What I’ve learned in the past year as a gym owner.

So this month marks a couple of key events.  One is the second anniversary of my 39th birthday, and the other is the one year anniversary of the opening of CrossFit Pflugerville. With this year passing, I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, my coaching, the state of fitness in America, and in general how hard it is to run a gym compared to just loving fitness and working out for myself.  I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to participate in changing the lives of my clients, and even more blessed to have an understanding and supportive family in this endeavor. Here’s a summary of things I’ve learned in the past year On Myself:   I’ve learned that I can actually live without eating grains, and I can generally feel better all-around without them.  This is significant because the rigors of running the gym – getting up early, working a full time job, finishing the day late is taxing.  I think these elements are what finally drove me to take my nutrition a lot more seriously.  If I was still eating like I was before, I believe that my ability to do all of this and recover would be compromised.

On Coaching:   I’ve learned that I have taken a lot of things for granted with my personal fitness.  I was never a great athlete, but was an athlete none the less and with that comes time in the gym.  Many of my clients have limited experience, and I’ve learned that what is intuitive to me is not to them.  As a coach, I have learned that taking some extra time to instill the small details makes my folks much more successful in the gym. Whether it’s becoming the angry gorilla on a deadlift, or shrugging “I dunno” to prep for high bar squats, those details are important.

On Fitness in America:  Most of my folks at the gym have day jobs that involve lots of sitting.  I’ve read about what is being called “Sitting Disease”, but it really hits home while I watch these folks come to the gym and start moving around.  I would say that more than 80% of my folks come in with a chain of problems associated with tight hamstrings, hip flexors, and weak abs.  I’ve also noticed that most of my folks have not done childlike challenges (like standing on one leg) since well . . . childhood.

In addition to the education, I’m grateful to have a set of clients that trusts at least a portion of their fitness to me and over the past year have seen improvements in small points of their lives.  One of my coaches in the past said that your fitness is the vehicle that allows you to do cool things.  The cool things can vary quite a bit from person to person such as being able to put on underwear without having to hold on to something, or being able to walk around the Disney parks without ever getting tired.  I’ve seen first pull-ups, first push-ups, and first double-unders in the past year.  In the coming years, I hope to continue to make an impact on my folks and have more feedback like these testimonials:

‎”Exercise starts and finishes between your ears. ” Phil Tobias  That quote has made think about fitness in a new light  – Margit H  

Lost 40 lbs. Don’t get winded going up my stairs. Don’t worry about throwing out my back when playing with / picking up my children. I can wrestle a 3 year old…. and win.  – Adam K.  

I have lost 136 pounds and a whole bunch of sizes. I can do things today that I never imagined I would be able to do – run 2+ miles without stopping, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, you name it. I have also gotten much less clumsy – which is huge for me! – Venae J.

It was brought to my attention (through some great coaching) that I really didn’t know how to squat, deadlift, bench, run, press, do pull ups, i suck at gymnastics, had zero flexibility and flutter kicks can cause me to hurt for days but because of the great environment at CFPF and helping me to recognize and consistently work on all my weaknesses I’ve also gotten stronger, faster, I enjoy running (not really), I’m now a mobility fiend, I appreciate gymnast more than I ever thought I would, I want a rower and will work to be just as good at double unders so I can complete with Amy Jo Jo….   – Geno Z.


That’s a Wrap!!

Ok, so to avoid the American Idol “results right after these messages”, the winner of the 90 day challenge was Venae Jewett.  Please read on to see the program wrap up and results for the entire program.

I’ll have more on Venae specifically in the next episode, but I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on what the challenge was, and the overall results of the folks that participated.

In short summary form, this was the inaugural foray into a program where my members could work hard on changing their lives, not going on a crash diet.  The focus of this challenge was Diet, Fitness, Rest, and overall health.  Weight loss, although measured, was not really a determining factor in the selection of the winner.  This event was all about life change and the choices we make around our fitness and health.  For more on how the challenge was set up, please follow this link.

One of the changes that I was trying to effect in my folks is to not take their health for granted.  One of the ways to get points, was to get a complete blood profile done so that we can really see where we are in the medical “presence or absence of disease” front.  I’ve published my personal data if you would like to learn more.  From the folks that did make the effort to get a physical/bloodwork, we discovered some things that helped provide valuable insights.  We discovered one case of of lower than desired testosterone, we discovered some thyroid issues, and we had a scare related to breast cancer.  Although these items are not welcome news, it gives us a roadmap for appropriate interventions in these areas.  As a coach, I’m claiming a big success in driving my folks to get this done, you can’t improve what you don’t know is broken.

But how do you feel?

With the fitness area, we saw a general improvement in all of the metabolic pathways

  • Phosphagen (raw strength CF Total) – Average of a 10% improvement across the board
  • Glycolitic (burst energy to ~ 3 minutes — Fran) – Average 17% improvement across the board
  • Aerobic (longer than 3 minutes – 5K run) – Average 11% improvement across the board

With these fitness results, I’m also claiming a win as a coach (gratuitous self high five # 2)

As a coach, I struggle with the eating front because prescribing a specific diet will exceed my scope of practice, but essentially we had multiple diets that were followed.  Coach Phil did Paleo, we had some modified paleo, we had several follow the food guide pyramid, and some vegetarian diets in the mix just for good measure.  The official mantra at CFPF is to eat lean meats and fish, plenty of vegetables a little fruit, some nuts and seeds, and no sugar.  (If I were to put a label on this it would look a whole lot like the Paleo Diet as prescribed by Robb Wolf).

Although I can’t take credit for anyones diet, I can say that the desired outcome was to have everyone focus on their diet (whatever flavor it was) and be conscious of what they were eating, and how much of it.

As a result, the average person lost 12.8 pounds (about one pound per week).  This ended up being an average of 2.7% body fat lost as measured by Aaron Wedel over at Body Fat Test Austin.  Another self high five to coach Phil here, these numbers are what all the experts consider reasonable and safe weight loss numbers.  I also believe that the good habits that were formed during this process will be easily sustained for everyone involved going forward whether their goals are weight loss, performance, or health.

I can’t really speak for the sleep improvements because it’s hard to measure.  My personal thoughts are that since I was focused on it, I tended to go to bed earlier (instead of watching television, or surfing the internet).  My overall mood and productivity has been better since making these choices.  At a minimum, I think that most of the folks in the challenge found similar results related to sleep.

Please see the next installment where I talk more with Venae!


Coach Phil

My efforts to keep the poo out of my bloodstream . . . with measurable results!!!

Ok, the poop in my bloodstream comes from an article I found about a year ago from Tim Ferris (link below) that led me to Robb Wolf (also link below).  Well, since the beginning of the year, I’ve gone about 95% Paleo.  I can’t say that it’s been 100% easy, but I have been surprised by what I’ve discovered along the way.

As a quick summary, I can say that my motivation for doing this is to get my diet into a lot better under control, and make eating right . . . easy.  With the Paleo diet, I eat lean meats, fish, pork and fowl, healthy fats like avocados and nuts, along with as many great tasting vegetables as I can shove down my pie hole.  With this approach, I eat 3 solid meals per day, and I can’t say that I’ve gone hungry, and I really don’t have any neurosis over food (such as weighing, measuring, having to carry food like a pack mule to eat 5 times per day, etc.).  I tend not to be ravenous the day after hard workouts, and my cravings for junk food have mostly subsided.

I just had my blood profile checked, and the summary is that I’ve improved in all of the areas that matter.

  • In my “good” Cholesterol, I had an improvement of 48% from 35 to 52 (this is the “mop” that cleans up the mess “bad cholesterol” in my blood)
  • My Triglycerides dropped from a previously “healthy” 150 down to 35.  (this is the dissolved fat in my blood)
  • My fasting glucose went from about 90 (high normal) down to 72 (low normal).  (this is the hormonal response to sugars in the system)

In the arena of weight loss, by my scale, I’m down by about 10 pounds, I’m getting body fat tested again on April 10th, so I’ll get the exact numbers then, but with the blood profile above, it matters less to me as I’ve got the stuff that matters moving in the right direction.

Don’t confuse this lifestyle with the Atkins diet which encourages Ketosis.  Atkins is effective on lots of fronts, but I wasn’t willing to go carb free and put weight loss above the longer term lifestyle changes.

Paleo can be quite high on the carbohydrates, although the sources are vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, onions, etc.  The big catch with the Paleo Diet is that you avoid all grains (wheat, oats, especially soy, rice), legumes (peanuts, black beans, etc.), and milk.

The foods to avoid are all in an effort to manage inflammation associated with auto-immune diseases and overall gut health.  You can get a primer on this in the following [Tim Ferris] link How to keep feces out of your blood stream.

So what does a typical day’s food look like to me


  • 3 eggs, 4 strips of bacon, 1/4 cup of onions, 1/2 cup of red/green bell peppers, 1/4 cup mushrooms scrambled with coconut oil and served over spinach with a V-8.


  • 4 – 6 Oz Chicken thighs, one sausage link, a can of Sardines, 3 pieces of Kale, about 1/4 of a red and green bell pepper, a handful of carrots, 4 -5 slices of cucumber.


  • 10 Oz of Steak, butternut squash, garden salad with tomatoes, Avocado, peppers, snap peas, olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dressing, and water.

The place where I consciously cheat on this diet is with my coffee.  I have quit all of the processed products (that taste really good) in favor of using heavy whipping cream (lots of fat, but no carbohydrates).  Another place for occasional cheats is with the booze.  I’ve switched over from beer to a non-grain based adult beverage in the form of a Norcal Margarita.

If you are interested, please check out Robb Wolfs book “The Paleo Solution”.  Robb boils years of microbiology, cancer research, digestion, and endocrinology into something so simple even I can do it.  In Robb’s book, the Paleo solution is (at least for me) three pronged: diet, physical fitness, and sleep habits.  It helped me, perhaps you can benefit as well.  If you would like more information please hit me up on facebook at Crossfit Pflugerville, or on my e–mail at Crossfitpflugerville@gmail.com.

Best Regards,

Coach Phil