school he's helping turn around in the South Bronx with an amazing team.
Following the trip to New York, my wife and I returned to her parents' home in Connecticut in the town where we both went to high school. Every day since then, I've met with someone different from my past with the highlight being the workout I led with my high school alma mater's football team. They won the Connecticut Class L State Football Championship last fall, and will press hard to repeat this season. The workout included The Give Team 15 as a warm up and about 3 miles running with 3 cinder blocks with three groups of 10 guys. Everyone finished tired, and on the path to getting stronger.
Overall, it's been a nice break away from Florida with cooler weather.
I put together a training plan for The Spartan Beast, which will be a beast. The training program will need to reflect that fact, with a common theme being MOVEMENT. There will be NO DAYS OFF this plan because movement is the foundation of momentum, and MOMENTUM IS MAGIC.
For those following along at home, here are the Week -1 and Week 1 Plans. Don't worry. It'll get harder. And remember, if you can't see the sweat, you're doing it wrong. BE STRONG! GIVE MORE!
Prep Week / Day -7: Monday, July 23
Prep Week / Day -6: Tuesday, July 24
Prep Week / Day -5: Wednesday, July 25
Prep Week / Day -4: Thursday, July 26
Prep Week / Day -3: Friday, July 27
Prep Week / Day -2: Saturday, July 28 - TEAM WORKOUT
Prep Week / Day -1: Sunday, July 29
Week 1 / Day 1: Monday, July 30
Week 1 / Day 2: Tuesday, July 31
Week 1 / Day 3: Wednesday, August 1
Week 1 / Day 4: Thursday, August 2
Week 1 / Day 5: Friday, August 3
Week 1 / Day 6: Saturday, August 4 - TEAM WORKOUT
Week 1 / Day 7: Sunday, August 5
**If you want to know what comprises The Give Team 15, hit the link and it'll take you to the blog post that lists the exercises.
ANY QUESTIONS, leave them in the comments below, or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The morning came quickly and started as dark as the evening before. Everyone slowly gathered their things. By the time we arrived at the VIP parking area at Amelia Earhart Park, the sun brightened the sky and the boys spilled out of the van. We made our way into the festival area, and after walking inside no more than thirty yards, people noticed our jerseys. "HEY! It's THE GIVE TEAM! We follow you guys on Instagram." The guys had FANS!
We set our stuff under the tent next to Oscar Mike, and enjoyed the festival area all morning. We met several people who connected with us from all over the country through social media, relationships that remain today and have strengthened with time. It was a relaxing morning with Akim, Jean, Rome, Paul and Jeff.
Just prior to our start time, Lopez gathered us to meet with Earl Granville and Rick Kolberg. We were told our primary mission was to escort Redzuan Razak, a Marine infantryman and paraplegic, through the four mile course with over twenty obstacles, and make sure Razak conquered every obstacle safely. We were also to carry the Oscar Mike flag and make sure it didn't touch the ground. Finally, for our third task, Earl presented us with a forty pound cinder block wrapped in chains. "I'm going to tell you what this is, man. This is Cindy the cinder block. What Cindy represents is the adversity we all face at some point in our lives - that heavy weight that holds us down. The idea of Cindy is when we race, we all take turns carrying her. It's a metaphor - you don't have to carry all that bullshit by yourself. I had someone very close to me take their own life, and that was the inspiration for Cindy. Don't let your ego get in the way. It's ok to ask for help."
We ran the race, inspired by Razak who conquered every obstacle, some obstacles with assistance and many on his own. Other members of Team Oscar Mike inspired us by nailing the obstacles while carrying scars and physical challenges. We were also inspired by those around us, strangers working together to make sure every member of the group finished the race and overcame every obstacle. It was an incredible day where an incredibly diverse group of people came together as a team to accomplish a common goal.
After the race, Earl pulled The Give Team aside one more time and shared with us the full story of Cindy. Nearly ten years earlier, Earl was serving our country in Afghanistan. His vehicle hit a roadside bomb, and Earl was the sole survivor. Two of his buddies died that day, and Earl nearly lost both his legs. They saved one leg, and Earl returned home to recover. He impressed everyone with his resilience, learning how to snowboard, play ice hockey and live life on one leg.
Earl's greatest challenge came two years later when his twin brother Joe committed suicide. The tour in Afghanistan was the first time Earl didn't serve with Joe, and when Earl came back with his injuries it was too tough for Joe to handle. Earl beat himself up over his brother's suicide, having his own suicidal thoughts and regressing into alcohol. It wasn't until someone approached Earl about his brother, telling Earl how Joe used to brag about how proud he was of Earl's progress recovering from his injuries that Earl wondered, "Would Joe be proud of me now?" And that snapped Earl into the second phase of his recovery.
Earl re-acquainted himself with the importance of moving, being active, and challenging himself. During a race, he found half a cinder block and strapped it to a chain he was wearing and vowed to not put the cinder block down the entire race. People started asking questions. That's when Earl realized this cinder block could serve a greater purpose, helping send a strong message: there will be challenges in life, but nobody has to carry hardship alone.
After sharing his story, Earl presented Cindy to The Give Team. She continues to play a prominent role in our workouts and our races. She ran with us at the Spartan Race at Fort Benning in April. She ran with us at the Green Beret Challenge in Atlanta in May. And she runs regularly with us on our weekly Saturday morning workouts. On June 3, five members of The Give Team gathered at 4:00am on a Sunday and ran ten miles with Cindy - one mile for every year since Earl nearly lost his life, and when he lost two of his buddies in Afghanistan.
The weekend after our ten-miler, Paul mentioned he wrote a paper about The Give Team. Paul had some challenges this past school year revolving around his grandmother's death in the fall and difficulty getting on top of school work from the time he missed, almost getting kicked out of the magnet program at his school. He did a great job turning things around in the spring, rebounding with impressive grades. Paul was reluctant to share details about the paper.
Coach: "C'mon. What was the paper about?"
Paul: "I don't want to say."
Coach: "Why not?"
Paul: "Because you're going to want to see it."
Coach: "Nah. Just tell me about it."
Paul: "Well, our teacher gave us a chance to earn extra credit by reading our essay in front of class, so I did. She told us to start with a 'grabber,' so I started with 'The best teacher I ever had was a cinder block.' Then I talked about Cindy and our trip to Miami. Everyone was quiet so I couldn't tell how they were taking it. Then at the end, everyone clapped. They clapped louder for me than anyone else."
- LONG SILENCE -
Coach: "You HAVE to send me that paper."
veterans to help them get active. They invited us to run with them, and before we started the race they told us our primary mission was to help a paraplegic Marine infantryman named Redzuan Razak through the course. We also were told we had to carry an Oscar Mike flag and a 40 pound cinder block with a chain named Cindy. Mind you, the course was 3.7 miles long and had over 20 different obstacles along the way. That's already difficult but on top of that we had the cinder block, the flag and Razak. When we started, I thought the course would be impossible with these different challenges assigned to us. But as we went along I realized I didn't have to do this alone. Everyone took turns passing the flag (making sure it didn't touch the ground), and the cinder block and whenever there was an obstacle ahead everyone got in place to make sure Razak got through it.
At the end of the race, Earl Granville explained to us why we ran the course with the cinder block, flag and with Razak. Earl also ran the course as part of Team Oscar Mike and conquered all the obstacles, including the rope climb, even though he is missing a leg. But it was after the race he shared his whole story and the role of the cinder block. Ten years ago Earl was serving in Afghanistan when his Humvee was hit by a bomb. He was the only one to survive, but he lost his leg. He returned home and realized he needed to adapt, so he learned how to ski, how to play hockey and how to function with one leg. But his twin brother who wasn't with him in Afghanistan was having a tougher time. Two years after Earl returned, his twin brother committed suicide. His name was Joe. This hurt Earl, and Earl's recovery went backward. After a while, Earl realized his brother wouldn't want him to quit, so he worked to get stronger. During a race Earl picked up a cinder block and finished the race with it. That's where the idea of running with the cinder block started. Cindy became a metaphor for life, and represented the challenges Earl and his brother faced. We all carry burdens, and we have to be strong to carry them, but sometimes those burdens are too tough to carry by yourself. We don't have to deal with our problems on our own and there will always be people willing to help carry whatever is holding you down.
The day I spent running the Spartan race in February will be in my memory forever. I learned so much from everyone who ran with us. Razak inspired me and taught me there is no excuse to move and get strong. He was in a wheelchair and completed the obstacle course race with strength. And Razak wasn't the only one who taught me something that day. The Oscar Mike Team taught me how important it is to move and to be there to help others, and how strong you feel when you help. They also inspired me to never quit, no matter how big the challenges. And when you have a lot to handle or a lot weighing on you, you never have to deal with it on your own. You always have people around you willing to help. When the person carrying Cindy got tired, he handed the block to someone else on the team, so no one had to carry it on their own. While we all had to be strong, and carrying that weight did make us stronger, no one had to depend on themselves alone. Whenever there is a block in your life holding you down there are always people around to help you carry it and lift you up.
The post earlier this week spelled out the different exercises. This post will dive a little deeper, since we've had significant feedback about HOW to perform the exercises. For starters, know two things. (1) It's going to suck and there will be times you won't want to do it; and (2) IT'S ONLY FIFTEEN MINUTES - keep telling yourself that. Remember :45 AMRAP ("as many reps as possible") followed by :15 rest. NOTE - there are many variations to these exercises. DON'T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT FORM. We want to focus on the movement. As the 15 days progress, you'll get better and better. The exercises are as follows (with video links available by clicking on the name of the exercise):
Congratulations. If you can't see the sweat, you're doing it wrong.
When you're done, note how good you feel. You're done. Take a pic of your surroundings, or a selfie and post it to Instagram. Tag #thegiveteam15 and we'll share your post in The Give Team Instagram story.
BE STRONG! GIVE MORE!
with the program through the entire summer, remote members will ONLY need to participate for TWO WEEKS. We don't want to take much of your time, and your involvement means a lot to each team member. Knowing others are doing the same work their doing inspires them to stick with their ritual.
What do I get for participating in #thegiveteam15?
Pride. After all, you'll be part of the ONLY inner-city OCR team in the country focused on building strength, leadership skills and goal achievement with military-inspired leadership principles and concepts rooted in Stoic philosophy.
Strength. This workout is no joke, and you WILL get stronger. Just keep telling yourself, "It's ONLY 15 minutes."
Purpose. You’ll be providing motivation to a group of guys living in a neighborhood named one of America’s most dangerous. If you've had an opportunity to meet the team, you understand this part deep in your soul.
How much does it COST to participate in #thegiveteam15?
Fifteen minutes of your day for fifteen days. That’s it. Perhaps a piece of your soul during every workout if you push yourself, but that’s up to you. No money.
If you’re interested in contributing toward our fall season (the team budget for fall 2018 events - between $5,734 and $13,700, depending on number of events and team members included), feel free to donate via PayPal (http://www.paypal.me/giveteam). For those interested in sponsoring The Give Team’s participation in OCR events you can check out our sponsorship levels on our Donate / Sponsor, and you can always reach out to Head Coach Brad Mason at email@example.com or 407.920.3674.
What are the RULES for PARTICIPATION?
Where did the idea for #thegiveteam15 come from?
The routine is modeled after a fitness program I followed last year while training to climb Mt. Rainier. It was very effective. It's designed to be done ANYWHERE without equipment, and will energize ANYONE for the day.
The idea of the “ritual” came from Give Team Motto 05: Life is nothing but a series of habits and experiences, so make your habits intentional and your experiences amazing.
Greatness happens in the small things done consistently, with focus and with purpose. To that end, we need to be MINDFUL of our habits, and align them with our goals. The beauty of a physical goal is there is nothing more honest. If you put in the work, you get the results.
Alright already. What are the exercises in #thegiveteam15 program?
As stated earlier, the routine is to perform each exercise for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest.
A description of some of the exercises is provided below. If you have questions about how to perform these, look them up on YouTube, or you can ask in the comments below.
Don’t forget to post your pic and if on Instagram, tag #thegiveteam15.
Remember the central Give Team Motto: No matter how little you have, you ALWAYS have something to give. BE STRONG! GIVE MORE!
Thanks for playing!
Chris and Paul completed the workout, which included a 400M run, a climb up a 20' rope, a climb over an 8' wall, 10 runs up their Goliath ramp, 20 burpees, Holy Sheet (a sheet wound tied to two 15' rigs ten feet off the ground - you need to climb across hand-over-hand, or otherwise shimmying our way across without falling), 30 pull-ups, 40 sit ups, 50 walking lunges, battering ram (three segments of 15' where a 2.5' strip of PVC pipe is over a narrower pipe, creating a sliding / rotating obstacle - where you need to hang on and shimmy the PVC pipe across the 15' section and transfer to the next pipe), 40 sit ups, 30 pull ups, peg board traverse (cross a 30' peg board section, one peg at a time, 10' off the ground), 20 burpees, 10 more runs up the Goliath ramp, one more climb over the 8' wall and 1 more climb up the rope.
It was a wake up call. Paul almost threw up after the last run up and down the Goliath ramp. Chris struggled a bit also, needing an assistance band on his pull ups. I reminded both of them we haven't done a tough workout since the spring, so the struggle should be expected. The good news? We don't have to run The Green Beret Challenge today. We run it on May 5th.
It was also a wake up call for me. I haven't pushed myself since the beginning of December, thanks to an intense year end at work and a sickness I've been fighting in my chest since January 1. Those are excuses. There is work to be done, and we're grateful to have Dan and the NinjaFit Gym team to help us along the path to GBC.
Following the workout we usually have breakfast to discuss the topic of the week. The topic this week was THE POWER OF STORY AND VOICE, borrowing heavily from concepts in The Corporate Athlete Program, the book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz titled The Power of Full Engagement and the book by Jim Loehr titled The Power of Story. The stories we tell ourselves determine the trajectory of our path. The story of where we're from explains the beginning, and colors why you are where you are and perhaps how you got here. The story where you're going should define what you do day-by-day, moment-by-moment, and how you do it.
Are the stories we tell - and the words and voice we use - empowering, strong and motivating? Or are they something different? Many times our stories are told from habit. Perhaps they're stories we heard our parents tell. Or our teachers. Or our friends. Sometimes they're good stories, but in writing these stories we need to make sure of three main things:
FIRST, understand life is nothing but a series of habits and experiences, so make your habits intentional and your experiences amazing. That means be INTENTIONAL about telling your story and controlling the message it sends to YOU and to those around you. Make the story you tell part of a NEW habit focused on intention. And take STRONG action to create amazing experiences aligned with who you are and how you define yourself. Inspire others not only by what you do, but how you do it.
SECOND, make them YOUR stories. Make them factual, but YOU'RE the one controlling the message. You're not a victim. You're a product of your thoughts and actions. So own your stories.
THIRD, we are NOT the product of our environment, or the stories we tell, but of the ACTIONS we take. Ensure the actions you take are aligned with the story you tell about where you're going. Understand every action is made from strength or weakness. ALWAYS choose strength. Choose strong thoughts. Choose strong actions. Build from there.
Next week we continue workouts at the northeast corner of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. In the event there's a conflicting event, the backup location is Audubon Park Elementary School.
The topic next week is The Power of Why.
Be strong. Give more.
In November, my good friend Chris Goyzueta asked to get together and talk about motivation and engagement for his podcast Making It with Chris G. I agreed, and we sat down for a fun talk about some of the key principles behind The Give Team program, and what we’re all about. Take a listen, and hopefully you’ll find some helpful nuggets to help YOU find the benefit in GIVING MORE.
CLICK HERE to hear Coach Brad Mason with Chris Goyzueta on Making It with Chris G!
Yesterday was our first workout of 2018.
I picked up Jeff at 9:30 am for our Saturday workout. It was two hours later than usual, but for the first workout of the year I decided to let the day warm a bit. I didn't know how cold it was but with the bright sun shining, it was warmer than the 38 degrees I saw on the weather report when I woke up at 7:00.
As we pulled into Chris' complex, the first thing I noticed was the repaved parking lot and the speed bump that ruined cars was gone. Nice work. As we parked in front of Chris' building I thought it odd all the spots were open except one. Chris' home was a two bedroom apartment for him, his four siblings and both parents. That's seven people in a two bedroom apartment. Chris is the oldest, and he consistently earns straight As as an eighth grader, despite the less-than-ideal studying conditions. I called Chris to let him know we were waiting in front. The call went straight to voice mail. I was about to ask Jeff to knock on Chris' front door when I noticed an orange piece of paper on the window. In large print it read, "Notice of Vacant Unit," with smaller print below. There wasn't any of the usual clutter in the front door window. Their place was empty.
I called Shanta to see if she knew anything. Shanta Barton-Stubbs is the founder and Executive Director of New Image Youth Center in Orlando, Florida, the best kept secret in Orlando where each of the boys on The Give Team grew up. She hadn't heard anything about Chris' family and gave me the phone number for Chris' father. When I called, it also went straight to voice mail.
My last text exchange with Chris was now colored with concern. Two nights before, Chris let me know he didn't know if he'd be able to join the team call at 7:00 pm on Sunday. I asked if I it'd be easier if I moved the call to 8:00 pm. He wasn't sure if he'd have access to his phone.
We pulled away to pick up Paul with thoughts rattling between my ears about Chris and his family with the temperature hovering in the lower 40s.
We started the Spring 2018 season with a small crew, and performed an abbreviated workout. It was a slow start on our path to develop strength in what will be a phenomenal season. Compared to a year ago, The Give Team OCR program is coming together well. As a team, we have four coaches - me (Coach Mason) and Akim (an alumnus of, and current staff member at, NIYC) in Orlando, Florida, Greg who recently moved to south Florida, and Rob (also an alumnus of NIYC). We have four team members in Orlando with Jean, Paul, Jeff and Chris. And as of January 7th, we have two remote team members - Steve in Gainesville, Florida (an alumnus of NIYC) and Ryan in Des Moines, Iowa (a 20 year Marine Corps veteran, recently retired). During January we'll seek to grow the team here in Orlando and extend it to other parts of the country.
On Sunday, each team member will set two goals to accomplish by May 31 - (1) a physical goal; and (2) an academic or professional goal. Each team member will also set a DAILY RITUAL they'll perform for the entire month of January. That ritual will be aligned with one of the two goals for the season. It must be something done daily that isn't already being done. A new ritual will be selected for each month of the season.
We'll hold our team call Sunday night to discuss expectations for the season - what they should expect and what the team expects of them. We'll discuss what we have lined up for the spring 2018 season. It's going to be a powerful season, and we're thankful to all those who are taking part in our Give Team effort.
In 2018, we're honored to have the support of NinjaFit Gym (the team will participate in their workout program the third Saturday of every month), Garage Mama Fitness (our workout facility when available), Coach Pain (named Most Influential OCR Personality of 2017 by Mud Run Guide, and meeting with him at a warm up OCR on April 9th two weeks before our participation at Green Beret Challenge), members of the Orlando Police Department, and the Travis Manion Foundation (participation of an ambassador as guest coach and others potentially joining as members to run The Green Beret Challenge with us in Atlanta). We continue to seek sponsors and donors to fund the 2018 season, and be a part of the journey. We also continue to seek guest coaches to join us on any Saturday to share their stories of overcoming challenges.
In the meantime, know there are others dealing with significant challenges on their path to greatness. Some seek those challenges while some deal with unexpected challenges. We're proud of the members on our team and work with them every day to ensure they make decisions from a position of strength and address any challenge as opportunities to become even stronger. Thanks so much for the support of The Give Team community in those efforts.
I'll update you - the "Extended Give Team" - as I learn about Chris' family.
Be strong. Give more.
8 January 2018 UPDATE: I spoke with Chris. His cell phone isn't working, so he called me from his father's phone. They temporarily moved to another unit in the same complex. Not really sure what that means, or if anyone really knows. I guess everything we do is temporary, isn't it?
While millions travel to Orlando every year, few have heard of Parramore. Even fewer have visited. Based in the Parramore neighborhood, New Image Youth Center has played an important role in the development of each Give Team member. Two of the four coaches are alumni of the Center. One is a certified personal trainer and also serves as a staff member working with elementary school students. The other attends Auburn University as the youngest member of the PhD program in Computer Science. A third team member is currently a sophomore on a full academic scholarship to the University of Florida. Four more are currently in high school, with our youngest team member in eighth grade. We're looking to add five more for the spring of 2018.
Why are we a team?
Because life is a team sport. Draft accordingly.
If there's someone on your team who is getting in the way of your goals, kick them off. Conversely, seek those who have traveled the path you want to travel, learn how you can give value to them, introduce yourself, and learn from them.
Why are we the GIVE Team?
Shanta Barton-Stubbs, Founder and Executive Director of New Image Youth Center works with kids from elementary school through high school (and beyond), reinforcing key principles to guide their way. One principle is focused on gratitude and giving back. She teaches the kids, "No matter how little you have, you always have something to give." On our team, we take that to a personal level. If you think you've given everything you have, think again. You have more. If you're on the fourth mile of a five mile run and you're doing burpees every 1/4 mile, you might think you're done. But you're not done until you've finished that fifth mile. Give more.
No matter how little you think you have, you ALWAYS have something to give. So give more. Give a smile. Give a compliment. Give assistance. Give more focus. Give more effort. But whatever you do, give more.
The Give Team is about leadership, and you can't lead others until you master the ability to lead yourself. That's why EVERYONE participates in all events (goal setting, workouts and competitions), including the coaches. Members of the community are encouraged to participate. At the beginning of the season, each team member sets two goals: (1) A physical goal, because nothing is more honest than a physical goal. If you put in the work, you get the results; and (2) An academic or professional goal, since the greatest influence on the trajectory of lives (along with attitude and effort) is academic and / or professional performance. Every month, each team member will also select a new ritual to adopt aligned with their goals. The selected ritual will be performed every day that month.
We meet every Saturday at 7:30 am to participate in an intense workout. The workout is followed by breakfast where we address the leadership topic of the week, and discuss opportunities and challenges in the week ahead. At that time, the Workout of the Week is given to the team. The team is encouraged to perform the workout AT LEAST three times before the next Saturday, with extra recognition for those completing it every day. The Workout of the Week is intended to compliment any other planned workouts the team member has, whether for football, basketball, volleyball, the chess team, or the debate team. Give more.
To hold ourselves accountable, the team communicates daily via text message, Snapchat, and GroupMe. We also communicate monthly via conference call. The Give Team communicates to the extended team - the community - via blog posts on our website (http://www.giveteam.net), our Facebook page (@giveteam), Instagram account (@thegiveteam) and Twitter account (@keepgivingmore). Remote team members are welcome to join each season. For the Spring 2018 season, remote Give Team members reside in Auburn, AL, Gainesville, FL and Des Moines, IA. Monthly conference calls will be held with remote and local Give Team members.
The Give Team is proud to partner with Garage Mama Fitness in Winter Garden, Florida and NinjaFit Gym in Apopka, FL, where we'll be attending workouts at different points throughout the season. We also welcome guest coaches to participate in either the workout or breakfast (or both), and share their story of overcoming challenges or achieving greatness. This past fall, we welcomed Marine Corps veteran Larry Johns who has continued to be a valuable part of the New Image Youth Center family. In 2018, we look forward to working with ambassadors from The Travis Manion Foundation, fitness coach and motivational speaker Coach Pain (recently named The Most Influential Person in Obstacle Course Racing by Mud Run Guide), fitness athlete Marissa Herring, former NFL and NCAA defensive back Andre Martin and former Major League Baseball All Star and World Series Champion Johnny Damon.
Each season ends with an obstacle course race. At those races, we seek to expand the team by engaging with other race participants; a community that seeks obstacles, understanding pain is inevitable and it's the pain we seek that strengthens us. This season, we continue our relationship with The Green Beret Challenge where The Give Team will compete in Atlanta on May 5th.
Interested in learning more? Interested in participating? Interested in SPONSORING (we already have a $100 sponsor and $35 sponsor for the 2018, thanks to a couple December donations - and in return they will be receiving a GIVE TEAM WATER BOTTLE and WORKOUT SHIRT). Know someone who'd benefit or who could help our team along the path to greatness? Contact us at http://www.giveteam.net/contact.html and come join us for an amazing experience in 2018. As much as you give us, we'll give back in return. Give more.
After working together nearly every Saturday morning between January and July, The Give Team participated in The Green Beret Challenge in Perry, Georgia on July 22nd. It was a weekend everyone will remember for years to come.
Brad Mason is head coach of The Give Team, and a firm believer that no matter how little you think you have, you ALWAYS have something to give. So give more. Give more smiles, more compliments, more focus, and more effort.