

July 20, 2019

Premià de Mar

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

It’s easy to see what other people have and think that they have it all figured out.
Living in the United States, a lot of us have this image of Europe as a magical land where they have it all figured out. We picture the Eiffel Tower, or La Sagrada Familia and think that their life is simply better.
Don’t get me wrong, Europe has completely enamored me. But, they have their issues.

They all go to work too, and have rainy days.

Yet, many Europeans view us, with the worldly influence we have, and think that we’re the lucky ones.
We all have a tendency to believe that things would be so much better if we were just here or there, doing this or that.
Feeling that life is better in other places doesn’t allow us to appreciate the things that we have. We all have amazing things in our lives, things that people all over the world would trade to have.
Instead of thinking, “Damn, if I only had this, then I would be happy,” take a second to appreciate all of the incredible things we do have.

The grass isn’t always greener. And, If you don’t like the grass you have, water it. Add a new plant or a bird feeder. Make your grass greener, rather than look for new grass to make greyer.

August 6, 2019

To Gap Year or Not to Gap Year: Part 1

Instead of stalling my learning, two years off from school gave me more freedom to explore subjects that I truly cared about, in ways that best suited me.

As I’ve talked about previously, we should question the assumption that college is the best route for everyone.

Whether it’s the athlete, the entrepreneur, the traveler, or simply the curious, there are lots of people (I was all four) who should deeply consider a sabbatical.

Consideration #1 : Have a professional interest?
In high school I thought about pursuing something like strength and conditioning in college.
But instead, I reached out to John and Sheila Stawinski at Fit 2 Excel, where I had worked out over the last several years, and asked if I could become a trainer. As long as I got certified, they told me, I could begin helping as soon as I graduated high school.
At Fit 2 Excel I had an incomparable real-word education. All those hours in high school watching YouTube videos of exercises had paid off, because as soon as I began, I felt prepared and competent.

I was thrust into teaching adult classes, youth classes, and quickly got a few personal training clients (Shout out to @milotrabulsy , my day 1 client). I had two amazing years at Fit 2 Excel, where I got to train every population from middle schoolers, to adults, in group and one-on-one settings.
In my second gap year I trained two junior hockey teams, as strength coach for the Vermont Lumberjacks, and followed that up with a summer internship with the Umass Lowell hockey team.

I wouldn’t be one tenth of the coach I am if I had taken a traditional route.
Discover how you can begin the career you’re interested through a job or an internship. Be stubborn and take initiative, and you’ll be rewarded with a great opportunity.
Here’s an OLD photo from my early days working at F2E (Circa December 2017) 😅

August 7, 2019

One of the foundations of a good exercise program is the ability to regress and progress exercises to best suit each athlete.
At Lowell, we have to be constantly thinking about how we can progress exercises.

Some considerations for progression:

Can we make gravity or physics work against us?
TRX rows are made harder by putting our feet on an elevated surface. This simply makes gravity works against us more, adding load. In this case we use the RFE stand, but a box or bench will work equally well.

Can we add weight to it?
Once we’ve done what is practical from a physics standpoint, we think about how we can add weight to it. Here, it is simple. We add a plate.
Can we slow it down?

Adding pauses or slow descents add time under tension. Sometimes we want specific tempos to get certain outcomes. But, in an exercise like TRX rows, slow tempo resulting in more muscle damage leads to more hypertrophy, a generally positive outcome.

As trainers, it’s our job to find the right setup for each athlete to get the result we’re looking for. If an athlete needs progression, it’s our job to find the most appropriate and safe variation for them.

August 8, 2019

To Gap Year or Not to Gap Year: Part 2

Want to travel?
If you have the opportunity to explore the world, do it.
I’m incredibly fortunate that I have friends and family in Spain, El Salvador, and Australia. Over the last two years I’ve been able to go to all of these places.
Through traveling, I’ve learned a language, made lifelong connections, and had experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything, whether that’s hanging out with quokkas, drinking straight out of coconuts, or rollerblading along the beaches of Barcelona.

There’s no better time to do it than now, when you have minimal responsibilities.

Choosing whether to take a gap year or not all comes back to asking yourself hard questions.

Are you going to school because it’s the best thing for you right now, or just because that’s what everybody else does?

Are there things you want to accomplish before you start school?

Picture what a year off would look like. How could you grow from it?

Question the assumptions of your world. Don’t allow the unconsciously held beliefs of others guide what life you live. 

August 14, 2019

Med Ball Side Throw Progression:

Med balls are a great tool to help us train the rotational component that’s part of nearly every sport.
But, like anything, progression must be earned.

Just like learning a language, when starting out throwing medballs, we begin focusing on one key element. Our initial goal is to achieve core stability, just as with languages, our goal is to use the present tense.
Our “present tense” training for med balls are the tall-kneeling and half-kneeling positions. In these positions, we’re only focused on keeping our core steady, with as little movement in our torso as possible.

When we can work fluently in the present tense, THEN we start to add complexity, like the other tenses.

Of the other tenses, the past is most critical. For learning med ball throws, hip rotation represents this.
The focus in standing variations is to work on rotating our hips forward as you through, while still maintaining core stability.
Finally, our more complementary verb tenses, like the future, conditional, and subjunctive, are analogous to the extra movements surrounding hip rotation, and core stability.
That’s why we integrate crossovers and shuffles into our med ball program, and also vary the exit point (underhand vs shot put throws). Each progression builds on the previous one, gradually adding complexity. An athlete who has gone through this progression will simultaneously keep their core stable, effectively rotate their hips, crossover, and perform whatever other skills the in-game situation requires, all without thinking about it.

That, is med ball fluency.

August 17, 2019

Me wondering how the hell 27 months off from school went by so fast.

September 2, 2019

All photo credit goes to the Billy Madison film team.

An accurate depiction of how I feel starting college classes tomorrow. #21yearoldfreshman

October 16, 2019

Hitting Refresh:

Two months ago I moved to Manhattan, and this past weekend I came home for the first time since then.

I didn’t want to go home. My thoughts and energies were consumed entirely by the city. That was my world. I was lost in the concrete jungle.

This time of year is when everything can burn into a grind. Routines have been set, week flows right into week. We get caught in the minutiae of daily life. All of the sudden it’s week seven of classes, and lots of our personal goals have gone untouched, as the whirlwind of a regular life overtook us.

We lose sight of the reasons why we’ve chosen to go down this path. We no longer have a fresh perspective to view our everyday experiences. At we saw how what we were doing fit into our long-term goals, because we were detached from the everyday routine.

What if we could maintain this perspective and detachment at all times? Yes, we’d be accomplishing our daily tasks, but also seeing the long-game, and working on what in the end will most fulfill us.

When I got to Vermont, I regained the detachment I had. I reflected on my experiences in New York, and was able to place them back into the broader context. I got back in touch with my reasons for moving in the first place, and what I wanted to accomplish in New York City.

Don’t get lost in the jungle of everyday life. Plan time to take a step back. Plan a weekend away, or take a day off to regroup your thoughts. If you are in Vermont, go for a long walk in the woods. Or, meditate and journal on the thoughts swirling through you.

November 6, 2019

This time of year, we all get caught up in routines. Week trudges into week, and soon we’ll all just be waiting for a brief Thanksgiving break. The strong habits we built in September may slowly drift away like a raft steadily rotting under the crashing waves.
Rather than searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, like the upcoming break, turn on the lantern hovering on the tunnel’s walls.
Lao Tzu famously said, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” I believe the breaking point is when actions become habits—doing anything once is unlikely to make a radical difference, but repeat it over and over, one step at a time, and eventually you’ll be at the top of the Empire State Building, looking down at where you started.
In an online training setting, many clients will have a bad habit or two in their workout routines.

They don’t adequately warm-up, or they never do conditioning, or always skip core exercises.
Skipping any of these once is insignificant, but always skipping them is what causes the strong raft you’ve made to weaken—you’ll get by for a while, but eventually a storm will come, and the weakness may leave you gasping for air.

What’s the weakness in your raft? What’s one habit you’ve gotten away from?

November 26, 2019

New York: A Prose Poem

Fifth avenue traffic diffuses me to wakeful rest.
Bikers blasting music.‎
A taxi jerks me out of a dream. ‎ Hey taxi it’s three am; stop fucking honking. ‎

My crusty eyes stumble to start the day. ‎
Clustered blocks.
Crowded lines.
Craving caffeine, dreary eyes jolt open as the dark smell of coffee replaces the street’s musk. ‎

A suited man bobs his head, waiting for the streetlight.
The music from his airpods bleeds out. ‎
His invigoration invigorates me. ‎
I erect a tune in my own ears; State Champ’s Dead and Gone. ‎ “I need to get upstate again, I need to get my head on straight again,” couldn’t be more relatable, yet it leaves adrenaline coursing through me, my walk turning to a strut. ‎

Shit. I didn’t do the reading for class today.
My small intestine suddenly twists on itself.
Sweat drips from my forehead.
Why is it still so hot in November?
Fuck. I’ll find a way to fake it. ‎

A raised hand.
An eloquent comment.
Engaged discussion. ‎

New thoughts pop into my racing mind, yet I resist interrupting a classmate. ‎
I scribble it down on my hand-size notebook with the aside *journal on later.* The learning curve stands steeper than Mt. Mansfield’s Sunset Ridge. ‎

No time to eat.
I fork down some sushi and… “Twelve dollars for a smoothie?”‎ I guess I’m going hungry until tonight. ‎

Roller blades laced.
I wheel up the bike lane on 8th Ave.
A taxi turning left cuts me off—Fuck I hate taxis.‎ ‎ “Young Apprentice,” John shouts as I walk in. “We’re creating copywriting headlines today.”‎ Until last month, I didn’t even know what copywriting was. ‎

Midnight strikes, Bobst library still bustles with busy students.
I frantically finish an assignment.
But 150 pages of Jane Eyre remain.
Welp, Sparknotes it is. ‎

Savoring a bite of dollar pizza, I cruise into my room, and crash onto my pillow. ‎

No place like New York can you simultaneously be your best while also struggling to move forward. ‎

The balance which I harp on so many clients to cultivate, I am, admittedly, still searching for myself. ‎

I have a feeling we’re not in Jericho anymore.

December 11, 2019

Consciously Select Your Study Surroundings ‎

My eyes doze. The comfort of my pillow overtakes the excitement of Jane Eyre. My hips sink into the mattress, like I’m resting on a cloud. Hamlet’s ghost appears in my dreams and then… a siren call interrupts my sleep limbo. ‎

If people could stop calling ambulances while I’m about to nap that’d be great. ‎

Two hours pass and I’ve flipped the page twice, my mind falling out of focus. ‎

To the coffee shop on West 8th, I decide. ‎

It smells of freshly grinded beans. Drake’s Passionfruit buzzes in the background. Laptop open, notebook out. Fresh air breezes my face as customers strut in. The caffeine jolts my mind into thinking. Not just daydream thinking, connected thoughts like a rubix cube convinced to be solved. Two hours pass. The page becomes an imprint, an artifact of my thinking like a Rosetta stone. ‎

The pillow, the mattress, the comfort of my room. All things conducive to sleep, not studying. The vibrant work space, the active background, the hit of stimulants: all favorable to doing our best work. ‎

For the love of god, please do not study where you sleep or eat. Instead, engineer the environment ensuring your best work process. Beyond this, we must recognize the power of association. ‎

Our minds carry associations with everything in our environment. Seeing the pillow recalls times of rest. Our body, anticipating rest, will struggle to focus on Jane Eyre. Our eyes will grow heavy, adding weight with every lingering blink. ‎

Smelling the fresh coffee energizes us well before the caffeine courses our blood. Our posture grows taller with the sight of others buzzing by. Our foot will tap to the background’s beat without realizing. ‎

Specify Your Studious Surroundings Selectively. Comment below where you do your best (or worst) work.

To anybody who has followed on this year, thank you from the bottom of my heart for going on this journey of life with me and making 2019 the best year of my life to date.

Here’s to next year.

The next footprints under New York City’s bright lights.

The next crossed out ideas that leave space for one or two decent ones.

The next paradigm-shifting book.

The next toast and cling of whiskey glasses with friends and loved ones.

The next lessons and laughter.

The next new relationships with people I haven’t met yet.

The next gradual revolution around the sun.

Thanks for doing this with me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s