Many grains cause problems for people, whether or not that’s because of a food intolerance to them or something else I won’t get into (I do recommend reading Dr. Perlmutter’s stuff on this though) , but I can tell you personally that I like oatmeal but often feel either slightly bloated (even if it is gluten free), mildly tired after eating it, and just not as lean in the midsection but rather smooth as if I’m holding water there.

My girlfriend has a bachelors degree in nutrition and stays in academia to stay with the latest research and simply to continue to get better and she also has some health issues due to mold, an old birth control med that got pulled from the market, and from a high dosage of prednisone that messed her up pretty bad. Because of these issues, she gets quite a bit of side effects from a lot of foods. One person my girlfriend has taken some advice from is Donna Gates and she has said that millet doesn’t cause the problems that most grains cause and people with gut issues or auto-immune issues tolerate it well. I had never had this before and knew next to nothing about it. All I knew was that I liked the “millet breakfast bowl” as far as taste went and that it didn’t bloat me like oats and I feel light on it with energy as opposed to making me feel drowsy or tired.

I did some research and found this out:
Millet is not actually a grain but a seed.
It’s full of nutrients such as:
B vitamins

According to Donna Gates @ Body
Does not feed pathogenic yeast (candida).
Acts as a prebiotic to feed important microflora in your inner ecosystem.
Provides serotonin to calm and soothe your moods (excellent meal to eat at night for improved sleep quality).
Helps hydrate your colon to keep you regular from the good fiber.
Digests easily.

Here’s one of the recipes/ingredients to the millet breakfast bow.

Millet 3/4 cup (we use Bob Red Mills most of the time)
sea salt
dried apricots (or other approved dried fruits)
coconut milk
butter ( I like Kerry Gold)
chopped macadamia nuts

I highly recommend trying this and bet you will like it and feel good on it just like I do.


Julianna Pena started training with me at Urban Strength Institute in June of 2018 to get back in shape for fighting in the UFC. At one point she was the 2nd ranked bantam weight in the world but then had a baby and since then had roughly a 2 year layoff. She came to me to get back to fighting shape for a great return back to MMA.

We had some minor setbacks during the two year process like an injured knee but overall everything worked out well. She made her debut return this past Saturday the 13th in Sacremento, California where she fought a former Ultimate Fighter Champ and previous 125 pound champ Nico Montano.

Julianna won a unanimous 3 round decision over Montano in an impressive fashion. I’m very happy for her and proud to have her training with me at Urban Strength Institute.


I was pumped once I heard Designs For Health was coming out with this bar.

Stuff like this can really be a solution to one of my biggest problems while at work, and that is what to eat. Either I’d go out for lunch and end up eating something not so healthy, and I’m talking food at the ready to eat bar at Whole Foods that most people think are healthy (not healthy mainly because of the canola oil/vegetable oil they use, which is a pro-inflammatory), or I just wouldn’t eat. Plus, eating out I would end up spending more money than I really wanted. So this bar solves two problems for me, 1) I get a healthy snack and 2) I save some money.

Financial expert and New York Times best-selling author David Ramsey says to pay off your credit card with the lowest amount owed as opposed to the one with the highest interest rate so you get a win, which leads to empowerment from success. Your diet/nutrition can benefit the exact same way. Get an easy win as opposed to being stressed about overhauling some big habit. So have a healthy snack like the KTO Bar along with a piece of fruit like an organic apple and that’s at least one win for the day. Hopefully doing easy stuff like this leads to more changes and before you know it you lose some body fat and look and feel better.

This bar tastes delicious. I’ve had about five people that train here tell me it’s either the best bar they’ve ever had or that they simply love it and then end up buying a whole box of bars (12 come in a box).

Keto diets are all the buzz right now. I personally don’t follow a ketogenic diet but I do adjust my fats and carbs so I can have the metabolic flexibility to use both sources of fuel well. I’m a big believer in earning your carbs through training or fueling your body with the right fuel (fats and carbs) depending on the specific workout/training you’re about to take part in.

Here is a link to the bars and if you put in the code FIRST15TODAY you will receive a 15% discount.

And here is a link to the tech sheet that will tell you more about the KTO Bar.


Hand Bike

One strength coach I’ve been following for the last year or so is coach Sam Calavitta. He trains a lot of grapplers and MMA athletes out of his garage in California. Apparently, he’s an award-winning high school calculus teacher and has students coming from all over the globe to learn calculus from him. I also heard he used to work for NASA in the past, so he’s a pretty smart dude.

I’m always looking for new equipment and exercises to have my athletes and clients do that will produce results and keep things fun and interesting to avoid monotony and boredom. I’ve spent money on expensive things that I didn’t like so it’s nice to get something you love as well as your clients that don’t break the bank. The hand peddler was only around $85 on Amazon. We use it within circuits and do it anywhere from 30-40 seconds.

Power Push Up

Push-ups are superior to your barbell or dumbbell bench press in many ways because of the scapular protraction and retraction you can get and because of the core engagement involved. You don’t get those with barbell or dumbbell bench presses. The problem with push-ups, however, often times is loading them. As you get stronger with push-ups it becomes less beneficial from a strength perspective. If you can do a lot, say 30 plus (I’m being somewhat vague here), that many really won’t help as much to increase strength or gain muscle as much as if you could only do 10-15 reps. At this point using something to provide an external load would be beneficial. The Spri Power Push-Up does this with the bands by providing accommodating resistance.


I believe I first heard about the Belt Squat machine from Louie Simmons strength coach and powerlifting legend. I have a ton of respect for Simmons. I have many of his books and listen to his podcast, but I never came across a belt squat machine to personally try and didn’t have my own gym yet, so buying one was out of the question. Then around 1 year ago I saw that Charles Poliquin got a belt squat machine for his personal gym in his house. Once he gave it his stamp of approval in addition to Louie Simmons I was pretty much committed to getting one at Urban Strength Institute. It just so happened that Atlantis Strength just manufactured a belt squat, and, like all their equipment, it looked amazing. To me, Atlantis is the creme de la creme of exercise equipment.

I’ve been performing the basic back squat and many of its variations since 1990 and I’ve had pretty much every client I’ve ever worked with that was qualified to do them perform squats as well since 1999 when I started training people for a living. I love traditional back squats and many of the variations, but there are some glaring limitations or issues with them I’ve seen and the belt squat machine addresses some of these limitations, which are the following:

1. The limiting factor with conventional squats is often times the strength of the back more so than the strength of the legs.
2. Many people have some biomechanical issues, for example, feet pronating and externally rotating, knees buckling inward, lower back rounding, which causes a lot of shearing forces on the spine.

The great thing about the Belt Squat machine is none of these limitations occur. Your back is not the limiting factor since you’re not loading your spine with a bar on your back. You’re also not getting the spinal compression with the belt squat that you would with a barbell squat. The belt actually pulls your lower back causing a slight decompression at the low back, kind of like a traction device which is very good for the back. With the belt squat, you can hip hinge more and keep your shin more perpendicular to the floor. You can hip hinge or sit back with a barbell back squat too but when you do you can get more shearing force on the back if you cannot maintain a somewhat neutral spine, and many people cannot maintain that. Again with the belt squat, this does not matter because of where the weight is displaced.

I’m not saying everyone should completely abandon the barbell squat or any of its variations, but the belt squat has some big advantages over traditional squats. This makes the belt squat a better exercise for some people at the very least until any biomechanical issues are corrected. For everyone else, it’s simply a great variation and great addition to training the lower body.


On Thursday the 27th of September I got a text from a past client and friend asking me if I heard that Charles Poliquin had passed away and whether or not it was true. I went onto Poliquins’ facebook Strength Sensei Alumni page and saw that unfortunately, it was. I have no better way of describing my first initial feeling like a hefty emotional blow to the gut. Charles Poliquin was by far my biggest influence regarding training, nutrition, and supplementation; in other words, everything involved in my industry.

I made a video on what he meant to me and I’ve shared that below, but first here are a few short words.

In November of 1995, I first discovered who Charles Poliquin was when I opened up a brand new magazine that just came out called Muscle Media 2000. Charles was a contributor to the articles. When I read my very first Poliquin article in that magazine I was blown away by the information. It was science finally and not just some regurgitated info from more than likely a ghostwriter claiming a professional bodybuilder like all the bodybuilder magazines that came before it. It was like Charles Poliquin was speaking a foreign language. There was stuff he spoke of that I’d never heard before. It wasn’t long after that that I basically wanted to become Charles Poliquin. I consumed anything and everything I could get my hands on that he wrote.

Around the late 90’s Charles wrote a book called The Poliquin Principles, which changed my life. I was an assistant manager at a Power House gym in Michigan signing people up for memberships and running the day to day operations. I got certified as a personal trainer and started training people when I wasn’t performing my regular job/duties. The certification sucked and I didn’t learn anything especially compared to what I was learning from coach Poliquin. Basically, as a friend of mine would say that also works in my industry, the certification wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. The results that I was getting from this book were nothing short of spectacular.

Around 2003 Charles Poliquin came out with his Level 1 Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) and I took it right away. This was basically The Poliquin Principles on steroids figuratively speaking. More unbelievable information that continued to catapult my knowledge and proficiency to produce great results on myself and with clients I trained. Not to brag but I was one of the first people in the United States to get this certification. If my memory serves me correctly there was anywhere from 12 to 20 people on the list, which I saw.

Around 2005 I received an email from Poliquin telling me that an intern of his Mike Bystol was opening up a Poliquin Performance Center (PPC) in Northfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I emailed my resume to Mike Bystol and eventually got a phone call from him for a phone interview. A few months later I flew to Chicago from Jacksonville, Florida for an in-person interview. I was offered the job before leaving and was the first employee. I saw Poliquin around 2 to 4 times while I worked there. I was hoping he’d be there a lot more than that but I was grateful for the times I did see him. I don’t get star struck by celebrities or athletes but I did with him. Reading his stuff is one thing but learning from him and hearing him speak in person was simply amazing.

Since this time I’ve taken around 5 to 6 seminars/certifications with him and consultations. I wish I would’ve taken many more and was looking forward to seeing him speak again in future seminars.

There is nobody in this industry that has had the impact that Charles Poliquin made and he will never be forgotten. He is truly an icon in the fitness/strength world.



One aspect of our Assessment is the strength segment. We use the Push Band Device to measure the velocity of the bar, which determines what someone’s 1 rep maximum is based on the speed that they move the load. To me, this is way better than actually having to keep increasing the weight on an exercise until getting to a real 1 rep max. For one it’s much safer. The heavier you go in an exercise, the higher the risk, especially with someone that’s a beginner. Another great aspect is the data that’s collected. To know the velocity of a movement is another aspect to seeing progress. In the past, the only means of showing progress was looking at how much someone increased the load their lifting. Now we can measure if there’s an improvement in not just the load but also the speed at which you move it.  For example, if someone does a flat barbell bench with 135 pounds and moves it .54 meters per seconds (m/s) and two months later they’re able to move the same 135 pounds at .64 meters per second, that is a significant improvement. 

One of my clients, Antonio, started training with me on December 1st. His initial strength test was the following:

Estimated 1RM Bench Press: 174.2
Estimated 1RM Dead Lift: 218.3
Estimated 1RM Squat: 224.9
Based off of the speed (velocity) of how fast he moved during the exercise those were his estimated 1 rep maxes for the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat. I wish I would’ve known how to take a screenshot of these exercises for proof, but at the time I did not know how to do that on my Ipad. That bothered me so I googled it to learn how. 
This past January 13th we retested Antonio to see what improvements he made, and this time I have the screenshots (and some video footage).
On his first set of the bench press, he moved 80 pounds .7 meters per second and produced 306 watts of power. 
His 2nd set was his fasted set of the five sets he did, all progressively getting heavier. Here he moved 85 pounds at .81 m/s and produced 353 watts of power.
His last set was with 140 pounds and he moved it at .53 m/s and produced 266 watts of power. This speed at this weight (140 pounds) equates to a 205-pound bench press, which is a 30.8-pound improvement in roughly 6 weeks of training.
Here is a screenshot of all 5 sets.
With the deadlift, his second set of the five done produced the most force with 604 watts.
His last set was with 180-pounds, and he moved that .51 m/s at 540 watts of power. This speed at this weight equates to a 277.8-pound dead lift, which is a 59.9-pound improvement.
Here is a screenshot of all 5 sets.
He did not improve on the squat. I believe it was because he recently hurt his knee training in his sport of jiu-jitsu and was playing it safe and not moving too fast. 
Here is some video footage of the strength test.


(One of my favorite multi-vitamins and here’s the link to get it

The soils depleted of nutrients due to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, ammonium nitrates and whatever other crap that gets laid on. Because of this, we don’t know what we’re eating anymore. The vitamin and mineral content isn’t what it used to be yet we’re still told by the FDA what the content of our food is using outdated nutritional information (I’ve heard as outdated as 1973). So taking a GOOD QUALITY multi is like having an insurance policy. You’ll hopefully be making up for what is lacking in your diet.

Add to the fact that we’re exposed to a lot more chemicals and pollution than ever before, and you need certain vitamins and minerals to process and remove this waste through certain pathways.

I capitalized good quality because like most things you get what you pay for. The issue with vitamins and minerals is absorption. For example, magnesium oxide is the worst absorbable form of magnesium, and one of the best absorbable forms is magnesium glycinate. If you get a multi-vitamin where you can buy diapers or tires for your car the quality is likely to be poor.

Common vitamin and mineral deficiences in the United States according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
90 million are vitamin D deficient.
18 million are vitamin B6 deficient.
30 million are vitamin B12 deficient.
16 million are vitamin C deficient.

Recently an editorial came out by Annals of Internal Medicine that claimed that taking a multi-vitamin or minerals is a waste of your money. Perhaps you stumbled upon this on Facebook or somewhere on the web and now, unfortunately, believe this bs.( Dr. Rhonda Patrick did a great job exposing what was wrong with this study, and you can watch that video here (I’m a big fan of Dr. Rhonda)

A few of my favorite multi-vitamins.

When someone starts training here I send them a GENERAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE that was developed by Dr. James LaValle. There are 12 categories to the questionnaire. A very high percentage of people score poorly in:

  • Blood Sugar and Insulin
  • Adrenal Function
  • Environmental Impacts (toxicity).

If they score poorly in blood sugar I like this multi the best.

If they score poorly in adrenal function I like this one.

And if they score poorly in environmental toxicity I like this one.

Here is a great video of Dr. Rhonda Patrick talking about the importance of taking a multi-vitamin.


Elisa Fonseca structural balance test

(Picture of above is from part of a structural balance assessment)

I started training people for a living in 1999, a few months after finishing a four-year enlistment in the Marines Corps. Since this time I’ve had three main training certifications, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP). I learned from them all but the PICP certification has taught me the most by leaps and bounds. Charles Poliquin is one of the most successful strength coaches in the world and created his PICP certification around 2003. There are five levels. I took Level 1 as soon as it came out. I took Level 2 in 2011. Level 1 and Level 2 are acquired by attending a certification seminar and passing the test with at least a 92%. Level 3 through 5 you have to not only attend the certification seminar but show proficiency in your knowledge by accomplishing the practical requirements.

For an individual sport, you must coach an athlete to a Top 5 placement in a Junior/Senior/Masters National Competition.

For team sports, you must coach a National Championship Team, Coach an athlete that participates in 60% of games during the season, or placement game at the national level, coach an athlete that participates in any multi-national competition but does not meet the requirements.

All Sports & Federations need to be recognized by GAISF and/or IOC and strength must play a factor.

Coaches must submit:

  • Letter from athlete confirming the coach’s role in preparation for the event/season
  • Media that confirms your athlete’s placement (website with final results)
  • Programs used to prepare the athlete showing they use PICP methods.

On August 2, 2017, one of my athletes won a national championship in Karate. Here is the letter she emailed on my behalf so I could hopefully get my Level 3 certification.

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 11.09.24 AM“Last month I completed at the USA Karate National Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. After a seven-year hiatus from karate competition, I won the women’s – 61kg Kumite (sparring) category, which now qualifies me back in the national team pool.

While competing in my twenties, I became the most decorated USA female karate athlete and still hold that record. But with seven years of retirement and having two children, I was unsure about my chances of returning to high-performance competition. Chris Grayson has been my strength coach throughout this process and has helped me tremendously to get back into elite athlete condition. I appreciate his knowledge of sports science and trust his recommendations as a coach.”

Elisa Au Fonseca

USA Nationals results – see page 63
USA Open results – see page 37
PICP Level 3 2On August 28th I got an email congratulating me on achieving my Level 3 certifcation. Many certifications you can take online and only require a 70% to pass, and to me, many certifications aren’t worth the paper they were printed on. If you’re considering hiring someone to help you achieve your fitness goals, make sure the personal is qualified.


I’ve been using the Push Band for over a year now and it’s a game changer. There is a lot of interesting technology and gadgets coming out in the fitness industry, some are absolutely worthless, some decent, and some great, and the Push Band is damn good.

They had a Q and A with me regarding what I like about Push and how I use it here at USI.

Below is the first paragraph of the article,

a video of a power workout done here using the Push Band,

and a link to the article on the Train with Push website. 

“The advantages of quantifying velocity and effort for athletic performance are clear, but the benefits that gym-based athlete monitoring concepts bring to personal training programs are equally as impactful. We sat down with Chris Grayson, owner of the Urban Strength Institute in Chicago to discuss how he has incorporated PUSH into his daily training environment, reaping the benefits of wearable technology and electronically tracking client progress, taking his facility to the next level.”