Training Your Mind
For the most part, I consider myself very knowledgeable about fitness and diet stuff. When it comes to mental health though, I wouldn’t consider myself a pro in any way. But I am aware of the benefits of mindfulness practices and I do see how one’s mental game can affect their performance, whether it’s in the gym or out. When I prepare fighters for their fights, for example, I always consider their mental strength because that’s about 80% of the fight. Mental fortitude isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Fortunately, just like your muscles, you can work on it and strengthen it.
The first and most obvious thing that you can do is meditate. Everyone encourages meditation but it’s not easy for all to do. I find it challenging to sit for more than 5 minutes in silence most times. They say it’s good for lowering stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, etc. I do find that it’s calming for me, considering I usually feel like I have a hundred things going on in my mind at any given moment in the day. It basically forces me to try and block those things out for a bit, and by doing that, I’m able to refocus my mind. If you’ve never done meditation, I’d recommend checking out meditation apps. You can do guided meditations or non-guided that can guide you through the process.
Aside from meditation, there are mindfulness practices that everyone can do—small stuff that requires very little time—that can create lasting benefits. For some people, that might be writing in a journal at the beginning or end of the day. Whether it’s goals that they have for the day (or the next), things that they’re grateful and appreciative for, or just positive reinforcement, these types of simple practices can refocus and clear your mind. Being bored is also beneficial for creativity and productivity, so if you ever find yourself bored out of your mind, embrace it!
You’d be surprised how easy it is to skip taking care of your mind. Everyone gets caught up in their busy lives and routines and we all forget to stop and live in the moment. It’s good to push yourself but always remember to take care of your mental well-being as well as your body. It also helps you to appreciate the things that you’ve worked hard for! That’s why it’s always been a part of the Trifecta motto: sport, body, mind. So set a reminder for yourself to do some mindfulness practices this week. Or get started now!
The Soulful Art of Persuasion
It’s been an exciting week. My good friend and mentor Jason Harris wrote a book, The Soulful Art of Persuasion, that came out this week! Jason has taught me so much ever since I met him. If I could credit anyone for pushing me to be my own person, it’d be him. Everything Jason talks about on the art of persuasion—being a genuine person, being empathetic, being a positive and generous force to others—those are all things that everyone should live by. Those are all things that I’ve tried to live by, not necessarily with the idea of being persuasive in mind, but rather, to always try to improve who I am. But let’s be honest; a large part of my life has to do with persuasion. As a trainer, I persuade people to train with me, to listen to my instructions, and to trust or believe in me (and themselves). Similarly, as an entrepreneur, people have to be convinced to believe in me and my business ideas.
Persuading people that what I have to offer was worth their time and money wasn’t always easy. It still isn’t at times, but I’ve learned some things in the past few years and I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way from where I started. For example, building good relationships with other people has been something I’ve come to value a lot in the past few years (and I’d say Jason is a big part of that). I’ve always known people in different industries and I’ve always thought about how those people could connect and help each other out or help me out. It’s something that I often think about because everyone I know is looking to do something cool or something new, and if I can connect those people, great things can happen. Also, from time and experience, I’ve found that I care “more about relationships than transactions” at this point.
If I could have read The Soulful Art of Persuasion 10 years ago, my life would probably have been easier. Jason breaks it down into 4 principles and 11 habits, and reading them makes it seem so easy to do! You could probably learn something from just picking up this book and reading any few pages (although I recommend reading all the pages because there’s a lot of genuinely helpful stuff). Everyone benefits from being their authentic selves. Everyone benefits from living as better people…and everyone benefits from being more soulful. I’ve had to learn a lot about myself and how to become a persuasive person through trial and tons of error. (Isn’t that always true about life?) But my experiences and struggles make me unique so I don’t have any regrets about that. As the book says, anyone can learn to be persuasive if you work at it. And I’d say that these are all things that are worth working on because no matter who you are or what you do, you are worth it.
I’ve already talked about my running routine and how it is usually the start of my day. But it’s probably my least favorite form of cardio. I prefer rowing over running, but you can’t row whenever or wherever you want unless you have your own rowing machine. The same goes for stationary and regular biking. And swimming is even less accessible for some people. For me, the best form of cardio is something most people do often when they’re children: jump rope.
Remember the days when jumping rope didn’t seem like a workout at all and it was just fun and playing around? Double Dutch right by the stoop and all that good stuff! As a kid you don’t think about the benefits or skills involved with skipping rope. There’s a reason why boxers are often seen skipping rope, though. Skipping rope involves coordination and helps improve footwork. More importantly, it improves rhythm! When you’re jumping rope, you should be on the balls of your feet, not flat-footed with your heels touching the ground. You want to be light on your feet, just like when you’re boxing.
Jumping rope also helps to build up endurance over time. Believe it or not, it burns calories more efficiently than running at times. It’s great cardio! And a really important aspect of jumping rope for those who get injuries from running—jumping rope a relatively low-impact exercise. So it’s something that won’t wear on your joints over time like running does.
Lastly, jumping rope doesn’t take much skill or money. You can always build up to doing tricks on the rope if you like the challenge, of course. But to start out, all you need to do is jump and swing the rope. Anyone can do it. Jump ropes can be bought for real cheap and you can use them anywhere. They’re lightweight so you can take them with you when you travel, too.
If you’re just getting into working out, this is a great way to test your body and mind. You can see where your cardio is at and it’ll take some patience and practice to get the hang of working your feet and arms in a continuous rhythm. Try adding it to your workout if you aren’t already doing it!
Most people who come to me want to lose weight, build muscle, or both. Depending on what your goals are and where you’re at now, your diet and exercises should vary. Putting on muscle is possible for everyone, but if you do it right, you’ll see results faster.
For those of you out there who are looking to build muscle, here are my top 3 tips:
- Caloric Surplus
Eating to maintain, eating to lose, and eating to bulk are all very different. When you’re looking to bulk, you don’t want to be at a caloric deficit or you’ll lose any muscle you would have gained, especially if you’re already lean and you’re looking to gain muscle. It goes without saying that all calories are not equal and you’ll have to figure out what you need to eat more of and less of. It’s best to calculate your target calories for each day in order to know how much you need for a surplus diet. (I mentioned MyFitnessPal in the previous blog—it’s great for this!) Timing of your meals is also important. For example, you’ll want to get some carbs and protein in your system as soon as you can after a workout.
- Compound Lifts
Compound lifts include deadlifts, squats, bench press, dips, pull-ups, and more. They work your body across multiple joints and engage muscle groups instead of isolating muscles and working those out one at a time. Compound exercises are generally more functional exercises because they simulate daily movements and activities. You also engage your core often during compound exercises since balance and coordination are part of the workout. I’d say compound lifts are the quickest way to build up size and strength.
- Muscle Confusion
We’ve all been guilty of getting complacent and comfortable in our workouts. But you shouldn’t! This isn’t just about using different muscles, it’s also about making sure you’re not doing the same things over and over again. People often train to a point and then hit a plateau after a while because their muscles adapt to the exercises. Remember to increase resistance, sets, and reps to avoid that plateau. Mixing up your lifts and workouts will also keep you engaged with the exercise (instead of going through the motions) and challenge you. Hopefully it’ll challenge you mentally as well!
As someone who has had to put on muscle many times, I’m pretty familiar with how to shift my diet and workouts to get quicker results. It usually takes me about 2 weeks to see changes. Putting on mass and maintaining it requires a lot of eating right, training right, and making sure you get enough sleep and recovery time. Think about recovery as part of your workout routine, too! It’s an important part of working on your Sport, Body, and Mind.
Since I’ve gotten back from vacation, life has been hectic. Almost as if I’m playing catch-up. Staying on track while being anxious is always a hassle for me, so I rely on a few apps to keep things simpler. These days you can pretty much track anything you want with your phone, plus listen to music (or even have a voice cheering you on) while you’re working out. Here are the top 3 apps that I use for health and fitness:
For running, which I do almost daily, I use the Nike Run Club app. Being able to easily access the data for all of your runs including maps of the routes that you’ve taken is really helpful. Most importantly for me, it helps to see the progress I’ve made over time. The app also tells you every mile you’ve run so you don’t have to check your phone for distance (surprisingly not a feature on all running apps). If you’re into guided runs, Nike offers those as well, along with challenges and other social aspects that you can get involved in. Seeing your friends’ runs can add the accountability that you need to push yourself to those goals!
For diet/nutrition, my favorite app is MyFitnessPal. They’ve got it down when it comes to presenting your diet in ways that help you stay on track, which is the biggest challenge for some people. If you’re tracking your macros like I do, MFP makes it so easy. They’ve got almost every food in their database or you can search/scan for it. If you have a smart scale that connects to the app, it can track your weight as well. There’s also a million other features to the app now, including recipes, tracking your steps, setting reminders and challenges, etc. But in my experience, keeping things SIMPLE makes it easier to keep things consistent.
There are a ton of apps available for meditation and mobility work. Whether or not you work out, mindfulness and mobility is something that everyone should be doing. I am currently working on the Trifecta app, which I use for meditation and mobility. We try to incorporate it in our workouts but to make it easily accessible for those who can’t attend classes, it’ll be in the app. Even 5-15 minutes a day dedicated to mindfulness benefits your mental health! I highly encourage it. I’ll let you know when the Trifecta app comes out!
The only thing that apps can’t do is pull you out of bed, remind you to eat healthy, or persistently prod you to sit down and meditate for a few minutes. But they do try to reward you for your accomplishments and push you to keep going, which is sometimes all you need! Remember: At the end of the day these are YOUR goals. So be consistent.
Sport. Body. Mind.
Earlier this week I talked about how compassion can play a role in working out. There’s definitely an appeal to working out with others. As you probably know, I have experience teaching both. As a personal trainer, it’s easy for me to tell someone about the benefits of private training over taking classes. It’s a question that I and even my clients get asked a lot, so I thought I’d talk about it here.
Taking classes is a great way to get into something new. If you’re just starting boxing, for example, taking a class gives you a taste of what to expect going forward. Working out with others is also great for motivation when it comes to conditioning—use others as a way to push yourself and feel comfort knowing that you’re all suffering together. Camaraderie really can make your workout fun. The downsides to taking classes are that you won’t be getting undivided attention from the instructor. In some cases, that’s fine. But in boxing, form and technique matter a lot when it comes to preventing injury and seeing improvement. You also run the risk of starting out with bad habits if they’re not caught and corrected. When I teach classes, I try to catch that as much as I can and give as much instruction as possible when I see that someone is new. But I can only do so much.
Private sessions, on the other hand, are all about having things explained to you when you need it. It’s your time to work on form and technique, work on whatever you’re having trouble with or wanting to improve. It’s a workout catered to you. If you don’t feel like you’re making progress on your own, a personal trainer can help you set goals and workout routines. Not to mention that having someone who’s knowledgeable about this stuff can make your life so much easier. All you have to worry about is showing up and following instructions. With boxing, having someone who knows what you need to work on and what your strengths are can make a huge difference. From what I’ve seen, people who only do classes usually cap off skill-wise after a while. Meanwhile, people who have trainers will continue to improve and learn because they have someone guiding them.
The biggest deterrent that people have to personal training is cost. But it all depends on what your priorities are. Private training and classes will both push you in conditioning, but personal training can help you pick up on what you feel like you’re missing from classes. It all comes down to what your goals are and what it’s worth for you to reach them. Everyone’s needs are different. See what works for you!
Compassion, Tenacity, Consistency
In my experience, the three most important things that I learned on my fitness journey are Compassion, Tenacity, and Consistency.
I don’t think Compassion would jump to most peoples’ minds when they’re asked about what’s most important when it comes to fitness. Maybe it’s because I’m an athlete and a trainer that I find it very relevant to the work-out process. When you’re working out with other people (like taking a class or sparring with an opponent), there’s a collective sense of suffering that you experience. Compassion also helps to motivate people and push them through the tough workouts. On another level, having compassion for yourself is important for overall happiness. I’ve seen people be so hard on themselves when they don’t need to be, but I’ve also seen people make excuses for themselves when they shouldn’t. You need a happy median to make it work. It’s all about balance. Working out shouldn’t be a miserable process; not if your ultimate goal is to be healthier (and thus happier).
Tenacity is a great word. It’s synonymous with persistent, persevering, dogged, insistent, and patient, along with many others. To be tenacious is to be strong-willed, not easily taken down, committed, dedicated, determined, resolute, stubborn, unwavering, etc. If I could embody one word, I’d want it to be tenacious. In 2016 I was hit by a car a few days before having my Golden Gloves fight and was still determined to see it through. I lost to split decision, but fought ‘til the final bell. Without tenacity, I would have given up when things got tough. Without tenacity, I would have never gotten to where I am today. You know: bite off more than you can chew, then keeping chewing anyways. IF YOU WANT SOMETHING, OWN IT.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you won’t be surprised to find consistency on the list. If you want results that last, learn how to be consistent. There’s no talent to working out. It’s about obsession and working at it every single day. Especially when you feel like shit, don’t want to, or have a good excuse to avoid it. Those are the days you must push. Be consistent with diet, exercise, and goals. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again! (I gotta be consistent!)
Talking about these three things has made me realize something: it all comes down to Sport, Body, and Mind. Have the right mentality, be consistent, and push yourself. I’ve learned all of this either the hard way or the easy way. More often than not it was the hard way. I wasn’t always consistent, it took practice and lots of self-discipline. Hopefully, you’ll be able to learn a little something from my experiences, too.
This week I got people together to raise money for a charity event. Contributing to good causes and helping others who are less fortunate has always been a passion of mine, and by extension, a goal of Trifecta’s. I’m actually kind of proud of the fact that we were able to gather a team and donate to the charity—it’s not necessarily something that we could have accomplished a year ago. If you think about it, being a trainer is all about helping others make changes in their own lives.
Making a positive impact on someone’s life is by far one of my favorite things about being a trainer. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. I’ve seen so many people change over the time that I’ve known them. The most obvious thing I see is their change in confidence. Confidence makes such a difference. Whether you gain it from losing weight, learning a skill (like boxing), or realizing what you can actually achieve (way more than you think!), it’s something that will expand into all parts of your life.
I gotta be honest. I didn’t start teaching because I wanted to instill confidence in people or make a change in their lives, really. I just happened to give some advice to someone who was lifting weights at the gym that I was boxing at, Church Street Boxing Gym. He told me I was a natural at teaching and that I should consider becoming an instructor at the gym. He was the son of the owner and I needed a job, so I took him up on the offer.
Fast forward to today—I’m in the process of opening up my own location in Tribeca. Life’s funny like that sometimes. My helping someone turned me on a path that I would have never considered taking. And now it’s my biggest passion. It reminds me of a quote from Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots going forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect your future.”
Last week I wrote about trying to learn and grow to become a better person. Like everyone else, I’ve had people who I looked up to and tried to live my life by throughout the years. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have met someone who ended up making a significant impact on me and ended up changing me for the better.
Jason Harris came into my life by happenstance. I was teaching his boxing class at Church Street Boxing Gym. I saw people come and go from the gym every day, so of course I didn’t remember him. A few days after, I was told that I had a 1-on-1 scheduled with a “Jason Harris” and when we had our session, I officially met him. I recalled Jason instantly. I had given him hell in class for dropping his hands and made him run the stairs every time. He had been visibly annoyed about it, too. (That’s not my fault. Don’t drop your damn hands!)
I had been feeling a bit iffy prior to the session. I wasn’t sure if we’d work well together but 3 minutes into it, we were getting along great. We just clicked. He was pretty much everything I aspired to be (except for the lack of coordination, haha). Fast forward a few sessions later—I decided to pitch my business plan at him in the locker room. I told him that I had a brilliant idea for opening a new gym and threw some numbers at him. He said he’d love to own a gym and would be interested in investing $20k. When he asked why I wanted to open a gym, though, I told him that I wanted to take someone down who had left me jobless and homeless, and that that was my motivation. Jason said something that I’ll never forget. Somehow, it resonated with me more than anything else anyone had ever said.
“Yeah, I’d love to invest in someone with no moral compass.”
I also remember the look of disgust on his face as he walked out of the locker room. I hung back for a few minutes. I felt like shit. Here was someone whom I’d just met but had quickly started looking up to as a guiding figure in my life, and he was telling me that I had no chance at success with my kind of mindset. That moment and his words shifted my whole perspective. I left the locker room wanting to start being better, start doing better, and to find the right reasons.
Today, Jason is my business partner and he has invested much more than just money. He’s given me his time, words of wisdom, friendship, and more. I got a lot done being driven by ego, but I’ve honestly accomplished much more by being a better person. And that’s something I can be proud of. I slip up occasionally because I’m human like everyone else, but I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me in check and point my moral compass in the right direction every day.
“You need people who can tell you what you don’t want to hear.” –Robert De Niro
“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
This is my first actual vacation in a long time. I thought I’d do it big for my 30th. I’ve worked hard to get to this point, to get to where I am today. I still have a lot of milestones to hit going forward, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and reflect on what one has accomplished. If you think about it, you’re the only person responsible for building your life. So why not build a life that you are fully capable of living? That is the best life you can live? I’m continuing to work on that every day, but I’ve certainly learned a lot already.
Anyone can start building a healthy life through diet and fitness. But “healthy” means different things to different people. In my opinion, it’s important to make life changes that benefit you in the long run. Don’t go on a strict diet that you can’t stick to; change the way you eat. Don’t put off recovery because you’re in a rush to see results; let your body recover, then get back to the gym stronger than you were before. I didn’t start out with a morning routine already and I didn’t spontaneously decide to do it all one magical day. I built it up over time and it slowly became a fundamental part of my mornings, which then became a key part to my success.
Even when I’m on vacation I enjoy waking up early and keeping a morning routine. I make sure my clients stay accountable when they’re on vacation, too. Go a little wild for a couple of meals because hey, you’re on vacation! And then eat healthy for the other ones (for me, that’s dinner). You don’t get anywhere by doing something every once in a while. I’ll say it a million times—consistency is key. It also leaves less room for error.
How do you want to live your life? What can you do to get there? How do you set yourself up for success? I’m always thinking about what I can do to learn, to become better, to grow as a person. I refuse to settle for a life that is less than the one I am capable of living, and you should too!
This week I’m on vacation in Turks and Caicos. This place is what magazines and commercials are made of and I’m loving my time here. But even when I’m on vacation I don’t take a break from working out. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to go for a run (well, it’s actually to have a few Tito’s and soda—hold the lime—but running has its perks too). You’re in a completely different place and the whole run becomes an exploration of your surroundings. It’s exciting and for me, it’s even more so inspiring, especially when it’s so picturesque.
In a way, running in New York City can be like that. There are countless routes you can take and several different parks you can run in. My favorite route to run starts on 23rd street and 1st Ave. I usually head north up 1st Ave. until I get to 59th street, and then head west to Central Park. After that, it’s a matter of how far I want to run on a given day and what paths I want to take. The loop that goes through the whole park is 6 miles, but of course there are smaller loops you can run too. The nice thing about Central Park, aside from the fact that you don’t really have to worry about traffic and you’re surrounded by trees and grass, is that there are plenty of hills to challenge you along the run.
Honestly, I can’t run the same route over and over. Not only do I get lethargic, but I’ve battled with ADHD since I was a kid, so the more variety there is, the easier it is for me to stay on track. I like to mix up my runs and take other routes to keep my mind engaged. Doing this helps me stick to my routine! On average, including the run to Central Park and back, I’ll fit in about 7–9 miles.
Running in the city can be difficult for some people. I get it. If you’re not near a park, there’s a lot of traffic and stopping at each block can be annoying. It can also be a little unsafe depending on the roads you’re taking and the amazing tourists blocking your path are always fun to navigate through. At the same time, seeing other people out on their runs can be the motivation that you need. Personally, if I see someone and I’m starting to slow down, I’ll use them as a marker to pass before I hit my next mile. It adds a little motivation for me; maybe it’ll work for you.
People often dread running. Try getting out and pushing yourself to take new routes. Go along the West side and check out the Jersey skyline (surprisingly nice), enjoy the trees in Central Park, or see the sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge. It’ll probably make you hate running a little less—not that much less—but enough to stay on track! Remember, routine and consistency is everything!
A good morning routine can be a solid foundation to a great day. Over the years, I’ve changed up my routine to what best fits my needs. Right now, this is what I do to start my day. I like to implement activities that get my mind and body in the right gear. For me, waking up this early means that I’m ahead of the curve and beating out my competition—if there was any, haha.
3:45AM: Wake up. Ideally after a good amount of quality sleep (doctors recommend 7-9 hours). Good sleep is priceless and unfortunately a little hard to get these days. But always try. If getting to bed early or falling asleep is a challenge for you, a good routine or supplements could help. (Check out my next blog for my staple supplements.)
4–4:15AM: A cup of black coffee and a shot of Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I like to have a cup of coffee before a workout instead of doing a pre-workout supplement. Pre-workout supplements aren’t well-regulated. They’re full of miscellaneous trash and have way too much caffeine—I don’t want to feel cracked out before I go work out. And the apple cider vinegar can help with anything from weight loss to better skin.
5 BEFORE 5AM: Every morning I like to run 5 miles before 5AM. I ran just under a 7-minute mile today at 32 minutes 42 seconds. It’s a practice that keeps me motivated. At that time in the morning, much of the city is still asleep. Maybe it’s the Leo in me but there’s just something about knowing that you’re out getting work done while others aren’t that instills more confidence. How can I lose if I’m going above and beyond what’s already considered above and beyond!?
After the run, I’ll try to take 5 minutes to cool down and meditate. Taking the time to slow down and focus on centering my mind is a great way to wrap things up before I move on to training clients and taking on the world.
~5:15: Another cup of black coffee with MCT oil and grapefruit. MCT (medium-change triglycerides) oil boasts a good amount of health benefits such as improving exercise performance, and comes in handy if you’re working on cutting down. It goes well with the coffee, too (not really, but it’s an eat-to-live not live-to-eat type of thing). And of course, grapefruit because it’s rich in antioxidants and fiber.
5:30–9AM: Start my day training clients.
9:30AM: Finally have my breakfast—4 eggs, 1/2 cup of oats.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
Moral of the story is you don’t have to have talent or skill to have a morning routine. You just need discipline with a side of tenacity because really, who the hell wants to wake up early and be so organized? A healthy morning routine ideally includes sport, body, and mind. Some exercise, mindfulness practice, or even something as simple as reading/writing in a journal. If you put in work for your body, don’t neglect the mind. After all, this is Trifecta. Sport. Body. Mind.
Since this is my first blog post, I thought I’d introduce myself a little. My name is Paul Bamba and I am the founder of Trifecta. I have been in the fitness industry for more than 15 years as an athlete, fitness instructor, coach, personal trainer, and entrepreneur. As an athlete and a trainer, I’ve always respected hard work and consistency. But with that can come a lot of physical stress to your body. It’s not only important to me for clients to see results, but also expect to maintain their results in the long term. Balance is key. Which is how I came up with Trifecta—a gym that is unique in its approach to a healthy body and mind.
I think that this blog will be a great way for me to share some tips, thoughts, and stories about myself and the people behind Trifecta. We are all dedicated to bettering our lives; whether it is through setting fitness goals, learning about nutrition, or simply finding motivation. My hope is that you’ll discover some of that here and see why the key to working out and reaching your highest potential must embody all parts of the Trifecta: sport, body, and mind.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”