BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 96 Featuring Jaxson Appel
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What’s up, BIRTHFIT? This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder. This is another podcast I recorded while in Houston, Texas. This podcast is with a gentleman, a dad, Jaxson Appel. He is the CEO of Jaxson Appel Speed and Agility Training. That is in Friendswood, Texas. I almost butchered that. Definitely look that up.
Jaxson trains all age from grade school through high school through collegiate and professional athletes. Let me see if I get this right. He was a free safety, a strong and free safety at Texas at Texas A&M and still holds one of the Texas A&M records. He’ll share it on here but I’m sure I’ll butcher it.
Jaxson was a phenomenal athlete both growing up and at Texas A&M University. He has tons of experiences in the field of strength training and especially as it relates to speed and agility to get more sports specific. He’s doing this right outside of Houston, Texas. He is a dad. He has been a huge support for his wife who has experienced postpartum depression and they are pregnant with their fourth. Enjoy this episode and encourage a dad near you to listen to this episode.
For those of you listening, we are sitting in Houston, Texas or outside of Houston. I don’t know where we are.
Lindsey: Katy. This is what you call this area. I’m sitting here with a friend from college. Introduce yourself.
Jaxson: My name is Jaxson Appel. I’m from Friendswood, Texas. I went to Texas A&M. Been friends with Lindsey for a long time.
Jaxson: How old were we when we were at school?
Lindsey: Well, I was telling somebody, I was like, “I think I actually met Jaxson in Acapulco,” which is probably in 2003.
Jaxson: Yeah, 15 years ago.
Lindsey: Yeah. We’re kind of old.
Jaxson: I had so much more hair then.
Lindsey: And my hair wasn’t gray.
Jaxson: I’d rather have gray hair than no hair.
Lindsey: And I just dyed my hair so we’re good.
Jaxson: There you go.
Lindsey: Yeah. I wanted to grab you, get you on the podcast because you’re doing awesome things with–
Jaxson: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Lindsey: –athletes and you’re a dad. Yeah. Let me people know what you do on a day to day basis.
Jaxson: On a day to day basis, 90% of my time is spent picking up after little humans. The other half of the time I am owner and CEO of Jaxson Appel Speed and Agility Training, a sports performance company that I started two and a half years ago. The business started out of necessity. I taught school for six years in CCISD. Before I started I taught Special Education and resource social studies and then I taught social development to emotionally disturbed at-risk kids for three years at an intermediate school in Clear Lake. The kids would come from jail to my class and if they didn’t make it in my class then they would go back to jail.
Lindsey: How was that?
Jaxson: It was incredibly difficult. It was really hard to do because you get bit, punched, cussed out, screamed at, yelled at. It was difficult but I did it for three years. And then when my wife was pregnant with our third baby–
Lindsey: So, you’ve already had two babies by then?
Jaxson: We’ve already had two babies by this time. She was [0:08:58] [Indiscernible] of what you guys do. She has suffered with postpartum depression with the first two. I was going to take paternity leave to stay home and help her recover, take care of her. The problem is CCISD allows that, it’s just not paid. So, we had to come up with something to supplement the income.
She’s like, “Why don’t you start training people?” And I was like, “To do what?” She’s like, “Well, you played football. You have an athletic background. Why don’t you train them?” I said, “No. I don’t want to do that. That’s in my past. I moved past that. I don’t want to open all that back up again.” I said, “Plus, I’m old. That was ten, 15 years ago. Nobody is going to remember.” She’s like, “Well, do you want to eat?” I said yeah. So, she’s like, “Well, if you want to eat then we got to do something.”
Lindsey: And we want to eat at home.
Jaxson: Yeah, we want to eat too. So, I was like, “Okay.” So, she put an ad out on Facebook on a Wednesday or something and then that Saturday I was working with two six-year-olds in my house or at a park by my house. And then we kind of went from two six-year-olds to seven to ten to 15.
We started moving towards the junior high in Friendswood. We worked on a track there and then we moved into a location in Friendswood that we shared. We leased a space and we shared the 20,000 square foot facility with the ten or 12 other trainers.
Jaxson: We kind of all had to fight for space to do that. We just continued to grow and then we just recently moved into our very own 5,000 square foot facility off of Dixie Farm Road in South Houston November 27th. We’ve been in there for about a month and a half.
Jaxson: Thank you.
Lindsey: Was that safe from the flood?
Jaxson: It was safe from the flood, yes. Well, they closed before that, but I think the building [0:10:42] [Indiscernible] before that.
Lindsey: A little nerve wracking.
Lindsey: So, what age groups do you primarily work with or is it all over?
Jaxson: We work with six-year-olds all the way up to the professional athletes. We have professional baseball players, professional football players. I think this year we worked with 11 college signees, football players, big schools, little schools. We run the whole gamut. Our deal is we teach proper running fundamentals. We teach you where to place your hands, where to place your feet, how to achieve the proper angles within the framework of your body so you’re more efficient with your movements. It’s not sport specific so the aim is to increase your overall athletic ability. Anybody can benefit from being a better athlete and that’s something that we market towards.
Lindsey: I’m going to back up a second. Let people know what your athletic background is.
Jaxson: My athletic background?
Lindsey: Yeah. Because you said you were an athlete.
Jaxson: I was an athlete.
Lindsey: You know a thing or two.
Jaxson: I do. I played football. I ran track and played football in high school and then I played football at A&M.
Lindsey: What was your position?
Jaxson: I was a defensive back or play safety. I had a successful career, I think. I still hold the record for the most tackles ever.
Lindsey: At A&M?
Jaxson: At A&M.
Lindsey: That’s huge.
Lindsey: That’s huge.
Jaxson: I made a few. I did that. I was a free agent with the Tennessee Titans.
Lindsey: You were?
Jaxson: For a very short amount of time, yes. I played a little bit in the NFL.
Lindsey: How was that?
Jaxson: It was different. It was different than I thought it was going to be. I was there — I’ll tell you a story. I was there with — Pacman Jones was, been there the year before. Adam Jones. And so we’re at practice one day and the coach was getting onto Pacman. He’s getting on to him, he’s getting onto him, getting onto him, and then Pacman had had enough.
He turned around and he told the coach in a very inappropriate explicit way what he thought. The coached nodded his head and turned around and walked the other way. I was like, all right, this is not college anymore. This is business. It’s grown men.
There’s another story when I busted a coverage on one of the veterans coming through me and in a very non-friendly way told me that if I did that again that he’d be very upset with me because this is how he feeds his family and if I mess it up then we don’t win football games and if we don’t win football games he doesn’t have a job. That put a whole other perspective on that too.
I mean, it’s a business and it’s treated as such. College was a business too but the NFL is just a whole other level. It’s just grown men and it’s a business. So, I played in the NFL and then after that I was a college scout for the Houston Texans. I worked on that side of it too. I worked in the NFL as well on that side and the non-playing side. And then when Coach Sherman who was the offensive coordinator for the Texans at that time got the job at A&M I went and was the GA and coached the linebackers there with him for two years.
After that, he let the defensive coordinator and then I was in the melee there. It’s kind of the way it works. It rolls downhill. And then I was the defensive coordinator at Clear Falls High School and CCISD for a couple of years too.
Lindsey: Wow. So, when you’re back at A&M, did it feel like full circle?
Jaxson: It did a little bit. I didn’t do it. I was probably still a little too immature to really fully do the best job I could. I think I was in College Station like, “Oh, I used to play here so I can act and do the exact same thing.” No. You have a job, you have a responsibility, so you need to do a better job. It was nice to be there. It was good to get out of Houston and get back to College Station and things like that. It taught me a lot. It taught me what I wanted to do, how to do things the right way and what I didn’t want to do.
Lindsey: For people that are listening, how was playing a sport at a humongous school?
Jaxson: It was a job. It was a full time job. I think I was talking to somebody the other day, the amount of hours that we put in, I think, we made $0.78 cents an hour.
Lindsey: $0.78 an hour?
Jaxson: Based on what we had to do. Because we have class in the morning. You have class from 8:00 to 12:00 in the morning because you have to take all of your classes and then you go to lunch and then you go workout from 1:30 to 2:30 and then meeting started at 2:45, you went up for meetings at 2:45 to 4:00, 4:45 and then practice started at 5:00.
You’d practice from 5:00 to 7:00 and then you go eat dinner and then you go to study hall. So, 8:30 or 9:00 and you go home and you get up and you do it all over again. It was a full time job. It was a wonderful experience that I cherished. One of the main things that I do regret that I didn’t do in college was I didn’t use my platform appropriately.
I felt like God gave me a platform to influence people. I regret I used it to benefit myself instead of benefiting Him. And so if I had to go and do it again I would be more using my platform to influence good through what God wants us to do and things like that instead of influencing and trying to build up myself.
Lindsey: But you’re so young.
Jaxson: Yeah. That’s what they say. It’s what’s wrong with youth. I’m trying to get that out there. And we do a lot of that stuff with the college athletes that we train now to be like, “Hey, this is what I did. Don’t do what I did. Let’s do it this way. Let’s do it God’s way and then you’ll be a lot happier and a lot better, often you’ll make a lot bigger impact and change people’s lives hopefully.”
Lindsey: That’s cool. What kept you motivated? Because four years, $0.78 an hour. I mean, I checked athletes in the study hall and I got paid more than that.
Jaxson: Yeah. And if you didn’t go to work you didn’t have to run. I don’t know. At that level it just becomes what you do.
Lindsey: It’s part of your identity.
Jaxson: You’re no longer motivated. It’s just habitual and it’s just part of what you do. Not doing it would be the abnormal and so you just show up and you just do it. That’s why athletes struggle so much when they’re done because that’s who they are for so long and that’s what they do and then they’re not that person anymore. They struggle with that. I struggled with it just like everybody else.
Lindsey: I was just going to ask.
Jaxson: It’s terrible. It’s like you have to mourn it like it’s a loss because it is. It’s a loss of your identity and you have to figure out who you are, not being that football player, and that’s hard for a lot of guys.
Lindsey: Yes. Speaking on that, and this can relate because for women going through pregnancy, birth, and maybe even for your wife, how do you deal with mourning the loss of an identity? Because that hits women on the postpartum side and they’re like, “Whoa.”
Jaxson: I think you have to mourn it just like a loss of anything else. You have to justify it to yourself and say it’s okay that this isn’t this way anymore, like this was who I was but just because I’m not that person anymore it doesn’t devalue me now. I can still have value. I still have purpose. God still wants things from me and still loves me.
Once you mourn it and kind of accept it and know that it was good to go through it and it made you who you are but you still have value and you can still offer stuff to people, I think that really helps get you past it because if you’re just always trying to hold on to that then you’re always going to be searching for something and it’s never going to heal.
Lindsey: That’s a good point. All right. So, what’s one thing you take from your, I guess, growing up athletic background into training these young ones today?
Jaxson: I try and take everything that I was taught and pass it on to them. I also try and be real purposeful of what I was taught that I didn’t like, it didn’t work. I want to give them something like, “Coaches would do this, this, and this and I didn’t necessarily appreciate that. I didn’t think that was good or whatever.” We’re trying to be really purposeful with the time that we spend with them and not waste their time because we are in the service industry but at the same time I want them to benefit from what we’re doing.
Probably the main thing that I try and do for our athletes is when I was playing, if a coach was, for lack of a better word, a big fat guy and couldn’t move or couldn’t take care of himself or doing that, like here he is telling me, “Hey, you need to go to bed early. You need to eat better. You need to do this. You need to run harder.” Dude, you can’t even hardly get up off the chair and you’re telling me to do all this stuff?
As part of our continuing education as coaches, we put ourselves through all the workouts that our athletes go through so we kind of know the timing, the pace and if it works, if it trains the systems that it’s supposed. If it doesn’t, we make adjustments that ways. I feel like we can be better coaches if we know how the athletes feel with that type of that stuff.
Lindsey: For sure. So, you mentioned you have three kids.
Jaxson: I have three children, yes. I have a five-year old boy, a four-year old boy, two-year old girl and then a fourth that’s due at the end of March.
Lindsey: And you don’t know if it’s a boy or girl?
Jaxson: We do not know if it’s a boy or girl. No.
Lindsey: Do you have any hunches?
Jaxson: No, because we’ve been to a couple of ultrasounds and I saw little boy parts and then I saw little girl parts. I have no idea. It was not my decision to not find out. It’s what my wife wanted. We have to wait and find out.
Lindsey: What’s your wife’s name?
Jaxson: Her name is Courtney.
Lindsey: Courtney. When did you all meet?
Jaxson: After I was at GA at A&M, actually. She taught my cousin’s daughter how to dance. My cousin was always like, “Hey, you need to meet Shelby’s dance teacher, blah, blah, blah.” I was like, “No, no. I don’t want to do that.” Finally, she told me her name and so I Facebook stalked her and then sent her a message.
Lindsey: She checks out.
Jaxson: Yeah. I sent her a message on Facebook, “Hey, I promise I’m not creepy but you’re pretty.” So, we just kind of started talking. She’s from Albany so she’s from the same area. We actually grew up like eight miles apart.
Lindsey: Isn’t that wild? And you all didn’t know each other?
Jaxson: Not one bit, no.
Lindsey: Oh my goodness. So, when you met, did you know you all wanted to have kids?
Jaxson: I always did. I always knew that I wanted to have children. She always wanted to have kids too. That was kind of what we talked about because we met, I think — Oh my, I’m going to get in trouble. We were 26, 27. We weren’t like super old but we weren’t super young either.
Lindsey: You’re starting to think about it.
Jaxson: We’re starting to think about it. I’d be like, “Hey, this is what I want. This is what I want. Is this something that we’re both in agreement with?” And four children was always kind of the number that I wanted.
Lindsey: Do you come from four children?
Jaxson: No. I have two younger brothers. My family is the smallest of all of my intermediate family.
Jaxson: My mom has six brothers and sisters and my dad has six sisters. So, there’s a lot of family stuff going on. It’s always something that I wanted. The world’s not made for three kids, anyway. You can’t afford them. We might as well have another one.
Lindsey: So, did she want to have four kids?
Jaxson: She did, yeah. She’s probably regretting that decision now. She doesn’t feel very good right now.
Lindsey: Look what you did to me.
Jaxson: Four was the number. But we’ll be done after this. We’re both ready to be done. It’s been loud at my house.
Lindsey: Yeah, two boys and a girl.
Jaxson: Two boys and a girl.
Lindsey: And who knows?
Jaxson: We have four kids under five years old.
Lindsey: Oh my god.
Jaxson: My house is like in a perpetual state of chaos and noise and dirtiness.
Lindsey: Yes. How’s your role as a dad, as a father? Are there any good mentors for you growing up that you look up to now or try to emulate?
Jaxson: I hate to say this but no.
Lindsey: It’s okay.
Jaxson: No, not really. My father was not the best father and so it’s been — It’s actually been a struggle for me to learn how to be a father the way that God wants us to. I’ve really tried to emulate what He wants and reading the Bible and things like that, what God wants for his fathers and the way He wants men to lead the family spiritually, physically and all that stuff.
The first couple of years of our marriage, I didn’t do the best job and so the last four or five years since I’ve come to know Jesus and come to know how he wants us to be I’ve really tried to take that and emulate it and then do that for my kids because I didn’t have that role model, a spiritual godly role model. So, kind of figuring that out on my own.
Lindsey: Yeah. I think we all kind of have to figure that out.
Jaxson: Yeah. Well, hopefully my kids won’t have to. Hopefully, I can do it for them.
Lindsey: Show them.
Lindsey: So, what do you think has been the most challenging thing as a father especially first kiddo? Because that’s usually a wakeup call. Or sometimes second kiddo when you get outnumbered.
Jaxson: What’s the most challenging thing? I mean, aside from that you’re tired and you have to be up and you have to do that, the most challenging thing for me is to be the person that I want them to be.
I want them to see me treat their mother a certain way so when they grow up they’ll treat their wives the same way, they’ll know how to treat other people and have empathy for people and treat women in their lives and things like that. That’s been the hardest thing for me is just figuring out what that looks like and how to show them how to be a good person and become what God wants.
Lindsey: That’s cool. Yeah. So, what time is bedtime?
Jaxson: Last night we went to bed at 7:00.
Jaxson: We go to bed pretty early but then they get up at like 6:30. I’ve always been a — I have no shame in going to bed early. They went to bed at 7:00. I went to bed at 8:45.
Lindsey: I love it.
Jaxson: I’m tired. I’m going to bed. I’m done staying up late.
Lindsey: Yeah. And early mornings are way better.
Jaxson: It’s the only time my house is quiet. From 6:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the morning is the only time like it’s quiet. When I get up, I read the Bible, I do my study. I take my coffee. It’s really the only time of the day that I’m by myself. That’s good for reflection and things like that. I go to bed early so I can get up and kind of prepare myself for the day.
Lindsey: Yeah. Every parent says something along the lines of, whether it’s mom or dad, that each kid teaches them a little something new. Do you feel like you’ve learned something new with each pregnancy, each kiddo, each birth?
Jaxson: Yeah, I have. I’ve learned how to have more empathy for people. I’ve learned I didn’t do a good job with letting my wife recover the first couple of times, first two times and I think that’s what led to her postpartum depression. So, I’ve really learned how hard birth and pregnancy is on women.
Lindsey: Did you all hear that?
Jaxson: Yeah. Guys, you can’t do it. Don’t pretend like you could because you can’t. And just how long that recovery process is and how important that recovery process is. I’m always, oh, football player, it doesn’t matter if you’re hurt you can get back out there and you do that. You know that type of deal. That’s not the way to do it. So, just allowing her to dictate her own recovery and her own time table and being, serving her and being there for her and doing what she needs.
If she needs to sleep in, I get up and take the other kids, take the kids to school. That’s what we do. She didn’t get up until 8:45, 9:00 this morning. All our kids were up at 7:00. So, I got up. I got all three kids dressed. I got all of them ready to go and we let her sleep because she’s at that point in her pregnancy now to where she’s up from 3:00 to 5:00 and things like that. That’s why she has to sleep in. And so we’ve actually started. I talked to her the other day. I was like let’s start your recovery process now before you actually have the baby.
Lindsey: Did you hear that?
Jaxson: Before you actually have a baby so you’re not in a hole. Because if you put yourself in a hole now then it’s going to be that much harder to get back to normal.
Lindsey: Hard to get out.
Jaxson: Because it does. Watching her go through that minimizes and pales, makes anything I’ve ever gone through with my surgeries and my football injuries and anything like that, it pales in comparison to what she has to go through.
Lindsey: I was going to ask. Playing football and being an athlete, you’ve experienced injuries. For many people that are listening they know that birth is traumatic no matter how it goes. The recovery, on the other side, people don’t talk about it. Like you said, you had to learn and discover that on your own and probably Courtney did too.
Jaxson: Yeah. If people listening, men, if you’re listening, let your wife recover. Don’t expect her to go back to work in six weeks. Do whatever you have to do to pick up, be a man because that’s part of what you’re supposed to do. Jesus calls us to serve one another. Serve your wife and let her recover because she gave you this wonderful gift of a child that you couldn’t have gotten without her.
So, appreciate her and let her recover in however she needs to. Don’t push her. Don’t pressure. Let her. If she wants to sleep all the day, let her sleep all day. Do what she needs because it’s not about us. It’s about them and taking care of them and letting get back to normal.
Lindsey: That’s cool. And you can answer as much or as little as you want but when you all went through the postpartum depression stuff, when did you know it wasn’t just baby blues but more postpartum depression? Because that’s hard.
Jaxson: I don’t think I did until actually after the fact because we actually went to counseling because she was — Her postpartum depression manifested itself in anger. The best way to describe it is a roid rage. She would just go off on me like yelling and screaming and cussing. It’s not her fault. It wasn’t her. It was just what she was going through.
Lindsey: And she didn’t do that before.
Jaxson: Yeah, she didn’t do that before because that’s not the person that she is. And so we actually — Because it wasn’t getting any better and she didn’t feel good. She felt foggy and all other stuff. We actually went to marriage counseling because I thought that she was changing and it was something that I was doing. The marriage counselor was like, “Hey, there might be a little more to this than just marital problems. Maybe you should get checked this out and see what.” That kind of opened her eyes a little bit to that, to what actually is going on. I carried guilt because I didn’t do a good job in helping her and I could have done better to help her recover had I known.
Lindsey: But, yeah, how would you know? Nobody told you before.
Jaxson: Yeah. I mean, I say that to myself to make myself feel better but it doesn’t at the end of the day because my wife still suffered as much as she did. It’s hard when you’re in it until you’re away from it and then you can kind of remove yourself and then you can kind of see it.
Lindsey: So, when did you recognize it postpartum? Do you remember how? Was it six months postpartum for her or three months?
Jaxson: No. She was almost immediately.
Lindsey: How long did it last, do you think?
Jaxson: Six months to a year.
Lindsey: So, what were some of the things that you did as her partner to help get through this? You mentioned counseling and if you’re not in counseling and you have kiddos or you’re thinking to have kiddos you probably should be.
Jaxson: Yeah. And that’s the thing I don’t understand why people don’t. It’s just coaching. It’s just people coaching you to be better.
Lindsey: Yeah. I’ll tell you a timeout here. Logan and I started counseling last year and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.
Jaxson: It’s fantastic.
Lindsey: We’re going to do pre-marital counseling. No. You’re getting coached on.
Jaxson: Yeah, you’re getting coached. I mean, people will pay hundreds of dollars an hour for a personal trainer when the guy doesn’t know anything but then this doctor over here, “Oh, I don’t want to talk to that doctor.” I don’t get it.
Lindsey: Yeah. So, what were some of the things that — And it could be little things, like you said, get the kids up ready for school in the morning or breakfast or whatever. Do you remember what helped?
Jaxson: The first time when she actually suffered like I didn’t — It kind of faced itself out because we kind of started to recognize it. After that, like what I did to prevent it, I guess, would probably a better way to go about doing it. She didn’t suffer with our third baby. My main goal was to take care of her and it was she needed to sleep.
And so she had absolutely no responsibilities whatsoever with the upkeep of the house, the taking care of the other kids. All she was, all that she needed to do was nurse the baby and then sleep and that was it. I did the rest of it. And not putting that extra pressure on her, I think let her relax and let her just say, “Okay, this is my job. This is my role. I don’t have to worry about anything else.” And so just the mental pressure of trying to keep another human alive is enough without adding all that other stuff into it.
Sleep is a huge deal, in my opinion, because that’s when your body naturally repairs itself. Actually, we stayed in a hospital longer. She stayed in the hospital probably for five days.
Lindsey: Kind of nice especially if you have other kids.
Jaxson: Yeah. I took the other kids and she’s like, “Do you want me to come home?” I said, “I want you to stay in the hospital as long as you want to stay in the hospital Don’t come home if you don’t want to.” She stayed there and that helped a lot because she was able to recover from actually giving birth because the nurses took the baby to the nursery and then she would sleep and then they’d bring the baby back, she’d feed it and they’d take the baby away and then she’d go back to sleep. That helped a lot for her.
And just constantly reassuring her that everything is okay, like everything else is taken care of, there’s nothing else that you need to be doing. Because she would be like, “I need to do more. I need to do more. I need to do more.” That’s just because that’s her personality and I had to, “No. No, you don’t. This is your job. This is what you need to do. You’re off right now. You just recover from having this baby.” That’s all she needed to do.
Lindsey: So, the third one, you said it was a big transition because you all were more prepared.
Lindsey: When did you feel like she I call it like integrated back into the world?
Jaxson: She was pretty much back to her everyday life at six weeks when the wounds started to heal a little bit. That’s when she was kind of back to. She was still recovering her force physically but mentally she was very, very clear. The baby started sleeping more so we were on a good routine. Six to eight weeks, she was back up and running and I was still home.
She wasn’t having to get up at 7:00 when I went to work. So, that was one thing that really helped. If you’re in a position as a man to take some time, take some time so your wife doesn’t have to. Because at the end of the day, the amount of zeroes you have in your bank account pale in comparison to the importance of taking care of your wife and your children.
Lindsey: That’s huge. I wish our country actually have paternity leave. That would be a big deal.
Jaxson: Because men can really affect positively or negatively the recovery process for women in my opinion. And more often than not it’s negative because they just don’t do anything. It’s not socially acceptable for men to take time off to take care of his wife and his kids and that’s sad that our country is that way and I wish it was different because I took time off. I quit my job. I mean, I did.
Lindsey: Quit my job and started a new one.
Jaxson: I started a new one, yeah. I quit my job and started a new one.
Lindsey: Yeah. And if we could, it would be nice that everybody have like three months off but we’ll take six weeks to start with.
Jaxson: Yeah. I mean, that’s still like pales in comparison when you look at other European countries. I mean, women get entire years off paid like in Holland, I think. They’re off for a long, long time.
Lindsey: So, when did you go back to work or start your new job?
Jaxson: I didn’t go back to teaching after she had the baby. Yeah, after she had Navi. The decision to start the business was based on what was best for my family and so I think God rewarded that with, “Okay, so you took, put yourself out there, you didn’t want to do this but you did it because it was best for your family, now you want to spend time with your family, I’m going to reward you.” And the business just kept growing and kept growing and kept growing.
That’s how I make decisions on what I’m going to do with the business. Does it honor God and is it the best for my family? I answer those two questions. If the answer is yes then I do it. If the answer is no, then I don’t.
Lindsey: That’s really awesome to be clear on your values there because, like you said, it doesn’t matter how many zeroes you have. So many people are driven by money and ego and power and all those things.
Jaxson: Money is nice. You need to it. And, obviously, it’s important to pay the bills. My kids can’t–
Lindsey: Feed the mouths.
Jaxson: Yeah. You got to eat and you got to do that but at the end of the day it’s not going to make you one bit happier. It just doesn’t. If you’re upset now and you win the lottery tomorrow or you’re unhappy now and you win the lottery tomorrow you’re still going to be unhappy. You’re just going to be rich unhappy person.
Lindsey: All right. So, tell me a little bit about the business. Does it open seven days a week? Six days a week?
Jaxson: We open six days a week. We don’t work on Sunday. We’re open Monday through Friday. Kids can come in or athletes can come in any time on the hour 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 or 7:00.
We have Saturday times at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 and then our upper level athletes, our pro guys and our college guys have a different time that we’re not quite as busy so we can spend a little bit more time with them. Athletes can come in. We have four, five trainers on staff in the gym every night. A senior in high school doesn’t want to work out with a six-year old and vice versa.
Lindsey: I was wondering like how does that work?
Jaxson: We send them based on program ability and age, what they’re doing that particular day, how old they are and where they are in their training. Like one guy will take all the six and nine-year olds that show up and I’ll go work with the pro baseball players that are in there and then our other trainer will go work with our high school people.
It’s a little bit more work on us but at the end of the day it’s more convenient for the clients because they have more time to come in. But once you kind of get the flow and everybody kind of knows what they’re doing, I like to think it’s a pretty well oiled machine and everybody knows their role.
That’s where the continuing education comes in. We have to know exactly what we’re doing because we only have an hour with them and I want to maximize the amount of time that we have so they’re not just standing in line. We have to on point. We have to be like, “Look, this is what we’re doing today. Get yourself down.”
Lindsey: So, what would a training look like for a — Six or seven is the youngest you go? Or what do you look for their training?
Jaxson: Well, the main thing for them is they have fun. They’re young. I want them to sweat a little bit, learn a thing or two but ultimately I want them to have fun because they’re at a stage to where they can either really enjoy working out or they can hate it forever.
Lindsey: It could turn them off.
Jaxson: It could turn them off. And so we have a responsibility to make sure that they have a good time because I want them to enjoy being active and enjoy doing this so they’ll be lifelong active people. All of our methodologies are pretty much the same throughout, just the younger kids, obviously, don’t work through the progressions as quick as the older guys.
So, as you move up the level, the workouts get more intense and the progressions are more down to put it in like we’re doing simple additions with the six-year olds and then we’re doing calculus with the pro level guys. But it’s still all arithmetic and it’s still all the same. We work just the fundamentals, make sure they know how to move. Because people think — I hear it all the time. Well, either you’re fast or you’re not. That’s completely 100% wrong.
Lindsey: You can develop it.
Jaxson: Yeah, you can develop. It’s a learned skill. People don’t say you can either hit 300 or you can’t. No. They go and they spend years trying to learn how to hit a baseball and it’s the same thing. It’s a learned skill. Once you know how to do it it’s a lot more fun and it’s a lot more energy efficient and you’re a lot better at it.
The kids, one thing that I’ve been probably the most proud of that we’ve been able to do is we’ve been able to give confidence to kids that didn’t have confidence before. Because they’re able to move and they’re able to keep up with their friends and they’re able to run. It’s important. That is a side effect that I didn’t intend that I’m very proud of.
Lindsey: That’s pretty amazing. Is your oldest one ready or doing stuff as yet?
Jaxson: He tries. He went to class the other day. He asked to go. He had a great time. Went two days in a row. He’s very much like me. He’s like, “Okay, Dad. I have to go every single day. I have to work out every single day.” I was like, “No, buddy, you don’t need to go every single day.” He’s like, “Okay.”
Lindsey: He’s preparing.
Jaxson: Yeah. So then he comes back the next day to get into it and he’s like, “I don’t want to do this. I’m tired. I don’t want to do this.” And then go sits in the corner and cries. He’s still a little young but he’s kind of getting into it. My big thing is I don’t want to push them because there are already going to be, “Oh, your dad did this football and athletics. Why don’t you?”
If they want to do it, great. If they don’t, that’s great too. Because I go to the gym all the time. I’ve just as much responsibility with them as I do with the other kids in how they view training and working out. If I push them and they don’t like it then they’re not going to want to do it and that’s not what I want for them. They’ll resent me for pushing them.
Lindsey: Yeah. So, moving up, especially as, I would say, athletes, and you work with both males and females. So, as they start to mature like middle school age, which is probably the worst age ever, how’s working with those kiddos?
Jaxson: Those guys present their own unique set of challenges because they’re growing and so they’re a little bit more awkward and have a little bit more difficulty controlling their body. I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade for three years so I have some experience in that age a little bit as well.
Lindsey: Yeah, thank goodness.
Jaxson: They want to be treated like grow-ups but they don’t have the ability to act like a grown-up. That’s where you kind of have to find that medium and be like, “Okay, I’ll treat you like a grown-up but then I expect you to do this.” But then you have to cut them a little bit of slack and a little bit of grace with their — We’re pretty fortunate that a lot of the kids that come and see us are very motivated.
They want to get better. They want to be there. We don’t have a lot of just moms dropping kids, “You guys off for babysitting?” Because what we do is hard. So, those kids are like, “I’m not going back because that’s hard and I don’t want to do it.” So, we’re pretty fortunate that most of our kids, most of that age group want to be there and want to get better.
Lindsey: That’s cool. People always ask me this question, in the chiropractic world, like how much is too much fitness for a kiddo? Do you ever get that question?
Jaxson: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And there’s definitely too much fitness. There’s absolutely too much fitness. That’s one of the things that we really try and focus on is proper recovery and being smart about training the kids because the kids don’t come to me to get better at working out. They come to me to get better at whatever sport they’re playing.
It’s one of the hardest things that we’ve had to do was convince the parents and convince the athletes that you don’t have to leave the gym completely exhausted to get better. There’s different things we can do. We can go through our recovery programs. We can get on the recovery boots. We can stretch. We can do this. Let me make the adjustments because I’m not the one that decides whether you play or not.
The guy at school is the one that decides if you play so let’s make it to where you look at your absolute best there. And if we need to change then we’re the ones that make the changes and the adjustments. That’s more work for us but that’s something that ultimately is what makes the difference between us and other trainers.
You don’t want to go to baseball practice to field 100 gram balls and then come see somebody and field another 150. That’s completely pointless. So, we have to do things differently and make it applicable to them. That’s another thing that is difficult. You have to establish that trust with the athlete because they’re programmed to just run as hard as they can. If they say they’re tired then they get sent to the back of the line.
So, saying, “Look, it’s okay if you come in here and tell me you’re tired. There are things that we can do to make you better because we don’t necessarily want to put you that much further into the hole. Let’s do this to where you get better.”
Lindsey: Yeah. What about — Maybe that’s not a legit question. For you, growing up, you played, you ran track and you played football, would you have liked a program like this?
Jaxson: Yeah. Absolutely. This is what I would have — I’m designing it based on 15, 16, 17-year old Jaxson, what I would have wanted. Because I did all this. I just went and did it by myself.
Lindsey: Yeah. How did you find out how to improve your athletic abilities years ago?
Jaxson: Trial and error. Just going to the gym and just working yourself to death until you threw up. That’s what I did. Kids nowadays are very fortunate because there are guys like me and my profession that exists. When I was in school nobody did this. This didn’t exist. You either went to the weight room in the summer or you just — That was it.
The amount of knowledge and the amount of information that’s out there that can be used to better yourself as an athlete is really incredible. There’s probably too much because you have to sift through what is good and what isn’t good. Because there’s a lot of bad. And just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good.
That was one of the things that I’m still working towards as a coach. When I was a player I always wanted to lift more, run faster and jump higher. Now I want to study more, be on top of the latest research and know what everybody is saying is what we’re supposed to do and what we’re supposed to stay away from and how to help better athletes. Because the level of play is just getting higher and higher because of institutions like JASAT and other places that train kids at such a young age.
Lindsey: Yeah. So, how do you prepare, especially an athlete, and this may be more mentally, right? Somebody that’s trying to get a scholarship or going to college and that’s what they want to do.
Jaxson: How do I prepare them?
Jaxson: Goodness. Well, it depends on where they are. So, we have to evaluate them. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your deficits? We train to their deficits based on what they need.
We found that a lot of kids in this generation are really deficient in their hips. They have no hip strength. They have no shoulder mobility because they spend all day hunched over their phone. We have to kind of work backwards in a sense. They’re hunched and so we kind of have to pull them back up to where they’re stronger and standing up and strengthening their hips.
Getting the guy ready to go play, there’s a lot of it depends — If a guy is wanting to peak for a pro day or something like that, that’s a completely different periodization of training as opposed to a guy that’s just trying to get ready for the season. If you’re trying to get a guy ready to peak, you have to design the tapers and design back off to where they can be — You lower their fatigue but their fitness is still high so they can be at their absolute best on that one particular day.
With a guy that’s just getting ready to go play football, you build the fitness but you kind of manage the fatigue as you go so you don’t back off too much because then they won’t get the fitness we have. I had a guy that was with the Tampa Bay Rays last year and they released him and so he has a tryout with the Diamond Backs. We had to make a quick switch.
Okay, now, we got to start tapering and we got to figure out what we got to do because you need to be throwing your absolute hardest on this day. We kind of had to scramble a little bit and get him situated but I think we got him squared away. But a lot of it, it just depends on what the athlete is looking to do. Do you want to jump? Do you want to run? Do you want the ability to change directions? What exactly do you want to do?
Lindsey: What your goal is?
Jaxson: And that’s kind of where we differ a little bit. I say, “Okay, what do you want to do?” And they’re like, “What do you mean what do I want to do?” “Well, what are your goals? What do you want from me? Tell me what you want from me.” Yeah, exactly. Then we’ll design it around, design your program around that. That’s kind of a different approach for guys in my profession because it’s just a lot easier just to standby and kind of blow whistle.
Lindsey: Yeah. I was going to ask you. I mean, I don’t want you to complain, but what’s some of the negative things you see out there from trainers, coaches that are working with like 18 and under?
Jaxson: Just building too much fatigue and not giving any recovery. Because they do the same thing. A kid will go to football and he’ll do squat and bench and do six 200s and then he’ll go see his trainer and he’ll do bench and squats. It’s the same thing. You just reverse the order. You’re still trained in the same systems and they don’t run. Not taking the time to get to actually talk to the athlete and know that, hey, you can’t just run them into the dirt because that’s not beneficial for anybody. Making them tired is not — Tired does not equate to good training. You don’t have to be tired to get good. Just to make sure that they’re actually taking care of the athletes that they’re working with.
Lindsey: All right. So, where can people find you? Do you have a website? Instagram?
Jaxson: We have a website, yeah, jaxsonappel.com. We’re on Instagram, @jasat_speed. Twitter is @jasat_speed.
Lindsey: Are you good at Twitter?
Jaxson: I am terrible at Twitter.
Lindsey: Me too.
Jaxson: Twitter terrifies me. I like Instagram but, no, Twitter terrifies me. The only reason I have a Twitter was because one of my athletes, he’s like, “Jaxson, you need to get Twitter.” I was like, “I don’t know how to work Twitter.” He’s like, “Well, you need to get Twitter.”
Lindsey: When we were in college, Facebook just came.
Jaxson: Just started, yeah.
Lindsey: Oh my god. And we were like, I guess, the second round of colleges that got the Facebook.
Jaxson: The Facebook, yeah. I remember sitting in the computer lab like typing on a desk top. I was like, and the computer is like that long right there and it’s like — Twitter, I’ve almost got a grasp of Instagram but Twitter I still — I don’t have Twitter language. I need to speak in like complete sentences and like actually have all the letters in a —
Lindsey: Yeah, I can’t do it. Get out of here, Twitter.
Jaxson: When I first started the business, I didn’t have an Instagram or anything like that and I was trying to market myself and I was working with this high school kid. I said, “Yeah, you can follow me on Facebook.” And he’s like, “Facebook is for moms, dude.” Okay. I guess, we’re not getting on Facebook then.
Lindsey: Thanks. I’m old now.
Jaxson: I felt really old. He just like completely, so disappointed in me.
Lindsey: He made you step your game up.
Lindsey: So, question. Parents put a lot of expectations on their kiddos, right? What’s some advice you can give parents that have kiddos that are athletes or that want to be athletes or that are trying to be collegiate athletes?
Jaxson: Oh, man. That’s a loaded question. Just to remember that as long as you’re doing it for them and not for yourself, make sure try not to live vicariously through them. Let them push themselves as hard as they want. It’s not your job to push. It’s your job to be the support system for them and enable them to go as far or as little as they want. If they want it then help them but don’t make it your dream. Let it be their dream. You have the other stuff. Just be supportive and try not to make it towards not fun.
Sports are supposed to be fun. Your life when you’re a grownup, you have your entire life to be a grownup. Being a grownup is not that much fun. Like I said, it’s not. So, let them be little kids and let them have fun and let them enjoy what they’re doing and ultimately it will be better because the relationship between parent and child will be better and the child will more productive on the field that they’re playing because they’re happier in the long run.
Lindsey: That’s cool. All right. What about one piece of advice for dads out there? And you said some good stuff earlier but I wonder if you have one pearl of wisdom.
Jaxson: One piece of advice I would have to — One thing that’s worked best for me I would say is it comes from Ephesians. It’s Ephesians 5:25 and it’s, “Treat your wives and family as Christ treated the church.” He loved the church and he died for the church and so be prepared to live that sacrificial life and put others first in front of yourself and then watch what God does and he’ll bless you for that.
You think, “Oh, I can’t put other people first because then I won’t have time to myself.” Well, no. You put others first and then God rewards that and then you end up having more. He gives you more time in the long run because it’s not about me as a dad. It’s about what I can do for them. I think if men in this country made that switch, I think a lot of the problems that we have would go away.
Lindsey: Little more pleasant of a world.
Jaxson: Yes, it would. It’s not a very pleasant world right now, unfortunately.
Lindsey: Last question. How great is the college we went to?
Jaxson: It’s the best. It is absolutely the best in the world.
Lindsey: So, will your kids go there?
Jaxson: I hope so. I hope so. But that’s another thing that I–
Lindsey: Try not to put the pressure?
Jaxson: I’m trying not to do that because I can’t stay in here and say let it be about them and then I–
Lindsey: Yeah. But really, no.
Jaxson: But really, go there now.
Lindsey: Well, thank you for coming on the BIRTHFIT podcast.
Jaxson: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Lindsey: If you’re in Texas, League City, Friendswood, go by, say hello and sign up for some speed and agility training and everything in between.
Jaxson: Thank you very much.
Lindsey: All right, BIRTHFIT. I hope you enjoyed that episode. There are two very important things that Jaxson said. There’s actually a lot but two that I got out of it. The first is that Texas A&M University is the greatest university on earth. The second is all about postpartum planning. This is huge. This should actually be the first super important thing but I am a die-hard Aggie.
Yes, postpartum planning. Jaxson shared a little bit about his experience as the support person for his wife and how she went through postpartum depression and then he shared a bit about planning and how even taking action before birth happens can really set yourself up in a different way and a different manner and allow for more space to heal, recover and just do whatever mom needs to do to feel whole again on the other side.
So, that’s huge. I give Jaxson mad props for recognizing that as a dad and for just taking responsibility and saying, “Hey, let’s actually plan ahead this time and do this and figure out what you need and how I can be of service to you.” That’s huge. Again, share this with a dad near you. Thanks, everybody.
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