Open letter to Philadelphia regarding the soda tax

Dear Philadelphia,


By now you’ve probably heard almost everything about the proposed Philadelphia Soda Tax from both people that support it and against it. The proposed soda tax is being framed as a way for the city to fund universal Pre K, programs for the parks and recreation department and the libraries.

The long term health benefits of the tax will cause people to make smarter choices instead of reaching for a sugary drink that if consumed consistently (which most people who are oppose to it do anyway) can lead to obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc.

Before you go judging me on this post, hear me out. I actually come from a low income background where I consumed soda almost everyday. Growing in the projects in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn there wasn’t any healthy options near by. In fact I had 3 bodegas (2 on the same block) within 2 blocks. When I was thirsty coming home from school I would grab a pepsi, coke or sprite. I remember both my grandmother and mother even buying 12 packs of soda when they went shopping because it was almost always on sale.  When you are on food stamps and it only covers so much you have no choice but to purchase the cheapest options which unfortunately was the most unhealthy (this is in the mid 80s-90s, things have changed dramatically since then) food items.

Now don’t get me wrong my grandmother was a great cook. Coming from Puerto Rico she would make the most amazing dishes I’ve ever had in my life with some huge portions. Unfortunately the ingredients that she got from the supermarkets in Brooklyn were vastly different from the food she got in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico she grew up eating fresh food that was grown directly from my great grandparent’s land. Not to mention she was active because she had to actually get the food from the farm. It wasn’t till she came stateside where she became overweight due because of the processed foods, foods loaded with sodium and sugar. I still believe that it was those unhealthy foods that she developed and passed away from Breast Cancer—but thats a topic for another day.

I was one of the lucky ones in my community though. I realized at the age of 16 that harm that fast food and sugary drinks would cause me long term. That’s when I started to cut back and eventually cut out both.

People want to be healthy as well as a better communities. The soda tax will serve both purposes. If people want to continue to get their soda fix they can but they will just have to pay the extra tax the same way those that choose to continue to buy cigarettes.

At the same time Philadelphian’s should use this opportunity to find resources that will educate them on how to enjoy their favorite foods with healthy alternatives while on a shoestring budget. The soda tax will enable public places to have more of those resources in place in communities that need it the most.  I personally hope that some of that revenue generated gets put to use in the school system to educate and expose children as early as pre K to healthy food options. By exposing children to healthy food options as early as possible will encourage their parents to make healthy meals.

Will the soda tax eradicate the obesity epidemic in Philly completely? No! It is a great start though! As a fitness expert as well as someone who came from a low income background I understand both sides. However Philadelphia has a chance to do something special that will not only combat the obesity problem but also improve the quality of life for everyone including our children. In the end of the day don’t we want them to live longer and have a better life for them? I’d say we can live with paying a few extra cents on sugary drinks.

-Bryan Ortiz

Brooklyn Badass Boot Camp Workout Of The Week

Should you drink coffee, caffeine or take Pre Workout before running?

Since it’s Global Running Day I decided to address this issue of which is better for running drinking coffee or a pre workout before a run.

In all my years of training I’ve tried both coffee and various pre workouts before both short runs and long runs. Both have had their advantages and disadvantages. There were times where I decided to just run without a pre workout or coffee. I’ve decided to address each of these below based on my experience. I encourage you to consult with your doctor first to see what is best for your body.


Ideally you want to take it 20-40 mins before you start running. It will give you a jolt of energy and definitely help you with your runs. The major downside to it is that it will dehydrate you and you will find yourself looking for water shortly after. Another downside is that coffee acts as laxative and you will find yourself looking for a rest room during the race or after.


I’ve tried pretty much every pre workout on the market before my runs. Back in the day pre workout supplements were mostly associated with meatheads in the gym as a way to workout longer and harder to try to get bigger. That has changed due to the increased popularity of weekend warrior races such as Spartan Races, Tough Mudder, Rock and Roll Marathon Series etc have increased in popularity. This has caused companies to redesign their formulas to appeal to those people.

The major problem I had with the majority of pre workouts is that they contain an insane of amount of caffeine as well as high levels of creatine. This typically leads to cramping throughout the run as well, jitters and just like coffee–a major crash at the end. I use to just suck it up at times and deal with it for runs and races shorter than 5 miles.

Although the biggest mistake I made was taking Assault by Muscle Pharm before the Spartan Beast last year. While it did keep me focused for about 1/3 of the race. I found myself crapping and reaching for my Gu’s way earlier than I planned to. I also found myself crashing from it during the 8 mile mark–not fun at all.

I decided to try Hyrda Pump by ARD Nutrition this year for my runs. While it did take time to get use to not having caffeine in a pre workout it was a welcome relief knowing that despite not that ingredient as well as not having creatine, it made up for it in the amino acids and electrolytes. The biggest test for me was during the broad street run. Both Anusha and I had a scoop of it 35 mins before we started and neither one of us experienced any cramps, jitters nor dehydration. Best of all–no crash from it!

Final Words:

I recommend seeing what works best for you. If you still want caffeine but without the high inesity focus I recommend 10 energy shot. No crash and the right amount of smooth energy for a 5K-5mile run.  I also highly recommend Hydra Pump by ARD nutrition, I want you to continue to do your HW. No matter what you decide and how many miles you run today, go out there and run!!!


Summer Fitness Survival Guide 2016

I originally planned to make this into make this into a free ebook where there was an opt in required but considering the amount of BS of fitness info and ads  you experience everyday combined with short attention spans I decided to be different. Going to keep it simple, realistic and easy to follow this way you can enjoy the summer without having to worry about calorie counting, macros and feeling bad about missing a workout.


Ahh summer. For me summer meant going to Coney Island to enjoy one (or two) Nathan’s hot dogs, fries. Seeing a Brooklyn Cyclones game. Getting Itialian ice and a slice of pizza at Original nathansPizza in Canarsie. Of course summer wouldn’t be complete without ice cream from Mr.Softy.

When I started getting into fitness I still enjoyed those things and never felt guilty! Now that I’m living in Philly I’m planning to do enjoy much of the same especially trying Water Ice for the first time.

Unfortunately I’ve seen from clients and students is how much people fall off their fitness plans during the summer. That’s due to BBQ’s, happy hours, vacation and not to mention who the hell wants to workout in a hot, smelly gym during the summer?!

What I’ve created for you is simple tips to survive the summer months. The most important thing I want to emphasize is for you to NOT FEEL GUILTY about food and missing a workout or two. I want you to enjoy life! There’s more to life than just working out and calories. If you decide to go on vacation and splurge with family and friends–go for it!! What matters is that you are living life to its fullest surrounded by people you love.

Never sacrifice time and creating memories with loved ones over healthy eating (I’m not saying do this everyday) and missing a workout. After all, what good is having a badass healthy body if you have nobody in your life to share it with?

Surviving BBQ’S :

  • Load up on salad before you have a burger but skip the fatty dressing.
  • Eat the damn burger and hot dog! (Just limit yourself to no more than 2 and space out the time between each to give your body time to digest)
  • Avoid soda including diet soda! Have water instead.
  • If you must snack choose whole wheat or whole grain chips
  • If you must drink, enjoy a glass of red wine and/or vodka soda.
  • Drink a 10 energy shot for caffeine. 1 shot is all you need to get you through the day
  • Don’t even think about calories. Just enjoy yourself!

Keeping up with your workouts:Summerrun

  • Take your workouts outside by joining an outdoor fitness program
  • Sign up for a recreation league such as softball, kickball, dodgeball etc.
  • If you are working out in a gym keep your workouts to 15-30 mins consisting of high intensity total body workouts. (This way you can enjoy the summer).
  • Give your body time to rest! If you are working out hard 3-5 times a week your body will be craving rest so it can recover and as a result you will see the results you want.
  • Missed a day? Fuggetabouit! As long as you were having fun than missing a workout isn’t going to set you back.
  • Sign up for a race in the fall! It could be a Spartan Sprint, 5K or 10K race. By signing up NOW, you are more likely to want to workout and be consistent.



Brooklyn Runs Broad Street.

There were a lot of things I wanted to do when I moved to Philly, run the rocky steps, have an authentic cheesesteak, hoagie, see a 76ers & Eagles game etc. However one of the things that was on top of my list was to do the Broad Street run. It just happened that the lottery was happening shortly after my move and my girlfriend and I got in!

Keep in mind the longest non spartan race I had done in recent memory was 10 miles and that was 3 years agoIMG_1783 from Battery Park up the West Side Highway.  Even though I had completed the Spartan Race trifecta last year I knew this would be a different kind of challenge—a challenge that I was looked forward to conquering.

I felt that since I was doing weekly runs with Philadelphia Runner in Center City as well as during my own runs up the SK river trail and up the Rocky Steps (sometimes multiple times). However I was still nervous and at the same time was looking forward to a new challenge.

As the old saying goes “Ask and you shall receive”! That is because it took place in the midst of cool and rainy day!

Thankfully I had some experience running in conditions similar to this thanks to the Spartan Beast last year which had snow and ice still on the mountain!  So getting dressed for it wasn’t a problem. I wore exactly the same thing I did last year which was The North Face Sneakers, Pants, Shirt and a new North Face rain jacket.

Even though we live on a short ride to the start line we still gave ourselves plenty of time to get there since anticipated a huge crowd on SEPTA. We had to let 3 trains go by before we squeezed on to a train (still not nearly as crowded as the 4 train during rush hour). As we got close to the train station we got close to Olney we decided it was time to get our pre workout on and had Hydra Pump by ARD Nutrition.

Race organizers told us to be at our corral by 7:40am but it seemed like more people were concerned about staying dry as long as possible than being at their corral especially when the 1st wave wouldn’t start till 8am. However we still made our way to the corral and waited as the rain kept coming. We both tried to keep mentally prepared by listening to our respective playlists (mine was WWE superstars entrance music including Ultimate Warrior, Dolph Ziggler & Triple H). In what felt like an eternity we were off and running at 8:20am.

Once we started running we were able to hit a a good stride and our pace got shorter as we got closer to the finish line. I can’t say how much it meant to us seeing the people out there in the rain cheering us on. We both felt like it gave us a 2nd wind that we needed.

We ended up finishing in 1:46! (even though our official time said longer since we stopped to use the rest room which added 6 mins to our time).

Once we crossed the finish line it felt like it took forever to get to the festival area to get our IMG_1773medals as well as to get a heat blanket (which we needed badly considering how cold it was and the rain picked up).  We finally got our medals and a soft pretzel (at that moment felt like the best thing ever!) For whatever reason there was nobody giving out heat blankets and we found a big roll hanging out by one of the trucks–which of course everyone was trying to get their hands on.  After tearing a blanket for us we proceeded to look for the shuttle buses that were suppose to take us to the train station. However nobody knew where to get them and the ones that we didn’t stop– very disorganized!

So we proceeded to say “Fuggetabouit” and just walk to the AT&T station now that we got our heat blanket. We were very pleased by SEPTA who suspended fares for runners both ways and had plenty of extra trains.

We both had the fear of what happened to Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” where he runs the marathon, sits down on the train and not able to get up. Yup, thats what we envisioned happening to ourselves. Thankfully it didn’t happen but we weren’t exactly able to get up quickly either.

When we got off at our station at Race-Vine it was extremely cold not to mention the stairs we still had to climb. The people in front us had the same reaction we did which was “O Hell No!”. I’m not going to lie, those stairs might has well been Mount Everest because thats how long it took for us to get up that one flight of stairs.

Overall it was an amazing time and the rain only made it more of a memorable experience.


Review Of 10 Energy Shot

I have to admit I’ve caffeine lover since I was 16 years old. Being that I have ADHD it actually helps gets me focused for the day ahead.

I use to have at least 2 cups of coffee a day, heck the people at Starbucks would even know when I was coming in. However that changed with the emergence of energy shots.

I quickly became a fan of them because they would last 5 hours instead of me going back for coffee. However the major drawback as a personal trainer was that my day would be way longer than 5 hours. Which result in me reaching for another energy shot. Not to mention the horrible crash I would have but I still resulted to having it.

That changed when I discovered 10 energy shot at Duane Reade and Walgreens (no I’m not a brand ambassador nor am I getting paid by or to write this blog)

Now I have to admit I was very skeptical about an energy shot that promised to last 10 hours. Glad I was proven wrong! From the 1st sip I had an immediate burst of energy and remained focused for 10 hours.

I could workout, play basketball, hockey and I will still have energy without any crash!

Pros: Last 10 hours, no crash, helps me focus with my ADHD. Cheap at Duane Reade and Walgreens.

Cons:  Only available online and at Duane Reade and Walgreens.

Summary: If you are a caffeine lover you have to try 10 energy shot. To maximize the effects take as soon as you wake up. I usually drink a glass of water to get hydrated followed by 10 energy. It kicks in within minutes, by the time you get out the shower you will be ready to start the day head on without any jitters! Get one today and see for yourself.

Learn more about 10 energy shot

NO B.S Review Of ARD Nutrition Supplements

*Full Disclosure: I am a sponsored athlete by ARD and yes I do make a commission off the promo codes. However as you will see I am completely honest in my reviews and will NEVER back something that I wouldn’t suggest to my clients and family*

A little background on ARD: ALL of the supplements contain banned free supplements that are WADA, NCAA Compliant. EVERY ingredient is listed and the functions are explained.

Pre Workout:

Hydra Pump: 

Pros: No Caffeine, no creatine, no crash, pumps that last for hours, focused energy, all natural, no banned substances. Can be used during your workout.

Cons: None, other than the taste. Just make sure to have it with cold water.

Summary: I’ve tried almost every pre workout on the market and Hydra Pump delivers on everything it promises. I’ve used it not only in my workouts but also during my games as well as my cardio days. Unlike other pre workout supplements which will cause you to cramp during cardio, Hydra Pump caused me no craps and with electrolytes it actually has helped me run longer. As far as the pumps goes they have lasted 3 hours!  Theres nothing like leaving the gym with a long pump and going into games with a pump that makes everyone look twice.

Multi Vitamin:


Pros: 3 easy to shallow pills. Defintely have a lot more energy throughout the day.

Cons: None

Summary: I’ve taken various multi vitamins throughout the years and this one delivers. I’ve also noticed an increase in Testosterone levels throughout my day and even longer after I take it shortly after my workout .

R.E.M-Recovery : Sleep Aide, growth and recovery

Pros: Sleep a lot better, reduction in soreness, wake up feeling refreshed.

Cons: None

Summary: In order for your muscles to grow you must sleep at least 7 hours and at the same time feed it with the right ingredients. REM does the job! You get good sleep while it does its job to feed the muscles so it can grow and experience bigger gains.

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