Ever wonder why people feel compelled to push for more? Why people obsess with chasing something seemingly impossible? Why few try so hard?

Let’s start by defining a goal. Webster’s defines a goal as the object of a person’s ambition or effort. But I don’t think this is an accurate depiction.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort

Ever since I can remember, I had goals. Without even knowing the definition of goal, or having an adult explanation, I knew. In kindergarten when anybody asked me that predictable question. “What do you want to be when you grow up little Tony?”

I looked the giant humans straight in the eyes and responded,

“I want to be President of the United States.”

Please forgive my innocence. I obviously didn’t know better (I was five.) I thought of the highest goal imaginable and I set my mark. I wanted to achieve something noteworthy. My upbringing was less than spectacular, and I didn’t know it yet, but dreaming proved instrumental in any achievement.

Struggle became quite familiar. Our broken family crippled by financial problems. I would close my little eyes and imagine a better life. A life where my mom didn’t need food stamps, a life where we didn’t need to ride the bus, and a life where Santa didn’t skip our house.

It killed me to watch my mom struggle. I asked the giant humans for help. The adults preached education. But, I didn’t need an education, I needed rent money. The giants explained education would earn a scholarship to graduate from college, get a job, and then get money. And then get money. It seemed so long, but okay. I figured if I went to school every day, this would help my goal of graduating college. My very first goal was set: perfect attendance.

As I stood receiving my first award for perfect attendance from kindergarten to eighth grade, I remember my pride. I stood 10 feet tall that day. Every year Jack in the Box would give the perfect attendance recepients a coupon for a meal (a brilliantly sly marketing move.)  It was the only time I could afford Jack in the Box. I felt like I needed the finest silverware for my cheeseburger combo. I sat like a young prince, ready to eat my well-earned meal.



Over the years, my goals evolved. Graduate college, move out of the hood, help my mom, and start my own company. I’m proud to say, Total Body Project has helped hundreds enhance their lives. Our recent goals consist of our first fitness device, a new personal training course, and a new pregnancy book.

But life is meant to be abundant. Goals must be both professional and personal. Enter the Ironman Triathlon. Most of you are aware of my ability to make drowning look like swimming. The invisible pools in the hood forged my swim stroke to look identical to Michael Phelp’s…puppy.

After I almost drowned in a 47-minute half-mile ocean swim. The Ironman Triathlon (2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 of biking and then a 26.2-mile run) seemed like a logical choice. When I told people about this goal, some laughed. But laughing at my goals doesn’t anger me, it inspires me. Laughter represents the right direction for my goals. They laughed when I started my own company. People questioned my reason for leaving engineering. Others are surprised when they learn of my Economics degree. Some even asked who wrote my books. When people laugh, I know I’m on the right track.

Even when I told Robert, my best friend, after we tanked the marathon at Long Beach. “Hey next year, I think we can run under 3 hours and qualify for Boston.” He thought I was delirious.


In 2016, Robert and I crossed the Boston Marathon with my biggest laugh yet.

For the past 6 years, I’ve worked tirelessly for my yearly Ironman competition. With only one goal in mind: qualification to the World Championships in Kona. I’ve recorded hundreds of hours of workouts, runs, swim drills, and cycling. I’ve watched my sleep, scrutinized my diet and did everything imaginable in preparation.

In one word, the Ironman is brutal. Six times I have stepped to the start line, and six times I got smashed by a train. Last year at Ironman Santa Rosa, I had the best Ironman to date. I had a poor swim, deciding to change my swim style slowed me down. I turned in my best bike leg ever and completed the marathon under 4 hours.


And I finished in … 37th place?

Nobody talks about 37th place. I needed one of the top 3 spots. I needed to be 2 hours faster. Two hours faster? I’ve worked as hard as I could, and I still need two hours?

As I threw up in the medical tent, after my best performance to date. I thought about quitting. It broke my heart. Maybe this goal is too much. Maybe I’m not meant to be at the start line in Kona. Maybe this dream is too big.

Maybe this is exactly what I need.

A goal so big, so big, that reaching it would yield incredible fulfillment. A goal so big, it requires not hours, not days, not months, but years. Years committed to bettering myself.

This is exactly what I need.

This Sunday I take another step as I compete in Puerto Rico in a Half-Ironman event.

1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run all under 5 hours.

If everything goes right, it will be the toughest and most rewarding 5 hours ever.

If everything goes right…

In response to Webster’s, goals are the driving force delivering passion to our lives. Without goals, you cannot have passion. Without passion, life is not worth living.

Without passion, life is not worth living.

I know my goal. Do you know yours?

Ever thought about riding your bike around the globe?




Me neither.

So how do I always end up stuck on my bike at the top of a giant mountain with only Eric keeping me company?
I thought you might find this story inspiring, or nuts.

You decide.

A few years ago, Eric and I we’re completing another personal training session. We worked through major back issues. He didn’t have a bulged disk, something far worse: 2 shattered discs! Eric experienced chronic back pain for over 20 years. Luckily, I had a plan for his back pain. Three issues I saw immediately: little to no flexibility, weak core and glutes. If he stuck with the program, we would see incredible results. The results blew my mind, his back pain became a distant memory.



Eric felt as strong as a bull. The strongest 57 y/o around. He asked me a question that changed my life.


“Would you ride your bike from San Francisco to Irvine?”



I obviously thought he was joking.

I replied, like any normal person. “Sure, no big deal. Let’s keep working, three more reps.” And I thought, that was it. The next session, Eric showed up with a map and possible dates. I pooped my pants. This guy is serious? I didn’t think it was possible, but I reluctantly agreed.

PictureOur first long training ride went … in one word, awful.


My butt cried, and every hill destroyed us. We would find ourselves resting on the side of the road just to try and make it home.I looked at Eric and I just didn’t think it was possible. I would have a tough time, and I knew it would be even harder for him. I had doubts, big doubts.But we had a secret weapon, we each possessed a Bigger Burn. A powerful Bigger Burn.


Eric was a cancer survivor. He beat the odds, coming back from near-death made him almost invincible. He wasn’t supposed to do any of this, not anymore. I had a starkly different experience with cancer. My friend Amadu fought bravely against the horrid disease. Sadly, cancer won.Picture



We knew what we needed to do. We would make the mission bigger than us. We would bike to raise money for the fight against cancer.


Our first ride was incredibly challenging. We experienced everything from getting lost, chronic fatigue and a horrific bike crash. But despite all the obstacles, we persevered.

Armed with the right motivation, anything is possible.


We recently completed our 7th bike trip. The bike trek from Oregon to San Francisco. Eric performed like a machine. He isn’t slowing down one bit. He pushes me to work harder. And honestly, I need to. I need to be ready for whatever crazy adventure pops in his head.


PS: For serious cyclists (or crazy ones) make sure you follow our 3 Quick Tips for Speed.Or for more epic inspiration, you can read my New York Marathon journey.


Tony Arreola

NASM Master Trainer

Author, “Get Me Medals”

3 simple and quick tips to add free bike speed:

  1. Tire Pressure

  2. Clean Chain

  3. Seat Height

Free Speed.


We all enjoy the thrill of speed. Speed makes biking fun (and easier.) Whether you’re cruising along the beach or racing up mountain tops. Bicycling is one of the finest ways to enjoy nature’s beauty. So exhilarating, you forget it’s even exercise. Well, until you climb a hill…


Before your next bike ride, first take out your pump and fill up your tires. Pumping the tires will make your bike ride faster by making the pedaling much easier. In physics terms, the more your tire contacts the ground, the more friction opposes it. I know, nerd-talk. In simpler terms, flatter-tires ride slower. The correct tire pressure depends on the tire. Correct pressure is usually sneakily marked on the side of the tire. It’s a number followed by PSI (ex. 100 PSI.) Pump your tire up to at least that number.


The next quick, although admittedly sometimes gross tip, is to clean your bike’s chain. The chain is supposed to look like metal, clean metal. If it looks like a black, dirty mess, it’s slowing you down. A dirt covered chain provides more friction. Again, making it harder to pedal and thus slowing you down. If you have a bike chain degreaser, use that. Or you can wipe the dirt down with water and soap. The cleaner the better, but even less blackish is a drastic improvement.  Make sure to re-lube the bike chain once it’s clean. The lubrication makes the pedaling easier and faster.


Experiencing pain in your knees? Your seat is probably too low. Your knee should be at a slight bend at the bottom of your pedal stroke. You can usually move the seat up, down, forward and back. If you’re serious, get a professional bike fit. If you just want to ride faster today, make sure it’s comfortable and pain free.

And remember the faster you get on your bike, the faster you can use these tips. See you on the road 🙂

Running? Elliptical? Spinning? Or could it be swimming? The debate rages on. Last week, I was having an argument… I mean, conversation with my girlfriend discussing which cardio burns the most calories.

No matter what I said, I was wrong.

That’s normal for our conversations. But I asked her to give me a chance to explain my point. (After all, I do this for a living.) She teaches spin, and group classes, and insists her workouts burn way more calories than my workouts.

Cool story, bro.

That’s what she actually said. The faster our heart can pump this oxygen-rich blood, the more calories we burn. The way to burn the most calories is to increase the intensity of the cardio you choose.

So, I win.

Not so fast, I told her, any cardio.

Burning more calories requires more effort, little effort burns less calories than more effort. Walking burns calories, walking uphill burns more calories, speed-walking uphill carrying 8 grocery bags while chewing gum and texting burns the most calories.You get the point.The harder it feels, the harder you’re working, thus the more calories your burning, regardless of the type. Everyone wins. Score one for the home team.

But, which cardio burns the most calories?

That’s easy, the cardio you actually do, and do hard.

In my experience, people don’t struggle deciding between cardio burning strategies. They usually struggle between the couch and cardio.

Make it easy, pick what you like and do that.

At NASM and TBP we recommend the FITTE Principle

F: Frequency (Times per week)

I: Intensity (Effort level)

T: Time (Duration)

T: Type (Kind)

E: Enjoyment (Do you like it?)

Start with something you like, and do that consistently. To burn more calories make it harder: up the intensity, do intervals, change the incline, vary the speed, less breaks, more reps. It doesn’t take much thought to make your workout harder.

Keep it simple: Harder Cardio = More Calories Burned


She scratched her head. Makes sense. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. But no, I added, I’ve ridden my bike from Canada to Mexico, your spin class would probably be pretty chill for me. She gave me the look, you know the look. It’s about to go down. Next thing I know, I was in her spin class with my legs strapped to propeller. My legs spun ridiculously fast, my body drenched in sweat, my heart screamed, and my mouth gasped for air.She smiled and said, I win!