The Essentialists: Brad Borland

Your true character is revealed in times of high stress.

“More” has become the religion of the 21st century. We assume more is better in training, in eating, and in our to-do lists. Commercials convince us that buying more will make us happy, and social media highlight reels give the illusion that everyone has that one thing you need to be content. Terms like FOMO (fear of missing out) have evolved to describe the anxiety of wanting to do everything at once. Never has there been a greater need for simplification. We must embrace the idea of addition by subtraction.

Life is a series of choices, and there is an opportunity cost to each choice. All great coaches and trainers understand the importance of optimizing their time and focusing their energy on those activities that give them the most bang for the littlest buck. Dan John created the One Lift a Day Plan in an effort to “do less, but better.” Max Shank’s Ultimate Athleticism program is a masterful look at how focusing on four exercises alone will unlock your greatest potential.

It’s in this vein that I’m beginning the Essentialist Series. Each week, I’ll release a short interview with some of training’s best minds. They’ll be forced to prioritize—to choose the one option they’d use to create the most momentum. As Greg McKeown explains in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, this is what “priority” means—the “very first or prior thing.” It is singular. There is no such thing as priorities. My hope is that this series brings clarity and focus to your own personal development, while freeing you from the incessant pull to do more. As McKeown explains, Essentialism is about “discerning the vital few, from the trivial many.”

Essentialist Interview #5: Brad Borland

Coach Borland started in the fitness industry over 20 years ago, and brings the wisdom of considerable experience. He started as a hard-gainer committed to adding muscle, and has grown and matured through years of experimenting in this passionate pursuit. Brad is a university lecturer with a Master’s degree in kinesiology, and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA.

He’s been a natural bodybuilder, served in Afghanistan with the Air National Guard, and survived his own battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know and learn from Brad. You will love his honest, balanced approach to all elements of fitness. You’ll find a man who has walked the walk and found the wisdom in shedding dogmas and doing the simple things well, rather than chasing gimmicks. His approach to training is centered on kindness to others, and he aims to increase the sense of community in fitness. He feels that we all have an obligation of mentorship and fraternal support in all fitness circles.

Tony Robbins has said “the quality of your life is the quality of your questions.” It’s a constant process working to refine our inquiries. If there is a question you’d like me to ask, or a better way of delivering a current question, please let me know in the comments below.