Mother's Day is Coming!

Mothers Day 2013

Recap: Back Pain & Exercise Study

Back Pain and Exercise Study Recap
Those who first started the back pain study about a month ago are now finishing up, and big surprise, the results are that they feel better! I will write an article about the study and my anecdotal findings sometime in the next month or so, but the short of it is, if you roll your glutes, brace (properly), and bridge (properly) CONSISTENTLY for about a month, chances are you will feel, at least a bit, better. I cannot emphasize the PROPERLY part of it enough. We had a few people do the exercises wrong for a week and come back hurting a bit more, at which point we fixed their technique and then they felt better.
When you brace and bridge it is so so so important that you do not roll your pelvis. It is also important that you don't suck your abs in or push them out in an attempt to get an isometric contraction. Doing these exercises this way will lead to pain and injury. These exercises should be very difficult to do, and should NOT get easier over time. I have been bracing and bridging for close to 10-years now and the exercises are harder now than when I first began! I also do them better and have NO knee pain.

Back Pain Study '13

JMP School
In our third lesson of JMP school we talk about what foam rolling does and core activation theory. Uh oh, side bar coming: Everyone should foam roll everyday and everyone should brace or drawin or belly breathe everday. This is exercise. This is what will allow you to do the things you love!
Anywho, enjoy!

Back Pain & Exercise Study

Back Pain and Exercise Study
We are conducting a study on back pain and exercise. Our goal is to see if simple, controlled exercise can help alleviate acute low back pain symptoms. We are currently looking for candidates for this study! If you know of anyone that might benefit from this study, please let us know!

Back Pain Study '13

JMP School
For some strange reason, I forgot to include last month's JMP School video in the  newsletter, so here ya go! In lesson #2, we talk about foam rolling and exercise progression and lesson #3 we talk about cardio and the 1/2 kneeling position. Enjoy!

News Board
One last thing; check out our brand new News Board (is that redundant?). Keep an eye out for news articles that I will be posting on all things health and fitness related.


Does It Hurt (by Mike Boyle)

My friend, teacher, and mentor, Mike Boyle wrote the following article a long time ago, but I wanted to post it here because I feel like it speaks directly to the JMP client. Enjoy!

Does It Hurt
By Mike Boyle
I get asked rehab questions all the time. I have rehabilitated athletes in almost every major sport who were told they were "all done" by a doctor or a team trainer. Because people know my background, they often ask for advice.
Most of the time they ignore the advice because the advice does not contain the answer they want. They say "it only hurts when I run", I say things like "don't run".
A famous coach I know once told me "people don't call for advice, they call for agreement or consensus. If you don't tell them what they want to hear, they simply call someone else". His advice to me, don't bother wasting your time with advice.
Here I go again wasting time.
If you have an injury and are wondering whether or not a certain exercise is appropriate, ask yourself a simple question. "Does it hurt"? The key here is that the question 'does it hurt?" can only be answered yes or no. If you answer yes, then you are not ready for that exercise, no matter how much you like it. Simple, right? Not really. I tell everyone I speak with about rehab that any equivocation is a yes. Things like "after I warm-up it goes away" etc. are all yes answers. It is amazing to me how many times I have asked people this simple question only to have them dance around it. The reason they dance around the question is that they don't like my answer. They want to know things like "what about the magic cure that no one has told me about?". What about a secret exercise? I have another saying I like, "the secret is there is no secret". Another wise man, Ben Franklin I think, said "Common sense is not so common".
If you are injured and want to get better, use your common sense. Exercise should not cause pain. This seems simple but exercisers ignore pain all the time and rationalize it. Discomfort is common at the end of a set in a strength exercise or at the end of an intense cardiovascular workout. Additional discomfort, delayed onset muscle soreness, often occurs the two days following an intense session. This is normal. This discomfort should only last two days and should be limited to the muscles not the joints or tendons. Pain at the onset of an exercise is neither normal nor healthy and is indicative of a problem. Progression in any strength exercise should be based on a full, pain-free range of motion that produces muscle soreness without joint soreness. If you need to change or reduce range of motion, this is a problem. Progression in cardiovascular exercise should also be pain free and should follow the ten percent rule. Do not increase time or distance more than ten percent from one session to the next. I have used these simple rules in all of my strength and conditioning programs and, have been able to keep literally thousands of athletes healthy. I'm sure the same concepts will help you.

I Should be on Television

I Should be on TV
About a month ago, Rock Center with Brian Williams aired a piece on why sitting too much is really bad for you. You can check it out here (you may have to click on video screen more than once to get it to play):
Long story short; sitting too much is really bad for your health. There is someone I know who has been saying that for years. Hmm, who could it be? (Hint: He is really handsome and has a hilarious personality.)

JMP School
Our first lesson of JMP school was a blast! We talked about things such as consistency in training and how to do rows properly. Our next lesson will cover foam rolling and exercise progression.

That's all I have for you for this month.
We have some great upcoming articles and also big changes to our programming at JMP that I am looking forward to sharing with you next month!

Happy New Year, JMP School, and Exercise Progression

1) Starting in January on the first Monday of every month at 4:00pm and 5:30 pm we will have JMP School where I will lecture for about ten minutes to whoever is in the studio on various topics. Next Monday's (the 7th) topic will be on training consistency and rowing variations.
2) This past month I attended a personal training conference in Fairlawn. One of the speakers talked a great deal about exercise progressions, which inspired me to do this:
What we are trying to create at JMP is an awareness of what exercise is (and isn't.) Exercise should be used as a tool to make you feel better. Outdoorsy exercise such as tennis or softball should be used to make your brain feel better. Exercise in the gym should be used to make your body feel better and should follow pretty consistent exercise progressions. You only progress to the next exercise when you master the previous one. Yes, you may never master certain exercises and yes, we digress and train older exercises "lower" in the progression because the truth is you can always do it better.
I'm pretty sure there is a life lesson in that.
Happy New Year!

Congratulations to Gary and Drew

I want to begin by congratulating Gary Gardella on completing 50-miles in the Toughest Mudder competition on Ocbober 20th and 21st in Englishtown! Yes, it's a two day race. Yes, it's over obstacles. Did I mention he completed FIFTY MILES?


"I have been training with Jon for a year now. After my race last year my entire body was killing me including my back and my knees. This year I feel amazing! I didn't know I could feel this good!"
- Gary Gardella

I also want to congratulate Drew Seaver for being published on for the very first time. is widely considered the go-to site on the interweb for strength and conditioning coaches all over the world. Drew's article, can be read on his website here.


And one last thing. Don't forget to check out our ad in the Coast Star for our golf workshop that will be held on Thursday January 10th at 6:30pm.


Everyday I Change My Mind About Something

I am often asked why I change what we do so often. Its because everyday I learn something new! I would like to share with you a short quote from Mike Boyle.
“I think in my early 20′s I was a bit of a know-it-all. In fact I'm sure of it. As I aged I realized how little I knew. I think in our twenties we are so sure of ourselves. We know everything. We say things like 'I know…'. Now I say 'I think…'. The funny part is as we get smarter we get criticized more. I laugh all the time when people accuse me of constantly changing my mind. Just FYI, it's called learning and it is found in things like books and DVD's and god forbid from real experiences with real people. I have switched from being a know-it-all to a learn-it-all. I hope it never stops.”
I know things are very rough for many of you right now. I am here to help if you need it. Do not hesitate to call me.
Be safe and stay strong.

Success Story and Not So Success Story

Lets talk about Terri, Jamal, and big-box gyms.

Story #1 – Terri
Terri has been coming to JMP for five months now. She initially started up with us because we were running a study on exercise and low back pain, and she liked it so much she continued.
Terri is a high-risk client. A
high-risk client is a client who is easily susceptible to musculoskeletal pain. Needless to say, we had an uphill battle. However, Terri has persisted and is finally feeling better! She still has bad days, but as a whole, she is feeling better!
It is tough getting change in those who are high-risk, and sometimes even though that change might be small, it can be the difference between “life sucks” and “life is good.”

Story #2 – Jamal at the Apple store
I was at the Apple store in Freehold (what I would consider holy ground) getting my mac a good lookin-over. The technician (Jamal) and I started talking strength training and he told me he was a track athlete at Rider University!
We immediately bonded.
And then he broke my heart.
He told me he had to stop running because he hurt his shoulder bench pressing.
This is beyond despicable. No training program should ever cause an injury. Who knows if Jamal lost scholarship money, but even worse is the mental anguish involved with a career ending injury.

When I was training at
Globo-gym I knew a lot of members who were hurt because of their exercise routine. If you were to tell those individuals on the very first day they began their workout routine that they would eventually look great, but it would come at the cost of their shoulder/knee/low back, I guarantee you they would walk away!
We have this idea about what exercise is in our culture, and it is all discombobulated and backwards!
The strength training community and the fitness community are symbiotic, and most all sports injuries are not caused by the sports themselves, but by the training routine(s) involved.
I'm sure that will get me lots of hate mail.
But it's the truth.

The one thing your exercise/strength training/yoga/pilates routine should never-ever-not-in-a-milion years do is contribute to pain and injury.
Of course if it does, you know where to
find me.

Talking to Women

I would like to tell you about two experiences I've had in the past week.
Jon’s Experience Part Uno
I was talking with someone who acutely injured themselves many moons ago. As a result, they had surgery and then physical therapy to alleviate the pain/fix the problem. This cycle was unfortunately repeated a few more times because this individual was not feeling better. I call this the downward spiral.
Now, I am not doctor nor am I a physical therapist, but I am going to tell you that you should not be hurting several years after an acute accident. Granted, people will be people and if a patient doesn't buy into the therapist's way-of-doing-things, then it isn't going to work.
With that being said, you should feel better after you start working with a personal trainer, chiropractor, physical therapist, or anyone else in the wellness field.
And feeling better isn't, "My ->insert muscle name here<- is better but now I have this sensation ->insert body part name here<-."
Feeling better is "I feel fabulous!" Period.
Jon’s Experience Part Dos
I was at the bar the other day talking to a fitness enthusiast about her fitness regiment. She does a lot of things that are not JMP approved (too many squats, too many lunges, machine-based exercises, etc.) but she also looks fantastic. I asked her how her knees felt and she got really defensive really quickly. There are a few lessons here:
1. Don't ask pretty girls about their fitness routine because it will lead to a fight.
2. Don't listen to pretty girls about their fitness routine because it might give you an idea what fitness is, which it IS NOT.
Exercise should be used as a tool to make you feel better. If a personal trainer were to tell someone, “I am going to help you to look fantastic but in five years your knees will be hurting and in 20-years you will need some sort of surgery to alleviate the pain because of our exercise routine," I would wager that trainer would have difficulty getting clients.
If you exercise because you like exercising, I suppose that is a bit different, but you still need to know the truth. If you are doing (a) too much volume or (b) blatantly harmful exercises (like the rotary torso or squats with crappy technique) you are going to run into problems.
Eventually one day, you aren't going to be able to workout anymore.
Use common sense when it comes to exercising, find someone who gets incredible results, and don’t ask pretty girls how their knees feel.

More Is Not Better

More is not better.
It never has been nor will it ever be.
I am obviously going to tie this into training. The more exercises performed do not indicate more intelligent training.
There is an obvious learning curve and someone who has been training for many years should be further along the training continuum, but that training continuum should be based on their needs, not on how many exercises they do compared to others.
There is something to be said for understanding that you are never going to master an exercise. Performing a two legged bridge under the same circumstances should be harder tomorrow than it was today because you are trying to do it better each and everyday.
There is a life lesson in that. And I think it is this thought process that partially explains why I am constantly changing my mind about things. I know that I will never have the process perfect, but that’s ok, as long as I get great results and my friends feel better.
It has been quite a busy month here at JMP and all I can really tell you is that what we are doing is going to make my next two articles the most important articles EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF MAN.
Or not.
But maybe.
And finally, don’t forget about my back health seminar that is coming up! Invite your friends and family! Invite anyone who works out and has a bad back!
Low Back Pain and Exercise

Soft Knees

Let's talk exercise technique and 'soft knees' for just a moment.
When I ask you to "bend your knees" what I
don't mean is bend at your knees.
What I
do mean is push your butt back in order to soften the knees.
Two completely different ways of doing it. By just bending at your knees, I would argue that you are placing a lot of stress on the knees and anterior (the front) aspect of the hips.
However, by sticking your butt back backwards, which subsequently leads to knee flexion, I feel like it is much safer for the structure and readies the body for movement such as squatting or rowing.
butt back, butt back, butt back!
2E123FA5-3696-4AE6-9616-E7AAAD9E8B4A.JPG      3179F111-F365-4940-81BD-086FEBC28882.JPG
Don't do this…                                                           Do this!!!

Strength Training 101 (June '12)

I find it humorous that athletes (and even non athletes) still have the primitive desire to train muscles in isolation.
I don’t mean to upset anyone with what I am about to say (or is it “write”?) next, but that sort of mindset is extraordinarily 2-dimensional and it is that sort of thinking that gets good folks like yourself hurt in the gym, on the road or on the track.
Your body does not understand (nor will it ever will) what a muscles is, it understands movement. The body does not know what the hamstring is, but it sure as heck knows how to squat. Just watch any infant move around.
If you try and remove a part of the body from the rest of the system, you are going to run into serious motor development issues.
The body is more complex than you, or I, will ever know. It makes the space shuttle look like a kids toy.
Which, in one-way or another, leads to the question of day:
“Why strength train?”
The only reason for an endurance athlete to strength train is to prevent the likelihood of an overuse injury. Strength training WILL NOT improve performance, and if strength training is not applied properly, it can actually degrade performance and/or cause overuse trauma to occur more quickly.
To learn how to strength train properly, don't forget to attend my lecture, Strength Training 101 on Thursday, June 21st at 7pm at
Runner's High in Freehold!

Your Feet

In keeping with the past month's theme on footwear and shoes that I hate, I want to reiterate the importance of barefoot training, whether in the gym or while running.
I love sprinting in minimalist footwear because it encourages a naturalistic-type movement.
This begs the question, should mileage (any running more than 60 seconds) be done barefoot?
Well... "yes" and "no".
'Yes' because I think most shoes are really unhealthy for the feet because they change the way the feet communicate with the ground.
'No' because (a) most people's bodies have adapted to footwear over the course of their life (e.g. chronic shortening of the achilles), (b) most distance running is done on asphalt (prehistoric man did not run miles at a time on long stretches of rock - so why would we be able to?), and (c) the jogging motor pattern is either not a natural movement pattern or it is way overdone (to be honest, probably a little bit of both.)
Which lead us to a few conclusions:
1) If you are a competitive distance runner and you are healthy, by all means run as much mileage as you like, with the knowledge that one day those miles may creep on you.
2) If you are a competitive distance runner who is constantly hurt, you probably need to reteach the body (and the foot) how to communicate with the ground during the sprint cycle (sprinting, in my opinion, is a primal motor pattern), which will hopefully "repair" the jogging motor pattern, at least somewhat.
3) If you are like the rest of the 99% population who thinks running distance is crazy and you want to be healthy, get a pair of minimalist shoes and start sprinting! Not only is it good for your structure, it is a great metabolic workout too!

The Big Three Core Exercises (May '12)

I find it fascinating that we still look for the magic bullet when it comes to (a) fixing pain and/or (b) improving athletic performance.
The magic bullet does not exist.
But what does exist is good application of common sense exercise.
When we talk about "core" training, we must first define the core. And in a very broad sense of it, the core is
everything, from the top of the head down to the toes. I know that this must seem like a cop out answer, but it is the truth. What you probably think of as your core (the muscles around your midsection) are dependent on a million different factors while stationary and during movement. For example, if the foot is suffering from supination, that will affect the muscles of the midsection, essentially shutting them off, especially in the older population. If the head is cocked to the side a certain way, that will affect the muscles of the neck which will in turn adversely effect the muscles of the core.
Now don't get me wrong, I love core specific training because (a) it challenges deeply held notions in the exercise community and (b) it can have such a profound impact on those suffering from acute low back pain and/or anterior hip pain. It doesn't always "fix" those issues quickly, but it can have a dramatic effect in a short period of time.
For the sake of argument, lets assume that the core means the muscles around the midsection. The primary job of the muscles in this area are stabilization of the structure (i.e. preventing motion). And the best way to elicit "spinal stability" is by getting the hips to work better.
By improving hip function you improve the function of the muscles of the core. And as long as we are talking in finite variables (as oppose to the beginning of this post where I said all muscles are important for core control) the most important muscle in your core region is your...
Any ideas?
The answer is:
Your glutes!
Ta-dah! I bet you didn't see that one coming!
To learn the three most important core exercises, don't forget to attend my lecture (aptly named) The Big Three Core Exercises on Sunday, June 3rd at
Runner's High in Freehold!

Stretches You Should Be Doing (May '12)

Most all traditional stretching I see in the running community is harmful.
In order to understand my stance on stretching you need to understand a little something I like to call segmental roles.
Your joints have one of two functions. They either work as stabilizers or mobilizers.
And what is so cool about it, as you move up and down the body, your joints alternate between these roles.
Feet - Stability
Ankles - Mobility
Knees - Stability
Hips - Mobility
Lumbar Spine - Stability
Thoracic Spine - Mobility
Scapulae - Stability
Gleno-humeral Joint - Mobility
It is these "laws" that dictate how we train and how we stretch.
For examples, let's take a look at the classic toe touch stretch while in standing.


This individual is getting most of her movement from her lumbar spine (look at the big curve in her low back).
Not only is she not stretching out her hamstrings, she is neurologically turning off her hip muscles by hyperextending her low back.
Anytime you over-stretch a joint you severely cripple the adjoining joints by turning off the electrical signals that are sent to them from the brain.
She is (a) tearing the muscle fibers of her low back (b) constraining the central nervous system - both of which are very, very bad.

To learn how to stretch properly, make sure you attend my lecture and hands-on next thursday at 7pm at
Runner's High in Freehold!
And please don't ask me what I think of yoga.

Master the Basics

One of my good friends was in the other day training.
He told me he felt great.
Big surprise, he works out at JMP.
Just kidding. Sort of.
My friend was actually having some trouble with his hip for a little bit.
I removed clamshells from the program and we refocused our efforts on bracing exercises.
And now he feels great!
Which leads to two points.
(1) Master the basics. And when you think you have mastered them, do them some more. And then when you are really, really sick and tired of doing them, do them some more. Because if you don't you will probably start to ache. I did not write the book on musculoskeletal pain and living in the west, but this the truth. These exercises can help you feel better!
(2) These exercises are not for your entertainment. They are designed to help you feel better. Master bracing in supine, quadruped, and tall kneeling. Master bridging, alligator and seated pec stretch and I guarantee you will feel better!
Getting a change in someone is quite challenging because it (a) takes time and (b) takes a huge amount of patience. We have been taught that (a) the medical system can fix anything and (b) the more exercises we do with a higher amount of intensity leads to betterment in our lives.
I would argue both these points.
This stuff should be used to make you feel better so that you can do the things you love (tennis, biking, running, playing with your kids, living pain free).
Master the basics.
And then do them some more. 

Secrets of a Good Warmup (April '12)

What constitutes a good warmup?
I would argue that neither really accomplish all that much and they both could possibly predispose the athlete to overuse trauma.
The notion of warming up is predicated on the belief that the body is not warm before running.
Are you alive? Do you have a heartbeat? Then you are warm.
When diving deeper into the ideas and myths about warming up, those who advocate it do so because it makes them feel "looser" (and therefor warmer) and subsequently protects them from overuse trauma.
This again, in my opinion, is not true.
Overuse trauma is caused by impaired movement patterns over x amount of time. You cannot outrun bad movement patterns nor can you stretch them away.
There are, however, some things that can be done prior to running that will, in fact, warm up the nervous system, which is the key to a healthy running career.
To find out what those things are, make sure you attend my lecture and hands-on this sunday at 11am at
Runner's High in Freehold!


I'm not sure why this stuff works exactly.
That's not true, I am pretty sure I know why it works.
It has to do with lots of sitting, lots of cardiovascular exercise, and the wearing of big-soft-shoes… and how all those things change the way your body is supposed to work.
But still, why do the methods that I advocate seem to work better than other methods that are reliant on outside stimuli such as massage therapy, drugs, surgery, etc?
It works because it EMPOWERS. And I am not talking about giving you a pep talk.
I am talking about empowering your body to change PHYSICALLY.
It works because the one who repairs your joint function and your movement patterns is YOU!
And the truth is the only one who can help yourself is you.
A lot of you (most of you) needs to to do some semblance of corrective exercise while at home (either because you don't come everyday or some even need it twice in a day.)
I beg you. I am on both knees pleading. Do your homework.
Put a reminder on your phone, on the refigerator, on your bathroom mirror so you see it in the morning. Do whatever.
But get it done EVERYDAY because you will feel better!
I promise.

I Figured IT Out

So I think I figured IT out!
I think I stumbled onto something big here.
For the longest time I always taught squatting before bending. I think that may not have been the most effective way to teach people how to move better.
So, if you haven't noticed by now, for many of you, I have taking out squatting all together. Others still squat, but most everyone now does my new favorite exercise, the dowel bend!
I cannot emphasize enough technique with this exercise. It can do great things, but if we muck it up, I bet you, you will get a sore back.
'Push the hips backwards slowly while dropping the eyes to the ground. Stop when (a) you feel a stretch SOMEWHERE or (b) your hips don't go back any further.'
I think most all of you should shoot for a stretch feeling in the calves. And then when your technique improves, more of a stretch in the hamstrings/glutes.