Amol Verma on Patience, Focus & Long-Term Success

Amol Verma on Patience, Focus & Long-Term Success

B: Amol Verma is one of the most patient, kind, warm, positive and forward-thinking guys that I know.  We have met once per week since September 27, 2018, so over the span of 11 months, I have seen this man make huge progress with his training technique, mobility, balance and strength and his consistent commitment to training on his own outside our 60-minute once per week session together.  I’m very proud of Amol and am moved by his patient and goal-focused approach to living the highest quality of life possible in many realms.

Amol Verma

Amol Verma’s Savage Natural Posture

Thank you, Amol, for being here and for being a part of our life.

A: Thank you for saying all the stuff about me.

B: It’s true.

A: I’m filled up with gratitude.  Yeah, thanks.

B: It’s my pleasure.

Amol Verma’s Initial Goals

B: So, I would like to go back in time to where we started with your goals. When you came to us in September of 2018, you shared with me that you wanted to strengthen your “weak body”.  What’s your definition of “weak body”?

A: My definition of “weak” is when your day to day is leading to physical pain or some form of misery that your body puts you through.  If your body isn’t up to your day to day, then your body is weak.   You could be a lumberjack and be weak because you are not strong enough for your job.  Or you could be like a computer programmer who sits at his desk all day but could still be very strong because you are fit enough that you don’t let the sitting all day affect you.

B: Very cool.  Did you feel like you were weak when you came here to train with me?

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I experienced a couple of bad spells with my back because I am that computer programmer I just talked about.  There was one episode where I couldn’t get out of bed.  I had to wait there for about an hour and then somehow made my way to the hospital to get some painkillers.  I had that happening a lot.

B: It was not only in your neck but also in your back?

A: That was like two years ago.  And yeah, I had some problems with my neck, too.  All of that is kind of gone now.  (smiling)

B: That’s beautiful.  You mentioned about your back being better a couple of weeks ago and I was like, “Oh this is great!”  And that is from your training.  You are moving your body, pushing certain muscles that you haven’t moved like that in a long time.  That’s awesome! Where would you say that your body has become strongest?

A: It’s a toss-up between my back and my lower body because we have done a lot of lower body work like squats and stuff.  And in my lower body, I can especially feel it in my day to day because I have incorporated those basic motions into my actions.  So when I want to pick up something, I won’t just bend my back.  I will squat down to get it.  While bending forward while washing my hands, I will assume something like a deadlift posture – bending only at the hips – so I can feel a change in my lower body.  Just in terms of Quality of Life increase, I would say it would be my back.  I had a bad episode two years ago, but that had always been there for 6-7 years.  And that’s gone now.  I don’t have back pain anymore.  So I think that’s the spot that got the strongest.

B: Awesome.  That’s great.  And the way you approached it is perfect – build the legs as the legs support the back – the legs and the back are the biggest muscles in the body.  Awesome.  Thank you. You also talked about C5 & C6 (Cervical vertebrae) pain.  Is that any better?

A: Well, I haven’t had any neck pain since then.

B: You haven’t talked about it (recently), so when I look back at this (the initial problems that he wanted to fix/heal), I thought, “That’s right!  You haven’t mentioned anything about neck pain lately.”

A: Yeah, I think that (the neck pain) started right before I started training with you.  Or it might have been a few weeks into it, I started getting neck pain.  Yeah, that’s not a problem now.

B: That’s good.   One thing we were working on and still working on is ankle mobility.  Would you say that it has improved?

A: It’s hard to tell.  We did see improvements in how much I can squat, but at the same time, we were increasing weight, too.  Bearing more weight always pushes you more (gravity) and it feels that you are becoming more mobile, so I can’t tell if it’s the weight that I am lifting or if it’s an actual increase in mobility.

B: OK, cool.  I would like to talk about the obstacles – these were your goals – that came up in our initial conversation (during our first meeting on September 27, 2018).

Amol’s Initial Obstacles

  • If it’s not fun I won’t do it – I won’t have the motivation to do it.

B: Has it been fun?

A: Yeah, yeah.  I meant specifically for homework.  If there is any exercise that I have to do, if it’s not fun, but if I have you around to make me do it, that’s the motivation to do it.

B: OK, I got it.

A: And if it’s homework that I’m doing at home, if it’s too much of a bother to do it and if it doesn’t feel good enough, then I am not going to end up doing it.  I have very little will-power.

B: I don’t know about that.

A: I’m smart.  I’m not strong-willed. (smiling)

B: OK, cool.  This was your next obstacle:

  • Without accountability, it’s challenging for me to follow through.

B: Amol, please answer with absolute honesty. Don’t be a nice guy just because there is a camera on us, OK?

A: Sure.

B: OK, regarding accountability, did I give you accountability throughout this process?

A: I would say that you were a bit soft on me.

B: OK, especially where?

A: You could have chewed me out a bit sometimes.  You passed on some opportunities to do that.  But just working with a trainer is a large amount of accountability, so that definitely did help.

B: Good.  Your next obstacle was:

  • Too much information out there to know where to start.

B: Do you feel clearer about your path now?

A: Oh, definitely.  Yeah.

B: Good.

My View of Amol’s Progress

B: So this is my view of you.  I was really impressed with your Stick-to-itiveness (stuttering/laughing) in regard to focusing on one exercise at a time.  I witnessed you deliberately focusing on one thing for a long time.  You are the only client I have ever had that has approached training like this.  You’re awesome!  Things like foam rolling, which most clients don’t like at all, you have constantly done.  It’s painful sometimes, right?

A: I do it every time I work out.

B: You do. And we worked on Ankle mobility stuff for a long time.

Amol Verma Ankle Mobility

Photo showing a simple ankle mobility assessment. Amol was at about 3-inches from the wall – we were aiming for 5-inches or more

Squat Focus

B: Squats!  There’s a whole list of squats that we worked on.  First, we did Wall Squats over a 51cm box.  The box in the video below is at about 31cm.

A: Oh yeah!  I forgot about those.  Wall squats, yes, and we were doing Box Squats.

B: Yes, Heel Elevated Goblet Box Squats) with mini-band because you had valgus (knee cave).

A: Oh yeah, we had the band (mini band), too.  I forgot that.

B: Right?  So the step goes out (his ankle mobility improved, so we didn’t need the step to lift his heels up to squat properly, so we eliminated it), the band goes out (we eliminate it), we are getting rid of these things, we are going naked (not literally – just a joke).  Then we did squats without the box.  And then instead of the Goblet Squat, we transitioned into the Front Squat (video below) because the weight was getting quite heavy in front (too intense on the arms and Amol wanted to focus mainly on the legs).

Then we transitioned into Barbell Front Squats using a cross grip, as that worked best for Amol,

 

and then back squats.

So, it’s interesting.  We started with 4kg (9lbs).  The first weight that you held for Squats was a 4kg kettlebell.  Now you are doing a 5 by 5 training approach (basically 5 sets of 5 reps with a rest period of 2-minutes between sets.  5 reps is approximately 87% of the weight a person can do for a one-rep max, so relatively heavy weight is used.  Amol wanted strength improvements over aesthetic benefits, so I decided that the 5 by 5 approach would serve him very well)   What weight are you are using on Squats now?

A: 97.5kg (smiling)

B: 97.5kg (gives Amol a high-five).  So within 11 months, you have increased your strength on Squats by 93.5kg (206lbs).  Awesome!  And you are consistently getting stronger, no doubt?

A: Yeah, every time I complete my 25 reps (5 by 5 = 25 total) with good form, I increase by 2.5kg (5.5lbs) the next session.

Deadlift Focus

B: So after that, we focused on Deadlifts.  So once those Squats were “in” (meaning that he mastered then to a proficient level that we were both satisfied with) Deadlifts came in and we started quite high, like knee-high with two mats to keep a neutral spine.

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we always had those two mats doubled up.

B: We were aiming to keep a neutral spine and because Amol had some mobility issues in his hamstrings (they were tight), we needed to lift the barbell up so that he could keep a neutral spine during each rep.   And little by little, within a surprising 3-months, you went from that high-position of 2 mats all the way down to the floor.  So it took 3 full months to get your deadlift mobility to a level where you could pull from the floor.

The first day you came in, we used a wooden dowel to test your hip-hinge/deadlift proficiency.  That dowel weighs about 1kg (2.2lbs).  What is your 5 by 5 now on Deadlifts?

A: Last week, I lifted 85kg (187lbs).  So that’s an 84kg (185lbs) increase in about 9 months!

B: You have really inspired me Amol Verma!  I am doing heavy deadlifts once per week and up to this point, like you, I increase the weight by 2.5kg (5lbs) in the form of 2 x 1.25kg plates (see photo below) each time I complete all 25 reps – on the 5 by 5 protocol.  But thanks to you, I am seriously thinking of increasing the weight by 1kg (2.2lbs) each time I complete all 25 reps, as I have 2 x 0.5kg (1.1lb)  in my gym (see photo below). Most of the commercial gyms I have used in Tokyo don’t have these small 0.5kg plates.

lfbx gym 0.5kg plates

I probably train about 50 weeks out of the year.  And if each week, I can add 1kg (2.2lbs) to the bar, then in a year’s time, I have increased my Deadlift by 50kg ( 110lbs).  If I could do that, I would be double-body weight, meaning that I would be lifting 2 times my body weight, this time next year. It’s really cool to think that way, having no rush.  It’s a lifestyle about enjoying the journey.  And increasing the weight by 1kg (2.2lbs) each week would kind of feel like nothing.  If you had a bad day, you probably couldn’t do it, but otherwise, you would probably increase the weight virtually every week.  I’m excited to put this approach into action!

Upper Body Focus

B: OK, now we are on to the upper body. We didn’t start working on upper body movements until July 2019. So that means we worked on mobility, squats, and deadlifts for 10 months. That’s impressive.  That’s a true level of dedication to one thing at a time.  Awesome.  You Rock!!

A: Because we did Squats and Deadlifts for so long, I got used to them.  We always had good form, so I never went into any bad form.  And at some point, I started liking them enough that I wanted to do them even when I am on my own.  Like I’ll be sitting at home on a Saturday and get kind of antsy and think, “I wanna work out.”  That was never the case for me before we started training together.

B: That’s cool.  Yeah.  Do it right, man.  Another thing to add to what you are saying is that when you work the lower body like that, say with an exercise like Deadlifts, the upper and lower back is really getting worked, as well as the grip.  Even on Squats, your shoulders are getting worked, your core is getting worked. Another thing is testosterone.  There is so much muscle in the legs, that when you train them intensely, it stimulates the entire body.

For the upper body, as well as the lower body, we used compound movements, which means using 2 or more joints, as in the elbow and the shoulder in the case of the upper body and the knee, hip, and ankle in the lower body.  These compound movements use the most muscle, so they are most effective. We added movements such as Bench Presses, Overhead Presses, Rows, and Pull-downs.

A: Those are still compound movements, but Squats and Deadlifts involve a whole lot more, right?

B: Right, they do.

Focusing on the Details

A: And I think it’s worth spending the amount of time we spent on them just because they are so complex.  We had something new to pick out, something new to talk about my form, just about every week.   It takes that long.

B: It does.  Squats tend to bring up a lot of fear for people – putting a heavy weight on one’s shoulders and bringing it down.  Deadlifts can instill a fear of back injury, but on a Deadlift, you can just drop the weight to the ground, so it feels safer than squats for most people.   It’s in the details: breathing, holding the breath (Valsalva maneuver), and being aware of angles.

We did Dips and Pushups for the upper body.  And from all of these exercises we tried, you chose the exercises that you thought you would like to do on a three-day training program that you could take with you, that hits all the major muscles, so you can continue training during the two months you are in Canada.

A: That’s right.

Amol Verma on His Progress

B: Do you want to mention anything about your progress from your point of view?

A: Yeah, people say that they really want to work out.  And I say to them, “If you don’t really want to work out, that’s fine.  That’s totally fine.  Find something that you actually like doing instead of forcing yourself to work out.”  That’s one great reason to work with a trainer.  You will learn to like it.  And once you start liking it, it’s not work anymore and you just start doing it on your own.     That’s the whole reason I started working with you because I knew I didn’t have the motivation to do it on my own.  And now I’m at the point where I have the motivation to train with you and also without you. I think that’s really important and that has really worked for me with you.  We’ve always done things in a way that I like them.   If something felt weird, we moved away from it.

B: That’s right.  You have always been very clear about what you like and what you don’t when I would offer suggestions and solutions to mobility and stability issues we were facing.

Amol’s Clarity as a Decisive Student

A: One thing that worked out really well when it comes to YOU, is that I give you a really tough time as a student.

B: Ha ha ha!

A: And you roll with it really well.

B: Oh, thank you.

A: And you have the humility to let me choose my own direction.  I’ll say, “No, I don’t like what we are doing.  I want to do something else.”  And I rely on you as that source of knowledge.  You have a lot of know-how and I can draw upon it.  And you have no hesitation at all about me directing the show.  About me saying, “No, show me five more upper body exercises.  I don’t like these.”  You always come up with more.  That’s not only rare for trainers.  I think that this trait is rare for teachers in general.

B: I am a Learner, man.  I appreciate that you have chosen me as your trainer and I want to make sure that you like training.   I know that someday we are all going to say goodbye to each other and if you take with you that love of training or just the wisdom that you gained from learning how to exercise properly, it was well worth it for me.  In addition to that, you helped everyone else, all of my clients, because every time you pushed me to learn and grow, I raised my bar, and I was able to apply to other clients what I gained from helping you.  It’s like this interview.  Some people might watch it or read it and get some gems out of it, so Thank YOU, Amol.

A: You are welcome.

Amol’s Next Stage of Progress

B: OK, next goals!  What would be your next stage of progress?

A: I am already at the point of working out on my own and I know how to proceed – how to incrementally increase everything.  I still do need to come to you for training form.  An example of that is today, I am going to have you check my form on Deadlifts and Squats to make sure that I have maintained my form over the time we have focused on learning upper body exercises. Goal-wise, the next thing I might do, after a couple of months of strength training, is to see if I want to focus more on becoming leaner.  And you said that is easier than what we are doing right now.

B: Yeah, it is.  In some ways.  Temptation is hard.   I mean temptation from the outside – social pressure is the toughest part.  And when you get tired or stress builds up, it’s easy to go to unhealthy food or unconscious overeating for comfort.  The actual “Doing” (sticking to a nutrition plan) is straightforward.  In three months, you can completely transform your level of leanness.

A: So I may focus on that.

B: That would be great.  And I’m sort of an expert on that – ha ha ha!  I’m proof of it anyway (at the time of the interview I was very lean after doing a three-month only raw fruit diet).

B: I think there are smart ways to do it.  And the thing is, you have to like it.  That’s my job to show you how it can be really enjoyable, then it lasts with you for the rest of your life.

A: Yeah.

Amol’s Closing Words on Sustainable Goal Acquisition

B: I think you are a success, Amol.  In fact, I know you are.  I am certain of it.  Could you share something from life or from training that you think would help others?

A: Sure.  When you are trying to do something new, like training, where you are trying to acquire a habit, do it in a way that you can do it for the rest of your life.  So when you are dieting, if you are cutting out all carbs and sugar, can you do that for 70 years?  If you think you can keep it up, then yeah, do it that way. But don’t do things with the intent of short-term gain.  Always look at it in terms of building habits, which will keep rolling forward.  Their effect becomes bigger and bigger over time.  Think of it in that way and don’t get impatient when it is slow-going at first.

B: The Master – he’s got that down.  Amol Verma is Awesome.  Thank you.  That’s perfect.  It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you, Amol.

A: Same here.

B: Thank you.  You are a sweetheart, man.

A: Between you and me, we share a lot.

B: Yeah, you are part of my family, man.  So please never be a stranger.  I’m in your corner!  Have fun in Canada!  Alright, man.  (they give each other a big hug and shake hands)

Amol Verma and Bodhi Kenyon

Post-interview shot on the 8F of Urban Base – 8 Floors above LFBX Gym

Climbing Mt. Fuji – LFBX Event Report

Climbing Mt. Fuji – LFBX Event Report

Our First Overnight Event at LFBX

Climbing Mt. Fuji is something I have wanted to do for many years, so I was very excited to have made the commitment to finally make it happen.  Our first Official LFBX GYM “CLIMBING MT. FUJI” EVENT was a success and was filled with so many new and refreshing experiences that I am very excited to share.

mt. fuji fujisawa

We informed everyone at LFBX Gym in early July about this “Climbing Mt. Fuji” Event which may have been too late for many of them.   Some clients were very clear that climbing Mt. Fuji was not something they were even remotely interested in doing.   One client, Peter Von Gomm, said that he had done it twice and that was enough. Another client, Daisuke, said that he has climbed it four times on company trips!!  For some clients, their schedule didn’t permit.  We went with the Thursday 8.29.2019 departure and the Friday 8.30 return, as Thursday would be less crowded than Friday. The climbers would be Taisei Fukaya, Hitomi and I together on a very exciting adventure.

The Prep

I have always been a sort of a wing it kind of guy, when it comes to travel and getaways, so it was great to go with two people who approach these things a bit more intelligently.  Between Hitomi and Taisei, we decided on Sunshine Tours to take the Prince Trail, as it was known to be less crowded than the Yoshida Trail and a bit more challenging and we all love challenges.

So it was all set!  Taisei mentioned that he had all of the necessary mountain climbing gear, but since Hitomi and I didn’t, the two of us decided to rent all of our gear from head to toe, including the pack, boots and trekking poles for about ¥5,000, ($50) which was a great deal.  We were getting very excited as the day approached.

The night before the trip came and we were preparing clothes, water and food for the trip.  At 3,776 meters (12,389 feet), it can get very cold, so we wanted to make sure that at least we were warm, so we brought some extra warm clothing just in case.  She and I presently have different food preferences, so she stocked up on her favorite dried fruits such as medjool dates and her go-to sundried figs from Seiijo Ishii gourmet supermarket.

dried fruit

I am transitioning from a LCHF diet into a Ketogenic diet now, so I brought nuts and a concoction I whipped up of Navitas Maca Powder, Sunfood Hemp Protein and High Orac Greens Powder in two containers and pink Himalayan salt, magnesium and potassium tablets in order to make sure my electrolytes stayed balanced.   Since my diet is high fat, I brought raw macadamia nuts, roasted almonds, walnuts & cashew nuts.  I threw in a few pieces of 86% cacao chocolates just to be a rebel:-)

climbing mt. fuji keto

The Adventure Begins

Morning met us with a 4:20 am reminder from our alarm clock to do our final prep.  We caught a 5:45 am train out of Sugamo Station and met our fearless climbing partner, Taisei, near Tokyo Station around 6:20 am.  There were about 100 people, all dressed up in climbing gear waiting to board their respective busses.  We got on our bus and we were on our way.

Everyone on the bus seemed full of energy and gusto as we made our way toward beloved Fuji.

mt. fuji bus ride

As we were approaching Kanagawa Prefecture, many people on the bus were sleeping, so it was very quiet.  I saw Fuji looming in the background, boldly standing, black against a light blue sky with soft, white, silky clouds.  I thought to myself, “Wow, within 12 hours or so, we are going to be on the top of that mountain looking down at beautiful Japan below!”  It was a quiet moment where my head was metaphorically in the clouds.

There She Blows!

Here is Beautiful Mt. Fuji from Expasa, Ashigara, which is a rest area about 90 minutes away from Mt. Fuji.  Notice the surreal cloud formations!? It almost looks like there is a nebulous U.F.O. directly above Her.

climbing mt. fuji ufo

Time seemed to move very slowly on this day, but as it passed, Fuji got bigger and bigger until we realized we were at the base of the mountain.

This was the place where Hitomi and I picked up the climbing gear that we rented.  Taisei chilled in the bus.

The climbing gear looked more of less like this.

 sunrise tours gear

Hitomi and I were very impressed with the sizing of the gear – it fit perfectly!  Suddenly we were transformed into real Mountain Climbers, or at least we looked the part.  It’s amazing what a costume can do to make you really feel the part that you are playing!!  Our excitement was mounting!

The only gear you can see on us in this photo is our packs – lol   We just look like 40-year old university students.

beautiful married couple

We Arrive at Station 5

We got back on the bus and it took us to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji.  Climbing Mt. Fuji was at hand! We got out, breathed in the invigorating mountain air and geared up for the climb.

mt. fuji clouds

THEN….we heard the news:

“Due to weather conditions, we need to cancel the tour.  The winds are too strong today to climb safely.  Please put all of your gear back in the bags.  We will be heading back to Tokyo by 2:00 pm.”

This was our expression as we listened to the announcement.

 3 stooges

This Blows:-)

Of course, we were all disappointed!!  And…I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we all got over it.

I always tell my clients that “Commitment” and “Showing Up” are paramount to success.  The three of us didn’t get to the summit that day, but we committed to the trip and showed up to Station 5,  so we felt a sense of accomplishment from that fact that we were there.

climbing mt. fuji taisei, hitomi, bodhi

We got some cool photos with Fujippi, the beloved mascot of Mt. Fuji, and enjoyed a little time at the 5th Station before we headed back to our metropolitan home.

climbing mt. fuji fujippi

    

The Trip Back to Shinjuku, Tokyo

We got back to Shinjuku around 5:45 pm.

Earlier in the day, Taisei and I talked about him having a beer at the top of Mt. Fuji when we summited it.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  So when we got off the bus in Shinjuku, I said, “Let’s get you that beer in Shinjuku before you we go home.” Taisei said, “Oh, that would be really nice.”  In that moment I knew where we could go.  Although I had never been inside, I had passed it many times and got a fuzzy feeling each time I did, so I took them to FOOD HALL BLAST near Shinjuku Station Minami Guchi, for that “Otsukare sama” beer for Taisei.  There are lots of different restaurants within that space and the seating was open, so we found our table and ordered a Tecate beer for Taisei and a glass of Mouton Cadet rose for Hitomi.  I decided to forgo the alcohol and imbibe the spirit of the conversation between us.

 blast shinjuku

Wonderful News!

We sat down, did a kanpai and gave thanks for the trip, the experience, our friendship and our safety.  We talked about things such as letting things be, as in the case with the Mt. Fuji trip being canceled that day.  We talked about diet and nutrition and then suddenly Taisei shared something wonderful with us.  He said, “I have something I want to share with you.” Hitomi and I were all ears.   He said that he was offered a chance to write a stage play that would take place on a moving train in Chiba and that the script needed to be completed within one month.

I was so happy to hear this because I know that Taisei’s biggest passion is to be a professional playwright and recently he mentioned that he was down because he didn’t see a way to make it happen.   I exclaimed, “This was the way! This is your ticket, man!  This is a sign saying that YOU CAN DO IT!  You have one month to make it happen, so make it happen!”  He smiled and said that he was happy that I was so enthusiastic about his opportunity.  He added that there were some media people coming to review the play and write about it, which makes the opportunity even more impressive.  It’s Taisei’s chance to really shine!  I was so happy that this opportunity came to him so quickly and needs to be completed in such a short time.  It allows him to commit fully to it and give his best to his passion and dream!   Once I know the details of his play, I’ll be sure to add them to this blog.

The Beauty of Connection

Looking back on that day, I realized that after those 11 hours we spent together, this conversation came out.  It was the icing on the cake – the snow on Mt. Fuji:-)  I realized the beauty of deep, honest, open communication and how it brings us together.  Today was a massive success for all of us.  We committed to do something, we enjoyed the process and journey regardless of the outcome and we connected deeply with each other.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave a comment below.  We would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading.

Be Extaordinary!

Bodhi