Radical Personal Development=Radical Approach to Fitness

I tweet about this exercise program often, share it with others in fitness conversations, and have recommended it to my runners for strength building during the off-season.  I discovered it about 3 years ago while surfing the web for ideas about how to increase the number of pull-ups I could do.  After my most recent 6 week stint of #MajorArmstrong, I completed 26 reps of unassisted, wide-grip overhand pull-ups…a new personal best.


Why pull-ups?  Why the Major Armstrong program?  Pull-ups and push-ups are two of the best core strengtheners you can do.  “A strong core makes a strong runner” is what my runners hear repeatedly through pre-season conditioning. It is disheartening to see guys walking around the gym looking and feeling buff who cannot pull-up their own body weight 20 times. Developing the ability to do 20+ pull-ups will give you a new sense of self-confidence that carries over into all aspects of your life.

We must add: “A strong core makes a strong person.”  We don’t have space to talk about it here, but philosophers, theologians, and thinkers agree that when one is “centered” one prospers.  Energy comes from the center of your being physically and spiritually.  A strong core provides resilience for life’s journey.  It is preparation for the win…

The Will to Win

Major Armstrong developed a fitness/pull-up program designed to prepare him to set a world record in the number of pull-ups completed in a single session. Many success stories now circulate on how followers of the program have maxed the 21 rep requirement for the Marine Corps physical fitness test.  I like the plan because it has many of the components of a successful approach to fitness: variety, specificity,  and rest.

I just finished Week 1 of another stint of the #MajorArmstrong pull-up program with a goal to hit 30 pull-ups in a single set at the end of 6 weeks.  I follow the plan as prescribed on the attached pdf; and I complete the rest of my work-out after each day of Major Armstrong.  When I am not on the plan, I do at least the prescribed 50 pull-up reps daily.

I complete my warm-up push-ups in the a.m. while checking in on Twitter, making my lunch, reflecting on the upcoming day, reading and writing.  Check out the attached link and follow the #MajorArmstrong program for at least 6 weeks.

The #MajorArmstrong Pull-up Program: http://ow.ly/sIjAf

If you precisely follow the plan prescribed here with daily discipline, the radical personal development you achieve will amaze!

Any questions along the way?  Reach out to me via Twitter: Coach John Hines@John_M_Hines.

The #DirtyDozen Work-out

I decided to call this one the “Dirty Dozen“.  I did it this morning on our high school track and I’m thinking about making it part of our pre-season conditioning mix.

The Early Morning View from the Track:

Track Early Morning View

Here’s the DIRTY DOZEN:

12 x 400m RUN @ 5K pace performed like this:

Run 350m @ 5K pace to the Pull-up Bar.  Do 8 Wide-Grip, Over-Hand Pull-ups.  Jump Off the bar and SPRINT the remaining 50m.  Drop and do 25 Push-ups. Rest 1:00-1:15.  REPEAT.

DIRTY DOZEN  Totals: 96 Pull-ups, 300 Push-ups, 4.8 K Run. Total Time: Less than 1 hour including W/up, Cool-down.

This all-around strength & conditioning work-out combines some work at race pace, core work, and sprint work.

Finish with 800m jog and 4x100m Diagonals in Grass.

What is a “Vocational Careerist”?

Several friends lately have asked me about my Twitter bio and part of the former title of this blog.  What is a “vocational careerist”?

This idea comes from the path I have been on since I began pleading on my knees as a high school student who woke up at 4:45 each morning reading the Bible meditatively and praying, “Lord, show me the way.”  I’m a believer in the vocational path, dharma, the calling; and my diverse career experience reflects my journey on that path.

 Vocational Careerist

I’ve never been one to be defined or confined by my current occupation/job title and I’ve never liked the “cocktail party” question: “What do you do?”  After a 17+ year career in professional sales in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and commercial real estate; I began to get a lot closer to doing work that was “from the heart” and truer to my vocational calling when I started teaching at an inner-city high school and coaching Cross Country and Track & Field in 2009.  On January 1, 2014, the day I started this blog, my path continues to evolve.


I tell my students that their mission is to uncover their talents and gifts, discover what they absolutely love to do, and find a way to make a living doing it!  Life is far too short to live for the weekend! For me, that sums up the life of a vocational careerist and the meaning that has evolved for me over the years.  How do you view vocational careering?

Coach and Jared

Cut Out to Move On

One of the hardest things to do is cut when it is time to cut.  Cut out to move on.  That’s what I did this week.  I took action based on deep thoughtful consideration and cut a significant Spring activity out of my daily working life for 2014.  It developed from a thought process that began when I re-read Mastery by George Leonard during the Thanksgiving break.  It comes on the heels of my mother’s game-changing stroke just after New Years Day and only a year after my father experienced a significantly disabling brain injury.

I have always said that turning an age is just a number.  I have pursued physical activity with the passion and vengeance of a man possessed over most of my life and especially the last 21 years of my career life.  I get up at 3:15 a.m. to follow a regimen that awes most when I describe it to them and has them asking what I do to stay in such great shape.  This can give one a sense of immortality and invincibility that is more characteristic of youth.

This past year when I turned 47 in late October, something was different; and that something different hasn’t left me.  I am now looking at the rest of my life through a finite lens more than I ever have before…looking at my own mortality and asking myself “What more do you want to accomplish before you die?”  “If you die tomorrow, would you be doing what you were born to do, created to do, meant to do, and love to do?”  (Now, that’s some serious s#*t, I know…and let me just say right here, right now that my capacity to laugh at myself hasn’t been lost in all this!)

I am in the process of creating a list of 50 projects that I want to complete before passing age 50…significant projects…life-changing projects for self and my sphere…Projects that require life-change to be accomplished.  Projects that will require RPD “Radical Personal Development”. (Thank you Mr. Tom Peters for the RPD term and New Years Day 2014 inspiration on Twitter!) Projects that are drafted from the vision out-lined by my open space goals.  I will write about them.  I will publicly speak about them.  I will “social media” about them.  And it is my hope that others might join me…

Wisdom From My Barber’s Chair

I’ve always cherished a good haircut. Well, I have for as long as I can remember.  I remember crying over the homemade cuts my mom produced in our garage while I sat on the washer.  The fourth grade photo evidence remains to remind me of the crooked bangs and the funky “side-burns” and the classic bowl cuts.  I remember how happy I was to finally graduate to the cuts of a family friend, a retired barber, who cut hair for friends and family in their own homes for a small charge or home-made baked goods.  I remember first paying for my own cuts at a professional stylist’s salon who perfected the perfect feathered look of the early 80’s.

It seems that now I tend to form a relationship with a barber after I have found a good one.  This comes from regular visits once every week to two weeks.  Two barbers that really stand out are Mr. Ted and Wesley, my current barber.

Barber Chair

Mr. Ted was my barber when we lived in Sarasota.  I faithfully visited Mr. Ted every Saturday morning and after our daughter, Jenna was born, my 27 month old son, J.L. visited with me.  I count these visits as quite formative for the young man and for our relationship.  Our Saturday mornings started with Dad (me) in Mr. Ted’s chair while J.L. sat up high in a vacant barber chair with the sports section in his hand.  Lively conversations would ensue with the elderly gents who frequented this shop.  J.L. began learning the art of conversation and respect for elders on these Saturday mornings.  Mr. Ted gave J.L. his first haircut, chopping off the golden curls that formed around his collar while his mom cried.

The haircut was only the beginning of our Saturday morning rituals. After a hair cut that included the mandatory hot lather, straight blade shave, J.L. and I would head out for breakfast at the local bagel shop and then to Barnes & Noble where we would spend hours perusing the shelves.  Our practice was for me to gather as many of the recent business reads and carry them over to the children’s section where I would scan them enjoying frequent interruptions from J.L. about the books that caught his eye.  We most always left B&N every Saturday with more than one book in hand…for him and me.

My current barber is Wesley who has his own shop.  I see him about every two weeks and spend a little more time in his chair now that I have let my No Shave November beard grow into a Decembeard.  Wesley has been cutting my hair for a number of years and we always have the most incredible conversations touching on so many topics of life.  Today, in his chair, we couldn’t stop laughing over stories shared from crazy childhoods and “Little Johnny” jokes.  Sometimes our conversations become philosophical and “life-enhancing”.   A recent conversation did just that.

Wesley often plays music from Puerto Rico where he grew up and I really enjoy the Latin rhythms.  I speak some Spanish and can understand some of the lyrics.  On this day, a special song, one of Wesley’s favorites came on that he explained was about a kiss…about a lover’s kiss…a romantic song.  Yeah, that’s right. Two “real guys” talking romance.

Wesley went on to tell me how he can’t believe how some guys, boyfriends and husbands won’t display their affection and love for their girlfriend or wives more often with a kiss.  We talked about how some guys think it is a sign of weakness to show emotional attachment.  He shared how he makes a conscious effort to kiss his girlfriend every time he sees her and every time he leaves her. The conversation resounded with me.

When I got home, I kissed my amazing wife, but more than that I made a new decision to show her affection more often and to be conscious of our first interactions during each day.  The greetings and the good-byes we often take for granted should be conscious moments during each day. She seems to like it :)!

What would you say?

It was mid-morning of Day 2 of the New Year.  I had just finished my first work-out of the year after taking New Year’s Day off to rest and spend time with family. New Years Day is our one and only annual “Jammie Day” with Dunkin Donuts, lots of coffee and an evening of black-eyed peas, cornbread, and rice.  I was readying myself to sit down to write my second post of 2014.  We were looking forward to the week ahead with some planned quiet time for reading, writing, and family bonding until the phone rang.

Out of the blue, without warning we learned that my mom had probably suffered a serious stroke.  It was the E.R. physician calling me to tell me my mom was in the Emergency Room and being readied to be transported to a Stroke Center at a teaching hospital after being administered a clot-busting drug.  “This is a game-changer”, says Mom later that day.

Who is Mom?  She is a fiercely independent woman, married and divorced twice while I was growing up, a born-again Christian and a fighter.  She has been side-lined from involvement with her only son and his family for most of his marriage and the births and raising of three children including most of their significant life events by chronic hip pain, fibromyalgia and other idiopathic disorders.

Who is Mom? She’s a fighter.  She is a “prayer-warrior.”  She is a Bible-devotee.  She watches only FOX news. She is a fierce conservative.  She’s a faithful church-goer.  She describes people she does business with or associates with as “fine Christians.”  She gave us all copies of the end-of-times book, The Harbinger, pleading with us to read it and rewarding us with gold plated one-dollar coins for each trivia question we could answer last Christmas Eve.

Who is Mom?  She’s a fighter. She’s stubborn and strong-willed and her nurses and doctors are finding that out each moment they spend with her!  “You can either cave into this or CLIMB out…I’ve decided to CLIMB out!“, exclaimed Mom.  She spoke those words from her hospital bed as she reflected on the thoughts she had on the day of her stroke. She was up walking by herself the day after the stroke and taking a shower while her nurse stood close by.  She is frustrated today with some of the limitations some of her nurses want to place on her ambulation around the hospital floor.  She wants to go!

Our vacation ended with road trips to and from hospitals up and down our state and unplanned hotel stays.  My mom says we went the extra mile.  We say “we’re just doing what we do. This is family.”

“What would you say?”

This is the question posed by a Dave Matthews Band song of the same title from the band’s Under the Table and Dreaming album which has to be my favorite DMB album and the question posed to my wife and I as we drove home from the hospital and across the state again.  Deep in thought and pondering the meaning of the events that started our New Year, we were stopped in our tracks after we had pulled off the highway to get gas.  I asked my wife, “Are you sure you want to stop here? We can probably go another 70 miles on this tank.”  She says, “This place has appeared ‘sketch’ at other times we have stopped…” So I rolled into the station.

While I’m pumping gas, something catches my eye sitting on the dashboard of the truck behind me.  Could it be? Is it? No?!?

The conversation goes like this with the gentleman pumping gas:

Me: Is that a monkey on your dashboard?

Him: Yes.

Me: What kind of monkey?

Him: A marmoset.

Me: Is he friendly?

Him: Well…he bites a lot. He just bit me again today (showing me an angry wound on his thumb).

Me: Noticing the monkey’s colorful homemade diaper, I ask: “How long does it take to potty-train him?”

Him: Oh, probably never.  We only put a diaper on him when we take him out.  At home, my wife just follows behind him and cleans up his mess.

“What would you say?” if you saw a monkey on a string on a dashboard?


Well, this happy incident led to about ninety wonderful minutes of conversation as we drove off listening to and replaying “What Would You Say?” by the Dave Matthews Band and pondering its meaning, what had transpired during the past few days and what meaning and lessons might be wrought from the moment’s experiences as we embark on this journey with my mom as she recovers from her stroke.

You can listen now: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7gXuYFih6Y8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D7gXuYFih6Y8

Thank you for reading!  Wishing you all a great start to the first full week of 2014!

Open Space Goals in 2014

Several years ago, my wife and I both read Get Out of Your Own Way by Robert K. Cooper.  It inspired the open space goals I made last year at the start of 2013 and wrote in my journal:

Read More. Write More. Love More.

The fruits of the open space goals continue to bear forth and resulted in the reading of more books in a year than I ever have, writing and journalising as I never had, the creation of my first blog on 01/01/2014, and a deepening of relationships with family members that had not yet  been experienced.

I awoke this morning at 4:00 a.m. as excited and awake as a kid on Christmas morning!  Ready to get this year started and very ignited by this year’s open space goals:

Love more, Loved more, Lead more, Give more, Be more.

Team more, Voice more, Do more, Live More!

Last year’s open space goals found me re-discovering fiction and the joys of the insights of good literature on living.  They led to finally taking much needed time off with loved ones and my loved one that nurtured, renewed and deepened relationships…deepened connections…

The child-like excitement I awoke with this morning is over what the unwrapping of this year’s open space goals will bring as they serve as templates, as guides, as themes, as vision for shaping 2014.

What are your open space goals for 2014?