Chocolate Chili by Stephen Cooper

Chocolate Chili (Recipe from Well Fed)


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 cup water


  1. Heat a large deep pot over medium-high heat, then add the coconut oil. When the oil is melted, add onions, stir with a wooden spoon and cook until they’re translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and as soon as it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds, crumble the ground meat into the pan with your hands, mixing with a wooden spoon to combine. Continue to cook the meat, stirring often, until it’s no longer pink.
  2. In a small bowl, crush the oregano between your palms to release its flavor, then add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Combine with a fork, then add to the pot, stirring like you mean it. Add tomato paste and stir until combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, beef broth and water to the pot. Stir well. bring to a boil then reduce the heat so the chili enjoys a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours. Do not skimp on the simmer.

I ate this last night, really yummy.

Shake and Paint by Stephen Cooper

Morning get up and go breakfast shake. Water, protein powder, big handful spinach, frozen acai.  (Clients sometimes ask where can they buy frozen acai in Pasadena...I usually get Sambazon frozen acai at Whole Foods.) 


Some clients have asked me to post our workouts.  Here is the link to yesterday's workout.


We have a very fun event planned for Friday April 5 from 8 pm - 10:30 pm. 

We will be meeting at Paint The Town in San Marino.  There, we will have the whole place to ourselves.

Each person will get to select one studio painting and the instructor will walk you through the painting process, step by step. (Don't look to me for any tips or pointers...and no laughing at my lack of painting skills).  You can change colors, backgrounds and add whatever creative things you want. 

Don't worry if you have never painted before...

Please bring wine or your favorite beverage, and some healthy snacks if you like.

The cost is $25 per person.  Please confirm your space with me soon so that we can plan on supplies.


April 1, Monday, Wednesday, Friday Boot Camp Begins

April 2, Tuesday/Thursday Camp Begins

April 5, Paint The Town Party in San Marino


What Will You Do This Weekend to Stay Fit? by Stephen Cooper

You may attend boot camp classes with me during the week, but what activities do you do over your weekend to keep yourself on track?

For those of us who are lucky to live in the Pasadena area, our weather provides so many opportunities to get outside and take advantage.

One of the best activities is to just get out and walk.  This is a great time to encourage your family to be part of your healthy life, you may be doing them a huge favor by getting them up and moving.  One of our favorite activities is going on the stair walks from the book, Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles by Charles Fleming. 

When I'm crunched for time, I knock out a simple jump rope workout.  I will set my timer on my phone for 20 minutes, and have it notify me every 30 seconds.  For 30 seconds I'll jump rope, then for 30 seconds I'll "recover" with squats.  I'll repeat this pattern for the entire 20 minutes.

There are two weekend options for you.

What else do you like to do over your weekend to stay fit?


Sharing by Stephen Cooper

This morning one of my clients asked when I began personal training.

I trained my first paying client in 1984.  

I just found these pictures of my first boot camp which was in 2003.  This was up at Don Benito School in Pasadena.

2003 First Boot Camper Group


2003 First Boot Camp ClassTraining is all about relationships...and I have a lot to be thankful for.  So many years, so many great clients.

Thanks.  I really appreciate you all.

What We Can Learn from World Champion MMA Fighters by Stephen Cooper

JC Santana and Stephen Cooper, MMA Strength and Conditioning Certification in Boca Raton, FL

Last week I flew down to Boca Raton Florida for my Strength and Conditioning Certification for Mixed Martial Arts with JC Santana

I went down there for two reasons. 

The first was a selfish reason.  Having started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about a year ago, I wanted to learn how to improve my own conditioning. 

The second reason is that I wanted to learn how I could modify the training regimens of these elite fighters and apply them to my boot campers. 

What I didn't expect was that I was going to learn how champions approach training, and how I could use that not only for myself, but also for my clients. 

No matter what your feelings are on the often brutal sport of MMA, there is no question that these fighters are some of the best conditioned athletes in the world. 

Having to fight at precise weight levels the athletes are lean, strong, powerful, and very nimble. 

I wanted to learn the routines and strategies these warriors use, and apply them to my "weekend warriors". 

Juan Carlos Santana, one of the top strength coaches in the world, led us through some sample circuits.

MMA Strength and Conditioning Certification, JC Santana, Boca Raton, FL

 (Me in all black training on the PowerMax 360)

You can check out a video of us going through a circuit here.  

He gave us a lot of information on how he and his team prepare his fighters to outlast the competition.  (Isn't this what many of us are trying to do in the real world?  Have the stamina to be the best at work, and have incredible energy to spend with our family and loved ones.) 

JC demonstrated both the science and real world application.  Just like at boot camp, smart programming with consistent effort can produce excellent results. 

Probably the most valuable part of this weekend was the question and answer period with the fighters.


2011-04-16_IHP Fighters @ IHP

(MMA Fighters at IHP Fit in Boca Raton, FL) 

The fighters reminded me what it takes to be champion. 

  • No excuses.
  • Unrelenting passion, focus, and determination.
  • Extreme dedication.
  • Commitment to being the best.  

My take away from the weekend was a reminder of how often I feel sad and frsutrated that so many people quit, or sell themselves short. 

I see it time and time again in my clients.

The tools are here to reach the highest levels in health and in life.   

Aren't you in a fight for your life? 

To be the best mom or dad?  To be the best at your profession?  And so on... 

Don't back away...step up and fight.

Avocado, Egg, and Bacon Salad for Breakfast by Stephen Cooper

From boot camper Michelle...
The question I have received often since starting my paleo journey is "what do you eat for (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner?" Breakfast is the hardest for most. It seems simple to throw toast in the toaster, cereal in bowl, or grab some fruit without a thought to protein and healthy fat to fuel your body. Maybe you are rushing after your morning workout, to get kids fed, off to school, and yourself in the car for work. This is a breakfast that I promise, with a little bit of preparation, can be just as simple and enjoyed by the whole family. And the protein and healthy fat will leave you sustained until lunch. I often enjoy this for lunch as well.
1/2 Ripe Avocado, mashed
1 Hard-boiled Egg, diced
1/2 medium tomato, diced
Lemon or Lime juice, to taste
2 pieces of uncured bacon, crumbled (baked in oven @ 400 degrees for 20min; trader joes has a great uncured bacon)
salt and pepper, to taste
At the beginning of the week, prep your hard-boiled eggs and bake your bacon (this is less mess option, I will never go back to pan-frying bacon). You can chop your tomatoes and place in container as well (though I prefer fresh tomatoes, if fluctuating price of tomatoes are a concern, there are some relatively inexpensive canned organic diced tomatoes available, I've purchased for about $1). In the morning, mash the avocado, add the egg, tomato, lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together (lightly), top with bacon and enjoy! Some alternatives (if you don't eat pork, for example)- uncured beef or turkey bacon, chicken sausage (Trader Joe's has great minimally processed, gluten free options), canned crab meat, shrimp. Get creative.


Compete. Lady Boot Campers Kick A.. by Stephen Cooper

So we've got a little friendly competition going on here at boot camp.

On Monday night we did a fun little exercise with the BOSU ball.  I actually had the pleasure to meet with David Weck, the creator of the BOSU ball late last year.  He is super passionate about training, and a great guy to talk to about training.

I won't divulge what the exact challenge is (you gotta train with us to experience it), but I can tell you that it will get your heart pumping and your legs pumped...and maybe burn some calories too.

The point of this challenge is to see where you are at, and to push yourself.  Our winner with the top number won herself a nice little Under Armour bag.  The good thing is that when we do this challenge, the "winner" will be the one who improves the most.  Keeping working hard.

I know that there are still a few of you who need to compete in this challenge, but so far our winner is Laura T. of the morning class.  She really kicked a.. .  The ladies were super tough!

Here she is with her prize.

Laura wins the BOSU ChallengeFor those of you who competed but didn't quite get still got a nice prize, right?  (That prize was 15% at my buddy Onil's restaurant, Elements in Pasadena.)  If you haven't eaten there yet, do yourself a favor and bring your loved ones for an incredible experience.  Today is their 1 year anniversary too!

Speaking of Onil...look who got caught on video doing the BOSU Challenge.

First step by Stephen Cooper

I will probably be posting a few times today as there is quite a bit of information.

Many of you will be taking your first boot camp class today, and many of you will be starting our 2nd Paleo Challenge, so the first step is to just do it.

For those of you who showed up this morning and made it through the fitness "tests", congratulations.  That's what it takes...just getting up, out of bed, and in to action.  You've done it!

If you are in the Paleo Challenge then your first step is to eat a Paleo version of breakfast.  Have you done that? (Put you answer in the comment section below.)

If you are curious to know if I actually "do" what I "preach".  Yes indeed.

For breakfast I had a lean beef patty from Trader Joe's with a little seasoning, a small handful of walnuts, a small orange, and some green tea.  As far as my workout...I'm going out right now after I finish typing this post.

How did you start your day???

Eating Well Doesn't Have to Cost a Lot by Stephen Cooper

Often people tell me that "eating healthy is more expensive".

Here is a picture of my dinner last night.  I admit, nothing fancy, fish with a little seasoning in olive oil, and some steamed cauliflower.

The point is that this meal fuels my body.  This combination will keep me healthy and lean.

As far as cost, it cost me about $1.50.

So don't give me the excuse that "eating well costs too much".  It may take more time than passing through the Mc Donald's drive through, but please consider how important it is to your health.

Tip:  Clients who live in the Pasadena and Altadena area like me...I often get my groceries at Super King Market on Lincoln Ave in Altadena.  They have really good prices on the staples such as meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables.

Happy Birthday to Sonya of the Tuesday Thursday Morning Class.

Be sure to check out Sonya's site, Wine and Food Travel


Dec. 20, 21, 22  and Dec 27,28,29  Last Boot Camp Sessions of 2010

Jan 3 - 28 2011  New Year, New Boot Camp Session Begins

Jan 3 Paleo Challenge 2 Begins  

Speaking of Incredible Before and After Pictures... by Stephen Cooper

I've been working on the before and after pictures from our Paleo Challenge, and I'm also editing some other pictures.

I know that some people tend to think that fat loss "just happens' and that some people are "just lucky".  In my 17 plus years as a trainer, I've seen very few people who have this luck.  I'd say that about 5% of the population have this luck.

The rest of us work hard for results.

There are no shortcuts.

It takes a commitment to clean eating, training, and getting the proper rest and recovery.

I can vouch for this boot camp client below, that she deserves these awesome results.  She puts in the hard work.  I can remember there were times when I first started the boot camp, and some days there were only two people in my class, her and Vanessa (who has also gotten incredible results.)

What can you take away from this?

Get inspired...and know that you can do it too.

Newsletter for August 9, 2010 by Stephen Cooper

Lot's going on, but I'll do my best to keep it tight.

Busy busy weekend, but let's get started with some incredible
 new transformation pictures I've posted on the website. (

Have a look.  What you'll see are just three of our most recent transformations.  These are clients who have shown up, and made the commitment to changing their bodies.  These women have decided that enough was enough.  They put in the hard work and now they feel confident and strong in their lean bodies.

 You may be neglecting your body...and feeling sluggish and out of shape, but know that you can change today.  It may be one of my boot camps, or it can be anything that you'll do on a consistent basis...but do something.  Don't wait till some magical start date when the stars are in it today.

I was talking to one of my boot campers the other day and mentioned to her how much I look forward to Mondays.  I really can't wait to get to training.  I love my time off and vacations, but my groove is really spending time and seeing the results that my clients get.  I feel so lucky.

This past weekend I spent some time at a huge fitness conference here in L.A.  I've posted a couple of pictures here.

I really enjoy attending events like those as I get a chance to listen and learn from the pros...great stuff.

My kids have been in Brazil with their grandparents and relatives since late June.  My wife will be leaving tomorrow and come back with them in September.  For those of you who haven't seen a pic of my daughter in while, she's 17 now.  Hard to believe.

Boot Camp
Big news for the boot camp...Marie, one of the "transformations"  from our front page, just passed her personal trainer examination/certification this Saturday and will soon be joining me as my first trainer.  I don't take my profession or business lightly, and I can tell you that I am 100% confident in how well Marie will be in assisting you with your fat loss goals.

I will be adding some new days and times for our boot camp classes.  As it looks right now, I will be offering a Tue and Thursday class from 5:45-6:30am.  This class will be geared towards beginners, or those who need to get back on track before jumping in to a regular boot camp.

Contact me if this may be of interest to you.  (626)609-7399

Our regular M,W,F  morning session which begins August 16, has a waiting list.  If you haven't already told me if you want to be in this class, please confirm with me.

We still  have some spaces in the PM session. (6-6:45)

On-line Accountability Members Group
Lastly, I am putting the final touches on our on-line coaching group.  We'll be meeting virtually and you'll receive a PDF workout via email, or via your cell phone.  You'll also have access to our on-line group chat, videos, and telephone seminars.   This monthly workout will be the same that my boot campers are currently doing.  This is a great option for those who can't make our in-person sessions, or who want a less expensive alternative.
Contact me if you'd like more details.

Enjoy today,

IDEA World Conference in Los Angeles by Stephen Cooper

Yesterday I helped out my coach, Todd Durkin as he rallied about 250 fitness professionals at the L.A. convention center. 

The IDEA conference is attended by close to 5,000 fitness pros from all over the world.  I met people from Japan, Turkey, and Singapore.

I worked with an incredible team yesterday.  Here are just a few of the guys.

Coach Jeff Dillman, Head of IPI Physical Conditioning at IMG

Dr. Chris Mohr, Sports Nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals and is also the Sports Nutritionist for Under Armour’s TNP Training Council.

Troy Fontana, Nominated for 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year 

For about and hour and a half groups of attendees were put through the ringer at each station.  I was at the ropes station.  What a blast.  The participants were sweating like crazy after their time with us.

I had some time to talk to Randy Hetrick, creator of the TRX, and also Fraser Quelch, the director of training and development for Fitness Anywhere.

I was trying to get any tips I could on spreading the fun for you guys in our boot camp sessions.

Fraser Quelch and Stephen Cooper

Randy Hetrick and Stephen Cooper

Fat Burning Breakfast by Stephen Cooper

I'm often asked, "what should I eat for breakfast?".

Another question I hear a lot from clients is, "should I eat before boot camp, or not?"

As many of you know I wake up early on boot camp days, 4:50AM to be exact.  Usually I have a protein shake of some sort (recipe below) before boot camp, and then later around 9AM I'll have my main breakfast.

As far as fat loss theories...I think the verdict is still out if you should train on a fasted state or not.  I just told a boot camper this morning like I'm telling you here... if you feel a little queasy working out on an empty stomach, then have a few almonds and a half an apple.  Maybe a half a protein shake.  Experiment and see what gives you energy, but doesn't slow down your workout.

Coffee, mate', or tea are fine too before your session. 

So let's assume you are going to have your real meal after your boot camp session.  Here is a plan.

Choose lean proteins, eggs, leftover protein from the night before, add some vegetables, a piece of fruit, and some healthy fat.  Keep it simple.

Here's what I had today:

Pre boot camp shake:

2 scoops protein powder

1 frozen pack Sambazon Acai

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

and water.


Around 8AM

3 eggs

hot chipotle salsa (Trader Joe's)

collard greens

olive oil for cooking

fresh apple from my neighbor's yard (thanks John)

Remember: proper "fueling" for your workout is critical.  Not only do want to eat right to have enough energy to train hard, but you want to eat a mix that will help you recover faster, and lose fat most effectively.

Pay attention to good eating, and your body will reward you. 


Related Reading:

Morning Frozen Acai Protein Shake

What to Eat for Maximum Fat Loss and Performance 

Meal Pictures

Simple Breakfast


Relax, It's the Weekend. Plus It's Part of a Smart Fat Loss Plan. by Stephen Cooper

Morning boot campers working on the TRXYour success with losing fat during our boot camp , and keeping it off will depend a lot on creating balance in your life.

The best way I've found to do this is by showing up and training hard during the week.  In our case Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, are our training days.  My hope is that you have made it to each session and trained as hard as you could.

If you are trying to lose fat, which most of you in the boot camp have told me is your goal, then eating well should be right on target 6 days a week.

So now we've come to Saturday and Sunday.  For many this can be challenging.  Parties, bar-b-ques, weddings, etc., all of these usually include some rich foods, and many times alcohol.

If you have trained hard, and eaten well during the rest of the week, one day won't set you back on your goal to fat loss.  Your body may even "need" the shock to keep your metabolism revving. 

Enjoying the weekend with my daughter.

As you plan your week, keep in mind the one day which you'd like to treat yourself.  In my own example, last weekend we had a big get together to watch the World Cup game in which Brazil was playing.  I knew that I would want to eat more than usual, plus there were some desserts I wanted to eat.  I ate basically whatever I wanted without the worry that I would gain weight.  It's a good feeling to enjoy life.

The problem becomes when we over do it the rest of the week.

Plan your week.  If you need help with your specific situation, please contact me.


Pop Quiz: What did you eat for breakfast this morning? by Stephen Cooper

So a pop quiz for this morning.  

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Was it some combination of lean protein, fruit, and some healthy fat?

Did you skip breakfast?

Did you grab a donut and coffee at the office?

The two pictures above are what I ate for breakfast this morning.  A few fresh eggs from a neighbors' chickens and some fresh berries from our garden.  Simple, but healthy and filling.

Let me know what you your response in the comments here.

If you aren't sure as to what you should be eating in order to lose fat during your boot camp experience, you can look at this healthy list here, or you can check out our registered dietitian, Amy Kulbal's site here.

As always let me know how I can help.