Selfies Save Lives

One of the most inspirational, motivational, and controversial  movements to ever happen to health and fitness was created by a kid from Stanford College who knows just as much about the gym as the Average Joe. Yet, he created an application that changed the culture of fitness forever and didn’t even mean to do it.

That application is “Instagram ”

Before I founded Quantum Leap Fitness (QLF), I’d toyed with the idea of making a cameo reappearance in someone’s college classroom for just one more  semester, just to finally write a thesis on the idea of Instagram as a force  that has shaped the future of fitness for better or for worse.

But y’all didn’t know me back in college. Let’s just say, Thank God I started QLF instead.

“Take this Picture of me for the ‘Gram “

 Now let’s be honest; Instagram’s lifeblood is vanity and the need to be ” liked” (see what I did there?). So, the fact that it has pushed the culture of fitness forward but is so deeply rooted in what is arguably the basest of human desires is incredible.

 On a host of levels, from what we wear and where we go, to what we eat and how the food is plated, Instagram was imagined as a simple application that would essentially allow regular folks to have a place to turn their regular life into art. But somehow, the student became the master, and now, Instagram’s idea of ‘life as art’ has created a culture of ‘Instagram art as (the blueprint for) life.’

Picture it; your local gym…

Right now a young is lady taking a picture of herself in a mirror of the locker room. She didn’t workout hard enough to break a sweat, doesn’t know how to do a proper squat, couldn’t tell you where her triceps are located but… her tights are colorful and her body could sell any magazine. So she’s going to ‘smize’ and  hashtag her vanity:




instagram redact 1 instagram redact 2

 Then, she’ll post this picture to the tune 100 likes and 80 comments on how hard she works.

She took these pictures to help increase her follower count but that same picture is officially a catalyst for change in her followers. The physiological aspect of that picture will trigger emotions in someone she will never meet in ways she didn’t intend or anticipate.

On the other side of the world (hell, maybe on the other side of that same gym)…

There’s another young lady—she could be any age or any body type. But she struggles with  self-image issues–self-hate, a host of potential health risks due to inactivity, poor nutritional choices or perhaps a challenging family medical history. She sees this picture, gets inspired and imagines that “One Day’ her positive self-image can be something she wants to glorify. Nevermind the fact that a half-dressed lady is on her Instagram not showing one actual exercise.  So, she  joins her local gym in the hopes to one day look like her Instagram Idol.  She goes to the gym regularly and changes her life for the better! All because one person wanted to see how many heads she could turn and praise she can get.

Q: When have you ever seen so many people care about health and fitness?  

A: When they were able to be ” liked” for it.

Even your favorite celebrity has to find a way to show you he or she is working out hard. So by nature you are going to find a way to perpetuate that image too. Let’s face it , rappers like The Game hosting fitness challenges , models secretly taking  trips to DR then reappearing with glutes that  ‘only squats can create’ and even Diddy likes to show us that he can count reps just as well as Benjamins.

It’s clear that the culture of fitness is changing for the better but not necessarily for the right reasons. But the question is, should we really be upset about this? Because someone might have ‘done it for the gram,’ but it could have inadvertently saved someone else’s life.

And yes, I hate that my passion and expertise as a fitness professional has become diluted because of filters and clever hashtags. BUT.I appreciate the fact that someone, somewhere is going to use the inflated ego of many as motivation enough to live a healthier life. We live in a country where 1 out of 3 people are classified as overweight and many of our more devastating health risks can be suppressed with increased physical activity.

The solution to a hard and pervasive problem is a simple one: Download Instagram and let the vanity inspire you.


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Abs Are Not Sold Separately

“998…..999…..1000! “

You just did 1000 reps of crunches!

Keep doing that and …

you still won’t have visible abs!

These days, having six-pack abdominal muscles is basically synonymous with being sexy and in shape. For men, this means a washboard stomach. The goal is a little different for women–less defined but flat, lean, and ‘toned.” This idea perpetuated by fitness magazines and online forums would have you believe that if you(!) Do this every day for the next three months  then YOU TOO can have abs like the person on the poster (who, full disclosure,  has been working out for a decade  and understands that it takes way more than laying on a yoga mat in your living room to look like them…and has maybe also benefited from the magic of the ‘Photoshop Diet’).  Now, while direct ab training will get the muscles bigger (as would happen to any muscle group you decided to focus on)  I’m here to tell you that 1,000 crunches does not a washboard stomach make.


  PS crunches

So the good news is you don’t have to train your abs for hours and hours every week to have a six-pack. In fact, you kind of don’t have to train them at all. So, what do you have to do?

If you’re a guy, the secret to a sexy stomach is to get your body fat percentage under 12 percent(*). Yup;  that’s it. When your body fat percentage approaches 10 percent, your abs become clearly visible whether you directly train them or not. If you’re a woman, getting your body fat percentage under 20 percent will get you a flat, lean, toned stomach. That’s all there is to it.

male abs female abs
So the name of the game to getting those super visible abs it to burn off the fat on top of them. You can burn more fat by incorporating total body exercises into your workout which forces you to use your core and burns dramatically more calories.

Fasted training: Give your body 2-3 hours from your last meal  before a workout to enter this state. After your body absorbs that last meal it will realize that its post-meal energy is running out. It then shifts toward burning fat stores to meet its energy needs. This will accelerate the ability to burn body fat and get you closer to your goal.

Size Matters! Keep meals small and effective! As your body uses the nutrients needed for energy it will be forced to store the excess. Here’s how this works :

When you eat food, your body breaks it down into various substances, one of which is glucose, better known as blood sugar. Your body also releases the hormone insulin, which tells your liver, muscles, and fat tissue to take the glucose from the blood and store it.Your liver and muscles store the glucose as a substance known as glycogen, and your fat cells store it as a substance known as triglycerides. This, in turn will expand the fat cells and thus expand that waist line.

So…is Working on Abdominal Muscles Pointless ?

Absolutely not. Remember, the core is utilized in every motion you make and everything you do. Keeping a strong core is the first step to everything from a successful weight loss/gain program to  things like, you know, standing up from the couch without grunting.  So instead of doing pointless crunches all night,  add workouts for the abdominal muscles between cardio workouts to strengthen the core while you lose fat; your body will thank you later.


But keep in mind no matter how many leg raises you do, if you are not lean it we still won’t see your six-pack.
(*)Anders,Mark Ace commissioned studies ,2001

President & fellows 2006


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Ladies, Don’t be Afraid to Push Your Weight Around

” I don’t want to look like a man!”

” I just want to lose weight, I don’t want to build muscles “

” Won’t I get brolic from lifting weights ?”



For the next couple months you will walk into your local gym, bypass the free weights, head straight to the treadmill, proceed to run for 30 minutes and go home. And in three months no significant changes will be made.  You will quit, lose motivation , or become ” too busy” to workout.

The truth is those weights that you’ve been avoiding are the reason that body you envisioned will never come to fruition.

But I see where the assumptions come from.  Conventional logic tells us :


(hu)man + dumbbells = huge muscles


 But in reality, women do not have the levels of testosterone that men possess to gain that type of muscle mass. Keep in mind, the  average woman’s testosterone levels are  5–10 percent of the average man’s. In one study, post-exercise testosterone levels were 45 times higher in men than women.*

So the lady you see on the cover of Muscle and Fitness only got there in one of two ways: performance enhancer drugs or years of rigorous training.


Now that we’ve explained that, the question is,  ” why is it important that women progressively introduce heavy weight training to any weight loss program ?”

Let’s explore.

  • Weight training burns about the same amount of calories per hour as low-intensity cardio, but it also burns more calories after the workout in an  “Afterburn Effect.”  The muscle you build as a result also helps keep you lean because it increases the total amount of calories that your body burns while at rest.
  • Weight training helps build a higher immune system and your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer are significantly reduced.



Start by putting down the 2- and 3- pound dumbbells and incorporate heavy deadlifts, heavy squats, and dumbbell lunges. These workouts are considered compound exercises because they place the entire body under tension.

The more muscle groups you effectively work, the more calories you will burn and more body fat you will lose. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!

I’m using the word “heavy” on purpose; the weight has to challenge you, specifically.  I realize the word heavy is subjective and so right now, you may be wondering “what qualifies as heavy lifting  ?” The answer simple; start by using weights that are heavy enough to limit you to 8–10 repetitions for an average of 3-4 sets. This will ensure that you are getting the most out of your workout and getting to your goals.

Summer is calling, so, ladies?  Love.Laugh.Lift!

YOUR NEXT REP: Follow me on Twitter and IG  and feel free to share and comment.  All workout  (and thought) partners are welcomed !


* Mahoney,Rebecca,,2014

Tucker, L.A., & Maxwell, K. Effects of weight training on the emotional well-being and body image of females, 1992

 West,Daniel “sex based comparison of myofibrillar protein synthesis after resistance exercise in the fed state” journal of applied physiology, 2012