Tag Archives: coaching


In our first two articles we, looked at elite athletes on their way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. If you would like to read those articles you can click here for part one and here for part two.


We are looking at Erin Cafaro Mackenzie, a Southern California girl who went to college at UC Berkeley and has since two gold medals in the past ten years. We’ll also be taking a look at Sara Hendershot, a northeastern girl who rowed collegiately at Princeton, then rowed in the 2012 Olympics—where she finished fourth by less than a half a second.



As a whole, we are looking at six aspects of training that elite-level athletes make use of. I got a chance to spend two or three days with Erin and Sara and got to view all of their habits on and off of the water. Of the two “off-the-field” aspects of training that we’ll be looking at today, we’ll check out coaching first.


# 4 Coaching


Every elite athlete in the world has a coach. Jordan had Dean Smith and Phil Jackson, Tom Brady has Bill Bellichek, Joe Montana had Bill Walsh, and Derrick Jeter had Joe Torre. Each of these athletes are whom we would consider some of the best all time within their respective sports. All of them would probably agree that their coach was a major part of their success from an individual and team aspect.


Why have a coach? Coaches can see things that athletes cannot see, whether that be a physical flaw or a mental hole that needs to be filled. Coaches are there to help with more than just the physical aspect of the game; they can prepare you for what’s coming next. In addition, a coach can help you maximize your pre-competition routine. And when all hell is breaking loose around you during a competition, your coach can help keep the peace.




Erin and Sara have two main coaches. Mike Lombardi is their to serve as the technical coach that looks at the small aspects of the rowing technique that make a major difference. He is a Princeton Graduate who was selected by the U.S. under 19 national teams before going on to row at Princeton University. Mike then went on to coach at Princeton University for 4 years, and focuses on the boat moves that make athletes more efficient through the water—the tiny tweaks in technique that make the difference between bringing the gold and going home empty handed.


Their other coach is Brian Mackenzie. Brian is a world-renowned strength and conditioning coach and the innovator of the endurance, strength and conditioning paradigm. Brian had coached numerous professional athletes from football, CrossFit, paddelboarding, MMA fighting and professional surfing. His research and accomplishments have been featured in Competitor Magazine, Runners World, Triathlete Magazine, Men’s Journal, ESPN Rise, The Economist and Tim FerrissNew York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Body.

erin and brian


Brian wears multiple hats in his role as a coach. He’s in charge of all of the programing of both the rowing and off-the-water strength and conditioning workouts. Brian specializes in movement, and making the movement as efficient as possible. He’s well aware that at this level, everyone is great—and the small increases in strength, efficiency and conditioning are what will really make the difference.


Brian’s job is to:

  1. Make the athletes’ movement and flexibility as good as it can be.
  2. Create a robust internal engine.
  3. Engineer a mindset so that when these ladies enter the water, they know they are the best in the world.

Together, these two coaches are a great combination of the technique on and off the water; their strengths complement each other so that the girls get some of the best coaching they could hope for.


#6 Genetics


In this article we have discussed a myriad of attributes that contribute to the success of elite athletes. What they have in common is that they can be controlled by the athlete. The athletes have a choice whether or not to:

  • Work harder
  • Pay closer attention to the details
  • Eat cleaner
  • Recover smarter
  • Hire a better coach

But they do not, however, have control over their genetics. Now, this will not make some of you happy; you wanted to read this article and apply these 6 steps and change your life.


This is 90% true. If you apply the previous 5 steps to any aspect of your physical life, you will train better and improve your game. But you can’t do one thing about the genes your mom and dad gave you. One of the main factors that lead to the success of the elite is their genetics. There are tons of athletes out there that do all of the above but just cannot reach that next step when it comes to being an elite athlete. In my opinion, one of the factors that keeps the hard-working good athlete from being one of the best is their gene pool.




On the other hand, there are also numerous athletes out there that have the genetics to be an Olympic gold medalist, or a professional football player, or a world-class sprinter, but they lack the above attributes that can take them to the next step. I have seen it many times before while coaching college football.


We’ve had athletes that can work out half as much as the other guys during practice, eat from a drive-thru, sleep only three or four hours a night because he’s out drinking and chasing girls. But on Saturday he can show up for the game and play better than anyone on the field, make more plays and end up being the MVP of the season—all because of the genetics God gave him when he was born.


I am not sure who you are as a person. You may be an incredibly, genetically gifted athlete who is the best at his sport right now but who does not work very hard. Or, you may be the hard-working Johnny hustle type of athlete that continues to bust his butt only to find that it’s never good enough. Whoever you are, continue to apply the above principles to your life in business, sports, personal relationships or anything that means anything in your daily life. I promise that these principles can take you to the next level!

Which of these 6 aspects do you want to get better at and WHY?

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GeneRXations Podcast with Johnny Jopling and Thomas Cox

I was honored to be on the GeneRXations Podcast with Johnny Jopling from StayRx Fit Website and blog.


This is a super cool site that features stories of the people in the Fitness Community. Anyone from guys who have been on American Ninja Warrior to Music artist and rappers to little ol Thomas Cox from Cookeville Tennessee.It was awesome talking to Johnny.



If you are not familiar with Podcasts, the best thing to do is to download it to you phone and listen to it on your way to work or while you are working out. Really make the time go by.


Hope you enjoy.

CrossFit OLY Seminar: Worth the $$$ ?

So this weekend I attended the CrossFit Weightlifting Seminar led by renown Olympic Lifting coach Mike Burgener. Coach B (as the entire CrossFit Community calls him) was at the seminar leading this one here in Cookeville Tennessee.

As of now I have attended the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar, CrossFit Football Seminar led by John Welbourn and the CrossFit Endurance Seminar led by Brian Mackenzie.
All of them were a great experience and I was blessed to get to know many people through out these great weekends. They all had their positives and negatives.

I will go into the other ones and the positives and negatives of them later. But for now I want to share my experience with Coach B and the CrossFit Weightlifting Staff.

First things first, Coach B takes a totally different approach than all of the other seminars. He does an amazing job at creating interaction with the attendees. As good as I have been around. He demands respect the moment he walks in the room. He is a former Marine and runs his group much like you see a drill Sargent in the movies. He is not intimidating , but he has an air of respect that is magnetic. When he asks a question he requires the response “YES COACH” by everyone in the room. If everyone in the room does not respond with the intensity or volume that he thinks is adequate he will give the entire group “Motivational Consequences”. These “Motivational Consequences” can vary from burpees, to holding in the top of a push up, to any other evil tactic his 65 year old military mind can come up with.

He covers everything from foot work (90% of all missed OLY lifts are attributed to poor foot work), to grip on the bar, to weight distribution, to how to safely MISS a lift. He is a stickler for the fundamentals of weightlifting and believes in drill after drill to perfect the parts so that the whole is a thing of beauty. He barks the Mantra of “Practice Makes PERMANENT” which is why he breaks down the details of the lifts so that you can do them correctly. Coach B is of the belief that just because you practice something does not mean you are going to be good at it.
The majority of the weekend is spent on learning the Snatch. Coach B does an amazing job at marrying the 2 lifts (Snatch and Clean & Jerk) so that there is so much carry over from one lift to the other. The coaches he has working with him are educated and all have different personalities, which keeps you on your toes as an attendee.

Me jC and Coach B at OLY seminar

Burgener makes it very clear that his way of teaching Olympic Lifting is not the “Right” way. But he also makes it clear that there is not a “right” way. There are a thousand ways to skin a cat and he just has a way that works for him and the numerous athletes that train at his garage in Southern California. The number one thing that he wants you to get out of the 2 day weekend is that as a coach you (the seminar attendee) are helping your clients perform the Olympic lifts SAFE, efficiently and effectively. His goal in this seminar is not to find the next Olympic Champion. His goal is to make the CrossFit Coach in the middle of no where USA keep the 40 year old soccer mom fit and healthy.

Worth it?
Of all he seminars this was the most taxing physically I have every attended. 90% of the time it was with a PVC pipe not a loaded barbell. That PVC pipe will make a coward out of just about anyone. The hardest part of the weekend was UN-LEARNING all the bad habits I had picked up through out the years of OLY lifting. This was for sure a lesson in humility from many aspects but I had a blast doing it.
Is it worth the $595 you have to pay for the 2 days of Instruction from a renown Olympic Weightlifting coach who is an open book to anything you want to ask…….? YES….worth every dime. If you get a chance to do this seminar, do it. You will not regret it.

Wrap up
I think the last 2 days has made me a better coach for the people of CrossFit Mayhem. But also for the kids that are down the hall sleeping as I write this article. Coach B did a heck of a job teaching weightlifting but he did an equally amazing job at teaching about why we do the things we do as CrossFit coaches. We do what we do because we want to see people live a happy, healthy, and fit lifestyle. When people come to our gym and pay hard earned money for us to help them get fit it is an honor and privilege and I want to do the best job I can to help them as much as I can, and Mike Burgener and his staff of Stacy, Bonnie, Kimmer, Brad, Joe and G did that this weekend.