The Disney World Workout

The Disney World Workout

I just got back from Disney World.

And if you didn’t know, Disney KNOWS service. The experience can be pricey, but the place is spotless and caters to your every need.

Except one.

And to me, its a big one.

Disney sucks at fitness.

I’ve been to Disney 5 times in the last 6 years, staying in a different on-site resort each time. Some have had small, outdated weight and cardio rooms. The one I went to last had nothing available.

The old as shit Holiday Inn off of highway 70 has a room with a cable machine in it. That’s something.

The place we were staying advertised a “jogging trail.” What this turned out to be was just an existing sidewalk with some faded spray paint that labeled it a New Balance running trail. My wife and I ran this trail and ended up in a random commuter parking lot because there was no identifiable signs that showed where this “trail” was supposed to lead.

I ended up doing in-room workouts (instructional video attached) to get some semblance of a resistance training workout while I was staying there.

4 exercise using on a strength band you can do in a hotel room.

What was interesting, in talking with some other patrons and some Disney cast members, was the thinking of most that the movement around the parks was more than enough exercise for those vacationing there. The 12–17K steps (at most)that most park goers will achieve were viewed as strenuous exercise.

So go ahead, splurge, have that extra Mickey waffle or two. You’ve earned it. You’re exercising!

By the way, the ONE Mickey waffle will cost you about 1800 steps, and that’s one of the most calorie controlled offering on the breakfast menu. And that’s NO SYRUP bud.

Let’s get real.

You won’t see too much of this at Disney World.

This “park” exercise is a series of 4–5 steps in a 45 minute line at about 1/2 mile an hour. Then you navigate crowded pathways inside the park, at a pace to avoid colliding with others, with similar starts and stops, lets say you’re up to 3 miles an hour. At the end of the day you walk to the bus at weary pace, then back to your room. That’s a long day of intermittent slow walking.

Really, this isn’t about Disney at all. Its about the hall pass that many of us give ourselves day after day when rationalizing our activity versus our food intake.

Just because you’re moving RELATIVELY more than you’re used to doesn’t make that movement functional and useable exercise. It’s just giving you a taste of what you should be doing incidentally every day.

Vacation can be a time to relax, but for me (and many others out there) part of relaxing is continuing a fitness routine while on vacation. Slow walking isn’t an exercise routine. It’s life.

The sound of this reality check is harsh, but it’s true. Walking around Disney World shoudn’t be strenuous exercise. Strenuous exercise is strenuous exercise. Doing Disney World is fun.

If you want to have more fun at Disney, exercise more…and maybe put some pressure on the Happiest Place on Earth to include fitness in their list of amazing service offerings.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Let’s play a game. I bet you lose

The game is, don’t say “I” or “me” for 10 minutes.

This,of course, means 10 minutes in a social situation.

Try it, it’s freakin tough.

Most folks, whether inadvertently or outright blatantly inject themselves into other peoples stories. There seems to be a primal need to share a similar, perhaps even MORE impressive version of a story anyone else is telling.

On top of this, the need to give advice or “fix” peoples problems or situations gradually turns the listener into the talker.

Which usually fixes nothing.

In the fitness industry, this can run rampant.

Fitness can be a “me” driven endeavor to begin with. Selfies and personal records and tales of the hardest workout Golds has ever seen dominate social media.


Sadly, this runs into the service part of the fitness business as well. Personal trainers can drop I and Me bombs like pros. Most of the time, it’s a narcissistic assumption that people want to know about your workout, or your diet, or your girlfriend problems, etc.

9 times out of 10, they don’t want to know.

They want to tell YOU about their lives, and rightfully so. They are paying you, and you have dedicated yourself to helping them achieve THEIR goals.

When involved in a conversation with a client, and you’re busy considering how to inject yourself into the conversation, stop. And don’t.

Just listen.

This is often the most important part of a training session…The time for your client to communicate.

It’s hard to do, but folks will notice when you become a listener versus a talker. People, especially clients, want you to simply listen, not necessarily solve every problem they have on the spot.

Pause, and listen.

You’ll hear things you’ve not been hearing before.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

It’s your turn. Emerge.

How to be Selfish, the selfless way

“It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

I read a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 25 years ago because I was told to. I had no interest in the subject matter. It was an assignment.

I was 16 and cared only of one thing…my own interests.

I’m re-reading that book today and have had several small epiphanies as I have progressed through about half the book.

Over the course of my 41 years, I have realized this; I have to be READY for the information or learning experience that presents itself to me.

If certain, potentially wonderful information doesn’t meet me where I currently am, it’s lost.

But very often, over the course of time, that information will resurface and BAM! I’m stopped in my tracks by the relevance it has to my experiences and my world view.

The SAME information with a wildly different impact.

One of those moments came when reading and really trying to understand the aforementioned quote. Here it is again.

“It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”

I have to confess, this meant nothing to me and was almost insulted when I read it the first time. Coming from an objectivist philosophical background, where strict individualism is championed, my main and only responsibility, I thought, was to myself.

That responsibility was realizing and nurturing my innate abilities and developing and honing the best Matt Pirtle that was possible. I had a responsibility to do this. A covenant with myself. No one but myself.

And I believed everyone else had this responsibility too.

So, I had NO responsibility to them.

And, they had NO claim on me.

I thought that if everyone did this everyone would be happy. Or at least, I would be.

Only, I wasn’t.

There is a key human component left out of this equation… genuine care for the welfare of other human beings.

Developing a keen focus on only yourself and your personal success may improve your status, but it will not improve your contentment. It may improve your bank account, but it will not fill your soul.

Is this the secret to happiness? I think for me it has a large part to do with it.

Now, and for almost 16 years, I have the opportunity to help change folks lives. Being in the fitness industry as my profession means it’s my job to help, but there is extreme satisfaction in doing that. It’s a chance to focus on somebody’s else’s happiness every day.

This is not intended to be a guideline for other peoples lives. This is just my account of my own experiences and life reflections.

I still believe in the responsibility to yourself to become your best you without relying on or expecting help.

But along the way I got help nonetheless, and it carried me in certain phases of my life.

It’s time to pay it back.

Be driven. Be responsible. Be compassionate. Be human.

It’s your turn.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

YOU! Listen up! Motivated yet?

Jack and Jill went up the hill…


Because they had a goal!

And would they let a little hill stop them?

F*** no!

They wanted some water, so they CRUSHED that hill!

Yeah, this is pretty much where we are right now in the fitness business. At least as far as the fitness motivation material that gets popular circulation goes.

Most of our “experts” deliver passionate speeches and blogs packed with bad info and corny messages because this is what gets attention.

Have you ever heard an f bomb laden rant from one of these folks? I must admit, I do get a bit riled up by listening to these tirades.

Then I think about what they said.

I recount the words their mouths spoke.

And I hate myself for falling for this obvious pandering for my attention. Most of the time, there is almost zero intelligent substance, and if there is, it’s PAINFULLY unoriginal.

Motivation is a huge part of fitness, for both getting started and then maintaining a fitness program. And if you’re into passionate speeches, that can be great for motivating you to move.

Motivation, both from internal and external sources, is helpful in sustaining a focus on your ultimate goal.

But can’t you have that AND solid, usable information, too? Is it that you can be passionate, or knowledgeable, but not both? Is it possible to be original and inspiring at the same time?

Based on most of what’s out there, it makes me wonder if the answer is no.

I have encountered, on rare occasions, extremely heartfelt and relevant and smart motivational fitness (and life) speeches and articles. I believe the fitness industry needs more of this.

I need more of this.

A handful of people who already work out 5 days a week may be motivated to work out 6 days a week from a bro-style rant. The other 90% of folks who really need the motivation to change their lifestyle will be offput by this…a reverse motivation affect.

While it is true that different folks are motivated by different things, I believe AT LEAST the information should be original, relevant, and intelligently delivered.Here is a good example of this:

Emerge client and adaptive fitness inspiration also has some good stuff out there:

These are my opinions and observations. Nothing more. Thanks for reading, as always!

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

12 Weeks Unlimited Class Pass

Classes can be attended without limit from May 29th until August 19th!

There will be dedicated measurements days for the 3 measurement periods- beginning, middle, and end. For the beginning, the measurement days will be Tuesday, June 6th from 6 pm to 7 pm and Wednesday, June 7th from 7 am to 8 am.

Measurement days for the middle and end of the 12 weeks will be posted 2 weeks prior to each week.

The measurements, that will be taken, will include body fat, waist measurement, and scale weight.

The available classes that can be attended include all Emerge Boot Camp, Strength 101, and Tabata classes.

Existing class packages can be frozen until the end of the 12 week promotion, or the balance can be credited toward the 12 week unlimited class package.



  • 6:00 AM – Strength 101 With Kathryn
  • 11:30 AM- Tabata with Ben
  • 5:30 PM – Boot Camp With Keelin


  • 6:00 AM – Boot Camp with Keelin
  • 7:00 AM – Strength 101 with Kathryn


  • 6:00 AM – Strength 101 with Kathryn
  • 11:30 AM- Tabata with Ben
  • 7:00 PM – Strength 101 with Keelin


  • 6:00 AM – Boot Camp with Keelin
  • 5:30 PM- Boot Camp with Kim


  • 6:00 AM – Strength 101 with Kathryn
  • 11:30 AM- Tabata with Ben


  • 9:00 AM – Strength 101 with Keelin

Underpants + ? = Profit

Southpark had a great episode years ago that featured the “underpants gnomes.” Underpants gnomes were mini entrepreneurs who had a three phase business model.

Phase 1: Collect underpants

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: PROFIT

This is not a business plan.

So, really all they had was a product nobody wanted, with no plan to create demand or satisfy a need, and they expected to magically make a profit at the end of the day.

It’s funny.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s accurate.

I see this EXACT mode of thinking in the personal industry all the time.

The business side of fitness and personal training (on the whole) needs some serious help.

A little back story…

Emerge opened it’s doors ten years ago with a plan. We offered premium training, with elite trainers, at a premium price.

We knew our market. We knew our product and we knew there was a demand for it.

We knew we had to be able to supply enough of our service to meet that demand, so we began recruiting the best training talent around.

We knew that a nice, but not a world class facility was necessary to deliver our service (our market valued the training more than the equipment).

We knew what we had to service to make a profit, and how to adapt to a changing industry to stay relevant.

We knew what was trendy, and what was worth paying attention to in the ever evolving fitness industry. We focused on and became experts in the right specializations.

We knew the value of our service, and that what we offered was truly premium service. We didn’t give it away or run sales.

Those general guidelines have kept us growing every single year for 10 straight years.

We did a lot of things wrong, but we did more things right, and that’s why we grew.

It wasn’t an accident. It was a plan.

Emerge has been in business for 10 years, but our trainers began marketing their own services before these doors opened.

Today, I don’t often see organized or even well thought out approaches to growing personal training business, both at the level of the individual personal trainer and whole companies that provide personal training.

At the very least, a trainer or training business should;

  1. Know who you are and have a mission statement. What are your core values?
  2. Know your market, and know if it’s a good/viable market to target your service.
  3. Have a specific plan. Training + ? = profit will not cut it.

The training industry is relatively young and so are most of its personnel. There have been no clear templates or business strategies that have become the accepted norm, so most of us are left to figure it out on our own.

Many of the recent college graduates I’ve spoken with know training and exercise physiology but are relatively clueless about the business side. Some figure it out by trial and error, but most don’t and leave the industry because “there is no money in it.”

I’m imparting my two cents and 16 years of experience in the business in this brief article. These are the very surface level considerations when developing a business plan.

There is so much more to consider, like others in the fitness industry who you can partner your brand with that may enhance your brand appeal and ultimately increase your profit. The question is, how do you choose those people or businesses and how can they help you?

One, among many more questions to ask yourself.

If you’d like to chat on this subject more with me, email me at

I’d love to share with you some of my experiences. Like I said there is no template and the approach will differ from business to business, but there are a few common and very avoidable pitfalls, you just need to know how to anticipate them.

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

Train like an athlete, then train like a football star (because you’re neither right now)

Wanna be an all star football player?
Got your eyes set on a deadlift record?
Is one of your goals to perform acrobatic exercise like you see on YouTube?

All very solid goals.
Admiral goals.
Goals that take time to achieve.

So, when training with the goal of being an all star football player (or any lofty goal), what’s the first step?

If you’re looking at it from a strength and conditioning perspective, it means starting where you are. It’s who and where you are RIGHT NOW.

And where you are isn’t where you want to be.

Right now, you’re a human with athletic potential who needs to be functionally stronger.

So, knowing this and applying it to your strength program, you probably shouldn’t be copying a pro athlete’s training program. (Honestly, they shouldn’t be doing most of the things they’re doing, so…)

To build something impressive, you’ve got to start with a foundation. Then you build on that solid foundation.

Variations of the carry should be part of base strength training.

Thomas Kempis explained it best when he said “the loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.”

This applies to any goal. Before you start specializing in a single movement or exercise or sport, be proficient at being an athletic and well moving human being.

Move in all planes of motion well. Have mobility in the joints that need it. Be stable in the joints that require stability.

Have a good base strength.

All of your basic movement patterns should be on point, including:

1)the squat
2)hip hinge
5)carrying variations

Do these things extraordinarily well. I see circus tricks every day, but I see these patterns done beautifully only rarely.

You’ve got to spend your time EARNING the next level.

And when you’ve earned it, it feels good. You’ll feel strong, and you’ll be better able to avoid injury.

For right now, focus on being a stronger person and a more dynamic athlete. Then take that strength and apply it to your specific goal. I promise you its worth the time to do it right.

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

This for that.

Everything has a cost, but not necessarily a benefit.

Every time you decide to do something, you are deciding not to do something else.

When you decide, for example, to work specifically on strength training, you are by default deciding to sacrifice some muscular endurance, and vice versa. Every potential benefit comes with a cost.

That means, you should have a clear definition of what you are attempting to do with your fitness program.

Take the whole mobility-stability idea. You hear A LOT of hype about mobility drills, in general. When you mobilize a joint, you are in turn destabilizing it to a certain degree. Like the scales of justice, you can increase the range or increase the stability but you can’t do both to the same degree at the same time.

Like the scales of justice, you can increase the range or increase the stability but you can’t do both to the same degree at the same time.

So, you have to decide. Would better mobility benefit me in this particular joint? Or would increased stability help more?

Consider your sport? Does it require more, say, shoulder stability or mobility? Is your performance being limited by one of the two?

You can see that there are many things at stake when you choose to add or delete an exercise from your program.

You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Is this exercise worth the time I’m spending on it? (and not on something else)
  2. Is what I’m giving up as a result of performing this exercise outweighed by the potential benefit?
  3. Do I really even need what the exercise intended to do? (mobility sounds awesome, but do you really need it?)

Using the topic of mobility once again. I had a conversation with a deadlifting enthusiast that inevitably led to the popular topic of mobility. He referenced the toddler who could sit in a deep squat effortlessly and play with his toys, and how we have regrettably lost this mobility over time.

It is a nice thought. Witnessing a child in this pose looks fluid and almost beautiful.

But that child isn’t going to be tasked with lifting and stabilizing hundreds of pounds attached to a bar. To be a great deadlifter (or powerlifter, in general) you have to be pretty stiff. Even a recreational lifter MUST HAVE the stability it takes to bear the torque of big lifts like the deadlift.

There is a balance. You give some here, to get some over here.

So, again, mobility or stability? Long slow distance versus intervals? Bodybuilding or weightlifting? Strength or endurance?

Or, some compromised combination?

It depends on your fitness objectives, the demands of your sport, and/or the daily demands of your lifestyle.

For more information, email

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

It’s your turn. Emerge.

“Take this box of corrective exercises and get to work on your broken body.” -Everyone in fitness right now

So, you’re doing corrective exercise to help with an injury? Or bad posture? Or because your trainer or chiropractor says you’re “out of alignment.”

To know whether or not you’re truly engaging in exercise that is correcting something, you should have an understanding of the concept of corrective exercise.

Is a plank a good choice for exercise.? Yes. No. Sometimes…

This definition, according to Robert Camacho, a strength and conditioning and physical therapy specialist, works well:

A corrective exercise by its simplest definition is a movement or exercise chosen to correct a specific dysfunction.

I think that most everyone agrees upon and can understand the value of corrective exercise as a method of correcting dysfunction. Muscle imbalances, relative weakness, bad movement patterns that lead to discomfort are all dysfunctions that can be addressed through corrective exercise.

What stands out about this definition is the word specific.

What I have been witnessing recently from the fitness industry is a fundamental misunderstanding of THIS part of the definition.

Corrective exercise is prescribed to address SPECIFIC dysfunction.

So, an exercise in and of itself cannot be labeled as “corrective exercise.” What can be considered corrective exercise for one person can be useless or even detrimental to another. Physio ball Y’s aren’t inherently corrective exercise. Neither are certain kinds of band walks or planks.

These exercises can be corrective. For some people. Sometimes.

The “some people, sometimes” part of this equation becomes tricky. Do ALL people have weak scapular stabilizers. Does every single client have weak glutes? Can every person perform a simple forearm plank precisely?


I think corrective exercise has become synonymous with warm up. For a general warm up, all people can benefit by moving themselves through movement patterns likely to be involved in their sport or exercise. It’s general and universal.

Hip thrusts can be hugely beneficial for many people. But not all.

Corrective exercise, on the other hand, is specific and targeted strength training for weak or inhibited muscle. It is not universal. It is SPECIFIC.

There are a wide variety of exercises in the corrective toolbox. As a matter of fact, any exercise can potentially be a corrective exercise given the correct application to the person who needs it.

Emerge coaches are known for their rehab and corrective exercise prescription. If you know you need this type of workout, and you are navigating the exercises on your own, it would be worth a visit to an Emerge trainer for expert guidance.

As always, any questions regarding this topic or any other fitness topic can be sent to

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

Exercise programs should be designed around MEDs. Seriously.

When exercising, think about MEDs.

The MED, or minimum effective dose, is the LEAST amount of something (a drug, supplement, training, exercise) that one needs to get the intended benefit from using or doing it.

For exercise specifically, the MED is the least of amount of prescribed exercise to get the maximum benefit without side effects or wasted gym time.

More exercise equals more gains…to a certain point.

Most exercise routines have a benefit curve that resembles the classic bell shaped curve. As exercise time goes up, benefits increase…to a certain point. After that point, returns (or gains) come far slower, and detrimental side effects start to increase in frequency. These side effects include:

  1. Wasting time that can be used more efficiently on something else that needs attention in your life
  2. Potential injury from overuse of a given joint
  3. Hormonal fluctuations due to overtraining
  4. Burnout on exercise given the time demand

In a world filled with messages that encourage MORE exercise and LESS rest, advocating for doing less is tough.

The key is to devote time to quality exercises. Quality exercise is the kind that gives you maximum return per minute spent performing it. Defining quality will depend on your ultimate goal, so for the sake of this article, let’s assume the goal is INCREASED STRENGTH.

Increased strength comes from the progressively applying resistance to a given movement pattern that someone wishes to strengthen.

Assuming the movement is free of compensations and bad mechanics, applying a progressively increasing load will increase the force production in that pattern. So, getting stronger in the squat pattern (a highly functional human movement) requires time spent squatting. Usually, 4–5 sets a week with a 5–12 rep range will do the trick. More sets will burn more calories, but so does running on a treadmill.

Deadlifting once a week is perfect for adding hip stregth.

Squats are for strength training, not calorie burning.

Too much squatting on a fatigued tissue and nervous system will invite compensatory movement, possible injury, and strength losses. But you will burn some extra calories, so…

The same goes for all of the big movement patterns. Upper body pushes and pulls, hinging and squatting and full body stability exercises. These exercises should be done 1–2 times per week, maybe one day with max effort, and one moderate load day. There will always be the big gym dude who will tell you otherwise, but there are probably some other variables at work there (freak genetics, vitamin s, youth, lack of a life outside barbells).

The point here is, for MOST people with busy lifestyles who love exercise but also value time spent on other aspects of their lives, the MED is efficient and it works.

Here is a basic 3 day split using the MED for these exercises.

Day 1:

General warmup-air squats, hip bridges, band lateral walks

Barbell hip bridges 2 sets of 12

Barbell Deadlifts 4 sets of 6

Goblet squats 4 sets of 10

Split squats 3 sets of 10 each leg

Walking lunges 3 sets of 12 each leg


General warmup- push ups, dumbbell ys, t spine extension on foam roller

Bench press 4 sets of 8

Overhead press 4 sets of 8

Pull up of Cable pull downs 4 sets of 10

Lateral dumbbell raises 3 sets of 12

One arm dumbbell rows (on bench) 2 sets of 12 each

Day 3:

General warmup-band lateral walks, forearm planks, PVC shoulder dislocates

Farmers carries with dumbbells 4 sets of 40 steps

Suitcase carry Kettlebell or dumbbell 3 sets of 20 steps each side

Barbell Push Press 4 sets of 10

Push up with rotation 3 sets of 8 each side

Stir the pot (plank on ball) 6 sets of 12 seconds

Some of these exercises are not household names, I know, but try googling them for a reasonable explanation. They have been chosen for their safe, big bang for your buck value.

For a more detailed and personalized MED strength plan, contact me at

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS

It’s your turn. Emerge