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Community Spotlight: Earl Hooks

Community Spotlight: Earl Hooks (Hooked on Fitness)

Earl is the founder of Hook’d on Fitness, Boyz N The Woods, and was a participant on American Ninja Warrior. I trained with Earl and Bertrand Newsom previously in preparation for the Silicon Valley Half Marathon.
In our talk, Earl shares his powerful story of his battle with alcoholism, his recovery and fitness journey, his current addiction – a 1,150+ day run streak of 5K or more, training for TAJI 100 and the Ventura Marathon, recovery methods, his commitment to the youth and community, his Hook’d on Fitness Bootcamp and Boyz N The Woods trail running group (and their partnership with Pacific Coast Trail Runs), his experience with American Ninja Warrior, and what he’s up to now.

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Chris Gaines (PerformanceGaines)

Community Spotlight: Chris Gaines (PerformanceGaines)

Chris Gaines is the founder/owner of PerformanceGaines. PerformanceGaines is a functional fitness and wellness gym in Palo Alto, CA. In this interview, we talk about Chris’ background in Football, Rugby, and Bodybuilding, his training philosophies, him being part of the crew for John Tarlton a cyclist who biked in RAAM (Race Across America) to raise funds for the Stanford Cancer Center (as featured in the Netflix documentary), his thoughts in minimalist shoes, and various podcasts and books (Muscles and Meridians, Atomic Habit, Art of Possibility, Consilience, etc.) that he’s reading today.

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Community Spotlight: Bertrand Newson (Too Legit Fitness)

Bertrand Newson is the founder of Too Legit Fitness (established 2011). Too Legit Fitness is a well-known training program in the Bay Area with over 700 members and hosts the official training program for the Silicon Valley Half Marathon and has coached several athletes (including me!) in long distance running and pursuing many different fitness goals of all ability levels.

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About COACH Ian
My blog is dedicated to sharing my health journey, hoping my experiences will resonate and be helpful to many of you. It is written from the perspective of an athlete who has a full-time corporate job. It is a story of how I have learned to navigate the sometimes confusing world of exercise and nutrition to find optimal health and wellness as a lifestyle for myself. Along the way, I found fulfillment in realizing that my journey is able to inspire and encourage the health journey of others. 

My name is Ian Cruz. I work in finance at a venture capital firm by day and moonlight as a volunteer head coach at Dreamland Boxing, a non-profit boxing organization in San Jose, California and also provide support to Downtown Yoga Shala, a yoga studio in San Jose, California.

In my past life, I was a competitive boxer competing for both Dreamland and UCLA Boxing. Boxing taught me much more than just how to fight – it reconditioned my mind and my attitude and instilled an ethic of discipline and self-respect into my life. After hanging up my gloves, I’ve continued to volunteer at the gym after work, coaching nights at Dreamland. I also train for obstacle course races, half-marathons, marathons, and ultramarathons and am an Athlete Ambassador for Depression2Extinction, the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, and the Monterey Bay Half Marathon (Big Sur Marathon Foundation).

My story

I was only a few years removed from boxing at UCLA, and I could tell that my health was failing me. The first thing people notice is weight gain, and while there was plenty of that, I also just didn’t feel as good. I was commuting 2+ hours/day and working until 11PM or later 6 days a week and any spare time was spent studying for the CPA exam. I seemingly couldn’t focus and felt lethargic most of the time.

I’m hardly alone in this story. It seems to be a common theme that people have a hard time balancing a career (particularly a sedentary office job) and their health. I dedicated myself to getting back into boxing shape in 2015, which then turned into an eye-opening journey of understanding the wonderful intricacies of the human body – how it recovers, heals, and optimally functions from proper nutrition and lifestyle. My early approach was mostly a “mind over matter” attitude, with me ignoring many of my body’s signals to achieve some short-term goal, before setting another one. I learned that these short-term performance or vanity goals (i.e. an upcoming race, that “summer bod”, etc.) are powerful, yet short-lived. Now, my focus is on how different lifestyle components (fitness, nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress, recovery, etc.) complement each other and fit into the broader scope of overall well-being, which I’ve found to be more powerful and meaningful. 

After writing several peers via email and social media on various health topics, I decided to share much of this information in a more organized manner in this blog. Thanks for reading!

Coach Ian Cruz, Dreamland Boxing
Coach Ian Cruz, Dreamland Boxing