Every Body Matters – Bootcamp Book Club

February 26th, 2013

Our Christian Fitness Bootcamp is covering Every Body Matters over the next several Tuesdays, so I thought I would post my thoughts or any discussion items that came up.

Chapter 1 – Souls of Silver

Gary states an obvious but wonderful reminder that we live in physical bodies that not only contain a soul, but affects our soul as well.

Dross is the waste or other chemical elements around silver that must be removed when it is refined.  He uses this analogy in saying that God has to remove the less precious metals from our life in order for our silver souls to shine in all their glory.

My favorite paragraph from the chapter: “Christians that don’t take their health seriously don’t take their mission seriously. What we are saying by our actions is, ‘My life really doesn’t matter.’ But because of the ability of God to work powerfully in any repentant sinner’s life, every body does matter.”

Chapter 2 – Heads Without Bodies

Volleyball Therapy – great story of a mom going through depression and not feeling adequate as a wife, mom, and person.  The activity that brought her out of the physical and spiritual “funk” was volleyball.  This became the catalyst to workout, get active in church, eat better and re-discover herself.

So far, this book is very similar to most of the devotions I have given to this group, and that has been a constant theme for this blog.  The path to spiritual success is closely interwoven with the path to physical success and they often overlap and feed off of each other.

Live with Strength,


We Vastly Underestimate How God Works

February 19th, 2013

Here’s a cool story that has come out of the tragedy of Max’s death.

Yep, you read that right.

I believe that if we are to bask in HIs glory through the high times, we should also sense it (lean on it, admire it, etc.) through the tough times.

I have a great client that I have trained for many years.  Sadly, her son died of an overdose last fall after a long battle with substance abuse.  I knew our first training session back would be a tough one with many tears and probably not a lot of actual working out.  I told her that she had complete freedom to let the training session proceed however she needed.  It could be a welcome break from the chaos and we never discuss her loss or we could just do some light flexibility work and then chat, pray, cry, whatever the rest of the time.  Over the next 15 or so sessions, we barely discussed her son’s passing, just a few moments here and there.

Until Max passed away.

At our first session back from my loss, we were 30 minutes into our regular session, and she looked at me and said, “Oh, I am so sorry about your dad.” I thanked her and said we didn’t have to talk about it if it would be hard for her.  She continued to ask me a few questions about my family, the funeral, and Max’s final moments.  I was still hesitant to respond, but answered as concisely as possible.

Suddenly, the dam broke, and my dear client was sobbing deep cries.

Quick side note – this is why I love my job.  The personal connection and the way fitness breaks down barriers when you sweat, train, and work hard together.  Physical training session over…spiritual sharing session beginning.  I love “changing hats” mid-workout to try and meet the needs of a client/friend. Back to the story…

We moved to her couch for an amazing 30 minute discussion of death, life, God, family, grief…very powerful, honest feelings were shared and it was awesome.  What I didn’t realize is that Max’s final moments that were being numbed by pain medication were eerily similar to the final moments of someone overdosing on drugs.  Systems are shutting down until the final breath is taken.

As painful (for us) as that sounds to discuss, there was healing in our conversation.  As I left her home, I pointed to heaven, shook my head, and laughed.  I tend to do this when God does something that baffles me.  He showed me again how intricately woven our lives really are.  Every relationship, every experience, has a purpose.  I had to go through Max’s death to be a better friend/trainer for my client.  There was a reason why we had 15 training sessions without much of a discussion of her tragedy.  I wasn’t ready for it.  Or she wasn’t ready for it based on my limited life experience.

I shared this with my bootcamp and asked them, “What tragedy are you going through or have gone through that is preparing you to be a better spouse, friend, athlete, neighbor, Christian?  You could really answer that for every “good time” life experience too.  In fact, every moment we live (if we are really striving to be in Christ and love him completely) should be a learning, growing, redefining experience…right?”

I would love to hear your thoughts.


Max Robinson – A Good Man

January 31st, 2013

I have blown my one New Year’s Resolution.  It is the end of January, and I have not posted one devotion from our Christian Fitness Bootcamps every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

But my first post of 2013 is a heavy one…my dad passed away on 1/13.

I could use that as an excuse for my blog negligence, but I hate excuses.

I gave the eulogy at the funeral and it has been an amazing time for our family.  One that is not as sad as you might think, but amazing in a sense of seeing God do some wonderful things.

I have decided to post the eulogy here and I will follow it up with an additional post of some cool God moments.

Max Gerry Robinson Sr.

Faithful Son

Loyal Brother

Hard-working Farmer

Determined Hunter

Strong Marine

Patient Boy Scout Leader

Loving Husband

Devoted Father

Exaggerating Fisherman

Cheerful Cousin

Friendly Neighbor

Supportive Uncle

Enthusiastic Choir Member

Proud Grandfather

Dedicated Paper Mill Worker

Happy and Humble Christian

How are we labeled?  What names define us? How do others see us?

All of us here today know Max Robinson by one or more of those labels.  And I bet there is one phrase going through your mind right now about how you describe in him in that role…”Max was a good neighbor.  Max was a good co-worker. Max was a good friend.”

In Haywood County slang it might sound like this, “Boy, ole Max’s a goodun.”

During this last week, the comment we have heard most often is that Max was a good man.  It may sound simple, but in this part of the world, compliments are not freely given.  You have to earn it. If a man over 50 in Haywood County calls another man “good” you know that he is…well…good.

But does “good” really describe a man who could show the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Boy Scout Leader, the knowledge of a Waste Treatment Specialist, and the humbleness of a Christian?

There is another time that “good” seems understated. Genesis 1:31 says that God looked at all he created and it was very good. Suddenly, when we hear “good” in that context, we can understand how Max was a good man.

Of all the labels, Max would tell you that “Christian” was the most important.  Whether you had a 5 minute conversation with Max or you stood with him for hours in the river casting your fishing line or gathering water samples, you knew that Max was a Christian, and that everything he said and did had been filtered through God’s word.  No man in my life has embodied the love and life of Christ more than Max.  I am happy that he taught me how to fish, and mix concrete to build a rock wall, and how to drive a stick shift, but more than anything else he taught me how to be a Christian.

When we think of Christ, we often gravitate to our favorite version of Jesus or the scripture that we need in that moment.  Maybe we like His bold words from the Sermon on the Mount; or the compassion He showed to the lady at the well; maybe it’s the innocent baby born in a manger, or the aggressive leader who turned over the money tables in the temple.  But we have to remember that Jesus was a complete man…in fact, he was the most complete man to ever live because He showed every emotion, every answer to life’s dilemmas, and took on every role and label including Savior.  Max was a complete man too who showed the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Boy Scout Leader, and the love of a father who was directed by the love of his Father in heaven.

I mentioned that Max taught me to fish.  He did teach me how to fish…eventually.  It came a little slower for me than others. On our first trip out to Cherokee, Max told me about Gerry’s first trip.  While Max was paying for their license, Gerry got out of the truck, walked to the river, threw in and yanked a fish out.  Oh boy, the pressure was definitely on.  After a long day and no fish in sight, we headed home.  He told me to keep my chin up and we’ll get some next time.  A few weeks later we headed to the trout farms up near Balsam to see if I could figure this whole thing out. You’ve heard of shooting fish in a barrel?  Well, this was just a little bit bigger, but not much!  I don’t even think I used bait, just throw a bare hook in and pull!  It’s just fish on top of fish everywhere.  After I caught a couple of fish, Max said, “Now you’ve got it.  I will go pay.” But I kept fishing and pulled about 8 more out of that pond in 5 minutes.  My fishing lesson just became a lot more expensive.  This was a great opportunity to be stern and scold me, but he just threw his arm over my shoulder and said, “Good job, son.  I’m proud of you.”

There is one more label to add to the list.  There is one more name to give Max: Survivor.  Understand that in my life I will always refer to Max as a cancer survivor.  When doctors tell you in 1999 that 80% of people with this type of melanoma die in 5 years, you are a survivor.  When the doctors at Duke Medical Center call your home even when you have stopped treatments there just to say hello and see how you are doing; and they also share with you that they are now teaching classes about you and how you pushed through for 13 years, you are a survivor.  Friends, today as we are sitting here, there are families heading down I-40 for more therapy and tests, and someday, maybe not in our lifetime, there will a cure because Max Robinson was a survivor and helped future generations overcome this awful disease.

When God is doling out plans for your life, no one would ever sign-up for that role.  It would take a man that had the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Scout Leader, the work ethic of a paper mill worker.  It would take someone who embodied the life and love of Christ with every word and action.  It would take a man that was good.

So, how do I finish this? How do you wrap up Max’s legacy with the right words?

You don’t.  You can’t.

You simply say, “Goodbye. Thank you. I love you.”

But it doesn’t end today because all of us are leaving with memories that will last forever.  Tomorrow, we will remember a time when Max made us laugh.  The day after that, his buddies will remember how he sang silly made-up songs while cooking for them. Next week, I am sure I will be struggling through a big decision or life situation and I will recall a piece of advice that Max gave me.  And every Sunday that we are in church, and we think about how Christ loved us and taught us how to live, we will also think of Max.

Goodbye, Max.  Thank you.  We love you.

Will you pray with me…?

10 Principles of Survival Training

October 11th, 2012

My friend David Redding has an article at Faith & Fitness Magazine that can probably benefit every area of your life.  For example, check outs  #10 on his list:

10. LOVE IS SURVIVAL FOOD. G.K. Chesterton said that the true solder fights not because he hates those in front of him but because he loves those behind him. Hate doesn’t work. At best, it’s like adrenalin. It might get you through a short-term confrontation, but will not sustain you through the long haul. Only love will do that. Of course survivors have a healthy dose of self-interest, but so do non-survivors. So there has to be something else that makes the difference between surviving and succumbing. I contend that something to be love. Survivors love their buddies and want to see them through. Survivors love their families and want to see them again.

That kind of love is survival food. Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of this love. He should be the Lord and King of all survivors. He became flesh simply because God so loved us that He sent His only son to show us how it is done. He survived so that we may live. What more does a survivor need to know?

Check it the full article at this link:


Live with Strength!


Taking on the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge

July 31st, 2012

“Never say never.”

“The teacher becomes the student.”

These are just some of the quotes that describe the last month for me.

When you have a couple of clients lose more weight on their “own” than any client ever on YOUR programs, it is time to check your pride at the door.  Jennifer and Angie were melting away before my eyes, so I asked them if they were moonlighting on me with another bootcamp.

They said they were doing the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge.

Hmm…a challenge?  I love challenges!  Tell me more.

What I have learned has blown me away.  Every month, 150,000 people are taking on a new 90 Day Challenge.  Some are for weight-loss, some are for athletic feats, some just want to lose a few pounds, and some win national competitions.  The support is tremendous and it has gone viral in just 2 years.

In March of 2010, there were 450 people working for Visalus Sciences.  A few weeks ago, they had over 20,000 people attend a training event in Miami.  That’s amazing growth, making it the fastest growing weight-loss and fitness challenge in North America.

But I thought there had to be a catch (isn’t that what we always do?  Rather than just riding the wave, we are ready to throw stones).  The catch was it was setup as a network marketing company.

EHRRRR! (Car screeching to a halt)

I had plenty of bad experiences in the past and didn’t want any part of it.  But I kept getting drawn to Jennifer and Angie’s story.  Their before and “almost” after pictures were amazing.  Didn’t I owe it to my other clients to do a little more research and see if this could help more people?

After much prayer and consideration, here is what I have determined.  The Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge solves a lot of problems my clients face:

1) It is a very tasty and healthy shake that offers a full meal (and then some!) of nutrients

2) It is super-convenient…you can take it and make it anywhere

3) You can get it for free by referring 3 friends.  This doesn’t mean you have to become a network marketer.  That is also an option, but not required.

4) It is very cheap…$1.50 a meal!

5) The Challenge is simple…drink 1 or 2 shakes a day, depending on your goals, and do better with your other meals than you did before!

6) The support is overwhelming.  There is a huge Facebook following and weekly calls and get-togethers that can help guarantee your success.

I just happen to be about 77 days until my next big obstacle course race…the Spartan Beast.  So I am taking on the Challenge.

If you are interested in joining me, please go to http://rhymerfitness.bodybyvi.com and watch the video and click “Join the Challenge”.

Live with Strength,


Charity Event at Fitness Revolution in Concord

July 10th, 2012

Sorry blog, but I am back from Kenya and the gym is off and running.

We have a great event that I would to have everyone come out and support.

Click on our flier below!

Bubba Watson – A Christian Strength Training Perspective

April 10th, 2012

I honestly didn’t care too much about Bubba Watson winning the Masters this past weekend.  I am barely a casual golf fan.  I haven’t swung a club since high school, but keep up with it because I am an ESPN Sportcenter junkie.

Then I saw his post-tournament news conference.  One word came to mind…transparent.

When asked about how this win effected him as a new father, Bubba paused.  Tears were welling.  The pause was now audible to the crowd.  This was when I became a Bubba Watson fan.  He could have given a “pat answer” like it was amazing, or this has been a tremendous time for our family, and moved on.

Instead, after collecting himself,  he told a story.

He explained how when he was first dating his wife, she told him she couldn’t have kids.  They had been through a 4-year adoption process that came together in the last few weeks as he was competing in Bay Hill (he almost withdrew, but decided to stay and finished in the top 10).  He fought back more tears to say that he couldn’t wait to get home and be with his family.  More tears followed as he was asked about losing his dad to throat cancer a few years back.

Wow, in today’s world of political correctness, press release statements, and not letting people see you be vulnerable and “real”, what a refreshing interview!

Bubba became transparent to us and revealed part of the journey that has led him to one of the highlights of his life.

I think Jesus had to be transparent to those around him.  I am guilty of reading his words sometimes and thinking, “He was saying this, but he really meant that, and he didn’t tell them what he really meant because he knew that this had to happen first…”  It’s like we portray him as this elaborate storyteller who is stringing everyone along, only revealing snipets of who he really is.

Even parables and other things he said that people didn’t fully understand, had to still leave them feeling like they just heard the most compassionate, powerful words ever.

It is tough to read the words on the page that were spoken by the world’s greatest orator.  When he said, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth,” I bet you could feel every ounce of love he had for the meek.  Christ’s words and speeches had to be transparent in order for it to have the impact and lasting power that we see today.

Christian Strength Training Connection – One of our current bootcamps is an 8 station interval challenge with pullovers (upper), Med ball giant circles (lower and core), Heavy kettlebell carry (core and upper), Jump rope (cardio), Barbell challenge – presses and bent rows (upper), Wheel of lunges (lower), Med ball toe touches and dollies (core), and banded slides and runs (cardio).  8 stations of 2 upper, 2 lower, 2 core, 2 cardio.  For general conditioning, this makes a lot of sense, and is well planned when you look at what our athletes did for the previous 2 months.  My point…we know exactly why we have our athletes do certain things and can explain it to them…ah, transparency!

Too many training programs (loose term) or other trainers just have their clients do a bunch of exercises to make them tired without ever revealing WHY they are doing them.  If you ever ask your trainer why you are doing something and they say, “because I said to,” head for the door!  Every exercise should have a reason why it is in your program.  There are a lot of popular tools and exercises that you see everyday in gyms that have very little carry-over to real world strength, conditioning, or whatever you want to achieve.  Don’t fall for gimmicky, fake training programs that don’t make sense!

I long for more people like Bubba Watson in my life.  Friends who will tell me how their soul is, and ask the same of me.  Let’s be more transparent and see if it opens up those around us to reveal more for deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Live with Strength,


Lenten Fasting Results!

April 6th, 2012

This is my 3rd Lent “messing around” with fasting.  Previously, I would fast for 18-20 hours on Wednesdays and Sundays.  This year, I decided to step up my game.  I went for 24 hour periods from 9pm Monday to 9pm Tuesday and again from 9pm Wednesday to 9pm Thursday.  Here are my results:

Weight loss – 7.0 lbs. (195.8 to 188.8)
Body Fat % change – 3% (15.7 to 12.7)

I didn’t fast for body composition purposes, but just wanted to track it to see what would happen.  I am really happy with the results because it shows this approach did not cut into lean muscle tissue for energy.  Also, I tried to sabotage it by eating whatever I wanted on days that I could eat.  I admit to a lot of subs, hamburgers, and tasty treats.  My birthday fell on the last Tuesday, so the next day I ate 3 slices of cake!  My training has been limited to 2 days a week (Monday and Saturday) and we had the Spartan Race on 3/24.

Overall, this was not that hard.  I picked Tuesday & Thursday because they are my busiest days so I was easily distracted with work.  The key was staying hydrated.  As long as I never allowed myself to get thirsty, the hunger pangs were minimal.  I love the clarity of thought and “high” (bad word, but hard to describe the fresh and peaceful feeling) you get around the 20th hour.

I am going to keep this going for 1 day a week after Lent and see how it progresses.

Previously, I used the e-book Fast 5 as a resource, but after this season, I am also reading Eat, Stop, Eat and a great blog is The IF Life (IF = Intermittent Fasting).

Spiritually, I love how the scripture from Matthew 6 reads about fasting –


16When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

It’s when you fast…not if you fast, or should you choose to fast.  I like having that scriptural confirmation for something that has been done long before we started analyzing fat enzymes and making up other fat-loss “truths”.

That leads me to another reason this works for me…it is so anti-establishment to what most of my peers would say about diet, fitness, nutrition, etc.  There is a rebel in me that always wants to go against the norm and conventions of the day.  I love to see people’s reaction when I tell them that I am fasting.  I also love this comment, ” I could never do that.”  I also hear that when I talk about the Spartan Race, training at 5:30am, and other aspects to living a healthy life.  That makes me want to do it more.

Have a great Easter and Live with Strength!


Bootcamps for Kenya – This Saturday

March 28th, 2012

We train like Adele, not Katy Perry

February 21st, 2012

The Grammy’s are about a week old and I have used this analogy with a couple of bootcamps, so it is time to share it here.

Adele was the big winner this year with six awards including the “Big 3” of record, song, and album of the year.  Her performance was even more impressive.  She took the stage in a simple black dress and belted to the rafters.  There were no special effects or lighting tricks, and she barely moved.  But she received an amazing ovation and left everyone in awe of her voice and stage presence.  Her performance felt real and honest.

In contrast, there were a few performances that felt very gimmicky and unauthentic.  Katy Perry came out in what resembled a Power Rangers outfit with blue hair.  A verse into her song, the lights went out and she disappeared.  In the next moment, she reappeared up on a landing above the stage with lights, lasers, dancers…get the point?  It was a busy, frantic performance and felt very “processed”, like she was trying to be a side-show for Cirque de Soleil.

Both of these performances instantly make me think of the focus of this blog – Christian Strength Training.

I hope our training represents Adele…genuine, real, honest, and effective.  I don’t apologize for having most of our bootcamp exercises consist of push-ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups, dips, kettlebell swings, and a handful of other basic movements.  You can spend a lifetime mastering these basic movements and continually seeing results without having to introduce gimmicks and tricks with little return.  There are many variations on the basics that can keep them fresh forever.  Check out my list of 366 Exercise Ideas that we introduced around the new year.

The Christian angle to the Grammy’s is hard to describe but I will just say it.  There is something very real about Jesus.  I believe he really lived.  You might be thinking, “Ok…I do too…what’s your point?”  I think we can talk about him so much that it becomes this mythological incarnation we create when we think of him.  I believe he really lived, breathed, and came across as the most genuine and complete human ever.  The fact that makes him the most real is that he died.  All of the miracles are hard to wrap your brain around, but the fact that he had to endure the ultimate, most real part of life that we will all face, somehow makes him more credible and wonderful.  Vulnerable, sensitive, compassionate, and other real complex traits are hard to associate sometimes with our Savior, but we should be reminded of them.  The realness can draw us closer when we face real times of stress and sacrifice.  I pray that today (and everyday) I can exhibit the realness of Christ and the genuine character of strength for my clients, family, and friends.

Live with Strength!