Your Date with Covid…

Your Date with Covid – Exercise is your best protection

From an article in the New York Times (12/23/2021)⁣:

“𝘉𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘸, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘷𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘵, 𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧: 𝘞𝘦’𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥.” 

‘𝘠𝘦𝘴, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘶𝘴,’ 𝘋𝘳. 𝘑𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘏𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘦𝘸𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳⁣.

“𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵,” 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘯 𝘉𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘩 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘵 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘵 𝘕𝘦𝘸𝘴, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥.

This is what all the evidence and data is supporting, and why all of us at Epic Fitness are more committed than ever to help as many people as possible to discover that becoming strong, healthy and fit will only help in their ability to fight this off when their “date” comes.  

If you knew that you had the power to control your outcomes with this disease based so much on how physically fit you were going into it, would you take action and start taking those small steps towards a healthier you?  

Let me use an analogy – If you lived in New Orleans, and knew a hurricane was barreling down and coming towards your house, would you prepare for it? 

This is the same thing. It’s coming.⁣

Prepare your house (your body).⁣

Here’s what we know:⁣

Vitamin D⁣:

There’s an abundance of evidence that Vitamin D reduces covid-19 infection, severity, ICU admission and mortality⁣.

⁣Collectively, studies show Vitamin D, is a far more effective basal covid-19 treatment, than any additive pharmaceutical available to date⁣

Body Composition:

Losing excess body fat is like building armor against Covid.⁣  The craziest part?  The CDC, WHO and other organizations are FINALLY coming out and saying this after 2 years in this pandemic. 

The 2020 CDC Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps1 show that obesity remains high – sixteen states now have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35 percent. This is up from twelve states in 2019.  In just one year, look at the map below to see what is happening in our country.  We are the “fattest” we have ever been, and at the most inopportune time, ever. 

Here is some information from the CDC that barely came out after 2 years:

Adults with excess weight are at even greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Children diagnosed with obesity may suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19. In a study of COVID-19 cases in patients aged 18 years and younger, having obesity was associated with a 3.07 times higher risk of hospitalization and a 1.42 times higher risk of severe illness (intensive care unit admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, or death) when hospitalized. (7)


Get strong and build muscle to lower your risk:

This one is easy.  A stronger you – both mentally and physically, is much harder to kill!  


Improve your cardiovascular fitness:

Poor cardiovascular fitness is an increased risk factor⁣.   A study from the University of Virginia found exercise reduces a person’s risk of even contracting Covid⁣.

Increase your frequency of training sessions:

Exercise is known to impact and improve the immune system⁣ function overall. ⁣ The higher frequency your sessions (we recommend our members come in and perform their program 3-4x/week) the more of a positive impact your immune system will have.  

The data is in.  The fitter and stronger you are, the better you’ll recover⁣ from your date with Covid.  

It’s time to mold the “future you” into a stronger, leaner version of yourself.  When you do, you will feel more confident than ever to be able to deal with any and all strains of Covid as they come.  

Be your own health advocate.⁣ It’s your job and responsibility to get in even better shape than ever before.⁣

Get yourself ready⁣.


Ready to make your next 30 days your strongest of 2022?  We are SO close to implementing a “waiting list” at Epic Fitness, and we want to help as many people as we can be as strong as they can with their “date” with Covid.  Please click the link below and fill out the form to be contacted in less than 24 hours to book your discovery call with us to see if we could be a good fit for you. 

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  1. The 2020 CDC Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps show the prevalence of self-reported adult obesity using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Data are available for 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

  2. Tanaka, S. I., Isoda, F., Ishihara, Y., Kimura, M., & Yamakawa, T. (2001). T lymphopaenia in relation to body mass index and TNF‐α in human obesity: adequate weight reduction can be corrective. Clinical endocrinology, 54(3), 347-354.

  3. Alwarawrah, Y., Kiernan, K., & MacIver, N. J. (2018). Changes in nutritional status impact immune cell metabolism and function. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 1055.

  4. Simonnet, A., Chetboun, M., Poissy, J., Raverdy, V., Noulette, J., Duhamel, A., … & LICORN and the Lille COVID‐19 and Obesity study group. (2020). High prevalence of obesity in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus‐2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity.

  5. Kompaniyets L, Goodman AB, Belay B, et al. Body Mass Index and Risk for COVID-19–Related Hospitalization, Intensive Care Unit Admission, Invasive Mechanical Ventilation, and Death — United States, March–December 2020. (2021). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:355–361.

  6. O’Hearn M, Liu J, Cudhea F, Micha R, Mozaffarian D. (2021). Coronavirus Disease 2019 Hospitalizations Attributable to Cardiometabolic Conditions in the United States: A Comparative Risk Assessment Analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021 Feb;10(5):e019259.

  7. Kompaniyets, Lyudmyla, et al. “Underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness among children.” JAMA network open 4.6 (2021).

Changing your Identity

Why Identity-Based Habits Trump Outcome Based Habits

By: Ben S. Fogel

I’ve got something for you to ponder – It is already week number 2/52. How are you doing with those New Years resolutions? Are your new behaviors matching up with the person that you want to become (your identity?).

If not, it may be because you set up your “goals” to be outcome based, and not identity based.

Here’s what I mean:

When most people think about the habits they want to build, or goals they want to accomplish, they naturally start by considering only the OUTCOMES they want to achieve. “I want to lose weight.” Or, “I want to stop smoking.”

The alternative is to start by focusing on who we want to become, not what we want to achieve. 


Instead of having a goal of “I want to lose weight” you can say “I am the type of person who makes healthy choices.” 

Feel how your identity starts to shift as you say that. 

Or, instead of saying “I want to stop smoking” you may start to say to yourself “I am not a smoker” and these words will start to build your identity of who you are going to become. 

It’s one thing to say “I’m the type of person who wants this.”

It’s something very different to say “I’m the type of person who IS this.”

Another way to think about it is to ask the question “Who is the kind of person that would get the kind of outcome I want to get?”

Like when you are about to drive through a fast food line, you could ask yourself, “What would a healthy person do?”

Or when you are about to reach for that cigarette, you could ask, “What would someone trying to quit smoking do here?” 

Remember, these are very small victories that over time will stack up in your favor. 

As James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

Are you ready to make some small victories, with time on your side?  We would love to be in your corner to help you this year, but we have very limited space on our memberships – we are very close to implementing a waiting list to join Epic Fitness.  If you are ready to take action in becoming the person you envision yourself to be, we would love to help you do that work.  

Click below to learn sign up for a Discovery call, so we can learn more about how we can help you!

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What I learned in Bobsled that changed my life – Part 2

What I learned in the sport of Bobsled that changed my life – Part 2

By: Ben S. Fogel

In part one, I discussed a lot about the actions I took to make the obscure switch to the sport of Bobsled, and a few of the lessons I learned along the way (Find Part 1 of this blog here).  In part 2, I am excited to share stories from “on and off the ice” and continue to share lessons learned where I transformed the most from over the course of my athletic and business career.  

Ok, where was I?  It was June, 2003 and I had just completed my first Bobsled combine.  After the combine, they gave you a scoring sheet and you could chart your score and figure out your total based on the 600 point maximum score (6 scored criteria, 100 points each).  I distinctly remember my score was 512 – An average of around 85 points per event.  My friend and college track teammate scored a 486, so it was now official – I won that $100 bet!  I remember the coaches said they would email or call us and notify us if we did good enough to make it to the next level and fly out to Lake Placid, NY to learn how to push a Bobsled.

July, 2003

About one month later, I got the call.  It was the head coach inviting me to come out to Lake Placid for a 2 week Bobsled camp.  I was literally just finishing up my degree at school with 2 internships, and I remember begging my instructor to be able to leave 1 week early so I could make this camp, and still graduate.  The begging paid off, and I packed up to get ready to travel to New York for the first time.  

The next 4 weeks of my life felt like they went in hyperspeed.  I got to call the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York my new temporary home (mainly since I only bought a one-way ticket, I guess you could say I was pretty confident!).  The first week started with completing yet another combine like the one the month prior, and also learning how to push bobsleds on an outdoor track surface with actual bobsleds on wheels connected to a railroad track.  Needless to say, there was a lot of testing and re-testing and what started as one month at the Olympic Training Center ended up being 3 months.  

I remember a big part of the selection process at the time was based on how fast we could individually push the sled on wheels, and how fast we could do it in different pairs as teammates.  I knew from doing my second combine there that I wasn’t the fastest guy out there, or the strongest, but I knew my main advantage was how hard I would work before and after practice on the technique of pushing the sled – that included getting the sled going with a great start, as well as loading into the sled – two points of major technical errors that could cost tenths of seconds in races.  In the bobsled world, tenths of seconds equated to miles apart.  

So, I would show up anywhere between 30-60 minutes before the training time actually occurred and I would also stay at least that long afterward to make sure what I learned and practiced was ingrained in my mind and body.  These extra minutes over the course of a day turned into hours and hours over the few weeks I was there to “prove myself” as a viable candidate for the National Team.  The extra time and hard work paid off.  I was selected as an “alternate” team member for the US National Bobsled Team in 2003/2004.  

Lesson – The habit of being the first one to show up, and the last one to leave is a good habit that rubs off in everything you do.  I know at a certain point, the coaches started to notice because they would make comments like, “I guess we have to wait for Fogel until we can lock up the sleds.”  This habit has stuck with me through my life, especially when I am needing to learn new skills in life.  I may not have been the most natural or gifted athlete, but I made sure that I could look back and say that my cheat code to improve was giving myself more time to learn.  

I actually want to share a story of when this habit really helped me.  It was the 2004/05 season, and I made the National Team again, but this time not as an alternate.  I made it on the “USA 2” sled of Steve Holcomb.  Being one year prior to the Olympic year, it was a very competitive year and everyone wanted a chance to compete at the 2005 World Championships because if you did, you basically cemented your chances of making an Olympic team the following year.  

This was the year of the “switch ups.”  I think almost every World Cup race during the first half of the season, our 4-man team was switched up with a new push athlete because of one reason or another.  The part that made it extra fun was that just about every switch up included me moving on and off the sled!  I remember sliding one weekend in Winterberg, Germany, and our team capturing our first top 10 finish, and then at the start of the next week the coaches letting me know that I was not going to compete the following week in Altenberg, Germany because of my “riding position” being too high in the sled.  

There I am, riding too high in the sled! 

I was upset at first.  My riding position?  Why did I never hear about this before?  I didn’t even have a chance to correct my technique (which would have been an easy fix).  Why not just say, “Ben, we think you are the slowest guy on the sled, and we are going to try a new guy to see if we are faster next week.”  Speed kills in the sport of bobsled, and that would have been an easier pill to swallow.  

I could have sulked and been disappointed the entire next week, but as an “Alternate” I still had the opportunity to help out my team.  I was the first one down to the sleds in the garage of the hotel sanding runners, I helped USA 1, 2 and 3 transport sleds.  I remember telling each driver that I was available to take training runs if any other athletes needed to rest.  I was the last one to leave the garage each night making sure everything was ready on each sled for the next day.  I remember a teammate that was competing that week said to me, “why are you doing all of this, you aren’t even sliding this week?”  Ah, he noticed.  It didn’t matter if I was sliding or not, I acted this way each and every week whether I competed or not, and I felt confident that I could help the team even if I was not competing.  I started to get nicknamed the “sled dog” by all of my teammates, and I kept telling them how much of a compliment that was!    

That weekend was a super successful one for our team.  Todd Hayes, USA 1 ended up winning the 4-man race on the home turf of the Germans (something that is SUPER rare!) on one of the most technical tracks in the world.  After the race, the whole team went out to dinner to celebrate the win.  The first place “trophy” was a beautiful glass blown bowl, and each athlete on Todds team received this for winning.  During dinner, Todd stood up and made an announcement.  He said, “Everyone here deserves to be celebrated for this huge win today.  Also, if it wasn’t for Fogel being the sled dog during the entire week and helping us with all the little things on and off the ice, we probably would not have won today.  Because of that, I want to give this trophy to you!”  

My boys a few years back when I told them the story!

My boys a few years back when I told them the story!


This was one of those moments that really cemented the reason of WHY it was so important to me to continue to show up, even when things were not going my way.  I was in control of my actions when I got pulled off that sled, and I chose to stay positive and to help my team in every other way that I could.  

After that race in Altenberg, we came back to the US for Christmas break.  I remember this break really well, because usually the coaching staff and managers call you about 1 week prior to departure back to Europe with flight details, but I never got a call.  When I finally called the manager, he said “Didn’t the coaches tell you, they did not select you to come out and slide with the National Team for the second half of the season.”  Wait, what?  This was one of the most difficult weeks for me in my Bobsled career.  Telling my family I am staying home, and not competing in a pre-Olympic year.  What ended up feeling like a curse though, was a blessing in disguise.  

John Napier, an up-and-coming bobsled pilot, got word that I would be sitting out for the second half of the season, and he asked me to slide with him in the “America’s Cup” North American Circuit.  I took the opportunity to continue to get better and to still compete.  What happened next was pretty amazing.  We won.  Not just one race, but multiple races.  We won every race we entered into.  Our 4-man team became the “America’s Cup” Champions, and that did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff out in Europe.  

By the time the National Team came back to the US, they had not fared very well, and were looking for different solutions.  The strength coach told the coaching staff how well my team was pushing in the races we competed in, and they chose me to come back onto “USA 2” in the last World Cup race prior to the World Championships in Calgary, Alberta.  

Our team ended up taking 4th place and was hundredths of seconds from medaling.  I thought that would have been good enough to have proven myself and been able to stay on the sled for the World Championships in 2 weeks.  But I was wrong.  What it turned into was a huge raceoff to find the fastest guy to take my spot.   

Team Holcomb, 4th place Igls, Austria – 2004 (Pictured – Left to Right – Brock Kreitzburg, Ben Fogel, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Holcomb)

Fast forward one week, and we are all up in Calgary, Alberta preparing for the big  race.  I remember the coaches kept telling me I was the “incumbent” and it was my spot to lose.  Every day, it felt like they flew up another past Olympian (that didn’t even compete all year!) to race off against me.  

I remember the day clearly.  I was well rested.  I knew what was going to happen.  We were at the Indoor Icehouse at Calgary Olympic Park where there was a 50 meter ice track that replicated the start of a bobsled track.  It was the coaches job to find the perfect combination of push athletes for the USA 2 sled, and to be as competitive as possible in the race.  It was my job to beat every athlete that raced off against me.  

I remember taking about 15-20 runs that morning (normally a session would consist of 5-7 runs max) and I remember being so tired by the end.  Every time, you are hitting maximum velocity and pushing a 400+ lb sled for 30 meters.  I knew with the race off I was going to push a lot, and I was prepared for that.  I also remember beating each combination they tried against me – over and over again.  When it was all said and done,  I felt I did everything in my power to keep my spot on the sled and to really “earn it” this time.  

That afternoon, I got a call from Steve Holcomb, the driver – not even the coaches.  I remember the call so well.  He summed up that morning pretty well by telling me “Ben, looks like you proved today that you belong on my sled.  Don’t do anything this weekend that shows that I made the wrong decision.”  I remember telling him he made the right choice, and I knew in the end it was the driver’s decision of who he felt most comfortable on the sled.  But I also knew that I had the chance that morning to PROVE I was the fastest, and had the most grit to compete and keep my spot.  

That week we took 8th place in the world – at the time the best finish for Steve Holcomb – and we had top 10 start times in the field as well.  

Lesson – Don’t Quit.  No matter how long the road looks, or how many times you get knocked down or out, don’t quit.  When I was a young kid, I remember my father told me, “No one can make you quit at something, except for you.”  Remembering that, and knowing that only I had the power to quit, to give up was a very powerful thing.  Now, I do know there are times when we have to “pivot” in life and try a new path.  That is different.  What I have learned in life is no matter your circumstance, you have the power to make the change. 


Ernie’s Transformation

Ernie’s Amazing Transformation

“I just went through a divorce, I had no confidence and I was 316lbs.”

Ernie joined Epic Fitness in a stressful season of life, and was looking to make some positive changes.

“At the beginning, getting in the doors sucked.  But once I finished a few sessions, I realized this was a mountain I could climb. I started losing weight and my success snowballed from there.”

Ernie took initiative and talked with our team about a nutrition plan and how to stay consistent. He watched his calorie intake, stayed sober and maintained focus on his goals of feeling better and stronger in his body.

The result? He has lost 105 pounds!

He is now is 211 pounds and not only working hard in the gym, but staying active in his life and job.  It is not just about the weight loss for him, either.  He now has the energy to play with his 2 kids, to work more efficiently with his job that requires manual labor, and so much more!  

We are SO proud to be a part of Ernie’s success story and can’t want to see where he goes from here!

We have extended the discount through the end of the year, so you can STILL save over $400 on our most popular New Years program AND become a part of our tribe for the first 3 months of the year. Don’t wait too long, time and space is running out!!  We only have 3 spots left. 
Click the link below to learn more and to join us in becoming the best version of yourself in 2022!


Amy’s Transformation

Amy’s Amazing Transformation 

We are so honored to be able to share Amy B’s story. Amy started with us just one year ago, and her transformation has been nothing short of incredible.
Here is her story:
“I wanted to live. I felt lost. I couldn’t see myself and my self-esteem was gone. It wasn’t me in the mirror.”
These words from Amy gave a very real glimpse into her life before joining Epic Fitness. Her daughter introduced her and her husband into our community, and her mindset slowly began to change.
“When I joined Epic Fitness, I was scared and excited. The whole team at Epic was helpful and supportive. Everyone in the gym was on their respective journeys, working together and cheering each other on. I now feel encouraged and hopeful.”
Amy has completely changed her lifestyle and schedule, and has lost over 50 pounds of body fat (look at that dumbbell!).
She now walks 20,000 steps per day, strength trains 3 times per week with us, and uses our Done For You Meal prep services to maintain the best nutritional intake for her body.
We are so incredibly proud of her hard work, consistency and mindset changes Amy has accomplished. She has created a completely new life for herself – and YOU CAN TOO!
Now until December 24th, you can save over $400 on our most popular New Years program AND become a part of our tribe for the first 3 months of the year. Don’t wait too long, time and space is running out!!
Click the link below to learn more and to join us in becoming the best version of yourself in 2022!

What I learned in Bobsled that changed my life

What I learned in the sport of Bobsled that changed my life – Part 1

By: Ben S. Fogel

Many of you probably were not aware that in a previous life (at the tender age of 23!) I tried out and made the US National Bobsled Team.  I went on to compete for 7 years in multiple World Cup races and even in World Championships in 2005 helping our team to a top 10 ranking in the world at that time.

Looking into the camera, Winterberg, Germany with Driver Steve Holcomb, WC, 2004

Recently, I started reading through a lot of my journal entries during my travels all over the world with the bobsled team, and I realized that so much of the success and failures that happened to me in that sport really put me on the fast track to where I am now.  So I wanted to share more of my story and what I learned almost 20 years ago which has helped me become a better husband, father, business owner, leader, teammate and friend. 

**SPOILER ALERT** This is longer than my normal read but I promise you’ll get some great takeaways which anyone could use and take action on.   

It was May 2003, I was just about to graduate from college and to be honest, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do. I was in a place in my life where I was not ready to enter the “real world.”  My definition of the “real world” at the time was entering the workforce, or having a 9-5 job, and actual responsibilities.  To be candid, being a full time student-athlete had a ton of responsibilities but “showing up” every day to get better physically was easy for me, and I just wanted to do more of that.  I wanted to continue to compete as an athlete.  I also knew that continuing on that path could delay my “real world” responsibilities of a 9-5 job for a little bit longer, which at the time, I was ok with.

I had just come off competing for 5 seasons (gotta love that redshirt year!) in Track and Field in college, and also an injury and surgery to my elbow that left me unable to compete at a higher level after college in a sport that I loved – the javelin.  I know, super obscure, right?

(There I am with hair!)

What I did know for sure was that I didn’t want to stop competing at a high level, whatever the sport may have been.  I remember pretty clearly how I found my next athletic endeavor.  I was recovering from my elbow surgery, and since I couldn’t use my arm to throw things (my first true love) I started to use my legs a LOT more.  I started to train with a group of Decathletes at my college.  I distinctly remember that I loved to race the guys that were faster than me in practice.  And I LOVED the fact that I could beat them “off the line” and in about the first 40 meters of a footrace, but then their technique and years of sprinting would take over and they would ultimately win the race.  

This caught the eye of our Decathlete coach, and then one day he told me this: 

“Ben, you know if we had 4 more years with you, you could make a great Decathlete.  But if you take 6 months to train hard now, I am certain you would make a great Bobsledder.”  

I had no idea what the sport of Bobsled was.  Even with the 2002 Olympic Games just finishing up the prior year, I had never really paid much attention to what type of athletes excel in that sport.  But it was that ONE comment my coach made to me that set me on fire to learn how I could be an elite athlete in 6 months or less.  There were two things this coach did that lit me on fire with my motivation.  He gave me a timeline of how long it would take me to potentially be successful, and he believed that I could become something that I had no idea I could become.  

Lesson #1 – Having a coach or a mentor early in my life that spoke the truth to me, gave me the confidence to move in a direction I never thought possible changed my trajectory from “I think I can” to “I am absolutely certain I can.”   Make sure you have a mentor or a coach in your life that can push your limits – physically, mentally and emotionally.  


Good Timing

To my surprise, it was also a perfect time to become a Bobsledder, and to try out for the Bobsled team.  As it happens in life, much of the time you can look back and sometimes say “Right place, right time.”  Timing wasn’t the only thing that made things all fall into place though.  The 2002 Winter Olympic Games had just passed, with the United States just having their best results in over 46 years (a silver and bronze medal in the 4-man event). 

After the dust settled, many of those athletes retired and the US Bobsled team were looking for new athletes, new recruits.  They were holding an “Athlete Recruitment Tour” all over the country and at major colleges and universities, and they were about 6 weeks away from being on the west coast where I was.  

So myself and another Track athlete at my college made a bet – whoever could score the highest at the Bobsled Combine would win $100 – I know, this was a BIG bet!  It was enough for us to both train with each other over those 6 weeks and push each other and get faster and stronger than any other time in our college careers.  

Lesson #2 – Having someone I had to stay accountable to over a period of time, and having something I stood to “lose” if I didn’t hold up to my side of the bargain forced me to follow through and to complete all of my training sessions over those 6 weeks to the best of my ability.  This is the exact same as having an “accountability buddy” at the gym, or a training partner.  They are going to push you harder than you will push yourself, and you will see results faster than trying to do it on your own.  The other secret here was having something I stood to lose – A bet – which if I was going to bet on myself, I never wanted to lose.  

The weekend of the combine my training partner and I were both going into it all feeling fresh and ready to compete at a high level.  We even drove down a day early to ensure we could get settled in and prepare for our big Saturday Combine.  It would be the first time I would ever sprint through timing eyes, or to get my vertical measured on a “jump pad.”  The US National Team Head Coach was there, along with the late Steve Holcomb (Steve passed away in May, 2017 and ended up being one of the most decorated bobsledders of all time – winning the 2010 Olympic Games in the 4-man event).  

One thing I noticed right away when I arrived at the combine – almost every athlete that was at the combine was about the same size as me – at 6’2” and 230 pounds at the time, I always thought this was going to be an advantage for me, but not today.   The 4-item combine test consisted of sprinting 60 meters through timing eyes (the timers were placed at 15, 30, 45 and 60 meters to get all the split times to see how fast you were at the start, and especially from 30-60 meters, or your “fly” time).  It also consisted of a vertical jump, and a broad jump where you essentially had to jump 5 consecutive times and they measured that distance.  

Starting at the sprints, I was a bit tight and nervous on my first run and I remember after my first attempt Steve Holcomb came up to me and said:

 “You just need to relax and smile when you get to the line next time.”  

Relax and smile

Those 2 words made me smile back at him initially and I said “Thank you for that advice!”  Then, it actually made me turn my “anxiety and nervousness” dial down a couple notches, and it helped.  It was the exact advice I needed in that moment – and he knew it, too – because I remember my second run through those timing eyes being my fastest (and most relaxed).  

It was actually that one piece of advice he gave me that day that helped me do well enough to not only “pass” the combine test with a high enough point total to move on to the next phase, but also win that $100 bet from my college track buddy!  

As I look back, Steve barely knew me (actually he didn’t know who I was at all, who am I kidding!) and for him to come over to me and give me any advice or feedback at all was a gift. 

Lesson #3 – Always listen to the advice and feedback of those that have come before you.  Listening and implementing the advice from those that have “been there and done that” can fast track your ability to succeed at a high level.  Remember, feedback is a gift.

Steve Holcomb had been competing in the sport of Bobsled for 6 years up until that point, and I knew he was an up-and-coming driver in the sport.  The reason he was at the combine was to look for up-and-coming brakemen to push his sled, and I wanted to be that guy!

You are probably wondering what happened next in this journey for me.  I can’t wait to share it in part 2 of this blog coming soon!  

4 Harmful Myths That are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 2

4 Harmful Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 2

By: Ben S. Fogel

There is more questionable advice and so-called “experts” out there in the health and wellness world that want you to subscribe to “their” way of thinking, and that usually fattens their pocketbooks as well.   

We are going to discuss and bust 4 myths that continue to get a lot of  attention in the news media and on the internet.  If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can check out the first 2 myths that we busted HERE.   

Here’s the truth – Currently almost 40% of ALL Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.  This number is set to SKYROCKET to 60% of ALL Americans by 2030 (barely 8 years away!).  I feel so strongly that so much of this has to do with all of the myths that are floating around in the health and fitness industry.  It is our job as professionals to give you the truth, so that is what we will be doing below.  

Here are the final 2 myths below.  

Myth #3 – All Calories are the same

The expression, “A calorie is a calorie,” is one saying that is particularly concerning. 

Outside the context of metabolic health, that may be correct, but it is absolutely misunderstood in the context of human nutrition and certainly in the context of what we do with energy in the body.  Yet people and so-called experts repeat the same harmful “Calories in, calories out” myth. 

By that same logic, you could argue that 2,000 calories of soda pop are treated the same within the body as 2,000 calories of properly balanced macronutrients with a well balanced nutritional plan. One essentially kills the body and makes you fat and sick, while the other sustains life and helps you thrive.

And that saying completely ignores the impact on your body’s systems and hormones.  Hormones, like insulin, have a profound effect on what our body does by way of burning calories, storing calories or even efficiently wasting calories.  

Because Insulin resistance is such a huge piece of this puzzle, I want to share in a nutshell what insulin resistance is, when you may be dealing with it, and how to overcome it.

Insulin Resistance in a Nutshell 

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.  Then, that blood sugar will store as fat, you will feel tired and hungry – then you will rinse and repeat the “insulin resistance” circle above. 

Signs of insulin resistance:

  • A waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
  • Blood pressure readings of 130/80 or higher
  • A fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dL
  • A fasting triglyceride level over 150 mg/dL
  • Fasting insulin greater than 6
  • A HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women

Effective Treatment for Insulin Resistance

Carbohydrates such as simple sugars and grains should be avoided as they stimulate insulin secretion. They should be replaced with higher protein-containing foods and vegetables, as well as good sources of fat (we will discuss more about this below).  Other things to consider to add to help treat insulin resistance:

  • Adequate vitamin D intake
  • Aerobic and resistance training.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been found to be superior to low-intensity cardio.  Also, the form of resistance training we utilize at Epic Fitness is a mix of HIIT as well as what we love to call “Metabolic Resistance Training” or MRT.  
  • Get adequate sleep.  We have our clients aim for 7 hours of sleep per night.  

By consuming the right blend of proteins and healthy fats and limiting simple carbohydrates, you’ll not only have much more sustainable energy, it will help strengthen your immune system, and even aid in gut health and brain health.  Now you can see that your body knows all too well that all calories are not created equal! 

Myth #4 – A low fat diet is best for weight loss

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, there is a good chance that you’ve at least considered a low-fat diet.  In 1977, the US Dietary Guidelines were published without significant evidence from randomized controlled trials and testing.  These guidelines recommended a significant reduction in dietary fat, and thus began the nationwide mentality to fear fat.

People have been told to not eat fats that are clinically shown to be healthy in favor of refined carbohydrates, and the results have been devastating.  Since 1977, the average adult American is nearly 30 pounds heavier; as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.  

Many of you that might be my age may have seen this with your parents.  I sure did.  I was born in 1980, just after these recommendations were made by the US government.  I remember being 10 years old, and eating ALL the carbs with my parents – well, because that was the recommendation, right?!  

The base of the pyramid was “6-11 servings of Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta.”  It is no wonder that my parents were gaining weight.  I may have been lucky to avoid weight gain because my childhood involved running around outside, exploring and building tree houses!  Verses today’s children who are obsessed with playing on their cell phones and iPads instead of playing outside.  As you can see from the original food pyramid, they clearly had it all wrong and it has been disastrous for our society as a whole.

There is overwhelming evidence of the benefits of including fat in your diet for overall health (and not just sparingly as the pyramid suggested!)  

Fats not only help you feel full, they help with brain health, gut health and metabolic health.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy carbs, but you need to realize that you still want to get a majority of your diet to come from essential amino acids (from protein), and essential fatty acids.

Focusing on a wide spectrum of healthy fats from animal sources – like eggs, beef, salmon-  and plant sources – olive, coconut and avocado will keep you satiated for longer periods of time which will lead to less over-eating (which is what got us into the whole mess in the first place!).  

So, the next time you hear anyone tell you that “Your metabolism slows as you age” or that “You can out-exercise that last bad meal” or “All calories are the same” or “You should avoid fats at all costs” please just share this blog with them!  

Are you looking for a team of experts that can help guide you towards better health, one day at a time?  Check out our “30 Day VIP Experience” at Epic Fitness where you will get access to expert training, nutritional advice and support, and the most inclusive environment in the state!

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4 Harmful Myths That are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 1

4 Harmful Health Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic- Part 1

By: Ben S. Fogel

There is more questionable advice and so-called “experts” out there in the health and wellness world that want you to subscribe to “their” way of thinking, and that usually fattens their pocketbooks as well.    

This very binary “This is bad, this is good” thinking when it comes to your health can be really harmful.  There is a great deal of misinformation out there.  Some of it is from simple misunderstanding, and some of it is willful deception to push an agenda, but almost all of it has absolutely no basis in science and facts.  

We are going to discuss and bust 4 myths that continue to get a lot of  attention in the news media and on the internet.  The hope is that you can decipher the truth from the lies and make the best decision for your body and your health.  

The truth of the matter is this – Currently almost 40% of ALL Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.  This number is set to SKYROCKET to 60% of ALL Americans by 2030 (barely 8 years away!).  I feel so strongly that so much of this has to do with all of the myths that are floating around in the health and fitness industry.  It is our job as professionals to give you the truth, so that is what we will be doing below.  

We will discuss the first 2 myths in part one of this series, and the second two myths will be shared in part two. 

Myth #1 – “My Metabolism is slowing down as I age”

Many people believe that as we age, our metabolism (the rate at which we utilize calories for energy) decreases.  Contrary to popular belief, our metabolic rate doesn’t change as we age.  Instead, metabolism is almost always coupled to our body weight. Interestingly, when someone starts to gain weight, their metabolic rate will actually go up. And if they lose weight, their metabolic rate will go down.

Instead of metabolism slowing down, far more people “break” their metabolism by following poor advice, or doing short-term “quick fix” diets and exercise routines.  

There’s a popular weight loss reality show where people starve themselves and exercise like crazy to lose an incredible amount of weight in a relatively short period of time, you have probably heard about it or seen it.  That can certainly work in the short-term, but there’s a reason you never see reunion shows on these weight loss programs – they just don’t work long-term.  

As these people inevitably get back in the real world, they start gaining weight again and their metabolism doesn’t match it. Their metabolism just doesn’t come back up with the incredible yo-yo in body weight.  What happens, you may ask?  They’ve effectively broken their metabolic rate.  How do you “break” your metabolic rate?  Here is a toothpaste analogy to help visualize the concept.

The Toothpaste Analogy

Our bodies are actually highly sophisticated “machines”. When fuel (calories from food) is scarce it becomes more efficient at utilizing the energy it does have.

Think of it this way –  When you open a new tube of toothpaste you use it without any thought, right? You have enough. It’s easy to get out and you go about brushing your teeth effortlessly. But when you get down and low in the tube you have to start to really squeeze it out and you’ll make do with less toothpaste for each brushing. You’re acclimating to the resources you have to get the job done. Our bodies do the same thing with energy.

(This is what “acclimating to our resources” looks like!)

Our bodies are resilient and when energy intake is low it will fight to keep us alive by slowing our metabolism (burning less calories) and ‘holding’ onto energy on our bodies in the form of energy storage (which can lead to weight gain). This is similar to that toothpaste analogy, you use less to do the same amount of work when resources are scarce and want to keep as much toothpaste (energy for your body) in the tube as possible.  

The opposite is also true when you start to come off a diet.  Your body and metabolism can’t adjust to the big swings in the amount of activity, as well as food intake that you are changing in such a short period of time.  

The truth is, the fancy restrictive “diets” and excessive exercise routines that you may have subscribed to have “slowed down” your metabolism – don’t blame this one on your age.  

Myth #2 – Exercise can make up for a poor diet

You may be tempted to buy-in to the idea that a good workout can compensate for a bad diet. That’s simply not the case.  What we like to say at Epic Fitness is: You can’t outtrain or outrun a poor diet.  

To avoid any confusion, at Epic FItness we recommend that everyone should do some form of exercise 5-6 times a week.  This recommendation is less for weight loss than it is for a host of other health benefits including cardiovascular and brain health, as well as your ability to maintain balance as you age, and especially for hormones and proper nutrient absorption.  “Some form of exercise” could literally be to go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride – something that gets the body moving and grooving.  

The real “secret” here though is this: 

The best kind of exercise is the kind you’ll actually do on a regular basis. 

But that doesn’t mean you can outrun, or out-exercise a bad diet—that’s a particularly dangerous myth.  Even the heaviest workouts will only burn a few hundred calories, while eating the wrong kinds of food are not only resistant to being “burned”, they actively encourage your body to store body fat.

If you want to “burn” more calories, you can actually do it more effectively through a proper diet. Your diet likely got you into the shape you’re in, but it also can help get you into much better shape now and in the future. 

Wondering what the final two myths are?  We will share them in part two very soon.  *HINT* It will all have to do with nutrition and a proper diet leading you towards better overall health outcomes.  If that sounds desirable to you, stay tuned!!  

Are you looking for a team of experts that can help guide you towards better health, one day at a time?  Check out our “30 Day VIP Experience” at Epic Fitness where you will get access to expert training, nutritional advice and support, and the most inclusive environment in the state!

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Your Health is your Wealth

With the COVID Delta variant completely taking over in the US, the people at the top seem to be ignoring one of the biggest variables in having a good or a poor outcome with this disease. 

That variable is our overall physical condition.  As a client of ours said recently, “My health is MY wealth!”

Why aren’t we being encouraged to pursue the improvement of our physical condition? ⁣ It’s been almost entirely ignored by all of the “experts” out there.  

Here are the facts on the rise of COVID cases and our risk factors associated with it: ⁣

  • The CDC reports obesity increases risk of hospitalization from covid-19 by OVER 700%⁣
  • Poor cardiovascular fitness is an increased risk factor⁣
  • A study from the University of Virginia found exercise reduces a person’s risk of even contracting covid-19⁣
  • Exercise is known to impact and improve the immune system⁣ in positive ways
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a top cause of death from covid-19. Research has shown that there is an exercise-induced antioxidant that can protect against this⁣
  • There’s now an abundance of evidence that Vitamin D reduces covid-19 infection, severity, ICU admission and mortality⁣
  • Collectively, studies show vitamin D is a far more effective basal covid-19 treatment than any additive pharmaceutical available to date⁣

Maybe this is our fault.  The fault of the fitness professional.  

There’s an overwhelming attitude that we are just about looks or aesthetics.  Fitness has become a synonym to these things.  That we are just about “pecs, guns, butt and leg day⁣.”  

But the fitness profession is about so much more than this.  

It’s about strength, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, mobility, mental health and much, much more.  ⁣

There’s an ABUNDANCE of scientific evidence showing the benefits of exercise on⁣ the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke recovery
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcopenia 

And the mental health benefits of regular exercise?  There is more research in this area now more than ever.  

I’m a cancer survivor who went through over 2 years of chemotherapy and treatment to go into “remission.”  If it wasn’t for fitness, I probably wouldn’t be here.⁣

Yes we can help athletes perform better and people to look better⁣.  

But I truly believe that we do so much more⁣.  We change lives.  We have the ability to reverse health conditions that otherwise destroy the body.   Nearly 40% of American adults aged 20 and over are obese. 71.6% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight, including those that are obese.  These numbers are really unacceptable.  We can do more.  

Exercise is medicine!⁣  But the problem is, it is not the doctor’s job to “prescribe” exercise.  We get it, this is not their “job.”  

This is our “job” – this is our “why.”  

We all have the ability to choose a better health outcome.  Once we realize that it starts with YOU, that is when change can occur.  

I will leave you with this powerful quote from F.M. Alexander:

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and it’s their habits that decide their futures.”  

We all have the power to choose what to do next.  As fitness professionals, we will choose to continue to be the place where our clients improve their health outcomes 1% better than yesterday.  

Ready to decide to make fitness and health a part of your daily habits?  Check out our VIP Experience below to learn how to make your next month your best month of the entire year! 

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Fitness to Finance

From Fitness to Finance

There are 4 simple concepts we are going to talk about today that will help not only your fitness, but also your finance.  Maybe you have heard of some of these concepts, maybe you haven’t.  In any case, when you put these 4 strategies into action some amazing things can happen not only to your fitness and health, but also to your fiscal finance and wealth!

I wrote this after listening to best selling author of “Profit First” Mike Michalowicz speak at a seminar and his turning point in his career was when he learned these 4 concepts!

One of the best things a client ever said to me when he signed on the dotted line to start a membership with us was “I realize now that my health is my wealth!”  Wow!  Now that is a powerful one liner, so powerful it bears repeating:

“I realize now that my health is my wealth”

What he realized was that no amount of money would give him a healthy body or give him the ability to perform at the level that he wanted to perform at.  He knew he would need to work on his physical fitness and improve his health, and that in turn would turn into his newfound “wealth.”

We are going to talk about not only physical wealth but also fiscal wealth and how closely tied together they are in these 4 concepts.  Here is what you can start to incorporate into your life right away that will not only make an impact on your health, but also on your wealth both physically and financially.

Concept #1 – Small Plates

About 200 years ago, our dinner plates were actually the size of a dessert plate (does anybody even have these anymore?!).  In all seriousness, our plate size has over DOUBLED in the last couple of centuries.   Back then, we were taught to “clean off our plate” and that mantra has continued as we grew up and now as we raise our children.

Want the solution?  Use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate is the best way to subscribe to “forced portion control.”  Actually, only have smaller plates in the house.  Then, this really weird thing will start to happen – you will actually start to eat LESS!  This will help us force portion control in the right direction and give us the ability to eat less without even thinking about it, as it is an almost automatic habit you don’t need to put much more thought on once you replace your plates with smaller ones.

In finance, you can do the same thing by controlling the “serving” of cash you have available to use.  By separating the money into “smaller plates” or separate savings or investment accounts, and “carving” out that money before it even hits your primary cash or checking account, you have in essence “paid yourself first”.

Then you will end up with less in your “serving” dish of cash, and that is ok as you will learn how to deal with this very quickly, just like you did with the small plates.  This is also known as “Parkinson’s Law.”  The concept of Parkinson’s law leverages this behavior of being able to “make due with what you got.”  If there is less in your account, you will be forced to spend less and not make those silly purchases!

This is a lot like a tube of toothpaste.  We all have been there before – where we either have a full tube of toothpaste or an almost empty tube of toothpaste.  We will use that toothpaste differently depending on what end of the spectrum we are at!  I love a full tube of toothpaste because I can just lather up that toothbrush with a huge amount and care less (a lot like over-spending when you get a raise/bonus/etc).  I also love working with a smaller tube of toothpaste – it forces me to use muscles that I never knew I had to squeeze out that very last little bit of toothpaste!  Think of your primary account just like this tube of toothpaste – if you are almost out and can’t pay your bills then you can’t afford those things you have been buying!

Concept #2 – Eat your “Vegetables” first!

How do most of us eat dinner?  Maybe if we are out to eat, we may start with an appetizer then move on to the main course, then dessert.  What about at home?  I would always start with the “meat and potatoes!”  In all seriousness, the process is pretty much the same for all of us.  We will almost always start with the most savory, tastiest part of our meal first – then go on to eat the most of that!

What if we didn’t change us, but merely changed the process of how and what we ate first?

What if we ate the vegetables first off of our plate, then we proceeded to the rest of our meal?  This forces us in a good way to eat the most nutritious part of our meal first, and that way we may even be fuller a little sooner once we get to our main part of our meal, maybe even full enough to not even eat dessert!

In finance, the vegetables are the “profit” that we pay ourselves first with, and place in a retirement or savings account.  The saying “pay yourself first” is very true, and taking your profit first is just like eating your vegetables first!

Concept #3 – Remove the temptation!

This may be one of the most undervalued concepts of all.  I have a confession to make – I LOVE chocolate chip cookies!  I know, you may have never believed it with me being a fitness professional and all!  But in all seriousness, I love freshly baked gooey chocolate chip cookies.  I would actually eat them every day if I had them around.

But here’s the secret – I remove the temptation!  I don’t have fresh baked cookies inside my house every day (ok, maybe just on the weekends!)  Here is something that I learned after a very long time:

You can’t use willpower to avoid temptation

If you remove the pure accessibility of whatever item/s it is that you are tempted to eat (mine just happens to be chocolate chip cookies!) you will be 100% less likely to dive into whatever it is that tempts you.  Think “out of site, out of mind.”  Removing the temptation is a powerful thing, since you can’t just count on willpower alone!  

In finance, let’s go back to these “profit” accounts where you pay yourself first.  In order to remove the temptation, we recommend setting up these accounts in a very “inconvenient” place – like a completely separate bank.  This is where it is so hard to transfer any money back, and it removes that temptation to do so.  It is also “out of sight, out of mind.”  This can be a game-changer since you don’t see the account balance daily, and this account will continue to grow and grow without you making the mistake of putting your hand in that damn cookie jar and taking anything out!  I heard a story once of a businessman doing this for about 20 years, and he never checked the balance of this savings account.  After 20 years, he accumulated over 1 million dollars!  Wow, now that is avoiding a lot of temptation!

Concept #4 – Eat 5 meals a day (Or pick a number greater than 1!)

This concept of eating smaller, but more frequent meals during the day does several things.  The most important of which is it regulates your appetite throughout the day, so you don’t have those huge peaks and valleys.  You all know what I am talking about.  It is 3pm and you haven’t had lunch yet.  You are so hungry that you could eat anything in front of you, and what is usually in front of you is a fast food stop!

What if you were able to plan out your main 3 meals of the day, along with a small morning and mid-afternoon snack that was easy enough to take with you (non-perishable) that kept you in sync during the day?  Do you feel like you would be in more control?  The answer is yes.  When we start to split our large meals that we normally only have once or twice a day into smaller more manageable meals (think small plates here) we keep the peaks and valleys at bay.

In finance, there will be peaks and valleys in your income.  By making your savings automatic, and also automating the day these funds get transferred out of your account – like 2 times per month instead of one – you will start to be able to self-regulate your finances much, much easier.  For example, if you wanted to start saving $100/month and that just sounded like such a large amount, what if you were able to break that up into two $50 transfers that occurred on the 10th and 25th of the month?  Would that feel a little less hard and not break the bank?  This concept of splitting up your savings to twice a month can be a game-changer.

Give these 4 concepts a try in your fitness and finance to become more physically and financially free!

Ready to learn more about these 4 concepts and have a coach by your side to help keep you accountable towards your goals?  Check out our 30 Day VIP Experience below!  

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