What Was the Idea Behind Cardio High?

Exploring Intensity

What Was the Idea Behind Cardio High?

Doctor S: What’s your approach to fitness and health?

MG: I am going to focus on fitness. 

I played sports all the time starting at around age 6. I wanted to be a pro football player, but I was always way too small. I started playing tennis tournaments at age 10, and I realized that tennis might be my best shot at pro sports. I eventually became good enough to play college tennis at Harvard and even played 4 months of semi-pro tennis in Europe. After college I switched to playing squash and Ultimate Frisbee. My focus became less about winning and more about the social aspects of playing sports. I was never a gym rat. I rarely belonged to gyms and almost never did strength training. 

But starting around age 24 I began experiencing a series of sports injuries including broken ribs, partially torn rotator cuff, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and finally a herniated disc in my lower back. After viewing an MRI, a sports doc told me I would never play squash or Ultimate again. Bummer. But working with a top back doc in Washington, DC, I started a rehab program that took about six months. During that time my exercise regimen was PT and walking. I truly missed the energy jolt from playing sports like squash and Ultimate. Grumpy moods increased. 

I eventually healed from the back injury and carefully returned to playing squash, tennis and Ultimate. I continued to experience minor sports injuries like shoulder ligament sprains, usually from diving for a Frisbee. Starting around 10 years ago my body could not take back-to-back days of sports like squash. I needed a solution for the off days to get a jolt from some form of exercise. 

So, chasing mood and energy is a major factor in developing Cardio High.

I worked with trainers and attended all sorts of fitness classes always looking for a cardio buzz without soreness or injury risk. I could not find it. The DNA of most trainers is strength training, so I rarely broke a sweat with trainers. Most fitness classes repeated the same movements over and over burning out muscles and joints… and they seemed a bit boring or had dance steps that were hard to follow. I formed Cardio High to create a style of fitness that safely raises the heart rate to close to max (lots of huffing and puffing) with zero injury risk. I learned that moving quickly from one exercise to another keeps the workout flowing and not feeling like a chore. Add in tunes and it almost feels like a dance. At a certain point at Cardio High we added Woodway treadmills and fan bikes to more easily raise heart rate. 

In the past few years I have started to program restorative components of the workouts by using yoga and corrective exercise and things I learned from physical therapy. The whole idea of this fitness is focused on making the body feel better. The workouts can take pain away instead of creating pain. They are designed to leave people with a euphoric feeling. 

Finally, I have noticed that my speed and strength seem better on the court and on the field. I am sure this is an illusion as my body continues to age. 

Fitness is a mood enhancer for off days from sports. 

Food tastes good.

Health is easy to take for granted. When I feel sick good health becomes the number one priority.

The body works better when there is less pain.

– MG

Dear MG,

It’s very interesting — multiple points where you could have said aw fuckall. I would rent all 8 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and binge watch them while I ate sweet red cherries and spit the damn pits on the floor; because my injury is so discouraging it’s turned me into a badass, and my hallmark act of badassery is rudely disposing of the stones in stone fruit. 

But you kept finding ways. And exercise prevents your telomeres from degrading thus keeping you younger. 

I also love that your story is never about weight, body fat percentage, bulk etc. or any unrealistic internalized beauty ideal.

– Doctor S.