Why it's OK to fire a client

Do you pay attention to the energy you bring each day? Does it change depending on which client you're working with?

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The relationship between you and your client can be toxic just like any other relationship. I trained a client several times a week and his life at home was such a disaster that he brought his stress to our workouts. He complained about his wife. He complained about his job. It just seemed like nothing was going right in his life. I tried to make conversation more upbeat and find the positive side of things, but he always found a way to spin it back to the negatives. To boot, I saw this guy twice a week at 6am. Not the type of energy I want to start my Monday mornings.

This client was what I would call an "energy vampire". He literally sucked the life out of me in one hour, wasn't getting any significant results from his training, and was just a headache to be around. I couldn't train him any longer.

Telling a client you don't feel this is the right situation for them is a hard task. I was nervous as hell thinking about what I would say, but knew I needed to have that conversation. He took it well and conveniently it came at a time when I was getting a promotion and my rate would be increasing, which made it much easier since he mentioned many times before he was under financial stress as well. It gave me the perfect opportunity to unhook the baggage of dealing with his negativity.

I filled his time slot soon after with a wonderful, upbeat client and immediately there was a shift in the energy I had throughout my day.

If you find yourself working with a client that is constantly bringing negative energy, complaining about their problems and doing nothing about it, and zapping your energy, you have to unhitch the load. First, have a serious conversation with them and let them know their negativity is effecting you and impeding their performance. Take them into a quiet place, sit down, and hash it out. Just the act of sitting down to talk and not do it during a session or on the gym floor sends the message that it's a serious matter and you take your job seriously. If you strike a cord with them, great. Move on and enjoy less stress in your workday. But if you don't see a change, find a way to get them off your schedule. Just don't hand them off to a trainer without a disclaimer that they come with extra baggage. It's not cool to pass on your problem to someone else without fair warning.

If you're early in your career, you may find it hard to fire a client because every session and dollar counts while you're building your client book and gaining experience. But if you've been in the game for any amount of time you value the low stress and only want hard working clients that you also want to work hard for. Rid yourself of the energy vampires that bring stress into your life and fill those spots with hard working, high energy clients!

What Game of Thrones taught me about business

Today, someone asked me if I watch Game of Thrones. Lots of people ask me if I watch Game of Thrones. The new season is about to kick off and GoT fans couldn’t be more excited about it. I politely answered that “years ago when it debuted I just couldn’t get into it.” And..and this is a big AND...I honestly don’t have the time to consume that much television throughout the week. I’m just never bored enough that I need to entertain myself with it or even waste more time talking about shows or movies with friends. There are plenty of other things I can connect with them on.


This whole encounter had me thinking about the two types of people that are out in the market. Owners and Consumers. Simply put, owners produce something of value that consumers spend either money or time, well, consuming.


My revelation came several months ago listening to who else, GaryVee. Anyone who “consumes” his content knows that he preaches you should document, produce and publish content on a daily basis.


Owners are the creatives of the world. They spend their time and money producing things of value that consumers seek out and spend their said time and money on. Being an owner means you have to constantly be producing, but this also means you are always EARNING. Being a consumer means that you’re constantly consuming and, once again, you’re SPENDING either time or money. It’s an important distinction.


But the market isn’t the only place you find this classification. Let’s take a look at your personal life and find out where else it lies.


You may feel stuck. You feel like you just can’t seem to get ahead in life. You consume self-help book, after self-help book, listen to podcast after podcast, unwind and de-stress at the end of your day by watching movie after movie. You are a big-time consumer. Spending money, but even more importantly time, on things that don’t really justify any kind of return. Sure, entertainment has its place. If that’s what keeps you sane, by all means, keep spending an hour or two each night a week instead of getting started on that big idea you have. It’s way easier to kick your feet up and clear your mind by watching a show than to sit behind the computer and type up a blog post or put together a business plan for that side-hustle you’ve always wanted to do. Just don’t complain about not having money or how unhappy you are with your life. Your attention is in the wrong place. It needs to shift to creation in those hours.


If you’re feeling like this, I encourage you to make the switch into primarily an owner. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by never reading a self-help book again (it’s certainly an important part of your growth, and inspiration for your creations). Instead, read the book then write a blog post about it with lessons you took away that could be of value to others. After listening to the podcast, distill a few takeaways into a 60 second video of actionable strategies and share it on Instagram. Continue watching movies, but maybe start a short podcast reviewing the movie and giving your opinion if people should go watch it.


Social media isn’t going away and we need to leverage the type of reach you can get through it just so you can, as Tom Bilyeu calls it, “pull yourself out of the Matrix.” I choose to blog and podcast because for me, I don’t care much to be on camera to vlog and don’t mind the sound of my own voice. Know where your strengths lie and take that lane. Become an owner in your category and you’ll have plenty of consumers spending time and money on your content. Just be patient and keep chipping away at it day by day.


It’s literally a give and take. Are you the owner who gives and gets something in return, or are you the consumer who takes by sacrificing money and time to collect things?

The 5 things I would do over if I was a 26 year old trainer again

Ten years ago I started in the fitness industry with zero percent experience and a hundred percent ambition. At 36, I now look back on my career over the past decade and can’t help but laugh at the mistakes I made getting to where I am now.

As it’s said, experience is the best teacher. I’ve made tons of mistakes throughout my career and have finally gotten to a place in my business where I can feel good about what I’ve learned and accomplished throughout the process. I felt it was fitting to share a few of the biggest lessons I learned if I had to start over again as a personal trainer. Had I known some of these things 10 years prior, I would have been a force to be reckoned with, right out of the gate.

Jump right in and embrace mistakes

There’s a bit of a catch 22 that comes along with being a new trainer. You don’t have the experience, so you can’t get the clients - and because you don’t have the clients you can’t get experience. While I hear you, and this was my limiting belief when I started as a trainer, I no longer agree with this thought process.

Mistakes are inevitable. The sooner you realize you have to try things out (as long as no clients get hurt in the process. Safety should always be top priority. An injured client isn’t paying you and you aren’t getting experience training them either), the sooner you’re going to make mistakes, learn, adapt and grow. You’re not supposed to know how to perfectly cue a client when you’ve got no experience with it. You have to take hours to program for a client in the beginning to realize there are more efficient ways to systematize your training processes and get better and faster at it.

Don’t try to wait until everything looks perfect. Client’s likely don’t even know you’re screwing anything up. What they’ll see is you getting better and better session over session because you’re making the mistakes that help you grow as a fitness professional. I had client’s grow with me at Equinox from Tier 1 through Tier 3 and they all pointed out the progression and value I was able to give them as I made mistakes and learned from them. Just like we need to apply stress on a muscle for it to grow, we have to apply stress to our learning process to grow and develop as a trainer. Don’t be afraid to stress test yourself often.

Reinvest more income into sales training

This is a big one for me. There’s a lot out there in fitness education about how to periodize your programming, correct this hip and that shoulder issue. But there’s a big lack of sales training in the personal training world. After talking to other personal trainers and multiple managers all around the country, the sales training you receive in the gym as a new trainer is hit or miss at best, depending on leadership at your gym. Some managers are great and really teach interpersonal skills as well as how to market yourself in a sea of similar training styles.

The fact is, if you became a trainer because you didn’t want to do sales and you “just want to train”, then you won’t last very long at all.  Any successful trainer will tell you that you have to market yourself in a competitive environment like an Equinox Fitness Club. You need to be able to answer the question “Why should someone train with me vs. [insert top trainer here], or not even train at all?” If you don’t have an answer for that, you’ll likely struggle to reach your potential as a trainer who can market themselves and differentiate from the rest of the pack.

Take some money you earn from training and seek out sales training on your own. My suggestion? Find someone who you know is a great salesperson and pay them to be your mentor. You’ll gain so much perspective and knowledge that the money you spend will pay you back 10 times.

You can spend tons of money on your craft and be the best practitioner on the planet, but if you can’t sell people on your services or what you can do for them, your talents will go to waste.

Prepare more between sessions

Personal trainers typically see clients early morning before the work day, and immediately after work. This leaves most of you with a huge gap in the middle of the day. Definitely make sure you’re taking care of yourself and spending time to workout and keep yourself in top shape, but the rest of the time needs to be better planned towards constant growth.

I remember sitting in the break room between sessions and shooting the shit with my fellow trainers a lot. It was fun, and I definitely had a lot of laughs, but I wasted countless hours programming and complaining about how so and so got more leads than me. How the floor is dead and it’s always the same people during my shift. How it’s school vacation week and everyone is out of town so the gym is dead.

There’s too many things wrong with all my excuses. I could have spent that time writing an eBook with a 4 week program to give to some of the regulars I see everyday and actually help them workout on a quality routine. I could have built programming templates to use for new and old clients that would have cut my programming time in half. I could have read books about sales and tried putting some of the strategies I learned into practice to get more clients.  

Instead, I sat in the break room and complained like all the other trainers who didn’t have a steady business. The preparation you do in your down time is the fuel that runs the engine. When you stop working and start thinking about things out of your control, you’ve already lost. Keep the engine burning during down time. Taking small actions to do something that moves you towards what you want has a compounding effect. Standing still and complaining kills all momentum.

Build relationships for the long haul and not the quick sale

“Personal” is in the term personal training. If your clients aren’t your friends you’re doing it wrong. Others may say, you shouldn’t cross the line from client into friendship, but I disagree. Some of my clients are my most trusted friends and mentors.

As trainers, we’re delivering a service that our clients deem valuable to them. If we’re only transactional with them and never get to know them on a deeper level, we’ll never be able to really help them to the level would could. Understanding a client’s most difficult challenges and biggest insecurities is information we can use as coaches to make the path easier for them to succeed. It’s investing in a long term relationship. I still have former clients now that no longer work with me because they’ve moved or I’ve graduated them to be more self-sustainable. Some have even referred me current clients even through I no longer train them.

Turning and burning client’s is not advisable. I’ve made quick sales to just get the income and those client’s never worked out long. They saw right through it. It taught me a valuable lesson though. The client’s that I put the most time into developing a personal relationship with, feel the most cared for and I’ve gotten the most referrals from. This most definitely has been the best way for me to have a sustainable business model with a constant flow of “pre-sold” clients falling into my lap, simply because I showed how much I cared for them long term and not just for the quick fix.

Which leads directly into my last point.

Do more for them as a client then what you did to get them as a client

This one was a game changer for me when I figured it out. I used to work so hard to go through the complimentary assessment process. Over communicate with them. Give them tons of value up front to convince them I was worth the price tag. Then when they because a full time client, my attention dissipated. I was working hard training them. But I stopped over communicating. Stopped providing more and more value over time, and although clients stayed with me, I didn’t really start multiplying my business until I learned the importance of delivering even more to them once I had them as a client.

Under-promise and over deliver. We’ve all heard that quote. But I believe we should be saying - keep the promises you make and add a little extra. Nothing says unreliable to a client more than saying you’re going to do something and you don’t follow through. I can remember numerous times where I told a client I’d send them a travel program and I didn’t. Although they never called me out on it, I knew it tarnished the trust we had once had. When this happens it takes a long time to build back and they’re less likely to refer you someone at the fear you may not follow through and it reflects onto them.

After you on-board your client, the real work begins. Reach out constantly throughout the week. See how they’re doing. Don’t tell them you’ll send them an article or a workout. Just do it. When they’re not expecting to see “Thought you might enjoy this since we talked about it” in their inbox, your stock will rise quickly. You’re showing you are thinking about them.

I have a client who loves playing tennis on the weekends. Recently, he got a new Apple Watch. When I found this out, II went on the App Store and found an app you can use with your watch that tells you the hitting speed on each shot and reads the type of shot you took, mapping it onto a cool graph and allowing you to have great data to improve your tennis game. I messaged him a link to the app and told him a little about it and he was over the moon! The next session he started asking me how I usually get new clients (“referrals”) and he said there’s this friend he has that he thinks would be great for me to work with. This is how it happens.

Keep the promises you make and add a little extra. Out of all the mistakes and lessons I’ve learned, none of them have been as valuable and rewarding to developing a sustainable business as this one. There’s not much more insulting to a long standing client than giving a new client precedence over your long term, loyal customers. If you find ways to do more for the people you already work with, you not only show them their worth, but also how much you value them as a client, and they won’t be able to help talking about you in their circle of friends.

The Iceman's breathing method for immune function, improved conditioning, and better overall health

(4 min read)

Anyone who’s gone to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu(BJJ) class for the first time knows how challenging it is. I’ve worked out in the gym religiously for the past 2 decades and felt in great shape. My perception of what good conditioning was came to a screeching halt after my first BJJ class. After just 10 to 15 minutes I was left in a pool of sweat, barely able to lift my arms. I was breathing so heavily that I was surprised the other students in the room didn’t curse me out for hogging all the oxygen.


Several months later, and many classes down the road, my conditioning improved quite well. But as I always do, I was looking to gain an even greater edge. I had known of the Wim Hof Method for several years. I saw him interviewed on Joe Rogan, the documentary piece done by Vice, and several other podcasts. I downloaded the app to see what this was all about.


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The Wim Hof Method is a deep breathing practice similar to hyperventilating. It’s a slightly slowed down, more deliberate version. The intention of the exercise is to fully oxygenate your body and improve your immune system’s functioning. Recall from people who have experienced the breathing exercises have felt tingling all over their body, become lightheaded, and even had slight hallucinations. Wim explains that the reason these symptoms are felt is because your body is stimulating every cell in the system while you’re taking in much more oxygen then we do from our typical way of breathing. This leads to a suppression of the immune system’s response to stressors. Wim “The Iceman” Hof used this breathing technique to break the world record and withstand close to 2 hours fully submerged in ice. He also holds the record for the longest underwater swim (without coming up for air) under an ice glacier!


Wim also suggests that by learning how to take in full deep breaths, we maximize our diaphragm's ability to store and use oxygen, exactly what’s stored in our red blood cells and delivers oxygen to our working muscles. If you’re able to store and use more oxygen, your muscles will work harder and longer. Seemed like a no-brainer to me that practicing this method of breathing would increase my breathing efficiency during a hard session of BJJ, or any strenuous exercise for that matter.


Wim’s protocol calls for 30-40 deep breaths where you do a powerful, full inhalation and just calmly release the exhale. After the 40th breath cycle, and all the tingling and lightheadedness is in full force, you’re to exhale all your breath out and then hold your breath for as long as possible. When I tried this for the first time I was able to hold my breath for around 90 seconds! This is at least 30 seconds longer than just taking a deep breath and holding it normally! By the third time I did this exercise I was exceeding 2 full minutes on my holds. Wim’s method of breath holding on the exhale was also one of the most relaxing breath holds I’ve every experienced. My body felt this “charged” effect and I had plenty of residual oxygen stored up in my system to carry me to the minute and a half mark.


After you have the urge to breathe again, you’re then supposed to take a breath in and hold it for about 15 seconds. Release the air, then you begin that sequence all over for a total of 4 to 5 rounds.


While limited on time before heading to BJJ class, I was able to get 3 rounds of the exercise in. It took me around 15 minutes and I did it laying on my back on the floor, afraid that if I was to get light-headed and pass out, I wouldn’t fall over, slump in a chair, or injure myself if I remained flat on my back. This would also allow me to close my eyes, shut off all my muscles and just focus on the breath coming in and out.


After the third and final round, the feeling of euphoria was immediate. I felt totally calm and peaceful. I noticed my breathing had slowed and was relaxed and composed. There was zero restriction or resistance. While I felt calm, I also felt a sense of focus and energy. I’ve done longer sessions of meditation for around 30-45 minutes at a time and the calm, focused feeling was similar to that of a meditation session. But the added energy I had was different. I liked it. A LOT.


Thirty minutes later in BJJ class I was in the thick of the warm-up conditioning drills. Animal crawls, partner carries, wheelbarrow drills - all things that would typically have me gasping for air. This class was different. I had an abundance of breath at my disposal. Even in our drilling and sparring sessions, I noticed I was far less fatigued that the others in the room. After 5 minutes of sparring I got up off the mat and while everyone’s mouth was wide open and panting, I was able to calmly remain breathing through my nose only, and my heart rate seemed to recover well within the 30 second rest periods. Success!


I was looking for a way in increase my endurance, and as a result, found a great way to gather some focused energy and improve my immune function in the process. Time will tell how this continues to improve my conditioning over time, but Wim’s research into the power of the breath and its ability to help us withstand cold temperatures, boost immune function, or tap into the autonomic nervous system are all exciting breakthroughs that I can’t wait to see how many people’s lives can be improved by using something that’s free to us all. The breath.


Here’s Wim’s protocol for a round of the Wim Hof Method of Breathing:


  1. Breathe in and out 30-40 times, A powerful, full inhalation and a relaxed release on the exhale.

  2. On the final breath of the cycle, do a full exhalation and hold your breath for as long as possible (ideal time is 1-2 minutes).

  3. When you have the urge to breathe again, take a full breath in and hold for another 10-15 seconds.

  4. Repeat from #1 for a total of 4-5 rounds and record your breath hold retention times after each round.

The apple cider vinegar elixir recipe that has countless health benefits

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Pucker up! This one’s going to be sour!

Apple cider vinegar has long been revered as a healing elixir, mainly because of its natural qualities that involve fermentation and a host of gut healing probiotics. ACV contain’s what many call “The Mother”. The mother is the cloudy substance that settles at the bottom of the bottle as a result of the fermentation process. This process forms bacteria, that when drunk, sends those healthy strains into your gut to populate it with healing probiotics.

With more research emerging on how gut health is linked to things like anxiety, depression and auto-immune disease, you can see why this little gut-friendly cocktail is taking the world by storm and providing a natural, healthy way to aid in healing the digestive stress that our environments impose on us.

Here’s the recipe I use to brew up a warm cup of it:

  • 6oz of hot water (I brew mine through a Keurig machine)

  • 2 Tablespoons of ACV (I use Bragg’s, but any bottle that contains “The Mother” works)

  • 1 Tablespoon of local raw honey

  • 1/4 of a fresh squeezed lemon

  • Stir and enjoy!

Is the R.I.C.E. Method out of date for treating injuries? Enter METH (no, not that meth!)

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I recently sprained a finger and found myself bothered by the whole ordeal. I didn’t realize how much my fingers play a part in everyday things like grabbing, holding and just shampooing my hair! Haha. I decided to Google the best way to treat a sprain, since after going to the doctor and getting an X-ray to show it’s not broken, I didn’t want to waste time and money for them to tell me to put a splint on it and take some Advil.

 

I went deep down the Google rabbit hole and stumbled on a new method of injury treatment I had never heard of before –

 

The METH Method.

 

METH stands for Movement, Elevation, Traction, and Heat. It’s a bit of a departure from the customary RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate).

 

The practicality of the METH method makes a lot of sense to me. And RICE just always seemed counter-intuitive. Resting, Icing, Compressing and Elevating are all ways to decrease blood flow to the damaged tissues. This is the opposite of what we want to happen when we have injured tissues. Inflammation needs to be removed by our lymphatic and circulatory system. Movement helps it do just that. Elevation, while allowing the tissues less blood flow, still allows for less inflammation to accumulate. Traction helps move the joint and create space and more movement among the surrounding tissue and heat – well, we know heat helps circulate the blood better.

 

I’ll be giving this method a try for my next moderately severe injury (I practice jiu-jitsu, so I don’t anticipate this will be the only time I get injured!) to see how it works in comparison to the RICE method. Just wanted to share this with you!

 

Here’s the article I referenced in this post.

Prevent the gag reflex

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing quite as gut-wrenching as a dry gag.

You know the feeling.

You’re at the dentist, he’s fiddling around in your back teeth and,  “Ack”, you gag. You think when you get home that your safe on base. Not so fast. Time to brush your teeth!

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I can’t even tell you where I discovered this one, but it works like magic.

Give it shot right now.

Take your left hand and put your thumb into your palm. Now close your four fingers over the top of that thumb into a fist and squeeze tight. With your right hand drop your finger down your throat and, “Ta-Da!!”, no gagging.

It turns out we have two different reflexes to gagging - the physical act of something being put down our throat and the psychological response to seeing someone else wretch. It isn’t clear if this works because it’s actually affecting your nervous system or it’s just a diversion of your attention.

So next time you’re dreading the dentist or trying to freshen up your dragon breath before getting into bed with your significant other, try this one out and thank me later.


Lower your anxiety and inflammation, and sleep like a log tonight

I came across cannabadiol (CBD) several years ago when Massachusetts passed the general law, Chapter 94G: The regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana, in late 2016. Having used cannabis in the past I was happy to see, what I felt was a non-threatening medicinal plant, become legal for people who may have issues that tend to go undiagnosed. Things like anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Having never really heard of CBD up until then (it’s since become much more mainstream as the awareness of its benefits get out to the general public) I had to dive into the research, both anecdotal and scientific. What I came across was more than interesting.

CBD is just one of many compounds found in cannabis, including the more popular THC, the one that gives you the psychoactive “high” feeling. CBD, on the other hand, while still having a plethora of medicinal benefits, doesn’t have the same psychoactive effect, in fact, it’s virtually non-existent. CBD is legal in all 50 states, just so long as it doesn’t contain more than .3% of THC in it. Many legal CBD is derived from the hemp plant and some of the benefits I’ve experienced from it myself include:

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  • A calming effect

  • Lower social anxiety

  • Improved sleep

  • Reduction of pain and soreness from weight training

  • Anti-inflammatory effects (although I don’t have any objective measurements of this, only the feeling of reduced soreness and pain which are both associated with inflammation.)

For my own personal use, CBD is very effective for reducing my anxiety and pain/soreness, and I have used it mainly for these two reasons. It comes in many different forms: dry herb, tincture, edibles, sprays, and as a topical cream. I personally use the tincture, typically a 1000mg bottle, and use a half dropper which is approximately 35-40mg per dose. I take it in the morning or in the evening before bed, depending on how I’m feeling at the time.

I recommend you start low with your dose and work your way up. It’s not something you can overdose on, but taking more doesn’t always mean better. You may just be wasting product and CBD isn’t cheap!


Drink this before your morning coffee and increase your energy levels instantly

Every morning I have a routine. Before I turn on the coffee machine. Before I do a short yoga flow, some push-ups, and a couple squats, I walk over to the cabinet, reach for my Himalayan sea salt grinder, and crack off a few turns into my glass. Walk over to the fridge, fill up the glass with water, stir, then shoot it down the hatch.


This simple, little, 30-second morning hydration strategy has been my magic little ticket to more energy throughout my morning. The body gets dehydrated throughout the night, and it’s very undervalued how a few ounces of Sole water (pronounced so-lay) can turn your brain and body on just as good, if not better than that first cup of coffee.


My recipe is simple:


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1. I use about a ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt

2. Add it to a glass and top off with 1-2 oz of warm or hot water.

3. Swirl it around until the salt has dissolved, then top it off that glass with some cold water(I pour 12 oz.)


Here’s why you need to try it:


  • It contains around 84 minerals and trace elements

  • It has an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect

  • It will help balance your body’s pH

  • It’s high magnesium content aids in better sleep

  • You’ll feel more energy in the morning from a positive electrolyte balance

Give this a shot for a full week and let me know how much more energy you’re feeling throughout the morning!

Clear your blocked nose and enhance your endurance with The Buteyko Method

The Buteyko method is a form of nasal-only breathing that has many benefits such as up-regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system(otherwise known as “rest and digest” - the opposite of “fight or flight”), reducing blood pressure, strengthening of the immune system and reduction of stressful symptoms. There’s even some evidence to support that breath holds involved in the Buteyko method can increase your body’s release of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone produced in the kidney’s that stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Think “Blood Doping”, Lance Armstrong, etc. This can give you a significant boost in endurance.

Link to Buteyko Breathing Guide

Check out this Study

How I use it:

I use the Buteyko method primarily as a way to stimulate my parasympathetic nervous system and calm down my breathing. It also does a great job clearing any blockages in the nasal passages by increasing CO2 and nitric oxide in the system. If you have a stuffy nose from cold or seasonal allergies, I found this breathing method clears my nasal passages at least 50% better in just a few minutes, and almost entirely if I use it 2-3 times throughout the day.


Here’s how I do it:

  1. Breathing through your nose only, take a breath in, then fully exhale all your breath and pinch your nose.

  2. Begin swaying side to side.

  3. Hold the breath for as long as you can. When you feel the urge to take another breath (ideally you want to hold at least 25-30 seconds minimum for the EPO benefits) inhale back in through the nose slowly and try to calm your breathing to as slow a pace as possible.

  4. Repeat this process for 5 total rounds.


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