I is for #Intensity: guest blogger Matt McLellan

Ever had that job interview where they ask you to, “Choose 5 words that describe yourself?”






I don’t think I’ve ever answered with the last one, but it’s certainly how I’ve been told that others perceive me.

Now, I don’t really like to cast myself into verbal molds, but sure – I’ll go with intense.

But what does that really mean?

If we look at Merriam Webster’s definition it’s “very great in degree : very strong: done with or showing great energy, enthusiasm, or effort.” And when referring to a person, “very serious.”

I won’t go so far as to say I’m that strong or great, but I’ll sign my name next to enthusiasm, effort and very serious.

I consider myself a product of my mother’s personality.

Unlike a car, I don’t have different gears or speeds – I simply have an On & Off switch.

It’s either nothing at all or full-speed ahead!


Continue reading “I is for #Intensity: guest blogger Matt McLellan”

R is for #resilience- guest blogger Amanda Gilbreath-Hawkins

I was never the fittest, the most popular, or the best cheerleader in my high school years…attributes, that as a teenager, I thought mattered more than being on the honor roll.

I mentally struggled then and even into my adult years because of insignificant physical standards that did not define me as a person.

Today, I am THANKFUL I wasn’t the best…

that I wasn’t voted ‘best figure’ for the year book…

that I fell on my butt on national tv during a cheerleading competition.

You see, I always wanted to be the best but everything I did was to impress others…I was trying to live up to what was socially preferred.

I let my surroundings define me and I had no idea who I was.

image3I gave up my academic scholarship and went into the Navy immediately after high school.

I wasn’t a runner…I had tree-trunk legs and was use to throwing girls in the air at ballgames.

I struggled.

I failed.

I was set back a week in boot camp because I missed my run by seven seconds.

I have seriously never told a soul about that. Ever.

Seven seconds meant seven more days away from freedom.

I was ashamed.

I was embarrassed.

I was officially labeled a failure on paper.

image1From high school to boot camp, I wasn’t meeting the ‘standard’ and for seven long days when the lights went out at 10pm, I cried into my pillow.

I didn’t have a plan ‘B.’

For the first time in my 18 years on this planet, I was individually accountable for my success…err failure.

I had to dig deep in an emotionally-straining environment to find the ‘want’ to try harder…to run faster…to lift heavier…to be stronger…to be better.

“Failure is an honest endeavor”

When Jeidi asked if I wanted to be a guest blogger, I thought, “Whoa! Me? What could someone as mediocre as me in fitness possibly have to offer others.

But the more I thought about it, RESILIENCE is why I wake up at 4am 4-5 times a week to workout and why at the end of those seven days, I knocked well over a minute off my run time.

I am SOLELY responsible

for transitioning

my weaknesses into strengths.

I am a work in progress…

I haven’t conquered my weakness in the gym.

In fact, I now realize I’m not here to reach that “final destination.”

Working out at Sweat has taught me that although it’s a group environment, you compete with yourself.

I’m there for me.

And if I don’t meet my goal this week, it’s not a permanent failure…it’s where I am at the time.

Tomorrow or next week may be different…or it may not… but I SET THE STANDARD, not anyone else.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”~ Japanese Proverb

Get Sweat Strong!!

Untitled design (1)Back to school is on everyone’s minds and with this turn of the season comes a more structured week schedule, as well as…FOOTBALL SEASON!!  This mean both workouts and calories are easier to find so along comes the #SweatStrongChallenge to coach you through how to take those extra calories you are enjoying into strength gains.

The #SweatStrongChallenge

August 1st we officially kick off 90 days worth of focus on getting Sweat strong.

We are asking you to join our challenge and commit to not only tracking your progress in push ups, pull ups, front squats, and dead lifts, but also promoting strength as a valuable measure of health.

Each month we will reward Sweat members or class package holders with not only the highest PERCENTAGE of progress but also their commitment to the message behind the #SweatStrongChallenge.

Here are the deets:

1.  To join the challenge send me your email address so I can add you to our email list.  You will receive a link to our google doc spreadsheet to which you will have editing capabilities so that you can enter your information and progress at your leisure.  You will notice that each trainer, including myself, will be documenting our progress right along with you!  Your journey is our journey as well.

2.  Throughout these 90 Days you will keep track of several benchmarks.  Each time you hit a new benchmark you should go into this document and record it.  YOU are responsible for keeping track of your progress.  I will send out a FB post reminder so that at the end of the month all your information is entered.

3.  Using FB and/or IG post a #SweatySelfie and celebrate your accomplishment(s) using the hashtag #SweatStrongChallenge so we can find your posts online.  Sweat will provide monthly prizes for those who not only have the GREATEST PERCENTAGE of progress but also are actively promoting the importance of strength via social media.  If we brag about fat loss, lets balance it out with strength gains too!!

Bench Marks:

Push-Ups- How many push ups can you perform in 5 minutes?

Example 1:  I benchmarked at 63 on Wednesday.  The 66 simply displays an example of how to document the next time you do this in August.  There are columns for each month.

Screenshot 2015-07-23 10.48.35Example 2:  For those who are doing a mixed set of standard push ups and push ups on your knees, this is a suggested way to document.  It’s worthwhile to begin to increase the # of push ups you do on your toes but once you lose the required depth, go to your knees to maintain depth.
Screenshot 2015-07-23 10.47.06

Pull Ups- How many pull ups can you perform consecutively???

For Sweat this means strict, hanging, no kip pull ups.  We’ve spent the last month really focusing on form and positioning to put your back and shoulders in the strongest and safest position for pulling your bodyweight.

However…THIS is one of my favorite tutorial videos ever.  Watch it, PRACTICE it, and I promise your numbers will sky rocket!

Document your max consecutive reps.  If you are using a band, keep track of that as well.  Consider changing band colors an added benchmark to this challenge.  If you can get 15 reps with a green band, I’d say ego check.  Head over to a black band and see if you can hit 8-10.  In terms of building strength less assistance is what we are looking for.

Screenshot 2015-07-23 11.09.58

Front Squat:  At what weight can you perform 5 consecutive front squats?

I can already sense the disappointment that I’ve chosen a front vs. a back squat, however, in terms of full body strength the front squat is an undeniable winner.  It’s also a self correcting exercise because a break in form especially from the core is quite obvious.  Breaking form in a back squat is too easy and harder for the ego to accept.

You are NOT looking for your one rep max here either.  You are looking for your 5 rep benchmark.

What’s a bad ass weight to work towards in a front squat?…roughly your body weight.  I’m not there yet but am excited to work my way there!

Romanian Dead Lift:  Once again, we are not looking for your one rep max.

In classes like Vain where we keep our rep counts low, you need to make sure you are using a weight that is appropriately difficult for your body.  I think we often sell ourselves short with this move.  What are you using for 5 reps of RDL’s?  Are you staying at that weight for too long?  We hope no more!!

What’s a bad ass weight for an RDL?  1.5 x’s your bodyweight.  Once again, I’m not there!  I do respect this movement tremendously and am not 100% I can get there within the next 90 days but I am up for improving and progressing as always!


Let’s not fight what is an engrained and positive part of our Southern culture.  We love our football and we love to share this season with friends, family, and food!!  I promise to still talk to you about eating right and keeping yourself lean.  We are not taking this as an excuse to fall off the wagon and practice unhealthy eating patterns.  However, if spring and summer are our leaning out phases then Fall and Winter can certainly be the time of year where we LEARN to use those extra calories appropriately and gain muscle over fat.

ARE YOU IN????  If so, I expect my inbox to be FULL messages!!  Send them to:  jeidi@sweathuntsville.com or our facebook page:  facebook.com/SweatHuntsville