Guest Blog Post from Anne Reuss


(I met Anne at Equinox a few months ago. I was immediately impressed by her focus and will. Since then, we have kayaked the Chicago River, swam Lake Michigan and trained Kettlebells. She is an amazing trainer and person.)She beat me in Bocce, too

At one point, you face an obstacle.

Sometimes it feels like it’s keeping you back. Preventing you from moving forward.

From reaching your goals. From becoming your best self and giving it your all.

I know, because I’ve been there and in a big way, I’m there every day as a Deaf person. I don’t let that obstacle block my way.Now I embrace the obstacle, I push and I pull it, I lift it up, I flip it over.

The only way I can function and thrive in an environment that is a predominately hearing world that will not change for me, is to be focused and alert all the time.

What’s going on around me? What is that person saying? How do I make the situation easier for me and them?

It can be draining and lonely. It could suck more, but instead, I train my body to be my voice and mindset. Let the body do the talking for me.

When you do that extra rep you say “YES” I can persist. If I can’t handle taking my body out of its physical plateau, how do I get my mind out of its comfort zone?

It was scary when I became a personal trainer. It was a huge obstacle to be on a gym floor full of voices I couldn’t hear.

I had plopped myself in a mentally challenging opportunity but I wanted to set an example of expanding my comfort zone. I went in with intention going to help others use their fitness journey as a platform for mental strength and success in all kinds of endeavors.

How has this shaped me as a Deaf trainer?

I’ve had the honor of being asked by Dan to share a few lessons for trainers & coaches.

Train your focus muscle: Getting in the work for yourself, alone.

Some of the hardest obstacles we face in our careers, personal lives or even training, can be an opportunity but you – and only you – have the power to view it that way. No matter how many people encourage you, it still requires inner grit.

When you train, hard, your sweat is a fulfillment of your promise to be your best self, and you increase your autonomy and focus.

Don’t get me wrong – one of my favorite things about fitness is the community but we have to train our focus muscle. This is why I was able to do elite Spartans or go from #170 1 RM clean to 2 reps #170 power hang cleans in one year.

So, I recommend this:

Train alone most of the time (with the exception of a trainer, which is something I recommend for just about anyone.)

When you do partner workouts, make the work somewhat relevant to your goals so you get the benefit of community and stay on track.

Don’t use social media while you workout or train your clients. Post them before or after workouts.

Say no to distractions. It doesn’t make you an ass. If you feel like you’re ignoring somebody, you are…and that person is you.

Do this once a week if this is not your norm: Pick a workout that makes you squirm just a little. I like to pick a word that carries a lot of meaning to anchor me during the workout by spelling it out instead of counting the reps.


Having no help on the fitness floor forced me to make communication as clear and simple as possible. As Dan says, “simple, but not easy.”

I am able to work intimately and I tend to be a better listener than most. If I look away for a mere second, I’ve lost track of the conversation completely. That’s if I’m even following in the first place with lip reading, texting, paper/pen.

Clients are more engaged knowing how locked into them I am in that moment, and they can’t lose eye contact with me either. This has allowed me to be clear in communicating movements through my simple words and visuals.

For example, I was teaching a client the deadlift basics using a ViPR. I made the sign for “bow & arrow” the same time she performed the hinge, and asked her to follow my pace as I was signing. I used my hands to paint a “wall” in front of her hips to demonstrate where to complete the movement.

Without having to trying to pronounce “hip thrust or glute thrust, avoiding overextension of the spine, your posterior chain is weaker and other muscles compensate so we need to learn this….”

I then put down the ViPR without instruction and asked her to pick it up. The second time, I told her to do it again using what she just learned.

She understood immediately how the deadlift was going to benefit her.


 Having challenges be the norm allow me to relate to my clients, who are there for a reason. Something needs to change for them, and it starts with their body.

Hence this is why you need to train yourself alone to understand your client during their programming, and when to slowly bring the challenges to strengthen their mental game.

A program that that is more “maintenance” than progressive means the mind is not going to change much, either will their ability to live and lead the life they want.

For example, I recently designed an obstacle course for a client that had been training for a few months using a BOSU, ropes and gliders. If I had given her that kind of workout in the beginning of the program, she would have doubted herself.

But slowly everybody’s comfort zone expands, but it’s your responsibility to do it for yourself and help your clients do the same.

We have valuable tools to help us as professionals from books to conferences to blogs in abundance.

But the best tool of all is internalized. In you.

If you train yourself to visit what lies out of your comfort zone, you will lift and lead yourself and your clients to a life where doubt and obstacles are unmasked to reveal opportunity.



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