Running Shoes – What I Am Wearing These Days – ACSM Running Shoes Guidelines

I am often asked about running shoes so let me start out by saying there is no right shoes for everyone, maybe even most people. What works for you, works for you, and that might take a lot of trial and error. But, looking at what your friends are wearing, considering if you are using your shoes for training, racing or trail running, will help narrow down your choices. And, you have more choices than ever.

Below are the new ACSM American College of Sports Medicine running shoe selection guidelines. When I first read them, I thought wow, pretty much the way I think about selecting running shoes. So, I am not going to rewrite the work they already did. I did post the video above to show you what I have been running in the last 9 months.

I average around 40 miles a week. I run in lots of different shoes so I can have real experience with lots of different brands. Sometimes I do receive some free shoes to try and give feedback on, but if I don’t like them I don’t use them.

Check out the pdf below and remember, running shoes are a very personal choice. Take your time when trying on new shoes. Don’t be afraid to return them if you don’t like them after a couple of runs. If you love them buy a second pair. Don’t be afraid to try different brands and keep working on your running form.

Leave a comment or email if you have any shoe questions.

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Download this pdf

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Master ChiRunning® Instructor

Getting Our Socks Dirty – Trail Running by Dr. Bryan Ales

trail running

I have worked with all the wellness professionals you see on the right hand column of this blog. They are all fantastic. In fact, I drive down from Pasadena to Long Beach for their services.

Below is an article written by Dr Bryan Ales. He has taken ChiRunning Workshops with me and Gary Smith. This article is especially important to me because I believe so strongly in taking some of your running off road. Really, the more the better since it takes away much of the repetitiveness of running, forcing your body to engage muscles differently each step in context to the uneven terrain. Plus the dirt is softer and softens some of the impact.

That’s why the Sole Runners train in San Pedro and Palos Verdes half the year. It will make you stronger runner while reducing potential repetitive stress injuries. Just take it slow and allow your body strengthen on the trails.

See you on the trails in training, at the Catalina races and the Cheseboro Half at the Great Race of Agoura -Coach Steve

Getting Our Socks Dirty

by Dr. Bryan Ales, OPR Chiropractic

Why we should be spending 50% of our running mileage off the pavement.

The reason you should get those socks dirty is for a few very important facts relating to balance, proprioception, injury and aging. The first reason for trail running, is to challenge your ability to know where you are in space. Conscience and unconscious signals – “using the cotton around your needle” in the words of Danny Dreyer — are responding to the terrain. As you triplet your way through the coastal mountains in your latest and greatest minimalist running shoes, receptors in the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and fascia fire off messages to your brain. This process is critical for improving your balance and ability to react to an unexpected event that can lead to injury.

The truth about getting to that paleolithic level of minimalistic running form, is only validated for the long term, if you limit running time on the cement and spend at least 50% of your mileage on the trails. In short, the cement is damaging to our anatomy even if you’re the wisest 4th degree Tai Chi Black Belt. Lastly and coming full circle, running on the pavement does very little to improve proprioception as compared to the benefits of a random and obstacle laden river trail.

To finish, let us focus on the long term importance of challenging our proprioception — not using these receptors is a sure way to lose them. As we age, it becomes imperative to maintain and continually improve our abilities so we don’t have to scream the dreaded “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

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Dr. Ales using laser therapy on an athlete

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Trail Runner

Upcoming So Cal ChiRunning Workshops – January, February and March 2014

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It is Race Season. The Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon are Super Bowl Sunday weekend. You also have the Redondo Beach 10k and other races. In fact, for the next few months are some of the best races in So Cal.

Would you like to make those races easier, faster and recover faster? Learning ChiRunning can help you with all your upcoming runs.

  • Learn how to reduce braking forces.
  • Learn how your running posture can effect your running.
  • Learn how many steps to take per minute.
  • Learn why all this is important with a ChiRunning lesson.

I am offering a One-Day ChiRunning workshop in January, February and March. I still have spaces available for this Sunday. If you are interested, please email me at

For all the details, check out my ChiRunning Workshops web page by clicking on the logo below:

Train Focused, Steve Mackel ChiRunning Master Instructor


Taking Time to Zone In – Mindful Monday by Danny Dreyer

As a ChiRunning Instructor I run 5 to 7 days a week. For many years now I have been telling people to start “Zoning In, instead of Zoning Out.”

I get it, running can put you in a different place, let you escape your problems, or think of solutions. Running gets the endorphins flowing and in a matter of minutes or miles something change, usually for the better.

Some people like to think when they run, Some people like to put on the headphones, crank some of their favorite music and and get away and zone out. I get it.

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But, let’s take a few moments to feel whats going on while we run. Let’s take a few moments to focus on just one thing for a while. I almost always take time do this while I run. Not every moment of every run but large chunks of my runs. On your next marathon or half marathon training run take a few moments to focus on what you are feeling. Pick one thing to focus on like how your feet are landing or listen to your breathing. Below Danny Dreyer offers some ideas to help you “Body Sense” as we call it in ChiRunning.

Here’s your Mindful Monday Challenge for the week: When you’re running or walking, is your energy in your head (thinking, day dreaming, planning etc.) or is it directed towards sensing and feeling your body? There are times for both, even within the same run. Some days it’s great to go out for a run and think about issues you’re trying to resolve. Other days it is important to focus on improving your running technique. But, there should always be some part of every run dedicated to sensing your body and observing how it’s moving; what feels right about it; what could use improving. The more you make the effort to use your mind to observe your body, the more you connect the two; and the greater chances you have of unifying your movement. Take the time this week to momentarily drop out of your thoughts and just sense your body. Listen carefully to what it’s trying to tell you. This is also a good way to listen to people… just reside in your body and allow their words to effect you. Try it both and let us know how it works for you.” – Danny Dreyer, Founder of ChiRunning®

If ChiRunning interests you or you are interested in ChiRunning lessons, please email me at Steve@MarathonTraining.TV and check out

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Master ChiRunning Instructor

Catalina Marathon 2011 – Video Recap

The video speaks mostly for itself. I forgot to mention my first priority was a new PR (personal record) and second, make a good video. I was out there to run my fastest race. Well, all went perfect. The weather was beautiful, the course was dry and the support was great. I had another great time in Catalina. I love that race, the people associated with it, the volunteers and the participants. I hope you enjoy it.

Video Focused, Steve Mackel – Sole Runners Head Coach

Read This Article on Shoes, Feet and Running

I posted this article instead of linking to it because some people were having a difficult time getting to it (sorry). This article was linked on the Pasadena Triathlon Club members forum and started invoking quite a few responses. I really like it and I talk a lot about many of its points in my ChiRunning® lessons, in my yoga classes and the importance of massage. I will be commenting on it over the next few days. now check it out.

The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?

Thrust enhancers, roll bars, microchips…the $20 billion running – shoe industry wants us to believe that the latest technologies will cushion every stride. Yet in this extract from his controversial new book, Christopher McDougall claims that injury rates for runners are actually on the rise, that everything we’ve been told about running shoes is wrong – and that it might even be better to go barefoot…


Last updated at 8:01 PM on 19th April 2009
The painful truth about trainers

Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same

At Stanford University, California, two sales representatives from Nike were watching the athletics team practise. Part of their job was to gather feedback from the company’s sponsored runners about which shoes they preferred.

Unfortunately, it was proving difficult that day as the runners all seemed to prefer… nothing.

‘Didn’t we send you enough shoes?’ they asked head coach Vin Lananna. They had, he was just refusing to use them.

‘I can’t prove this,’ the well-respected coach told them.

‘But I believe that when my runners train barefoot they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.’

Nike sponsored the Stanford team as they were the best of the very best. Needless to say, the reps were a little disturbed to hear that Lananna felt the best shoes they had to offer them were not as good as no shoes at all.

When I was told this anecdote it came as no surprise. I’d spent years struggling with a variety of running-related injuries, each time trading up to more expensive shoes, which seemed to make no difference. I’d lost count of the amount of money I’d handed over at shops and sports-injury clinics – eventually ending with advice from my doctor to give it up and ‘buy a bike’.

And I wasn’t on my own. Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, fast or slow, pudgy or taut as a racehorse, your feet are still in the danger zone.

But why? How come Roger Bannister could charge out of his Oxford lab every day, pound around a hard cinder track in thin leather slippers, not only getting faster but never getting hurt, and set a record before lunch?

Tarahumara runner Arnulfo Quimare runs alongside ultra-runner Scott Jurek in Mexico's Copper Canyons

Tarahumara runner Arnulfo Quimare runs alongside ultra-runner Scott Jurek in Mexico’s Copper Canyons

Then there’s the secretive Tarahumara tribe, the best long-distance runners in the world. These are a people who live in basic conditions in Mexico, often in caves without running water, and run with only strips of old tyre or leather thongs strapped to the bottom of their feet. They are virtually barefoot.

Come race day, the Tarahumara don’t train. They don’t stretch or warm up. They just stroll to the starting line, laughing and bantering, and then go for it, ultra-running for two full days, sometimes covering over 300 miles, non-stop. For the fun of it. One of them recently came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing nothing but a toga and sandals. He was 57 years old.

When it comes to preparation, the Tarahumara prefer more of a Mardi Gras approach. In terms of diet, lifestyle and training technique, they’re a track coach’s nightmare. They drink like New Year’s Eve is a weekly event, tossing back enough corn-based beer and homemade tequila brewed from rattlesnake corpses to floor an army.

Unlike their Western counterparts, the Tarahumara don’t replenish their bodies with electrolyte-rich sports drinks. They don’t rebuild between workouts with protein bars; in fact, they barely eat any protein at all, living on little more than ground corn spiced up by their favourite delicacy, barbecued mouse.

How come they’re not crippled?

Modern running shoes on sale

Modern running shoes on sale

I’ve watched them climb sheer cliffs with no visible support on nothing more than an hour’s sleep and a stomach full of pinto beans. It’s as if a clerical error entered the stats in the wrong columns. Shouldn’t we, the ones with state-of-the-art running shoes and custom-made orthotics, have the zero casualty rate, and the Tarahumara, who run far more, on far rockier terrain, in shoes that barely qualify as shoes, be constantly hospitalised?

The answer, I discovered, will make for unpalatable reading for the $20 billion trainer-manufacturing industry. It could also change runners’ lives forever.

Dr Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has been studying the growing injury crisis in the developed world for some time and has come to a startling conclusion: ‘A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems.

‘Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet and had a much lower incidence of knee injuries.’

Lieberman also believes that if modern trainers never existed more people would be running. And if more people ran, fewer would be suffering from heart disease, hypertension, blocked arteries, diabetes, and most other deadly ailments of the Western world.

‘Humans need aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy,’ says Lieberman. ‘If there’s any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it’s to run.’

The modern running shoe was essentially invented by Nike. The company was founded in the Seventies by Phil Knight, a University of Oregon runner, and Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon coach.

Before these two men got together, the modern running shoe as we know it didn’t exist. Runners from Jesse Owens through to Roger Bannister all ran with backs straight, knees bent, feet scratching back under their hips. They had no choice: their only shock absorption came from the compression of their legs and their thick pad of midfoot fat. Thumping down on their heels was not an option.

Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention

Bowerman didn’t actually do much running. He only started to jog a little at the age of 50, after spending time in New Zealand with Arthur Lydiard, the father of fitness running and the most influential distance-running coach of all time. Bowerman came home a convert, and in 1966 wrote a best-selling book whose title introduced a new word and obsession to the fitness-aware public: Jogging.

In between writing and coaching, Bowerman came up with the idea of sticking a hunk of rubber under the heel of his pumps. It was, he said, to stop the feet tiring and give them an edge. With the heel raised, he reasoned, gravity would push them forward ahead of the next man. Bowerman called Nike’s first shoe the Cortez – after the conquistador who plundered the New World for gold and unleashed a horrific smallpox epidemic.

It is an irony not wasted on his detractors. In essence, he had created a market for a product and then created the product itself.

‘It’s genius, the kind of stuff they study in business schools,’ one commentator said.

Bowerman’s partner, Knight, set up a manufacturing deal in Japan and was soon selling shoes faster than they could come off the assembly line.

‘With the Cortez’s cushioning, we were in a monopoly position probably into the Olympic year, 1972,’ Knight said.

The rest is history.

The company’s annual turnover is now in excess of $17 billion and it has a major market share in over 160 countries.

Since then, running-shoe companies have had more than 30 years to perfect their designs so, logically, the injury rate must be in freefall by now.

After all, Adidas has come up with a $250 shoe with a microprocessor in the sole that instantly adjusts cushioning for every stride. Asics spent $3 million and eight years (three more years than it took to create the first atomic bomb) to invent the Kinsei, a shoe that boasts ‘multi-angled forefoot gel pods’, and a ‘midfoot thrust enhancer’. Each season brings an expensive new purchase for the average runner.

But at least you know you’ll never limp again. Or so the leading companies would have you believe. Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention.

If anything, the injury rates have actually ebbed up since the Seventies – Achilles tendon blowouts have seen a ten per cent increase. (It’s not only shoes that can create the problem: research in Hawaii found runners who stretched before exercise were 33 per cent more likely to get hurt.)

Roger Bannister

OXFORD, 1954: Roger Bannister crosses the finish line, running a mile in 3:59.4, in thin leather slippers

In a paper for the British Journal Of Sports Medicine last year, Dr Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

It was an astonishing revelation that had been hidden for over 35 years. Dr Richards was so stunned that a $20 billion industry seemed to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking that he issued the following challenge: ‘Is any running-shoe company prepared to claim that wearing their distance running shoes will decrease your risk of suffering musculoskeletal running injuries? Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their running shoes will improve your distance running performance? If you are prepared to make these claims, where is your peer-reviewed data to back it up?’

Dr Richards waited and even tried contacting the major shoe companies for their data. In response, he got silence.

So, if running shoes don’t make you go faster and don’t stop you from getting hurt, then what, exactly, are you paying for? What are the benefits of all those microchips, thrust enhancers, air cushions, torsion devices and roll bars?

The answer is still a mystery. And for Bowerman’s old mentor, Arthur Lydiard, it all makes sense.

‘We used to run in canvas shoes,’ he said.

‘We didn’t get plantar fasciitis (pain under the heel); we didn’t pronate or supinate (land on the edge of the foot); we might have lost a bit of skin from the rough canvas when we were running marathons, but generally we didn’t have foot problems.

‘Paying several hundred dollars for the latest in hi-tech running shoes is no guarantee you’ll avoid any of these injuries and can even guarantee that you will suffer from them in one form or another. Shoes that let your foot function like you’re barefoot – they’re the shoes for me.’

Soon after those two Nike sales reps reported back from Stanford, the marketing team set to work to see if it could make money from the lessons it had learned. Jeff Pisciotta, the senior researcher at Nike Sports Research Lab, assembled 20 runners on a grassy field and filmed them running barefoot.

When he zoomed in, he was startled by what he found. Instead of each foot clomping down as it would in a shoe, it behaved like an animal with a mind of its own – stretching, grasping, seeking the ground with splayed toes, gliding in for a landing like a lake-bound swan.

‘It’s beautiful to watch,’ Pisciotta later told me. ‘That made us start thinking that when you put a shoe on, it starts to take over some of the control.’

Pisciotta immediately deployed his team to gather film of every existing barefoot culture they could find.

‘We found pockets of people all over the globe who are still running barefoot, and what you find is that, during propulsion and landing, they have far more range of motion in the foot and engage more of the toe. Their feet flex, spread, splay and grip the surface, meaning you have less pronation and more distribution of pressure.’

Nike’s response was to find a way to make money off a naked foot. It took two years of work before Pisciotta was ready to unveil his masterpiece. It was presented in TV ads that showed Kenyan runners padding
along a dirt trail, swimmers curling their toes around a starting block, gymnasts, Brazilian capoeira dancers, rock climbers, wrestlers, karate masters and beach soccer players.

And then comes the grand finale: we cut back to the Kenyans, whose bare feet are now sporting some kind of thin shoe. It’s the new Nike Free, a shoe thinner than the old Cortez dreamt up by Bowerman in the Seventies. And its slogan?

‘Run Barefoot.’

The price of this return to nature?

A conservative £65. But, unlike the real thing, experts may still advise you to change them every three months.

Edited extract from ‘Born To Run’ by Christopher McDougall, £16.99, on sale from April 23



Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland’s University of Bern.

Running in muddy terrain

Dr Marti’s research team analysed 4,358 runners in the Bern Grand Prix, a 9.6-mile road race. All the runners filled out an extensive questionnaire that detailed their training habits and footwear for the previous year; as it turned out, 45 per cent had been hurt during that time. But what surprised Dr Marti was the fact that the most common variable among the casualties wasn’t training surface, running speed, weekly mileage or ‘competitive training motivation’.

It wasn’t even body weight or a history of previous injury. It was the price of the shoe. Runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40.

Follow-up studies found similar results, like the 1991 report in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise that found that ‘wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (eg, more cushioning, ‘pronation correction’) are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes.’

What a cruel joke: for double the price, you get double the pain. Stanford coach Vin Lananna had already spotted the same phenomenon.’I once ordered highend shoes for the team and within two weeks we had more plantar fasciitis and Achilles problems than I’d ever seen.

So I sent them back. Ever since then, I’ve always ordered low-end shoes. It’s not because I’m cheap. It’s because I’m in the business of making athletes run fast and stay healthy.’



Despite pillowy-sounding names such as ‘MegaBounce’, all that cushioning does nothing to reduce impact. Logically, that should be obvious – the impact on your legs from running can be up to 12 times your weight, so it’s preposterous to believe a half-inch of rubber is going to make a difference.

When it comes to sensing the softest caress or tiniest grain of sand, your toes are as finely wired as your lips and fingertips. It’s these nerve endings that tell your foot how to react to the changing ground beneath, not a strip of rubber.

To help prove this point, Dr Steven Robbins and Dr Edward Waked of McGill University, Montreal, performed a series of lengthy tests on gymnasts. They found that the thicker the landing mat, the harder the gymnasts landed. Instinctively, the gymnasts were searching for stability. When they sensed a soft surface underfoot, they slapped down hard to ensure balance. Runners do the same thing. When you run in cushioned shoes, your feet are pushing through the soles in search of a hard, stable platform.

‘Currently available sports shoes are too soft and thick, and should be redesigned if they are to protect humans performing sports,’ the researchers concluded.

To add weight to their argument, the acute-injury rehabilitation specialist David Smyntek carried out an experiment of his own. He had grown wary that the people telling him to trade in his favourite shoes every 300-500 miles were the same people who sold them to him.

But how was it, he wondered, that Arthur Newton, for instance, one of the greatest ultrarunners of all time, who broke the record for the 100-mile Bath-London run at the age of 51, never replaced his thin-soled canvas pumps until he’d put at least 4,000 miles on them?

So Smyntek changed tack. Whenever his shoes got thin, he kept on running. When the outside edge started to go, he swapped the right for the left and kept running. Five miles a day, every day.

Once he realised he could run comfortably in broken-down, even wrong-footed shoes, he had his answer. If he wasn’t using them the way they were designed, maybe that design wasn’t such a big deal after all.

He now only buys cheap trainers.



‘Barefoot running has been one of my training philosophies for years,’ says Gerard Hartmann, the Irish physical therapist who treats all the world’s finest distance runners, including Paula Radcliffe.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila on his way to gold in the 1960 Olympic marathon - running barefoot

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila on his way to gold in the 1960 Olympic marathon – running barefoot

For decades, Dr Hartmann has been watching the explosion of ever more structured running shoes with dismay. ‘Pronation has become this very bad word, but it’s just the natural movement of the foot,’ he says. ‘The foot is supposed to pronate.’

To see pronation in action, kick off your shoes and run down the driveway. On a hard surface, your feet will automatically shift to selfdefence mode: you’ll find yourself landing on the outside edge of your foot, then gently rolling from little toe over to big until your foot is flat. That’s pronation – a mild, shockabsorbing twist that allows your arch to compress.

Your foot’s centrepiece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of any arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down, the tighter its parts mesh. Push up from underneath and you weaken the whole structure.

‘Putting your feet in shoes is similar to putting them in a plaster cast,’ says Dr Hartmann. ‘If I put your leg in plaster, we’ll find 40 to 60 per cent atrophy of the musculature within six weeks. Something similar happens to your feet when they’re encased in shoes.’

When shoes are doing the work, tendons stiffen and muscles shrivel. Work them out and they’ll arc up. ‘I’ve worked with the best Kenyan runners,’ says Hartmann, ‘and they all have marvellous elasticity in their feet. That comes from never running in shoes until you’re 17.’



Skeleton foot

Running barefoot may have some benefit in muscle strengthening as the muscles have to ‘tune in’ to the vibrations caused by impact loading.

If, like Zola Budd, you grew up running barefoot on a South African farm, your tissue tolerance would adapt over time. But for someone who has grown up wearing shoes and is a natural heel striker (see right), the impact loading will be beyond tissue tolerance level, and injury will occur.

We are all individuals, therefore it is prudent to have your own running technique assessed and work around that.

As for getting out your old worn out trainers and running in them – don’t! Based on the individual’s size and running surfaces/conditions shoes should be changed between 500-1,000 miles. It’s best to seek the advice of a specialist running store.

Running in trainers

Running barefoot

Coach Gary’s Catalina Marathon 2009 Part I
Coach Gary of does the Catalina Marathon with the rest of the gang from Solerunners.

It was my fourth Catalina Marathon and my most enjoyable one.

Thanks to everyone involved for such a wonderful experience.

God Bless, Gary

Los Angeles Trail Running: New Years Day 2009

The SoCalRunning Tribe goes trail running in Los Angeles on a foggy New Years day in 2009.

Hear the best wishes from many of the runners that day.

Wonderful video. Lots of love to everyone.

To a happy healthy 2009.

Coach Gary GoBliss

ChiRunning Talk at New Balance Torrance

Dear Runners,

I am giving a ChiRunning introduction at the New Balance store in Torrance.

Come and you will get a chance to get the NEW CHIRUNNING SHOE.

New Balance is giving us a discount (I hear 10%) on purchases that night.

Great time if you are marathon training to get some new shoes.

Date: Wednesday, August 27th
Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m
Location: New Balance Store, Torrance CA (map)

Coach Gary

ChiRunning: How to Learn ChiRunning by Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam long time Beach Runner and Mentor shares his experience learning ChiRunning.

Uncle Sam (Jim) is in his sixties and is now medaling in his age group on hard races.

He’s truly an inspiration and a very good trail runner.

But it wasn’t always that way and the video tells you why running SLOWLY is the best way to learn ChiRunning.

Danny Dreyer would be proud of Uncle Sam just like we are.

Uncle Sam has also attended my Yoga Class week after week for over a year now. (And tries harder than anybody in that hard class).

Thanks Uncle Sam for all you do.

God Bless,

Coach Gary.

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