Physical fitness is for lead learners too

Part of my job as a Lead Learner is to model how we can find, analyze, evaluate, and use the best information out there. Here’s an example: a post about physical fitness that I shared with students during the pandemic.


This page provides some basic information about physical fitness, one of the five fitnesses of Open-Source Learning. It also comes with a story. If you want to skip the story and get right to the practices, scroll down for a no-gear workout plan, and (coming soon) information on nutrition and sleep.

In Open-Source Learning, the teacher, trainer, or organizational authority functions as a lead learner. In addition to sharing information and providing guidance and feedback, the lead learner paves the way by demonstrating strategies for seeking out the information and people that can help us grow and improve.

I’ll use myself as an example – that’s what lead learners do.

As 2019 was coming to an end, I felt like I needed to learn more to improve my physical fitness. I was an athlete in high school and college, but that was a long time ago, and, like many Americans, my work and family life was pretty sedentary. I went to the gym, but the old workouts were only getting me so far.

One day I talked with a friend about this and he mentioned a book:

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Usually I resist this kind of stuff. I’m generally suspicious of people who sell superficial solutions. That cover? Come on. But I respect the friend who endorsed the book. He’s been a reliable source of information in my life for a long time. So I bought the book.

The book grabbed me from the beginning. Instead of YELLING!! promises of six-pack abs, it started by describing elements of our mindset, and the thought patterns that hold us back from achieving the goals we want.

I have often found that the principles of sports psychology can useful in all sorts of learning contexts. The author of the book, Bobby Maximus (the name Robert MacDonald got when he bulked up in high school and college), was speaking my language. I read on, I did the workouts, and I got results.

After 12 weeks of following Bobby’s instructions to the letter, I had improved by every measure. I was faster, stronger, leaner, and more energetic throughout the day than when I started.

But then I hit another plateau. I did the complete workout cycle two more times and nothing seemed to change. Pretty soon I started to doubt myself. Was it my effort? My form? I realized that I could only progress so far without a trainer to give me advice and feedback.

I went straight to the source and sent Bobby Maximus an email. We talked a couple times on the phone and he agreed to train me at his gym in Utah. So, the end of last year’s winter break, I got on a plane.

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The next morning before dawn, I headed to Bobby’s gym, which is in a little industrial park just south of Salt Lake City.

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Bobby was focused throughout the workout. He wanted me to have some images of my form, so he took some pictures while I worked. You can tell Bobby cares about proper form. You can also tell he doesn’t give a crap about photography. 😂

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For the next three days, Bobby taught me everything I needed to know to reboot my workouts. He designed a plan.

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I came home and hit the gym. The first few weeks went great.

Then the pandemic struck. My gym, along with school and everything else, has been off-limits ever since. But that’s no reason to stop exercising and challenging ourselves to be our best.

In fact, we have more incentive than ever to get in top shape, because a virus is trying to kill us. The best way to support our immune systems is by maintaining our strength and stamina through healthy exercise, nutrition, and rest.

So here is Bobby’s No-Gear workout. For tips on form, Bobby has posted brief videos for each exercise on his YouTube channel. I’m here to answer questions, and happy to work out online with anyone who’d rather not go it alone.


I am still committed to staying in good physical condition, and I want you to have the energy you need to be at your best. So we’re all going to create a “Physical Fitness Blog” (remember that “blog” is short for web log, and in this context, “log” is a synonym for “journal” or “diary”) – we’re going to curate a record of what we do every day.

Here is a sample from my own Open-Source Learning physical fitness blog. As you can see, it’s not about being perfect – it’s about being honest with ourselves and doing the best we can to be fit and accountable. As we get better at this, and keeping our blog up to date becomes a routine, we will use the same process with our sleep and our nutrition.

Here’s an example:

30 AUG 2021

One hour on the exercise bike + Day One of no-gear. It’s a new month this week, and I’m going to rock September! (And then, that moment when you want to take a selfie to put on your blog, but you drop your glasses, so you have no idea how the pic looks until after the workout, and it’s goofy, but you don’t want to put sweaty clothes back on so you post it anyway… This is my “I posted my workout on my blog, what do you mean you haven’t posted yours yet?” face 😂)

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Get going. Today’s a great day to start.
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