Matt Berlin

Matt Berlin

Kenzai Marathon | Day 5 (Member)
Kenzai Marathon
Day 5
Program progress:

10 for 10 on the workouts. Week one ease in has stepped up a bit now in week 2, but still enjoying getting the max reps across the 4 cycles done in 35 minutes including w/u & stretching. Was able to get a comfortable 7 mile run in this past weekend for the get outside free cardio. First run in 3 weeks, so the cardio is weak. But that's what this Skiboot was for, to kick the body back into some a semblance of form and routine for 28 days. Let's see what Ward's program has in store for us the next 18 days.


We already know each other, but so we don't get our lift passes revoked by Warden Ward...

Who are you? -

Do you have an injury or other barrier to SkiBoot success? - Injury free currently, and planning to keep it that way.

Where are you? - Northeast US, 2 hours north of NYC. If I was a skier, I have tons of options around...for traditional northeast ice skiing.

How do you spend your time? - Lyft-driving my kids everywhere, in-between being their personal chef, tutor, butler, etc.

Why SkiBoot? - It's all about the badges baby! -

What's your favorite Kenzai exercise? - Free Cardio (cheater)

What's your least favorite? - Anything that says Negative and 5 sets (no patience for those)

What was your best halloween costume? - Haven't dressed up for halloween since ~1986...I think I was a robot...made the costume myself. Cardboard boxes and tons of aluminum foil.

Is there a food item that if available, even when you are locked into training tight, you'll go off piste for? If so, what is it? - One word...BEER! Two words...Next Beer!

[Photo: Not me...some random photo on the web...sort of looks like Ward with that hat on though]


Team Oz still holding at...3 (small team planning to put in a big effort start to finish)

Workouts complete...3 (enjoying the week 1 short and sweet 25 minute all in workouts including w/u & stretching).

Day 3...last day before the diet (time to get ready for alot of eating...blessing and curse. At least it's only 6 eggs/whites to start with).

[Photo Credit: Sesame Street is owned by Sesame Workshop]


Well the last 3 weeks of February were a sickness fest and time suck. I had been keeping a good routine of 3-4 Kenzai Iron workouts a week, balanced with equal numbers of runs and the occasional indoor bike trainer ride since the start of the year. Then came the time suck of the new puppy in the house, and then the body blow of influenza myself and sick kids too. Everyone's better now, but the body needed some good rest to get there. Bonus to it though is my knee tendonitis is feeling alot better, so I've got that going for me. And I lost some weight too...although alot of it was muscle mass as I look in the mirror. Time to get some of that back at least.

So since my running cardio is for crap right now with my lungs still recovering, I figured why not take on 4 weeks of Skiboot to get the body back going in March. I haven't been a skier since the early 90's, and wasn't a big one even back then. But I like the idea of some leg focused workouts for the next 28 days to get the body ready for spring time cardio and nicer weather.

Looks like it's going to be just Kim, Sean and I on this team. Maybe we'll get a late add or two to join the triumvirate.

{Photo is of the only current Pow Hound in our house}

Stronger Mind 

Quick blog filler for grad purposes. Currently down for the count with Influenza and as a result missed the final few practices. So will come back for more final thoughts on this excellent program once the body is functioning healthy again and I can finish the final few meditation sessions right...and work towards the continuation of this healthy habit.


Really liked the lesson on Skillful Listening the end of last week. Would love it if more people digested this one in the world. I try to pass this on to our kids (probably way too much for their liking...but that goes for a lot of things I'm sure from their perspective). Try to teach them the skill of listening, not just hearing, and also listen to learn more in school and your life.

Reminds me of days in the office environment when this was so obvious on a daily basis. The personalities that talked (so you were aware of how "valuable" their opinion is), versus those who listened, learned and were successful for the collective business. Also in friendships and acquaintances too. My wife and I have gone to many a dinner or night out with other couples and laugh by the end that we may have talked 5% of the time max, while another couple continued to talk, talk, talk and talk, as if our presence really wasn't even needed.

So here's to hoping some more people learn some active listening skills in their interpersonal life, although I suspect the preponderance of non-stop opinion sharing on twitter/FB/etc. is just adding fuel to the "talk, talk, talk" habit.


Side benefit of Mind. When standing outside in freezing weather waiting to make sure your family’s new puppy does his business outside, you have extra time to stand and think about thinking. This morning, listening to the birds, enjoying some morning quiet time, standing meditation, time in the present. Helps with the patience for when his business ends up on the carpet indoors later in the day.


Have had a mix of really good and really scattered meditation practices lately. Sort of par for the course as I'm expecting all this will be. But I figure even on the days that are more scattered, it's making me come back to my breathing and posture much more often. Which for someone with poor posture too often, it's at least making me focus on improving that even on my poor meditation days.

I've been mixing in some eyes closed times again too. Some days the eyes open works, and others even a white door provides distractions. The eyes closed, floating in space visual has helped at times...until of course it doesn't.

I'll try to hit the blogs soon Mindmates. Haven't been engaged on the blogs that much with this program. Which actually feels like the proper fit for this practice. Feels more like a solo journey type of program...or at least most of the time it has. Hope everyone's making good progress on your own journeys here.

Day 18

18 days in, and the lessons have been outstanding! Really liked a few lines especially from today:

"In physical training, it's easy to spot when someone's using good or bad form. Arms are easy. Brains are hard.

With mental training, no trainer can open up your head and check your form. There are no visible results to assess at the end of the month."
"A trainer is great, but nothing is as good as a focused, self-aware trainee who's making micro-adjustments to squeeze every ounce of burn out of any given exercise.

Take this same spirit into your meditation practice. No one can ever know what's really going on in your mind. You can easily cruise through a meditation session thinking about plots from old movies or what shoes to buy next week. But to do that would be squandering these few precious minutes you have to work on your metacognitive abilities. Be diligent, be serious, and don't turn away from meditation when it feels hard. Those are often the days when you gain the most strength."

This program so far has definitely been so different than any of the other programs (obviously). Training the mind vs training the body. Two totally different animals in some ways, but also the same in the accountability focus one has to have to improve at something. I like that corollary. Clicks well in my brain. Now let's see if I can apply it to this Mind work a bit more.

Running Meditation

Took advantage of some available time to get a run in this morning in the light snow we got. This is just the tiny appetizer. Storm coming in this weekend has the potential for 2 feet of the white stuff and dangerously low wind chill temps. So enjoying the outside for some Mind exercising while I can.

Added a new twist for today's meditation practice. Tried doing it while I was doing my Legs Up the Wall post-run stretch (two birds, one stone). Worked ok. Found the focus of stretching my legs another 'present moment' thing to focus on. Worth a try but wouldn't say it was my best practice session.

Been doing better with the eyes open technique, better than I was anticipating I would. Have found a quiet spot in the house with no objects/distractions in the periphery. I'm having a bit of hazy/foggy/distorted vision during some of the practice time. Can't tell if it's my eyes just bugging out staring at a blank spot or what. Oh the Mind games this program is slowly building.

Have a great weekend Mindmates!


Week 1 of Mind went smooth. Some days the mediation practice was 'easy' and flew by, and then a few others were thought chain mania sessions. But kind of like a week of working out, some days are strong and some are just punching the clock ones.

I did the first week's practice in a chair. Figured it would be a better start for my posture, and then wait to see what the lessons said about cushions, sitting, posture, etc. Week 2 I'm going to try out this new cushion and compare the difference.

Breath on Mindmates.

Mind First

Changed my Mind. Called an audible this morning and decided to go with Mind this January instead of Reach. Since it starts 2 weeks earlier, and is 2 weeks shorter than Reach, it'll free me up by mid February in case Patrick releases any of the new programs coming this year sooner rather than later. Plus I figure Reach might work better this summer during full on cardio season instead. So let's get to work on this monkey brain and see if it can improve the cognitive skills during runs, workouts, and life.

As for Starting Photo, since body shots seem irrelevant to this program, starting off with a photo from my run yesterday. Running water seems appropriate for some mindfulness.

Image Credit: Matt Groening and 20th Century Fox

New Year...

It's been 8 weeks since wrapping up Bells 2. Been keeping active with winter runs, some indoor cycling/spinning, and oddly enough I've been keeping a good balance of strength workouts going too. When I'm off program, I drift more to cardio, and the strength workouts drift into the background. But these last two months it's been an equal balance. Started off with a few weeks of Kettlebell 2 workouts mixed in with Bands/Bodyweight workouts. And now the last 3 weeks I've been hitting 3 days of Iron workouts a week. I'm liking the balance. And mixing in some good rest days too. Now off to ride the trainer in the basement on this cold, sleeting day, and then do day 54 of Iron to keep the cardio and strength balance train moving forward.

What program next? Maybe Reach in a few weeks, unless there's any of the talked about new programs added to the January/February schedule. Reach would fit into the running/cycling/Iron routine right now, so we'll see how the next two weeks unfolds.

Looking forward to seeing the blogs fire up with programs kicking off Monday. Get at it Kenzaites!

Earn the Bird

Had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving at home, with just my wife, our 3 children, and my mother. No stress. Perfect!!

Weather has been bitter cold the last few days, so finally motivated to get the bike trainer setup on Wednesday. Kicked the indoor season off with a session of Short Sprint Intervals. [KNote up today has the workout; reposted below too]. Simple structured workout, gets the heart going for over an hour, and leg fatigue really picks up in the 3rd and 4th set. Adaptable to the bike and rower. Earned some of the Thanksgiving meal with that workout.

Annual Turkey Trot again this year. Just me and the son this time. Older daughter's friends didn't want any part of the -6F wind chill temps, so she passed this year, and too cold for our younger daughter too. Pretty impressive showing the number of people in our town that showed up to participate in the temps. Always a fun way to start Thanksgiving Day.

Hope everyone in the Kenzai world had a Happy Thanksgiving for those that celebrate it.


Try this Short Sprint Interval workout the next time you’re on the bike or rower.

First, let's orientate you to some basic concepts central to interval training.

RPE: Rate of Perceived Exertion - exercising effort scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being your easiest effort, and 10 your maximum effort.

AR: Active Recovery - easy pedaling/rowing, giving your body a break between intervals, but avoiding stopping motion completely.

Let's begin.

Warm-Up: 10 minutes at level 4-5 RPE

Burst: 40 seconds at level 9-10 RPE, in a medium to large gear/resistance

Recovery: 20 seconds of AR

Repeat that sequence 9 more times, that’s 1 Set

4 minutes at level 4-5 RPE in between sets

Complete up to 4 sets during the workout

Cool Down: 5-10 minutes at level 4-5 RPE after Sets complete


6 weeks swung! This time in double style. As I said in the beginning, I’d been wanting to do this program for a bit, and am glad to finally be able to add that Bells 2 badge to the complete list.

Really liked all of the new exercises this program added on top of Bells 1. Using one Kettlebell at a time is a good way to introduce Kettlebell workouts for the first program. But the addition of the second Kettlebell is essential to your development, so it’s a must for anyone looking to build upon their ‘Bells skills.

I liked how the program didn’t ease in, and jumped right into it week 1. 6 weeks is short so no time to waste, so that was good. I was surprised we peaked at 3 cycles for the program, but understand the rationale to it and the addition of more exercises per cycle was a good replacement to just more cycles.

My one critique that keeps this program off my top 4 favorite program list is too many active recovery days. Body 3 has 13 cross training days out of 90 days in the program (~14.5%), Iron has 11 cardio and 1 rest day out of 90 (~13%), and Chisel has 5 cardio+challenge days out of 42 (~12%). Bells 2 has 11 active recovery/free cardio days out of 42 (~26%). Way too many for an advanced Kettlebell program in one trainee’s opinion. And this is coming from someone who prefers cardio for his main workout source. But for this program, being an advanced one in the Kenzai catalogue, I think it would be more effective for a 6 week stretch to drop ~5-6 of those non-Bells days. That’s how I will go about it at least when I reuse the last few weeks of these workouts in the future for maintenance purposes.

Today was also Burpee day for Team Kenzai Fundraising Challenge for Wade’s Army.

Completed 55 Push-up Burpees after the Bells workout to go towards our team’s fulfillment. Fish dropped a double nickel leading the team off, so I followed suit. It felt like doing a Bells 2 and Chisel workout back to back, hence had to break the burpees up into sets of 10. Fast forward video loaded to youtube.

Great to train with everyone. It was a good bridge program into the fall/winter season. What’s next? Not sure yet. Have to see how ready for winter running my knee is up for. Until next time!

Starting Photo



Kenzai Marathon
Kenzai Marathon


Kenzai Body
Kenzai Body

Kenzai Run 10k
Kenzai Run 10k

Kenzai Run Half
Kenzai Run Half

Kenzai Body 2
Kenzai Body 2

Kenzai Body 3
Kenzai Body 3

Kenzai Iron
Kenzai Iron

Kenzai Chisel
Kenzai Chisel

Kenzai Kettlebell
Kenzai Kettlebell

Kenzai Kettlebell 2
Kenzai Kettlebell 2

Kenzai Mind
Kenzai Mind


Kenzai Run
Kenzai Run

Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready
Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready

Kenzai Blast: T-shirt Ready
Kenzai Blast: T-shirt Ready