Episode 53. Alwyn Cosgrove on Execution and Delivering Results

Episode 53. Alwyn Cosgrove on Execution and Delivering Results

Episode 53. Alwyn Cosgrove on Execution and Delivering Results

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Show Notes

Alwyn Cosgrove came on to discuss training strategy and program design, and especially some of the most absurd trends in the industry. Key themes were about delivering real results, relentlessly cutting chaff and extraneous fat, getting to the real core actions that will deliver results, and doing those things incredible well.

Fitness Trainer Consulting

  • A lot of what Alwyn does with business consulting has to do with lifestyle design — that is, thinking about why you’re running a business, and how you’re going to structure that business to accomplish those goals. You don’t want to work for the sake of work, and if you’re not pro-active, that’s where you’ll happen.
  • There was also a discussion about the benefit of the benefit. It’s not about losing a number on the scale; it’s about the benefit of that, or the “and then what?” or “why?” Keep digging. Why? And then what? Oh, why is that? That’s how you get to the real deep-seeded beliefs. This is good for marketing… and for coaching!
  • The “and then what?” and lifestyle design equation come together when you think about why are you training. If you feel exhausted and terrible all the time, you’ve probably gotten lost somewhere. Go back to the why.
  • In terms of marketing, and dealing with the people out there offering absurd promises, Alwyn says there are only two defensible positions in terms of marketing: “You were the first, or you were the only.” That is, Alwyn positions himself in a category of one. His clients won’t find someone else with the same background, expertise, and proof as him. They just won’t.

Simple, Excellent Execution

  • Both Scott and Alwyn agreed that expertise is about simplicity is key. Expertise is often about getting rid of the extraneous stuff, not about adding complexity.
  • This is true of coaching, and marketing: do amazing stuff, and do it well. Execution is key, not bells and whistles. Do simple things, and execute.
  • A problem is information overload. If your coach gives you an opinion, guaranteed within five minutes you can find an article or something that can seem fairly legitimate that says the exact opposite. Always. For both sides. Alwyn sometimes uses a rule with clients: you’re allowed to question anything I say, but you’re not allowed to go out and just Google it and question.
  • It used to be hard to get information. When Alwyn was writing about creatine way back when, he had to write a letter to the actual researchers. Now you Google it and have to sift through endless piles of crap. Sure, there’s more good stuff, but there’s exponentially more chaff.
  • Another problem is the outright lies and supposedly legitimate research taken out of context. E.g., a supplement company pays for 10 studies. Nine of them show nothing. One of them shows maybe… sorta… something. Well, they don’t talk about the studies that didn’t show anything; the just build up and build up the study that was vaguely a little better than inconclusive.
  • A similar problem, beyond supplement companies, is that journals don’t like publishing research that shows a negative result: “We were trying to show this, we didn’t.” The study design is valid, and it’s good for us to know such-and-such doesn’t have a positive effect. But it’s hard to get funding or published for producing that kind of result.

Find out more about our guest today,
Alwyn Cosgrove:

Alwyn’s Private Facebook Group

This is where the action is!


Take your fitness business to the next level at Results Fitness University.


Alwyn’s blog. Not used much!

Alwyn’s Cosgrove on T-Nation

Scott referred to it as a “treasure trove.”

Episode 52. Krista Scott Dixon on Power vs. Empowerment in the Fitness Industry

Episode 52. Krista Scott Dixon on Power vs. Empowerment in the Fitness Industry

Episode 52. Krista Scott Dixon on Power vs. Empowerment in the Fitness Industry

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Show Notes

Today we were joined by Krista Scott-Dixon, who shared her wisdom, advice, and expertise regarding food, body image issues, and fitness, especially as it relates to women’s issues and gender. Discussions got pretty theory-heavy, but it was all excellent, relevant stuff if you’re involved in body or physique transformation in any way.

About Krista

Krista is Program Developer and Coaching Coordinator for Precision Nutrition. She also has a PhD in Women’s Studies, and taught at York University until 2008, when she left academia altogether. She is published both inside and outside of academia; for instance, you can read lots of really good stuff over at stumptuous.com, where you can find articles with titles like, “Stop being a dick to yourself,” and “F*** exercise, try this instead.”

You can also check out her book Consumed: A Memoir, which chronicles a peanut butter binge, but also addresses body image, dieting, Krista’s choice to leave academia, and more.

Krista’s NEW Book:
Why Me Want Eat

(When we were emailing Krista links to the shownotes, she let us know that her new book is actually available now. We didn’t discuss it in the show much, but I’m putting it in anyway.  – M)

Amazon.com (USA)
Amazon.co.uk (UK)
Amazon.ca (Canada)

Power and Beauty

What began our discussion going was a quotation from Krista’s book, Consumed:

Because here is the big lie: that beauty brings power. The truth is that beauty attracts power, but only as the smell of week-old squirrel carcass invariably attracts the family dog, who rolls in it and then covered in the stink, consumes it with its canine teeth and front-facing eyes before forgetting about its ex-squirrelly existence.

Real power is hidden. The less you need to display it, the more you have.

Starlets or stage-strutters like Diana are steam-belching, coal-fired contraptions of 18th century hobbyists, creaking along before collapsing under their shitfaced coked-up silicone-slushy cast iron weight. Conversely, the corporate-industrial entertainment complex is a sleek engine powered by dancing atoms. You will rarely see it except for the odd supernova fart; it is woven into the fabric of the cosmos. Like the corpulent matriarch figure on which Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy are puzzlingly fixated, power’s hegemonic embrace in folds of moneymaking flabulosity is stifling, all-encompassing, and largely inescapable.

So you think you are winning by doing power’s bidding. By getting beautiful. By steeling your buns and raspberry-swirling your lips.

But the illusory “choice” that real power offers us, like a bone to a begging dog, is still bullshit.

Coke or Pepsi, Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. Diana or Marlene. Or for my teenage self, Debbie Gibson or Madonna. Crotchgrabbing or bootywiggling. Strutting on stage or folding other people’s sweat socks. Too thin. Too fat. Too goody-goody. Too slutty.

Those are our choices. If we play by the rules. Except the game is rigged, and we’ll never win.

“Empowerment” in Fitness

  • Once you realize that the choice between Coke or Pepsi isn’t really much of a choice, you can realize you’re in a story, and that is itself a form of power.
  • If you want to find where the power is, take a look at who’s making the money and who’s cleaning the toilets.
  • Sometimes “taking control” of your body is marketed as a form of empowerment, but in many ways, it can be an exact opposite kind of situation, where you actually relinquish control: you lose touch with hunger, with what satisfaction is, with having “full energy” is.
  • In terms of self-connection, Krista really likes George Beinhorn’s book, The Joyful Athlete.
  • One of the dangers is that these things really do feel empowering at first, and they give us access to stories we can tell ourselves about ourselves (e.g., “I am a badass,” “I am super committed,” etc.) but it’s only much further on that you realize what’s really going on, and the toll its taking.
  • In Scott’s parlance, ask the question: really, deep down, what is fitness doing for my life, and what is it doing to my life?


Sliding Into Disordered Eating, and Unhealthy Thinking… and Climbing Out Again

  • How do you move past it? Part of it is accepting that there is some kind of secondary gain, somewhere.
  • This doesn’t happen in an instant; it’s a process.
  • You don’t diet your way out of it. More nutritional knowledge doesn’t help, and it often makes it worse.
  • Look for instances where your story doesn’t allow you to be a whole, complete, complex person. If you tell yourself you’re a “badass,” but you’re “weak” because one day you ate something that wasn’t on the “badass” shopping list, there’s a problem.
  • Be careful, you can be a very smart, mature person — except for this one single, compartmentalized element of your life.


Women’s Issues

  • Krista quoted John Berger: “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. “
  • Women’s bodies, women’s selves, are a kind of commodity. They are taught from a young age that the to-be-looked-at-ness of their selves is one of their most important commodities. I.e., they “should” worry about it.
  • Also, it’s a zero sum game, meaning your value is dependent on others. To rise in the market someone must fall; if someone else rises, well…
  • Krista did suggest that men are actually starting to feel similarly in terms of body image and comparison, but don’t yet have the language to express it. (Mike agrees.)

Find out more about our guest today,
Krista Scott-Dixon:


Krista’s blog. Lots of articles. Lots of honesty. Good jokes. Good stuff. A+++ would read again.

Consumed: A Memoir

Krista’s currently released book. This one details, chapter by chapter, a binge on peanut butter. But it’s about much more than that. Scott’s advice: read it.

Precision Nutrition

Many listeners will be familiar with Precision Nutrition. It offers real-world fitness and weight loss coaching, certification for coaches and trainers, and more.

Episode 51. Desiree Walker on Integrating Fitness with Your Career

Episode 51. Desiree Walker on Integrating Fitness with Your Career

Episode 51. Desiree Walker on Integrating Fitness with Your Career

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Show Notes

Scott’s former client, Desiree Walker, joined us to discuss her amazing office gym set up, and the way she’s integrated her fitness with her work as a dentist. Desiree’s competed in on Ninja Warrior, she’s won a Crossfit championship, she’s been a Pro Figure competitor, and now works as a dentist — while still keeping amazingly active and fit.

Desiree’s Background

  • Desirée Walker is a general dentist, owner of her start-up practice, Lumber River Dental. She is a fellow of the International College of Dentists (2016), a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, the New Dentist Committee, and the American Association of Women Dentists. She has been published in Dental Economics, Dentaltown, Incisal Edge, and a variety of dental blogs.
  • Now, that’s the dental stuff. She is also a two-time competitor on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, a two-time national fitness champion, pro fitness competitor, and an adult gymnastics competitor. She has been an nationally ranked as an amateur triathlete competitor, Boston Marathon Finisher, and Crossfit champion. She has creatively integrated her love of fitness into dentistry by transforming her private office into a Ninja training suite – equipped with rings from the ceiling, bars on the wall, and a balancing slack line.

Desiree and Scott

  • Before coming to Scott, Desiree’s coaches had given her a very outside-in approach. In other words, they prescribed diet and training according to an arbitrary time frame: she was such-and-such “weeks out,” so let’s cut calories and add another hour of cardio, that sort of thing.
  • When Desiree came to Scott for coaching, he didn’t do anything magical so much as just realize he needed to let her genetics and her athletic background go to work for. She cleaned up by doing zero cardio, because that’s what her body needed. What she was doing before wasn’t “leaning her out…” it just just draining her.
  • Desiree did a version of Scott’s 5-Day MET for her contest.

Desiree’s Home Gym

  • Desiree has “wall bars” or “stall bars” on her office wall, which gives her a lot of flexibility for training. The bars themselves can be used for chin ups and gymnastics movements, and on top of that, you can attach resistance tubing or resistance bands to them for MET style training.
  • In her door is a chin up bar.
  • Desiree’s desk is a standing desk and she has a floor balance beam right near it.
  • Desiree also recommends wearing clothes you can move around in. Both she and Mike like Betabrand [Note, that’s a referral link, which gets you $15 off – M] which makes nice-looking clothes that actually let you move.


This video shows off her office and her skills on Ninja Warrior

Desiree’s Ninja Warrior Tryout

Desiree goes through a gymnastics conditioning circuit:

Desiree shows off her gym during the episode (this also shows her “hanging and rolling”):

Find out more about our guest today,
Desiree Walker

Lumber River Dental – Desiree’s practice

An article about Desiree’s office

Episode 50. JC Santana and Functional Training

Episode 50. JC Santana and Functional Training

Episode 50. JC Santana and Functional Training

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Show Notes

J.C. Santana joined us to discuss functional training, program design, and some of the myths and biases that exist in the fitness industry. Scott has respected J. C. for a long, long time, having come across his book, The Essence of Program Design, just as Scott was leaving the bodybuilding world.

The Influence of Coaches

  • Scott’s intro led to a discussion of the influence of mentors and coaches. For Scott, it was Bill Pearl, and for J. C. Santana it was Andy Siegal. 14-15 is the crucial time for a coach, noted J. C.
  • Bruce Lee was also a big influence of J.C.
  • Ironically, Scott’s first gym was a powerlifting gym, while J.C. was “raised” by bodybuilders early on, which influenced his wrestling, his fighting, his judo.
  • Both Scott and J.C. believe that fitness is a vehicle for personal growth, and can even be a spiritual endeavour. For Scott, it’s more of a potential — for plenty of people it’s not that, even if it should be. This is J.C.’s next project.


Functional Training

  • What is functional training? Training to allow the body to do what it normally does. Okay, what does it normally do? Locomotion, level changes, push and pull, and rotation. These are J.C.’s four pillars of what the body does, and therefore how you would organize or think about your training.
  • Level changes in two ways, parallel stance (up and down, think two leg squat, RLDLs, etc.), and staggered stance (think anterior reach, single leg squat). Staggered stance is usually used to decelerate and change directions; parallel stance is for things like picking stuff up.
  • J.C. acknowledge the importance of bodybuilding have its place: if you’re a fighter, maybe not, but if you’re an NFL lineman trying to maintain a 350 lb weight, it makes no sense to put you on a stability ball and do acrobatics.
  • For J. C., and integrated approach almost always makes the most sense.
  • Even in sports training, if you want to put on weight, bodybuilding training makes the most sense. E.g., Evander Holyfield hiring Lee Haney to put on raw muscle mass.
  • Scott and J.C. also both acknowledge that traditional bodybuilding training can be very good on the joints, provided exercise selection is sound.
  • J.C. thinks the overhead squat has pretty much no use for functional training.
  • Scott and J.C. also agree about Cross Fit (hint: they don’t like it).
  • Neither of them train to failure any more.
  • The mechanisms of action for bodybuilding and functional training are mutually exclusive, but that doesn’t mean both mechanisms can’t be used in a single program.

Find out more about our guest today,
J.C. Santana:


Functional Training on Amazon

JC Unplugged on Youtube