What Are You Afraid of?

When it comes to your fitness goals, what are you afraid of?  Are you afraid you won’t know how to do the exercises?  Are you afraid people will laugh at you?  Are you afraid you will fail and the weight won’t come off?  OR… maybe, just maybe you are afraid of success.  Maybe YOU WILL reach those weight loss and other fitness goals and you are worried about other things like people treating you differently or that you won’t be able to stick to your regimen.

Whatever is scaring you, please don’t be.  Try and use that fear as motivation.  Let it feed you.  Use it to prove to yourself and no one else that you can succeed.

As we start September, I have no doubt that people will use this month to get started at the gym, or go back if they have been taking a break. Don’t be scared.  I have news for you, you’re not that special.  Unless you drop a dumbbell on your foot and scream, no one is paying attention to you.  You won’t be laughed at.  And if you are, tell them to F off!  You are there for the same reasons they are!  Everyone had to start at that point.  You’re learning.  As you keep going, you will get better.  But the point is that you need to not be scared.  Ask for help.  There are always trainers around who can help you.  Maybe you can get a free session, or just ask for 10 minutes to go over a certain exercise.

Bottom line –  nothing will happen unless you confront that fear.  So grab the bull by the horns and get after it!  Those goals are yours for the taking!



Machines vs. Free Weights

So many people will head to the gym for a workout and crank out a few sets on the machines.  They sit at the ‘pec dec’ machine and knock out a few sets of chest flyes or sit at the leg extension machine and work their quads.

Well as I asked in my last post, why?

I’m not knocking you, I’m just curious.

I’m curious for a couple reasons.

  1. Why are you sitting down to work out just before or after a full day of sitting at your office desk for work?
  2. Are you pushing yourself doing these machines?  Are they helping you reach your goals?
  3. Seriously, why?  There are so many better ways to work out.

Ok, that last one is a little bit in jest, but not completely.  So many times I will see people use the machines incorrectly.  I mean, if you don’t know how to do something, just ask!  Or read the machine!  It tells you what to do.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people use that pec deck machine who think they are so great using so much weight that they can’t keep their back secure against the seat!  They are leaning forward!

Or how about that leg extension machine, why is it so beneficial to just sit down and extend your legs?  What are you a 7 – year old sitting on an over-sized chair?

Look, as I said the machines do have some benefits for some people.  Maybe you’re rehabbing an injury.  Heck, maybe you are just having an off day and want to workout.  A quick workout now and then isn’t terrible.  But if you are someone who is relatively healthy or even really working to reach all your goals, machines aren’t always the way to go.

Why not?

Because you don’t engage your core.

Core is gold. When you have a solid core, all of your lateral mobility will be so much better.

So maybe try using some cables or dumbbells.  If you are standing up or even using a bench, you will get much more benefit from your work outs.  After all, isn’t that what you want?




What is Your Why?

When it comes to your fitness or exercise routine, what is your why?  Why do you work out?  This is such an easy question, but it can also be very complicated.  Not to mention, I would bet that many of us don’t think about why we work out.  We just go to the gym every week and do the same routines.

But our why keeps us focused.  Maybe you had a health scare.  Maybe the doctor told you had to, or your significant other.  Maybe you just decided you wanted to look better for a vacation.  That vanity is just as good a reason to exercise as anything else. As long as you know your reasons.

When you know your why, it doesn’t just give you a reason to reach your endgame, it gives you a reason to make exercise a habit in your life.  Habits are easy. So many times I have heard people get upset when they have to skip a gym day.  I love it.

In terms of goals, think about the word SMART- Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely.

Don’t tell yourself, “I want to lose some weight.”

Instead say to yourself, “I want to lose 10 lbs by the time we go away for New Years.”

When you give yourself the specific number and time, it allows you to not just prepare, But it gives you a measurable time period.  You won’t want to quit on yourself and you will keep working until you reach your goal.

Writing your goals down is a great way to help as well.  Writing them down, is just another step in the planning process and when you put it down on paper it makes it more realistic that you will do it rather than just think about it.

So as you start to think about your goals, write them down.  Really think about why you want to achieve them!

Good luck!



Sandler Strength and Fitness!

Hi there!  Welcome to my fitness blog!  My name is Ken Sandler and I am a certified personal trainer living and working in Gaithersburg, MD.  I’m really excited that I am starting this blog.  I thought it would be a great way not to just give some fitness and nutrition tips, but a way to help you if you had any questions about starting a fitness program or working out.

I have been a certified personal trainer for only 2 and a half years.  This is a brand new job for me as I got laid off from a career in TV production several years ago.  After taking some time off, I got certified as a trainer.  I almost felt like it was just a calling to me. It was a sign to change careers, and I couldn’t be happier.  Why a trainer?  Because I have always enjoyed the gym and working out.  The time I was laid off and not working, my gym time was my solace.  It gave me mental strength as well as physical in knowing that things would change.  That’s kind of the point.  We never know what we have in store for us.  Doors close and others open.  For the first time in my life I felt a sign from above that it was time to move on from TV and do something new.  Start fresh.  We all get opportunities every day.  It is just a matter of if we take them or not.

So let’s start out with some fun.  Simple question — what is your favorite form of exercise or favorite exercise to do?  It’s summer, so maybe you bike more.  I would say for me, that I am a gym rat, so I love lifting weight and putting it back down.  I think goblet squats may be becoming a big favorite of mine.

Thanks so much for reading!  As I said, as I write more, I will offer a bit more advice and give tips on many other things!

Your fitness goals are all in reach, you just need to go after them!  Good luck!



There are three things you can control every day:

    1) Your effort

    2)Your attitude

    3)How you react to what happens to you.

   If you give your all in everything you do every day, find ways to be positive every day, and react to everything that happens to in a calmer way, that is the first step to helping you #getbettereveryday.

  Not every day is going to be perfect.  You will have setbacks.  But when you take care of these three things, you will feel better.  

  This works for your health and fitness goals, too.  Maybe you can’t workout the way you want to because of an injury, a cold, or maybe just other stressors in your life.  OK, so maybe you focus on your nutrition a bit more.  It works the other way, too.  Maybe you know you’re not going to be eating as well as you should be.  Then you make sure you get your workouts in.  

  We have nothing if we don’t have our health.  Take care of yourself.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

I promise, when you control these things I mentioned above, your mental health will be so much better.

   If you need any help learning to control these big three things, please contact me!  As a health coach, I can help you.  I want to help all of you live the lives you continue to dream of living.  Of course your workouts and nutrition, too!  It’s summer time!  Let’s go after those goals!

Have a great weekend!

Why You Should Lift Weights!

Thde other day I shared with year a few important reasons why walking was important for your overall health.  Today I want to share with you some reasons why you should add resistance training (weight lifting) to your exercise routine.  Without a doubt, strength is so important for our overall health.   This is where you will get all of the results you are looking for if you put the time in every week.  I do understand that the gym can be and feel overwhelming when you see others lifting tons of weight, hear grunting, and honestly just seeing other people do things that you think are both ridiculously hard and you have no interest in doing.  But when you find your routine and do the things that will work for you at your experience level, you will reach your goals.

1)Strength training will help you burn fat and lose weight.  Strength training helps you build more lean muscle, which allows you to burn more calories at rest.  This means you have a higher metabolism.  

2)Strength training helps keep your bones strong.  It’s not just about weight loss, it’s about keeping your body healthy.  That includes bones, tendons, and ligaments.

3)Strength training reduces stress.  No one wants more stress than they need.  Go lift, you’ll feel better.  Not to mention, less stress will help you lose weight.

4)You’ll gain confidence.  There is no better pleasure in the gym than proving to yourself you can do something you didn’t think you could.  

5)You’ll reduce your chance for injury.  You’ll start to move your body the way it is intended to move.  That helps you move injury free.

6)You’ll sleep better.  This will also help with weight loss.

What I want you to get out of these newsletters this week is that activity in all aspects is so important for our health mentally and physically.  The more you move, the better you feel.  Find time to more and exercise 30-60 minutes a day.

I do hope that you give strength training a chance.  I would love to help you get started if you have any questions.  Let me help you by creating a program that works FOR you to help you reach all of your goals.  Let’s schedule time this week for a phone call to see how we can work together and get you started!

Ken Sandler



Get Walking!

  Are you a walker?  I don’t mean walking to and from the car as go to work.  I don’t even mean being a weekend warrior and going for a hike every weekend (although that is awesome!)  I mean you should be walking on a regular basis.  Walking is not just one of the easiest ways to stay active, it is also one of the best and it’s so easy to do!  
   If you do nothing else to get started on your fitness journey to reach all of your health and fitness goals, get out and walk!  The weather is getting warmer.  Get out and walk every day.  There is no reason not to.  Even in my previous life in TV news, I got out on my lunch break, got some fresh air, and walked around the building for 15-20 minutes every day.   Walking will not only help you lose weight, it will help you reduce stress.  Plus –  so many other diseases like diabetes and heart disease – walking helps you reduce your chances of getting them!  And by the way — walking on the treadmill counts!   It’s all about staying active and doing what you can do.  Every step counts.   Make some time this week – before or after work, even at lunch.  Make the habit of getting outside and walking every day!  You will feel better and I promise, you will get results!   Do you walk?  Do you have a special place where you like to walk?  Please share with me and let me know!     And of course,  if I can help you in any way with your fitness goals, please contact me!  Let’s talk about what you’re looking for and how we can work together.  It’s almost summertime!  Now is the time to get you to where you want to be.  It starts with one phone call!  Let’s do this!

Ken Sandler, NASM CPT, CES, ACE Health Coach, Pn1


Are You A Sleepwalker?

 I am sure this has happened to you, because it has happened to me.

    Have you ever been so tired driving home from somewhere that you don’t remember the drive?  You drive on autopilot, you get home, park the car, and think, ‘Wow, how did I get here?’  or ‘I swear I don’t even remember getting off the beltway.’

   I don’t think we need to actually be tired to have moments like this.  I think we have moments like this because we live our lives on autopilot. We get up, we work, we come home, eat, sleep and do it all again the next day.

   I think the key to preventing this is to live with purpose.  When we find our purpose it helps us reach our goals, and find meaning in everything we do every day.  Not just the work, but the conversations.  It’s easy to talk with colleagues and friends about work or the ball game or The Bachelor, but when we get deeper, especially with those who inspire us to reach higher, we will live our lives as the awake version of us that we need to be.  

  Take a look at your routine and what you do every day.  Is it working for you?  Do you feel stuck?  What can you do to shake it up and help you wake up to reach all of your goals every day?  Think about everything – your ambitions, even those little things you need to do.  It may not be easy, but as you slowly chip away, one block at a time, it will get easier.

As always, if I can help you with your goals in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.  My info is below.  What can I do to help you #getbettereveryday?  It takes one phone call. You and me.  We discuss your goals, and help you create a plane to reach them.  I am your guide on this journey, but yes, we do it together.

Kettlebells & Coffee #1: Positivity

Good Morning!

I thought it would be fun to start a Sunday morning column on my blog about things more than workouts and fitness, but things that have to do with health, maybe some encouragement if you need it, and just give you something to think about.

Today I want to talk about positivity.

I saw an article on FB the other day about toxic positivity in the gym. I ignored it, quite frankly. Look, I’d much rather be around someone with toxic positivity than toxic negativity, wouldn’t you?

*Trust me, I used to be the toxic negative guy. It got me nowhere. I am now working so hard to change my image.

It’s hard, right? To be positive all the time? But I promise you, positivity will get you so much more than being negative will.

Yes, there is a sense of manifesting. But is it all about The Secret and praying for a million dollars, then you get a check in mail the next day? No, not really. BUT – than manifesting is real and will help you. But it’s just that general sense of positivity that will help you throughout your day. That positivity will make you a stronger person mentally. Positivity will get you more of the results you are looking for every time!

One of my favorite mantras is ‘Don’t let 5 bad minutes ruin a good day.” Think about it. How often do we do that? My day sucked! I got in an accident! But the rest of the day – the tow truck got there fast, the damage was more minimal than you thought. Some good news came from work, oh yeah, and that person you’ve been dying to go out with asked you out or said yes when you did! So yeah, tell me how bad your day actually was?

Negativity is easy. I promise you, I’ve been there. Depression destroyed my life. I am now trying hard to comeback from it. When I was depressed I actually knew I was causing all of the bad things that happened to me to happen, but I never thought it would work the other way. So I ask you, if you don’t believe in positivity – what do you have to lose by trying? Try to be positive for two weeks – smile a bit more, try to make a bit more small talk with people, just be nice. Try it as an experiment. See what happens. I guarantee you you will not only see different results but you will feel better.

I am a Star Wars fan. The Force is real. No, it won’t help you magically pull your lightsaber from the ice on Planet Hoth, but that power of the Force will give you all the gains you can imagine. Obi Wan told Luke this very thing while Luke was practicing. Luke asked if it controlled him. Obi Wan said partially, but you control it as well.

You can control your positivity. If you aren’t getting the results you are looking for in your life, you need to change things up. This is a great way to start.

Let me know what happens.

Happy Sunday!


How Was Your Workout Today?

I love my workout time. It makes me happy, I feel good. It gives me energy. I workout every morning. I HAVE to workout in the morning. It helps me stay positive, keeping my mindset right, and gives me the energy to get through the day. If I don’t workout early in the morning, then I have a helluva time doing so. when I say early, it depends on my schedule. I may lift at 5am when the gym opens, or 6 or 7 after my first couple clients. The last thing I ever want to do is lift in the pm. There are other things I have and want to do. Besides, if it’s nice outside, who the hell wants to be back squatting inside?

But I also get OCD about it. Another reason I lift in the am is to get it out of the way. Funny, right? But also the later it gets, even if my schedule is clear I tend to feel ‘rushed’ because I have other things to do. Kinda odd, right? LOL. I’ll get everything done that I need to do, but maybe a faster warm up, fewer core exercises at the end, or maybe skip cardio at the end.

When it comes to workouts remember this, 20% will be awesome, 20% will suck, the other 60% will be ‘eh’, but stay consistent. That’s the key.

My workout today was just weird, I’m not sure why. I did 5×10, barbell squats, birddog rows and bench press, then I threw in some TRX hammy curls and some core. I felt fine, but I was also just ready to be done, even though I have plenty of time before I saw clients. I don’t know why I felt rushed. It didn’t dawn on me until later, I could have added some biceps and triceps. I’ll do that tomorrow.

Just kinda weird, that’s all.

How have your workouts been this week? What worked? What hasn’t? Please let me know and have a great weekend!


Your One Shining Moment!

Who else LOVES the NCAA basketball tournament? It is fantastic! Did you fill out brackets? Are you in a pool? Please share in the comments. Let me know your final four and who you’ve got winning it all.

I’ve got Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, and Auburn with the Zags beating Auburn in the Final.

Let’s do this!

The best part of the tournament is the One Shining Moment Video. Go find it on YouTube. This song is so inspirational and gives me chills.

All of these players rising to the top to become the best.

What are you doing this next three weeks or every day to find YOUR One Shining Moment?

I hope you are doing all you can to stay positive and get the results you want. Keep working! Don’t quit! I want all of you to shine!

If I can help you in any way, with any of your goals, please contact me! Let me help you get all of your health and fitness results.

Whatever you do — don’t stop shining!!

Gym Etiquette

I’m not gonna lie, because lying is wrong. But I never even thought about blogging about this topic until now. Heck, this may even become a newsletter (which if you want to subscribe – please send me your email at ken@sandlerstrengthandfitness.com). But I have had some crazy interactions with members at my gym that make me think WTF? Is it because I live in Montgomery Co., MD one of the most spoiled areas in the country? Or is it just people being selfish? Maybe it’s just people not knowing.

But there is an etiquette to being at the gym, not just the Pandemic distancing stuff, but real rules that should be understood, even if they are just understood without actually having a rule book. So if you are new to a gym, I hope these rules are helpful. If you are a gym vet, you get it, but hopefully some of these are good reminders and you can step up your game a bit.

  1. Don’t be a d-bag. Common sense, right? Look, being a nice, decent human being at all times in every situation is always good. Don’t be mean to other people. Anything you need to say to someone can be done in a nice way. Don’t mock people either. Just because you’re a gym vet who squats 500 doesn’t mean everyone else can.

The obvious ones:

2. Rerack your weights. Put your dbs back on the rack. Put all those 45 lb plates that you used for that 500 lb squat back on the rack too. Just simply makes it easier for the next person. What DOES make me laugh at my gym is our db racks are all numbered! Yet people still put a 15 lb db in the 20lb spot lol.

3. Wipe everything down. Now people have gotten better about this with the Pandemic, but still… noone wants to use those sweaty dbs, bench or other machine after you.


4. Put your bag, jacket, etc in a locker or in the corner. Sure, throw something on the bench you’re using to save it for you. but the rest of that stuff can take up too much space. Speaking of saving…

5. Don’t ‘hog’ the gym. If you’re using the bench press in one area of the gym, don’t go save the lat pulldown machine on the other side so you can ‘superset.’ Don’t be that guy who gets pissed because you ‘were using it. ‘ You’re not. I had a run in with a guy about 2 weeks ago who was using both sides of a cable machine to do tricep pressdowns two different ways. One with the rope handle, the other with a metal handle. Why, because as he said he was “hitting them at different angles.” I wanted to punch him ( I didn’t. I work there. I would get fired.) First, use one friggin handle, then the other. Second – Dude, if you are doing that much tricep work, you aren’t working out correctly. But this went back to tip #1 – he was a d-bag. He actually went to the front desk and told on me, even though all I did was walk away. How do you over come this –

6. You let people work in. This is an old school gym thing. You do a set, I do a set. I was supersetting with a client this morning (which is what prompted this blog post). We were using the lat pulldown machine supersetting with some lateral steps. we got off the machine and some woman took it, and when I asked if we could work in, she could not have been ruder. Pissed me off.

7. One more minor one, yet still a good one. when using dbs, try not to 1)block other people’s view. Most gyms have their db racks at a mirror. People are checking form, etc. don’t block them, and 2) don’t block the rack. You have one set of the 20’s. Take a step back so others can grab the weights they need.

I think that’s all I got for now. Did I miss anything? For my gym goers, do you agree with this list? Please feel free to comment and have a great weekend!


A Message to My Fellow Personal Trainers – You are Being Watched! Be Mindful!

I had a couple of nice coaching wins this week that I will get to here. I had a client on Thursday morning. We have some great conversations. She told me she appreciated that. Rapport is such an important part of this job. “Know, like, trust.” People won’t do business with us until we have this. Damn, I wish I knew this when I was younger. One of the things she said to me was she was that she was worried a trainer would push her without even listening to her. You know what? She is not my only client who has told me that. Even though many of us are not, coaches have this reputation of being ‘military’ and telling clients to do something even though it hurts. This is why I ask my clients first thing when they walk in how are they? Yes, I mean their well-being, but I mean how are they feeling? I always have a workout planned, but I will always be ready to adjust need be. But more importantly, I told her, it’s my job to listen to her! Not only does it help me program and adjust her workout for that day, but it helps build that trust and rapport we need. When she sees it, guess what? She gives me referrals. The other thing she told me was that she doesn’t understand how some coaches don’t pay attention to their clients, they look around, etc. If you are another trainer reading this – be mindful! People are watching you! Once again, those potential clients are watching you work. They are seeing you look around the room. They are seeing you play on your phone or leaning against equipment! be professional and be mindful. She’s right, BTW. I think I posted this the other day. I have a few co-workers who just embarrass me by how they work. But not my biz.

My other big win this week was just being there for another client. She cancelled a few times on me this week because of work and because of some personal problems. She felt guilty and upset that she missed sessions because she has gotten out of the habit of working out a bit. I did my best to console her, reminding her life gets in the way. She was still doing a bit at home, and sometimes we can’t help it. I told her we’d get back to it when she was ready. She texted me the next day thanks for being a good friend. Sometimes that’s all it takes as a coach. Just being there for your client. Not saying anything but, ‘it’s gonna be ok.”

Have a great weekend!


Critiquing at the Gym: Don’t Do It, Unless It’s Really Bad

If any of my readers are also personal trainers at big gyms like I am, or if you’re not, there is one big rule that we sort of all stand by: Unless someone is really doing harm to themselves, you don’t go bother them. Now of course at a big gym, one of the big ways to get new clients IS to actually talk to members. There are definitely ways to help someone without looking like a total d-bag. If and when I do, I usually say something like, “Man, that’s a great exercise, but remember to do this…” something in that vain so I don’t look like I am bothering, but trying to be engaging.

This rule also has to go to my co-workers, the other trainers I work with. That’s really the topic of this message. I was going to post this on FB, but I didn’t want to do this there, for fear any of them saw it. But man, I have to tell you – some of my co-worker trainers are just so terrible, it’s embarrassing. I mean, I have only been coaching for 7 years, but some of what I see, OMG! I want to say something but I won’t because once again 1) it’s obnoxious, 2) It’s really none of my biz, and 3) I’m not perfect, and I KNOW that that crap will only come back to bite me in the ass. “Hey, Ken! Your client’s form sucked on that! What the fuck kind of trainer are you?” Actually, I think I’m one of the top 4 -5 we have. There are only a few I would trust to train me. I don’t just mean cueing wise, I mean professionally:

  • Today I saw my co-worker have his client do an RDL, but he back was nothing but rounded. This trainer by the way, barely even looks at his client when he works with them. He’s looking around the gym, his clipboard, and just counting 1…2….3…. His client could just be standing there for all he knows.
  • I saw another trainer actually look like he was doing a god job coaching a woman on TRX straps. I was sort of impressed with how he was talking to her. Then later, I saw him have a client do planks, and once again, not even looking at his client’s form, just looking at the clock. This felt very sexist to me – lol. But this is the trainer who’s big cue is ‘Cmon!’ You know how when your buddy is spotting you on the bench press and screams, ‘All you, Man!” as he helps you with that last rep? That’s who this guy is. I’ve seen him have his clients do pushups with terrible form – no plank, hips down, scapular winging. Just awful. My job as a coach isn’t just to work you out, it’s to make sure you do it correctly!!!
  • Then finally just the sloppiness – leaning against equipment as they coach, or more worried about looking up some actor’s name on their phone from whatever conversation he is having with his client, rather than actually cueing them

These are three different people.

I am so blessed to have had the two mentors I had/have. Oh, they weren’t perfect either, They pissed me off a couple time. But they helped me when I needed it. They guided me to not just coach in terms of cueing, but to be professional, like I said don’t rest on equipment or lay on the floor next to your client. The first time I did that, I was told ‘Take a knee instead.’

As a coach, this profession is not just about getting results for my clients, it’s about walking the walk. Being professional, acting professional. It’s what I strive to be.

If you’re also a trainer, what kind of things have you seen at your gym that bother you?