Mission Statement - Fairfield Strength:

To cultivate growth opportunities for children of all ages and abilities, bringing together the learned and the learning, in a spirit of helpfulness and respect, to improve our health and wellness, using fitness and sport as a medium to teach life lessons.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's View from the Creek

Today's View from the Creek can best be described with one word - Incredible!

Seasonably warm with a not so gentle breeze is actually creating a bit of a chop on the normally placid estuary waters.   This is a welcome change from the Seattle like weather we have been experiencing the past few days.  This is New England's Indian Summer at it's very best.  Feels kinda strange - this is the first fall in a very, very long time that I have not been spending my afternoons on the soccer pitch.  The work at Ash Creek is never done, and the lives that we have been privalidged  enough to touch are continuing to change in many wonderful ways.  But truth be told, I do miss soccer - but days like today temper those feelings with satisfaction and gratitude.

We had our 4th session of Senior Z today at Parish Ct.  Elderly Housing.  Anna - our oldests not so old member (I was chastised by Meredith for using the word old when I informed our class that "I'm not going to treat you like old people any more! " referencing the positive changes that have been made.)  Anna started a week later than everybody else - she showed up with a walker and a brace on her wrist and ankle.  She had trouble taking her shoes off and did almost all of the Z drills seated.  If you imaging the perfect great grand mother  - very short, white hair, gentle smile, a light gleam in her eye, and a small golden cross around her neck, and strong hands - that would be Anna.

She arrived at class today with no walker and no braces.  She was waiting for us in the hallway along with the rest of the class (ran just a bit late - go figure).  We did a complete 18 point Z neural formatted as a work out with power breaths interspersed.  We finished with  eye drills and tension.   The entire class stood for over 35 minutes.  The only accomodations were the chairs we used to assist with balance and a book we used to assist Anna with lateral pelvic tilts.

When class was over we reviewed the homework for the next week and asked if there were any questions.  Anna raised her hand.  "I just want to say that I feel better than I can remember.  I went to the doctor yesterday and he could not believe the changes.  I feel like I am getting younger instead of older.

You are Anna - and it is such a joy to share with you what Dr. Cobb has shown us.     Final strory - we had a guy on the Fire Dept named Hank Letch.  He employed a very unique and descriptive version of the English language - He called most people Southie - or soul brother - or Seth, or whatever else came to mind.  And he liked to eat - eat with a passion and an appreciateion that few others can match - especially if the food was free.  When asked how it was his stock answer was "Best I ever Ate!"  Not a lie - because  his frame of reference was always  in the moment - I'm eating it now - so this is as  good as it gets.  So what if anything does this have to do with Anna and Z -  As we spoke we talked about getting old ... or not.  Meredith remarked that she may very well be in the best shape of her life by her next birthday - and I can hopefully say the same thing.   The tools we have gathered that help us  with life and fitness make it possible to get better and better - not just stopping the clock but turning it back .  So live this day - with the promise that tomorrow can be be even better, provided of course that we use this day well.  Peace.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's View from the Creek

BARF work out today was extreme - on several levels - Power Day with a twist.
Started with 4 HP,  then did a circuit style ladder - of 5, 7, and 9 reps -

  • 5 deadlifts - (double bells) - 30 sec Farmer's Walk - 5 Power Breaths
  • 5/5 alt DL - (single bell) -  30 sec Farmer's Walk - 5 Power Breaths
  • 5 goblet or 5 TRX squats - repeat above
  • 5 KB or 5 TRX push ups - repeat above
  • 5 swings (or 5 trx squats) - repeat above
  • 5 naked (no wt) TGU to elbow each side (hold for 2 sec at top)
RTW complex - heavy bell - 5/5 low - 10 curls - 5/5 low
  • 7 deadlifts - (double bells) - 30 sec Farmer's Walk - 7 Power Breaths
  • 7/7 alt DL - (single bell) -  30 sec Farmer's Walk -  7 Power Breaths
  • etc
and for the final set replace the 7 with a 9 - progressively loading reps.

Finish with a Z Neural that incorporates a lot of hand/foot, wrist/ankle waves and circles.   

Enjoy - 

Monday, September 26, 2011


Thank you for this day,
Please help me to use it well.
Guide my thoughts, my words, and my actions,
Help me to be an example of your peace, your love, your way of life,
Help me to seek and do your will always,
Please watch over my family and keep them safe,
I trust their care to You. 
You have given me much and I am truly grateful. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Z-Health: Movement and The Brain

As you may know Ash Creek Fitness is part of the Greater Bridgeport Obesity Task Force.  We serve on the physical activity sub committee.  At our most recent meeting the discussion centered around picking the "low hanging fruit." In other words, finding low - no cost, easy to implement tactics and strategies that we could use to start actively addressing the obesity epidemic.  Our suggestion (Ash Creek) was to initiate a program in the Bridgeport School System that would use Z health (http://www.zhealth.net/)  Neural Warm Up as a supplemental physical activity.  

The big question centered around whether Z Health Dynamic Joint Mobility training would improve CT Mastery test scores.  The short answer is "YES!!!"  We have been using Z Health Dynamic Joint Mobility drills as an integral part of our programming and have experienced incredible results in a very wide range of clients - from special needs to performance athletes, and from primary grades through the University Level.  For Dr. Cobb's version please read the excerpt from the September Z Health News Letter - Stay Safe - George


The following is copied from the Z Health September News Letter.  For additional information please check out - http://www.zhealth.net/


Movement Nourishes the Brain

If you are a parent, you are all too familiar with the developmental milestones your children went, or are going, through. Infant and toddler check-ups include observing levels of movement, fine and gross motor skills, and cognitive development - among many other things.
Pediatricians pay a great deal of attention to these milestones, because missing a milestone by any significant amount can be indicative of any of a large number of developmental disorders.
While a seemingly vague statement above, the reality is that poor motor skills is oftentimes one of the first indicators that something is wrong in a child - and addressing those missing skills can also be one of the most helpful things you can do as a parent.

The Movement / Developmental Disability Relationship

One of the most common names given to the motor skill deficit is hypotonia. While this generalized term covers a wide variety of related symptoms, the common mechanism at work is that the signals from the brain that travel through the motor nerve to the muscles are somehow disrupted. You can think of it as a bad internet or cable connection - you get pixilated or choppy reception. The same thing happens in our body.

Known Conditions

The list of known conditions is extensive, and growing every day. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke lists the causes to include: trauma, environmental factors, or by genetic, muscle, or central nervous system disorders, such as Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Prader-Willi syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, and Tay-Sachs disease.
In addition to that alphabet soup of conditions thought to lead to motor skill deficits, just last week the University of London released a study indicating that poor movement skills detected in children as young as 7 months are at greater risk for autism than the general population.

"Nature Abhors a Vaccum"

This famous quote, believed to first be uttered by Aristotle, also gives us one of the best-known answers.
Study after study shows that improving motor skill performance is the best way to help the children (and adults) with these conditions. The movement practice not only helps shore up the missing motor skills but also improves cognitive performance.
Or, as John Ratey, author of the bestselling book SPARK likes to say, "exercise is Miracle-Gro for the brain."

For More Information

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Hypotonia (wikipedia definition)
New Insights Into the Implications of Autism Onset Patterns
Poorer Movement Skills at Seven Months in Children at Risk of Autism, Study Finds
Green, Dido, Tony Charman, Andrew Pickles, Susie Chandler, Tom Loucas, Emily Simonoff, and Gillian Baird. "Impairment in Movement Skills of Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders." Developmental medicine and child neurology 51, no. 4 (2009): doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03242.x.
Vuijk, P J, E Hartman, E Scherder, and C Visscher. "Motor Performance of Children with Mild Intellectual Disability and Borderline Intellectual Functioning." Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR 54, no. 11 (2010): doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01318.x.
Sorsdahl, Anne Brit, Rolf Moe-Nilssen, Helga K Kaale, Jannike Rieber, and Liv Inger Strand. "Change in Basic Motor Abilities, Quality of Movement and Everyday Activities Following Intensive, Goal-Directed, Activity-Focused Physiotherapy in a Group Setting for Children with Cerebral Palsy." BMC pediatrics 10 (2010): doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-26.
Peters, Lieke H J, Carel G B Maathuis, and Mijna Hadders-Algra. "Limited Motor Performance and Minor Neurological Dysfunction at School Age." Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992) 100, no. 2 (2011): doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2010.01998.x.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

food from the dark side - THE SHREDDER

The goal of tactical training is to prepare warriors for combat, or athletes for performance.  Be it a soccer player, a firefighter, a medic, or a working mom the reality is that life creates challenges that our training must help us overcome.   We need to be able to adapt.   

If you spend every day eating clean then what happens when a shredder crosses your path - or maybe some chocolate peanut butter ice cream with peanut sauce?   Proper preparation insures performance. So with that said - check out the Shredder at South Pine Creek Deli - and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Ice Cream with Peanut sauce (need some protein to balance out those carbs) at Sunny Daes Ice Cream in Fairfield!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Post BARF Favorite - ON Chocolate Pineapple Hydro Builder Protien Shake -

Ash Creek Shake of the Week -  Optomim Nutritious ON Chocolate Pineapple - ON Hydro Builder with Trader Joes pineapple tidbits and low fat milk.  The enzymes in the pineapple act as natural anti-inflammatory and the taste is great - for the performance athlete   or those looking to maximize their post work out rebuild and recovery this is the perfect mix.

View from the Creek - Raining Sunshine

This past weekend was very full and wonderful.   Day in the Sun took place on Saturday at the Roger Ludlow Middle School Campus.  We found our roots again thanks to the incredible weather.  After spending the past 3 years in the cafeteria and the gym moving back outside was met with a degree of reluctance.  Logistically the cafeteria was easy - we had it down to a science - we have been there and done that.  But Barbara would not back down - she said that " our special guests spend most of the year eating in an institutional setting and need a "day in the Sun" ."  And that is what they got.

Our volunteers did an incredible job - Joe and Mary from Ash Creek volunteered with the food - Joe supervising one of the hot dog grills and Mary was a key player in the distribution sector of our food service. We served over 600 guests - hotdogs and subway sandwiches. Sorry - no chili this year - we could only juggle so many balls without something hitting the ground.  Next year - I promise.   May even have some help.  I hear there may be a few good chili chefs out there who could lend an overburdened firefighter a hand. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Z Update - Parish CT

Parish Ct Senior Z - Great Stuff Today - We did a full 16 pt Z Neural (standing up) interspersed with 2 or 3 power breaths between every drill. We started at 9 so attendance was a little lighter than usual but those who showed up did incredible. One of the younger members (94 years young) commented on how much better she is moving since we started working together. Wrist circles are still a little tough - but she doesn't need the brace she wore to class anymore! It's such a special privilege to share Dr. Cobb's work - Thank You Z Health!!!

BARF Today

Great Barf Class today - We kept it simple with a work out split that pays high dividends. Set the gym boss for 15/15 and 10 sets. Start your training session with the Z Health 4-High Pay Off's and establish a base line range of motion. (ROM) Perform deadllifts with a kinda heavy single or double bell combo. Then set your gym boss to a 45/15 for 10 sets - Use TRX push, squat, pull, lunge/lunge, push, single leg dl, pull/curl, tricep/lunge, alt pull/bicep, and squat. Follow with RTW, then TGU complex. Finish with some Z.   Enjoy

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Car 3 Spicy Hot Quinoa and Eggs

Try the ultimate 10 am firehouse meal - Quinoa and egg whites with jalapeno peppers and pepper jack cheese.  We made it today at 2's and called it C-3 Spicy Hot Quinoa and Eggs.  Takes about 5 minutes to make - get the frozen precooked quinoa with sweet potatoes and zucchini, fry it up in a non stick skillet with a little olive oil, add some egg whites, cook it like it's fried rice, then add the jalapeno peppers - let it get friendly, then stir in some cubes of pepper jack cheese right before plating.  Scary good. 

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient food that is not yet well known in North America. It has been cultivated in South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native inhabitants. The ancient Incas called quinoa the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred.The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids.

Quinoa was used to sustain Incan armies, which frequently marched for many days eating a mixture of quinoa and fat, known as "war balls."

The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy addition to anyone's diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition. information taken from http://chetday.com/quinoa.html 

Greek Yogurt - Good and Good For You!

Greek Yogurt from Trader Joe's

Thick, rich, creamy texture defines TJ's Greek Yogurt!
If you are looking for a healthy snack option this is my best suggestion. Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt!  They have 2 flavors - Mango-Apricot and Honey.  When they introduced this product a little over 2 years ago I was hooked on the Mango-Apricot.  Was going through a rather signifigant mango time of life and this was the perfect compliment.  My protien shakes had mango puree, my jerk chicken had mango chunks, and my oatmeal was laced with a big spoonfull of apricot preserves. Life was good.  And then it happened - other people started to find out about Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt.  The healthy living section of the CT Post did an article on the health benefits of Greek Yogurt - Oprah even mentionied it on The View - the stock went from plenty to none - had no choice, had to try the honey.

They say when one door closes another opens - such was the case with the honey.  Crazy good is an understatement - the flavor is incredible - but the texture - the rich creamy texture sticks to your tounge the same way it sticks to the spoon in the picture above is what makes this such an incredible edible delicasy.  Some yogurts run - and well they should - from this great Greek Yogurt.  Enjoy :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Sweat

Observation - I feel like my five fingers are filling up with water. Reality – They are.

During one of our training sessions last week Meredith remarked that she can’t believe how much she is sweating. It will be one year come October that she has been training at Ash Creek. She can’t remember sweating that much until recently – but she can remember not being able to stand on one leg without assistance when we did hip circles – and she can remember not being able to do a Turkish get up to elbow – without weight. Most importantly – she can’t remember getting injured or having injury impact her training schedule which has realized steady progress over the last year. We spent a long time building a very strong foundation – now it’s ready to load – and that we are doing. The conversation ended with "At Ash Creek - you earn the right to sweat!"

During BARF class today Jan had the same epiphany. It was the first time her five fingers had filled up with sweat. She was feeling more than a little uncomfortable. She was not used to sweating so much. So we did a pulse check – 78 after a heavy set of dead lifts interspersed with power breaths is really pretty good. We used a high intensity training split designed by Kim Massey that works really well. We alternate Kettlebell deadlifts, swings, or other lifts with TRX or compound movements to build training sessions that fit the needs of each athlete. Todays session included deadlifts, alt. deadlifts, swings, a Turkish get up complex, RKC planks, round the world, and a TRX complex that included one legged dead lifts. The end result is a strong, functional, and aerobically fit athlete that sweats a lot.

So….. Earn the right to sweat – then grab a towel and enjoy. Nothing feels quite so satisfying as a good sweat. (Unless maybe sharing it with a training partner.) Train hard, train smart, and remember to hydrate.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Today's View From the Creek

Definitely one of the 10 best days of the year. As I sit here entering this post the breeze off the creek is delicious and the view incredible. I worked last night at the fire department. We had been up since around 2 am extinguishing a rash of arson fires. At one point we had 3 working (heavily involved) structure fires burning at the same time. Crazy stuff - but hats off to the Fairfield Fire Marshal's office and Fairfield PD for catching the arsonist. Great work guys!!!

So anyway - I was just a bit tired this am to the least. But that changed as soon as I got to AC. The BARF crew was waiting. We did some Z and TRX to get Heather ready for her tennis match today - amped it up for Brian, Chet, and Meredith, who all stayed late for some kettlebell work. AMR Medic Kim D., one of AC's newest members, joined us today. Kim had just finished her shift during which she helped usher in a future member. Congrats on delivering a happy healthy baby girl - number 4 for Kim and the 2nd field delivery in the past month by AC members - Kim Massey delivered number 12 (or 13) 2 weeks ago - Good stuff ladies.

Parish Ct Senior Z was a home run today. We did a full 16 point neural warm up - STANDING UP the whole time >>>> AND we included 16 power breaths - 2 after every body part. Some of our clients remarked that they haven't been able to stand for that long without pain in years. Others said they haven't been able to stand for that long period. Amazing stuff.

On a final note - had a great meeting with Capt. Mike of FDNY yesterday. Came down to learn about AC and what we do with regard to firefighter wellness. He had many good things to say about AC and his visit. The privilege however was all mine. I have great respect for Mike and his/our brother firefighters in the City. We shared some hallowed ground 10 years ago Sunday in lower Manhattan - who could have imagined that we would be sharing Z and KB yesterday. Life has a funny way of bringing things full circle.

Enjoy this day, live it well. Stay safe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Simple but Simple

Sometimes life gets in the way of our training - let's say for example a major hurricane comes through your town and knocks out the electrical power for 30,000 people and you really don't want to stand in line to take a shower down at Planet Fitness. Or maybe the Utilikilt you ordered from ThinkGeek didn't come in yet, and you really had your heart set on doing swings in a kilt. Regardless - let's say it's been a while and you need to get started again - lets keep it as simple as possible - 200 swings per day (or combo swings and dead lifts) for the next 2 weeks - keep the number at 200 - just vary the weight - if you feel strong use a heavy bell and 2 hands - or a lighter bell and 1 hand. If you don't feel strong use a light bell 2 hands - focus on your form - finish each session with a grease the grove style tgu - break down each movement of the tgu and perform it 3x on each side - with or without weight.

200 swings per day (plus tgu) for 2 weeks
- be creative - use your gym boss - set it for 15/15, 20/10, or even 10/20 for heavy days (training/active recovery) throw in some power breaths during AR or hops, or a short walk. Just because you got a little soft that doesn't make you a bad person - keep it simple

Today's View from the Creek

Very busy day today at Ash Creek - started out with
BARF at 0615. Mark O. joined us today, along with Meredith, Chet, and David. Not an easy day in the least:

Started with the Z Health 4 High Pay Offs
Then performed a progressive TRX circuit that included the following (in order):
Round 1

Push Lunge - 10x Press 5x (x3)
Pulls (row) - 20x
Squats - 5x
Single leg DL (using TRX for support) alt 3x each leg
Squats 5x
Lunges - R/L - 10/10
Squats - 5x

Round 2, 3, 4 - added a few things

Push Lunge - 10x Press 5x (x3)
Single Arm Rotations - from lunge R/L 5/5
Tricep Press - 10x
Double Rotations - staggered from lunge 4x each side
Pulls (row) - 20x
Single arm rows - 5/5
Squats - 5x
Single leg DL (using TRX for support) alt 3x each leg
Squats 5x
Lunges - R/L - 10/10
Squats - 5x
follow this with KB - hip ups
follow this with deadlift or swing complex -
swing/ 20 yd farmers walk/ power breath (x4)
repeat for 10 cycles (10 minutes)
follow this with KB - hip ups
finish with round the world
10 low halo each side
10 curls
10 high halos
10 curls
10 low halos each side
finish with z