Brian Peth Dominating the Net

Brian Peth- Francis Howell North Volleyball

Brian Peth- Francis Howell North Volleyball

The mere thought of taking flight intrigues Francis Howell North senior Brian Peth.

Upon graduation, Peth is considering his options for life after high school and foremost amongst those is the aviation program at Quincy (Ill.) University.

“My dad mentioned it (aviation) to me and it sounded pretty interesting,” Peth said. “I might go up (in the air) and I might hate it. It’s just that sitting down at a desk somewhere doesn’t sound pleasant to me at all. Right now, I think it will be fun to give it a try.”

It’s really a small wonder that Peth would want to tackle such a career because he currently does a lot of flying – on the volleyball courts around St. Charles County for the Howell North boys volleyball team.

Standing just 6-feet tall, Peth’s 147 kills put him on top on the Knights (12-5 overall, 5-2 GAC North), best in the Gateway Athletic Conference and third overall in the area in the category.

His 62 points scored are also near the top for the team this season.

“Brian has just been a huge blessing for us,” Howell North coach Ryan VonFeldt said. “He didn’t even play his freshman year. He came out his sophomore year and last year, he was kind of our go-to guy. This year, obviously, he’s our go-to guy. He’s a smart player. He jumps to the roof and knows where to hit it and that’s something we need.”

As the coach sees it, too much of Peth would rarely be a bad thing for the Knights.

“If he had the energy, I’d like to give him 100 percent of our sets if possible,” VonFeldt said. “He’s smart and he knows what to do with the ball. He knows how to find the holes and the corners. He’s just a great player and he is one of the better players we’ve had play here in my time at the school.”

For Peth, who also plays club volleyball for Club Vertical, his ability to even get the chance to finish off kills is big, whether he’s hitting over a two-man block or into open court.

That’s because if he doesn’t finish off the kill his team is in perfect position to still win the point should the other side be called upon for a kill attempt.

“I am glad to have the ability to draw that many players (sometimes two or three opponents into a block attempt),” Peth said. “Even though I may not hit sometimes, I still bring up two blockers, so it leaves our right side wide open and that’s good for the team.”

While there is plenty of brute strength involved in being effective at killing a volleyball rally, Peth says that, for him, it is also a cerebral act that requires forethought and planning.

And it also has to come in a split second.

“I do just hit is as hard as I can,” Peth said. “I look for the open area. I also try not to get it near the libero because they’re the best passers. I’ve got to find the open spaces and hit that seam (near) the hitter on the right side. When (the) line is open. I try and hit it there but that’s not always the best shot for me.

“Other sports, like in football or basketball, you can be just (big), fast or tall. This sport is about using your mind. You have to be able to show a level of skill to succeed here.”

On a narrower scope, Peth has to use his smarts just about every time he’s on the floor because he usually comes up against players who may get the best of him in height, but as it turns out they rarely get the best of him in hustle or on the scoreboard.

Peth feeds off successes he has in such situations.

“Since I am usually shorter, again I have to be smarter in these situations,” Peth said. “When you’re up in the air it’s not always about how tall you are, it’s about ball and (body) placement that is the key. Just because they’re taller doesn’t automatically mean they’ll win if you play smart. If you play to your strengths, you can succeed and do it regularly against most anybody.”

Written by: Jim Faasen |


I Got My Stride Back!

I got my stride back this week!  I began with a spinning class on Monday morning.  My first instinct, after a week of not being able to workout, was to turn off my alarm and roll over and keep sleeping.  I pushed through it and got up!  I remembered how frustrated I’d been all week by not being able to workout and refused to sleep through this one!  I was a bit nervous about how my leg would respond, but more excited to get back to working toward my goal.  The class was challenging, but I made it through!  I thought to myself, “I’m back…I’m back!”

This week really gave me time to reflect on what is REALLY important to me.  This time it wasn’t me who was standing in my way, it was an injury.  Either way, it was an obstacle that I needed to overcome; and I made it!  Obstacles come in many forms; whether it’s personal/emotional, injury, or work habits.  Sometimes obstacles come in the form of people.  What ever that obstacle may be, I’ve learned how important it is to remain focused and steadfast in determination.  Last week, instead of being set-back I formed a plan to keep progressing and got set-up for the next week.  As I figured, the implementation of the workouts once again yielded results; I lost 3 pounds!  The best part…I have gone from 25% body fat to 21%!!!  Can’t wait to get into the teens!  With Matt’s professional guidance, 100% of the weight that I have lost has been body fat; I didn’t lose any lean body mass!  And there’s more!…I ran again this week!  It felt great!  I ran 22 minutes straight!…not bad for a gal with one good leg, LOL!  My next big adventure…find a bikini!  Dun Dun DUHHHH!!!!  It’s almost that time! 

Click on the exercise descriptions below to see video of each:

 Box jump/Delt Press    Stability Ball/Core    Olympic ring push-up/Alt. arm

A Challenge is an Opportunity!

Talk about a challenging week!

I discovered last Tuesday that there was an abnormal growth on the back of one of my legs; located behind my knee, above my calf.  That Sunday, a doctor confirmed it had developed into an infection.  Yikes!  Since then, I have been staying off my leg, when possible, while it heals.  The lack of exercise is killing me!  I was trying to begin training to run a 5k, but that has been postponed for the minute.  Instead, I ended up having to jump a few hurdles…Could that be considered exercise?… 🙂

Like I’ve said before…If you’re gonna accomplish anything worth while, you’re bound to jump a few hurdles.  A challenge?…Yes.  A setback?…No.  I used this week to fine tune my caloric intake and eating habits.  Since I wasn’t going to be able to exercise, I needed to take into consideration the extra calories I wouldn’t be burning per day.  I had to plan my meals and calories accordingly to maintain my weight loss.  Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be.  I got the opportunity to find new ways to arrange my diet and pair foods for optimal results. 

What did I learn this week?  A challenge is an opportunity!  For what?…Many things…an opportunity to learn, to adapt, to change, and to enhance; perhaps it’s an opportunity that has the power to show you your own strength and will…

How you receive it makes all the difference.

What am I doing running at 56? (Go St. Louis half marathon)

It’s race day and we’re here at the Go St Louis marathon/half. Jackie runs up to the starting line and Jerren and I climb over the rails and join the masses much further back.

This is my first time to use a Garman during a run and I’m not sure exactly what impact it will have on my race.  All I know is that  I have a clear goal this time – break my best half marathon time which I achieved in Memphis.  Maybe my Garman will help.

Miles 1 & 2

Believe it or not,  I’m usually asking myself, even at this stage of the game, “What am I doing here and why am I doing this”?   Not today though – Wow! feeling really good and running with my girl Jerren.

Miles 3, 4 & 5

Jerren has left me, as is expected, but  this is where my head is exploding with all those wonderful thoughts.  You know those thoughts – of how much I love everyone, especially those who have participated in preparing me for this race.  I’ve run enough races to know that this won’t last but it’s wonderful while I’m cruising.  I’m even considering the possibility of running another marathon.  I’m sure I can beat my last marathon time.

Mile 6 & 7

I need to look at my Garman like Jackie told me to do and see if I’m on track/pace but I’m afraid to.  There is this “hell hill” coming up at mile 7 and, unfortunately it’s clear today, and I can SEE that it goes on forever.  I know Go St. Louis is not an easy course, but who puts these routes together?????  I remind myself that hills can be my strength if I stay focused and determined.  I’m doing it, but I know this is not the last hill I’ll have to scale.

Mile 8

I’m feeling my gluts, nothing outside of the ordinary when doing a long run, but I’m feeling “spent”.  This too shall pass.

Mile 9 & 10

My calves are starting to tell me that they want to stop.  “Who am I kidding, beat my last half marathon time, run another marathon”???   Please let this pass.

Mile 11

My calves are screaming, unlike anything I’ve experienced before.  I look up and say, “please, please help me finish this strong”.  My mind & legs are telling me that maybe I have reached my potential and I need to be happy to just finish.  I’m starting to feel disappointed in myself.  I forge ahead.

Mile 12

The explosion is set to happen any moment.  My calves are popping & the knots are trying to overtake me.  I have to stop and attempt to stretch my calves if I want to finish, and not finishing is not an option. I run to the side and as I’m stretching, a charlie horse in my right calf.  It’s not going to go away and I don’t want to blow it in the last 2 miles.  Although there are two voices in my head arguing the outcome of this race, I again forge ahead.  This isn’t fair.  Now, what was that I always told my kids?  Oh yea, “Life isn’t fair, fairness has nothing to do with it”.

Mile 13

I’m doing the last mile and although I’m strong cardiovascularly, my run has become distorted and awkward.  I’m shifting from maintaining form and a steady pace back to distorted and awkward.  There are people on the side lines all around me cheering and I’m not inclined to looking pathetic, so I’m trying so hard to transcend what’s happening to me.  I see the finish now. I realize that I’m going to get there.  I’m going to finish and there is even a possibility that I might still meet my goal.

Thank you, I’m done! My clock time doesn’t tell the story and I’m not sure how many minutes passed before I turned off my Garman.  I’ll have to wait a few hours to get my chip time.  I’m off to find my family –  I GO DOWN!  I’m on the ground and  I’m in agony. My calves have officially exploded. Being pathetic is no longer an issue.

Some wonderful runners and medical people patiently massage my calves until, what seemed like forever, they could hoist me up and get me to the med tent.  I didn’t like being in the med tent.  I left and hobbled to my family.  I now know what I need to do next time to break 2 hours.

Beth Pirtle – 2 hours, 7 minutes & 45 seconds – I met my goal!!!!!

Who said?  “It’s the hard that makes it great”

Send in the Reinforcements!

The Beatles put it best:  I get by with a little help from my friends!

So true!!!  It helps tremendously when you have the support of friends and family while you are trying to accomplish something.  Whether it’s weight loss or another goal, it is vital that the people surrounding you are aware of the goal that you are shooting for.  Sometimes people may present a hurdle to your goal without even knowing that they are doing it.  For example, your best bud might not bring you a slice of cake if they are aware that you are trying to lose weight.  Instead, they might bring you a fruit basket!…or at least split the cake with you…half the calories…get it?  Yeah, it hasn’t worked that well for me either!  LOL!

The point is this:  Don’t hide your fitness goals from others.  Trust me; it is so much easier to stay accountable and to get the support you really need when others are aware of your goal.  Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with positive people!  That is soooo important; and if you have nay-sayers, that’s okay too!…turn that negative energy into something positive!  Some of my best workouts were fueled by an “I’ll show you!” LOL

Personally, I really like attending a class or two a week and, of course, working with Matt to push me further than I would have pushed myself in a regular workout.  The great thing about a class is that there are other people that share a similar interest.  It is great to become friends with class mates; and you will whether you like it or not…there’s something bonding about a group of people almost passing out together!!! LOL!  Just kidding…but not really.  Pretty soon, those people help keep you accountable.  If you miss a class, they noticed you were gone and tell you that you were missed!  It’s great!  Same goes for having a trainer.  It’s like a buddy-system!  Both are a great ways to gain positive support.  Sometimes, just having your BFF, a co-worker, or a spouse as positive reinforcement adds a tremendous boost to your motivation!

With all the wonderful support I’ve gotten; I’m well on my way!…

If you fail to plan…you plan to fail!

I made it through Easter weekend!

By now you know how much I love fried chicken…peeps are the candy equivalent!  I haven’t had one…yet!  The only thing better than fried chicken is a sugar coated one, LOL!  Just kidding…but not really 😀  I better stop before Matt has me doing a Dirty Dozen!!!  Yikes!

Seriously though, it hasn’t been tough since I’ve developed better habits.  I’ve found that most of the things that I was doing before to sabotage myself I was doing unconsciously…not while knocked out, lol…by that I mean my actions weren’t purpose driven.  I wanted to get into better shape, but I wasn’t aligning my actions with my goal.  I’m not saying that I have to starve myself; besides, knowing me I’d end up sleep walking and eating anyway 🙂  I just had to stop eating nonchalantly.  For now, I write down my daily food intake and plan out my day.  It makes a big difference!  If you fail to plan…you plan to fail!  I always have an emergency snack and a plan B just in case!

The most important thing that I’ve learned is that you have to be willing to push past the hurdles…and there will be some if you are trying to accomplish something meaningful!  Stay the course!  I was able to enjoy my Easter weekend and still stay on track with my goal!  It’s the best feeling ever!

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, til it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. 

                                                  ~Harriet Beecher Stowe    


To view video click here:  Back Row with Towel

Train Like a Ram- The first two functional workouts at Rams Park

The first two weeks of training the Rams out at the Russell Training Facility went great.  All of the exercises were chosen for either their core stabilization or multi planar function.  These types of exercises tend to have a high transfer rate to field performance (getting better at these types of exercises usually correlates with better performance on the field).  The exercises are as follows:

Week 1:

Toe plank on ball– core musculature, especially transversus abdominus (TVA)

Kettlebell high pull with catch and deceleration– explosive acceleration with eccentric deceleration of weight

Bosu reverse chop with medicine ball– multi planar movement with internal oblique

Bosu bodyweight triceps extension– core leveraged triceps power

Plank with rear delt dumbbell fly– TVA, rear delt, lower back

Plyometric push up to side plank– multi planar movement with chest, TVA, oblique, shoulder


Week 2

Dumbbell push pull rotate and extend– multi planar, full body integrated movement

Waterball twist and slam– isometric hip and abdominal with oblique

Push Pike on ball– multi planar movement with hip flexion, TVA, chest

Ball crunch with medicine ball– upper abs, neck flexors

Kettlebell get up sit up– hip flexion, upper abs

Circle plank on ball– upper abs, TVA, shoulder stabilizers

For more information, contact Matt Pirtle at

Emerge Fitness Training

St. Charles, Missouri

Who me?…Noooo…

Well…the results are in!!!

After working with Matt, for one month, toward my goal; I have lost 7lbs and 2% body fat!!!  WhooHoo!  More than just the measurements…I FEEL great!  Though this is only the beginning, it’s a good one!

As you’ve read…I’ve had a lot of fried hurdles to jump, LOL.  This past week, we celebrated the month’s birthdays, in my office, with a festive food table; packed full of chips, dips, and treats!  Keep in mind that I sit about two feet away from this table!  I came in that morning totally unprepared (mentally, that is) for the cookies and donuts and cakes…Oh My!  Thank goodness someone brought a veggie tray (Whew!)…I know, I was thinkin’ that too…dip the veggies in the dip!…Actually, I was a good girl!  I gathered as many veggies as I could onto my plate, ‘cause we all know that no one was touchin’ that platter when there were donuts and cakes nearby, LOL.  After I piled on the veggies, I got a few tiny seasoned meatballs, a couple of cubes of cheese, and went back to my desk!  I was so proud of myself!  I thought of my goal and how hard I’ve been working; it just wasn’t worth it to throw it all away…I mean…really…you saw me pushin’ that tire last week!  That was tough!  One look down at those round donuts reminded me of that tire…Yikes!  However!…yes, there’s a however…I DID sniff the donuts…by that I mean, I held the box up to my face and breathed in the wonderful aroma, ahhhh…people were joking that I was trying to inhale the powered sugar, LMAO!…Who me?…Noooo…(he, he, he)

Here is a journal of what I’ve been doing this past month that has worked for me:

Mon- (5:30am) 1 hour spinning (12:30pm) Run intervals 15 min.- 30sec. 7.8mph, rest 30sec. on/off / Walk up incline of 15 for 20min.

Tue- (6:30am) Bootcamp w/ Nick (12:30pm) Run intervals 10 min.- 30sec. 7.8mph, rest 30sec. on/off / Rowing machine 20 min

Wed- (5:30am) 1 hour spinning (12:30pm) *optional* Walk up incline of 15 for 20min. (4:30pm) Train w/ Matt

Thur- (6:30am) Bootcamp w/ Nick (12:30pm) Run intervals 10 min.- 30sec. 7.8mph, rest 30sec. on/off / Rowing machine 20 min

Fri- (7:00am) Train w/ Matt

Sat- Rest *a couple of weekends I did the stair climber for 60min.*

Sun- (3:00pm) 1 hour spinning

Meal Plan:

Fairly basic, I eat right after my work out and take my multi (very important!).  Then, I space my meals out about 2 ½ hours apart.  I usually eat:  Breakfast, snack, BIG lunch, snack, SMALL dinner.  I just re-joined Weight Watchers this past week to get me on track with my calories.  It works really well for me.  Their program is in-line with what Matt asks me to do for my nutrition, so I trust it.

Keep in mind that this is just what has worked for me personally.  I choose a second cardio workout, for my lunch hour, to keep me moving throughout my workday. I try not to over-train, so I keep them somewhat light, but purposeful.  I don’t want anyone to get the impression that you have to work out two times a day to get to your goal.

This week, I took my weekly pics at the office; hence the file cabinets (lol). 

Can’t wait to see what next week brings!…

A Blueprint for Increasing Testosterone and Growth Hormone from Specific Resistance Training Exercise

For athletes or those wishing to increase lean body mass, hormonal responses of the human body to resistance training are very important.  These responses are very tightly linked to the type of exercise performed, the intensity of exercise (weight), nutritional variables and the rest intervals.  By manipulating some of these variables in your workout, you can effectively target specific hormonal responses.

Let’s take testosterone first.  Why is increasing blood levels of testosterone important for athletes or those wishing to gain muscle?  Testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone that interacts with skeletal tissue, resulting in tissue growth (LBM gain) and enhancement of force potential (strength).  This is usually seen as a good thing by those involved in resistance training for athletetic performance.  So, to increase blood levels of testosterone by resistance training, these four manipulations to your workout should be made:

1) Focus on large muscle group exercises- deadlift, power clean, squats.

2) Use heavy resistance (6-10 rep max)

3) Use a high volume of exercise (through several sets or multiple exercises)

and 4) Take short rests (30-60 seconds)

Next, we’ll tackle growth hormone.  Increasing growth hormone secretion is beneficial because GH can increase protein synthesis, increase collagen synthesis, stimulate cartilage growth, and enhance immune function.  Basically, an increase in muscle mass, connective tissue, healthy immune system response, and a greater expression of strength are the benefits.  Now, to increase the secretion of GH in response to weight training, do these things:

1) Use workouts with higher lactate  concentrations (high intensity exercise with 10 rep max) with at least three sets.

2) Take short rests (less than one minute)

3) Supplement with carbohydrates and proteins just before AND after your workout.

With attention to these details when designing your workouts, you can essentially create a blueprint for “targeting” certain hormonal responses, responses that can benefit any athlete or trainee attempting to better performance or enhance their physique.

Matt Pirtle

Emerge Fitness Training

St. Charles, Missouri