Matt Gornick

Vibram FiveFingers at the Gym and Running Day 3

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 1, 2009

So, I decided to experiment with my new Vibram FiveFingers KSO at the
gym today. I’ve worn them almost exclusively for 2 days in order to
build up the endurance I need to work out with them.

Lifts: Squats and leg press were great as I received more feedback
from the KSOs and my contact with the ground. It was much easier to
focus on correct form, stability, and using a variety of muscles to

Running: I was a sprinter back in high school so I was used to running
on the balls’ of my feet, but the design of the KSO’s pretty much
force you to do that. Running heal-toe isn’t possible as the shock
runs up your ankles, knees, etc. for each stride. Instead, your body
becomes pretty comfortable running on your toes/balls’ of your feet
which shifts the shock to your calf’s, Achilles, and arch which
actually feels quite comfortable. I ran on both concrete and a
rubberized track surface for a variety of 100-m sprints and 400-m
strides. Both felt very comfortable and didn’t cause any pain. I did
notice being sore after running on concrete, but I’m assuming that is
to be expected. I will continue to use these for my short distance
running and training.

Balance and Stability: Balancing on plates, planks, balls, and such
varied in difficulty. I found myself engaging a wider variety of my
muscles to stabilize and balance. I think this is going to greatly
help with rock climbing where flexibility and balance are critical.
On certain exercises where balancing on a plank (with a ball folcrum)
I performed quite poorly. I believe this was because using flattened
shoes push the stabilization and center of mass higher (possibly
knees); whereas, with the KSOs I felt that any slight change in my
ankles or specific points on my feet caused me to lose balance. This
was definitely a better workout with the KSOs than my Sauconys.


Vibram FiveFingers Arrived: Review coming soon

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 28, 2009

I finally received my Vibram FiveFingers KSO from the Champaign
Surplus. I’ll be following the recommended 1-2 hour usage per day
before I start running with them. I’ll try them out at the gym soon
and see how they feel.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

New Shoes for Barefoot Running (Vibram)

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 26, 2009

A few months back, I saw a few students wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes and I would definitely agree that they are an attention drawer.  For those who’ve never seen them, they looks like a glove that would fit over your foot while leaving spaces for your individual toes.  (See

I at first dismissed them for a recent fad (similar to the Croc’s), but after reading more and more about the actual mechanics of barefoot running I’ve become interested in them.  Popular Mechanics ran an article a few days ago discussing modern shoe companies vs. barefoot running ( and recently research has been surfacing about the benefits or lack there of additional shock absorption and support.  As humans, we’ve been evolving and modifying our running abilities naturally for thousands of years and thus it seems a little silly that we can’t even run without the evoluvationary advantages that we’ve acquired.

This leads me to Vibram; they are obviously a shoe company that has taken the approach of building shoes for barefoot running and sports.  Their prices are inline with other luxury vendors (Nike, Puma, etc.) while their brand is barely known.  I decided to by a pair of the KSO model to try.

Since I’m a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had doubts that any nearby store would carry these niche shoes but to my suprise Champaign Surplus had several in stock for me to try on (  They didn’t have the particular pair I wanted, probably because they haven’t sold enough of the shoes to have frequent shipments.  The sales staff was helpful and helped me get sized properly and let me try on a few different pairs.  I tried on a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint and they felt amazingly comfortable.  At that point, I was sold on ordering myself a pair and trying them out for running and lifting.

I’m currently waiting for my shipment to arrive, but it should be in this week.  Hopefully everything goes alright and I get my new shoes in soon!

Here are some reviews I read before making my purchase:

Going without Coffee

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 17, 2009

Recently, I’ve noticed that my daily “school” routine consisted of waking up 1 hour before class, drinking 2 cups of coffee with breakfast, then going to class.  When done correctly, I’ve been able to stay awake, alert, and ready for the day by drinking coffee.

The problem comes when you need coffee to wake up in the morning, so I’ve decided to give up coffee for a while and instead rework my daily schedule as follows:

5:45 a.m. – 6:20 a.m.: Wake up, check stock market, catchup on email, write daily todo’s

6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.: Go to the gym

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: Make breakfast, get ready for the day, pick up Wall Street Journal/check Bloomberg for news

9:00 a.m.+: Go to class

My goal is to replace my need for coffee to wake up with a solid gym workout in the morning and green tea for breakfast.  I’ve read Steve Pavlina article on getting up early (1) so I’m going to be using some of those techniques to reach my goal.


Intern Lifestyle in Manhattan

Posted in Health, Personal, Uncategorized, Work by mgornick on June 16, 2008

I haven’t wrote in a while, but I’ve been adjusting to the Manhattan lifestyle.  Since I’ve only been here a few weeks, I thought I would post an update as to my current lifestyle for success.

Work: I’m early to bed and early to rise.  Before I got to sleep, I create my list of things to do for the next day and review them when I wake up.  I find that this greatly helps me focus on what I need to accomplish for the day.  I arrive at work early and stay late (10-11 hours of work per day).  I love the project(s) that I’m working on so I have no problem putting in the time.

Health: Before I start work, I go to the gym for an hour and then prepare for work.  I’m starting to prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch the night before so that I can just fill my gym bag and leave in the morning.  I’ve been eating pretty healthy and going to the gym 5 days a week with a various mix of cardio, strength, and supplemental workouts (e.g. rock climbing).  

Financial: It is obvious that Manhattan is extraordinary expensive!  I found that purchasing food via was actually cheaper and more convenient that going to a grocery store in Manhattan.  So far, I received my first order from Fresh Direct and I’m very satisfied.  I can fill out my order the night before and have the groceries delivered to my apartment the next day.  I find that it should save me countless hours each week due to traveling and comparison shopping.  Also, cooking my own food and bringing my own lunch has enabled me to save money that would otherwise go toward restaurants.  I’ve noticed the average price for a meal to be around $10; so by purchasing my food and preparing it myself, I can save a good deal of money this summer.

I am planning on writing an “Intern Guide to Manhattan” post that will give specifics on how interns can be successful and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Manhattan.

Finding the “Perfect” Gym Without Getting Taken

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 22, 2008

Fitness and health is an important part of living a successful life.  At some point or another, you will consider paying for a gym membership.  If you can afford it and you’re dedicated to staying healthy, a gym membership can open up some great possibilities in your workout.  Unfortunately, you need to find the gym that meets your standards and budget.  I have compiled some tips for finding the perfect gym without getting taken and pressured into any commitments.

1. Start by tapping your social contacts and finding out where your friends or coworkers workout.  Ask them the name of the gym, location, price, and most of all their opinion of the gym.  Start writing down this information in some organized fashion and move on to step 2.

2. You should have a list of 3 or more gyms that your people in step one liked and enjoyed.  Now go to Google Maps, type in your address, and search for “gym” in your area.  Take note of those choices that come up and begin doing research into your online gym finds.  Cross-out gyms that are too far or have bad reviews.  Those aren’t the gyms for you.

3. By now you may have as many as 5 or more gyms that you could possible see yourself going to based upon location, price (if available), and recommendations.  Go to their websites and see if they offer a complimentary workout (some offer several days) and print out those coupons.  Now plan to visit each of these gyms.  A lot of times, a gym will take you on a tour of their amenities.  Take mental notes and write down questions for later.  Example, they may show you a rock climbing wall that you may be interested in using but it only opens after 5 pm.  This would be a big issue if you prefer your workouts in the morning.  Ask for as much paperwork on schedules, group fitness, and equipment that they have available.

4. Probably the most daunting task after the gym tour is when you sit in an office and they begin to start talking about membership offers.  Remember your goal is to physically try out the gym; not to sign up immediately.  If this discussion of joining lasts more than 10-15 minutes and the person is beginning to pressure you it may be a problem.  If the gym was highly recommended by a friend, ask to speak with a different representative.  If one is not available return on a different day when a different person can assist you.  If the gym was recommended on the internet and not a friend, you should consider walking away and crossing the gym off your list.  Almost all gym tour guides make a commission in signing people up and naturally forgetting that you want to “tryout the facility”.  If you are feeling pressured say something like: “I left my wallet [or money] in the car because I will not be spending any money today.  I’m simply wish to tryout your facilities”.  They might cut prices, give you free benefits, and other ways to convince you into signing up; just stand your ground with the above quote.  They should get the point and hopefully get you setup to try the gym for the day.  

5. When you’re finally in the gym and working out take special note to the equipment, people there, and your overall liking to the gym.  How was your first impression?  Do they have amenities that you like or are they lacking?  How were the costs (they will definitely tell you this)?  Are there people within your age group?  All these factor into a gym that you might want to be apart of.  

6. Decide and use your new membership to its fullest!

Healthy Lifestyle this Summer

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 19, 2008

“I will have the most fun of my life this summer and live a healthy lifestyle on top of that.”  That may sound to pie-in-the-sky, but it is important to hear yourself say it.  I am going to focus my goal of a healthy lifestyle this summer into tasks that I can look at (read my JP Morgan Success Story for specifics).  This will be a list to remind me what I should be doing each day/week to meet my goal of a healthy summer.

1. Eat Healthy: It is so often ignored and yet so essential.  Basics eat 3 mid-sized meals and 3 snacks per day.

    – Breakfast: bagels, cereal, toast, eggs, fresh fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee

    – Lunch: Subway sandwiches, lean white meat sandwiches/wraps, choice of fruit, yogurt, fruit juice or green tea

    – Dinner: lean white meat meals, scrambled eggs, grilled chicken, pasta, fish, fruit juice or green tea

    – Snacks: granola bar, dry cereal, banana with peanut butter, oatmeal, water (always carry around a water bottle)

2. Exercise: Going to the gym might be hard, but it needs to be done to get that summer body in shape.  I want to go to the gym early before work or immediately after work.  Sometimes waking up early and hitting the gym may seem like a chore.  Force yourself to try it for a week (or even a day if you can’t muscle a week) and you’ll see how much time in the day you actually have.  Since you’re running and working out early in the morning, you’ll be more awake, more productive at work, and more energetic.  I would like to integrate the early morning workout 3-4 days a week and an after work visit to the gym the remainder of the days.  When going to the gym after 4 or 5 pm, you get to meet new people and you gain the social aspect of working out.  Yes you should be focused on getting in shape, but finding people of similar ideas and fitness goals in your gym will help you reach your own goals.

3. Participate in activities that I love.  This task is two-fold: find activities that you love and keep you active.  For example, I love to run, rock climb, hike, mountain bike, golf, swim, and toss around a frisbee.  Find those activities that you actually enjoy and won’t find a burden to participating it and do them.  Keeping these activities in mind can help you bridge the gap between coworkers, fellow students, or an acquaintance you meet at the gym.  


Eating Healthy

Posted in Health by mgornick on May 18, 2008

“You are what you eat” – Unknown

Summer weather is finally upon us and I find it that eating heathy is an intricate part of summer fitness.  I’ve been drinking tons of water, Vitamin Water, Pomegranate juice, green tea, etc. to stay hydrated and healthy.  Instead of coffee in the morning, I’ve been drinking the Vitamin Water Energy which has 300 mg of caffeine (to get me going in those early mornings).  I’d drink water throughout the day and carry around a water bottle.  During lunch/dinner/snacks I have been drinking juices and green tea.  Specific to green tea, I’ve found that I’ve been healthier and more relaxed.  Green tea has 175 mg of antioxidants to boost the human immune system and it has low calories and tastes great!  

Eating healthy is sometimes more difficult during the summer (especially for college students such as myself) because of the less available food.  If you are playing golf, at the beach, hanging out with friends, you have to eat what is convenient.  Unfortunately, it is more often junk food than not.  To counter this summer eating tread, I’ve been trying some different combinations of food to keep me in shape and perfect the “beach body” look.  

Quick morning: Oatmeal.  Simple, cheap, and good.  Add honey and bananas to regular Quaker Oats oatmeal.  Chase this meal with some Vitamin Water Energy or Coffee and jump start your day.

Berry Fruit Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and a carton of Dannon yogurt.  Takes about two minutes (need to wash and cut fruit) and is packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Snacks: Yogurt with granola, banana, dry cereal.  Pick a snack and drink some green tea and you won’t fill up on snacks prior to a meal.

Some of these food ideas are simple, but most people overlook the basics.  This summer I want to eat healthy in order to feel great.  I’ve heard a quote that “Fitness is 10% exercise and 90% of what you put in your body”.  I want a fit and healthy body so naturally I should fill it with the best.


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Take on Exercise

Posted in Health by mgornick on May 12, 2008

I find that exercising is my best stress relief.  It can be a long day at school, work, or just life and I can always seem to clear my mind and relax via physical activity.

In a Fortune article, Bill Gross the CIO of Pimco says that

“the most important part of my day isn’t on the trading floor. Every day at 8:30 A.M., I get up from my desk and walk to a health club across the street. I do yoga and work out for probably an hour and a half, between 8:30 and 10. […] After about 45 minutes of riding the exercise bike and maybe ten or 15 minutes of yoga, all of a sudden some significant light bulbs seem to turn on. I look at that hour and a half as the most valuable time of the day.”

Bill Gross seems to get it right and considering he’s managing $200 billion dollars a day, I’ll take his advice. A lot of people say that they don’t have time to workout/lose weight/eat healthy.  I figure if multi-billion dollar hedge-fund managers can do it, so can I.  Exercise does not have to be a burden or something dreaded.  Put on your economist hat and get in the mindset that you are increasing your mental and physical utility.  10 minutes of exercise may prevent you from pulling out your hair and also help you achieve that 6-pack.