Be more than average - The Cornerstone Journey

Be more than average - The Cornerstone Journey

Some of you know how we came to our facility in Adamstown. Back in 2012, Sam and I were working in very different industries. I had a career as a Geotechnical Engineer and Sam worked in the hospitality industry in Newcastle. Sam moved to Alice Springs to work for Crowne Plaza and we eventually joined up in Perth. My life at the time revolved around soccer, work and not much else. Sam was working as a Night Manager at a hotel, and led an unhealthy lifestyle. Soon, Sam made a decision to overhaul her lifestyle and found the Crossfit box. I couldn’t let Sam have all the fun, so I joined the Crossfit box as well! We were both loving our new healthy lifestyles, and were hooked.

Sam started coaching at a local Crossfit box, and eventually started personal training, teaching Crossfit boot camps in Perth. I started training clients as well while maintaining my career as an engineer. Ultimately, we had well paid jobs and a comfortable life. But we wanted more. We wanted to live lives that we were proud of, to make a positive impact. When we have kids one day, we don’t want to look them in the eyes and tell them to follow their dreams when we didn’t try to do the same.

We were in Vietnam on holiday when we heard of a friend who was selling up his gym in Newcastle. Sam and I made the huge decision to pursue our dreams, by taking the leap to move back home to Newcastle, to be closer to our families and open our first gym.

In January 2016, we opened Cornerstone in our first facility in Adamstown.  Our belief is that health is more than exercise or nutrition. Cornerstone combines small group, one on one strength and conditioning, functional movement training sessions with quality nutrition, and mindset coaching. With this unique offering and varied programming, we were able to improve our clients’ health and athletic performance.


It wasn’t long until we had to expand and move to a facility that fits with our long term vision for Cornerstone. The move has been a long and gradual one. Over several months, we worked tirelessly to bring our new and improved  600m2 indoor outdoor training space. This space is expertly set up with high quality equipment to cater to our clients, from individuals to professional sports teams. The custom facility and its exciting outdoor gymnasium caters to our workouts and gives our clients the option to train outdoors or escape the weather indoors. It’s the best of both worlds.  There is no other facility in Australia offering this type of space and level of service.

We have had so much help from our clients, friends and family to get the facility ready for the Grand Opening. Here are some photos to show you the blank canvas we had to work with and our latest photo, taken two weeks ago! It is amazing to see the changes.

The past 18 months have been filled with hard work, but we have been so fortunate to have amazing clients who have been on the journey with us. There have been some incredible moments, seeing clients that have totally changed their lives while training with us, clients that come week after week to slog it out to build strong and healthy bodies, and clients that have learned to change their negative mindset to a positive one.  We have had shy clients who come in with low confidence, and with regular training and encouragement found the confidence to pursue their dreams, quitting their unhappy jobs to find careers that they totally love. We are so inspired by our clients, and hope we can help guide you towards your goals of health and happiness.

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We want to thank our clients for believing in us and our vision. We would not opening a new facility without the support of our clients, family and friends. We want to make sure that we keep inspiring you and pushing the boundaries. We will continue to learn and develop new techniques on our intensives, and bring them back to Cornerstone!

Don’t be content with being average. Be inspired to make a change. We are living proof that if you want to be happy, you have to take action and make changes in your life to become the best you can be.


With healthy regards,

Mick & Sam

To change your body, you must first change your mind

This might be a tough pill to swallow, despite the fact this cycle is almost the norm in our society, but we repeat, Diets don’t work! It’s a bandaid, a quick fix to a deeper problem that lies within our mental and emotional state. You’re looking in all the wrong places. It’s not until you can look in the mirror and see yourself for WHO you truly are, WHY you do the things you do, and WHAT you truly desire, will you CHANGE your life.

So what’s the fix? What do I need to do to get what I want?

Awareness and tending to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gardens.

We would love to tell you there’s an easy fix, but research has showed the most important factor influencing any type of success, whether that be weight loss success, nutrition, family, work, life, is your attitude (what you think), discipline and commitment. Whatever you think about all the time, you will attract in life; You will never develop anything of any consequence if you are not disciplined; and commitment means being bound or having an obligation to something, no one ever became successful by accident or without committing to it. 

What we try to do is help our clients shift their focus.

1. Focus on the why.

Why, Purpose and Commitment – because quite frankly, without a purpose, direction, understanding why this is important to you and a commitment to yourself and those around you to achieve that, then are you living intentionally or by accident? Are you living fully, or just existing? Are you working on your life or just in it? Are you satisfied? Are you happy? And more importantly, what sort of role model are you being for your children and what legacy do you want to leave? Not until you recognise what’s at the core of your actions will you be able to move forward.

2. Changing habits

Habits are like skills, once you have them, you don’t lose them. Habits are formed from repetitive actions, and cannot be undone. Only by creating new habits to replace old ones will the old habits be ‘forgotten’.

Unfortunately this take time. A minimum of between 25-30 days is the general consensus, but its also proportional for how long the habit has been ingrained and the commitment to resist old habits. One of the most important habits is a strong morning routine. We hear you say “I’m not a morning person”.. This is the most overused BS. If the most successful people in the world can do it and note this as one of the keys to their success, you also have the capability, you aren’t special.

3. Positive self talk

You are the sum total of your thoughts which become cemented in your subconscious mind. We had read this a lot before and always thought it was a little woo-woo. But it was not until it was explained to us how the brain actually processes information did we understand how affirmations, positive self talk etc can help transform your ideal to your reality. Whether or not you believe in your sub-conscious mind that you can make the changes you need to make is critical. Similarly, negative thoughts and worlds do nothing but fuel a negative subconscious and mindset. You are strong enough, you are worthy, you are in exactly the right place from which to launch into the person you want to be.

Keep an eye out for negative messages or thoughts, understand where they are coming from, and then turn it around by creating a positive or constructive version of events. If you don’t believe you can, you never will.

4. Food is information

Your body and mind need good information. You also can think about food a fuel or medicine because if you aren’t feeding your body good food, then you can’t expect your mind and body to do the things you want it to do. You wouldn’t expect a car to run on orange juice, so why would you do it to your body?

Asking yourself do you really want to eat what’s in front of you becomes a prompt to make a conscious choice, and if you have worked through 1 and 2 above, your subconscious will do the work for you. At the end of the day, for most people nutrition is around 70% of the cause and solution to weight loss, so it requires the appropriate amount of attention.

5. Community

Social isolation is proven to be one of the highest causes of death around the world. How often do you hear of a person passing away when their spouse passes? It has also been shown in the longest running study in the world’s history that the happiest people were not the richest, not the fittest, not the smartest, but the people who are the best connected with their family, friends and community. We think this is pretty important.

Surround yourself with amazing humans who support your journey but also challenge you. Who can you rely on? Who supports you, who’s a detractor and who doesn’t share the same vision/values? You ARE a reflection of the people you hang around the most. Surround yourself with people who have what you want and build a great ‘team’ around you full of strong relationships.

These are just 5 aspects of our lives to help improve our health and reach our actual goals. Humans are complex creatures, and these show why simple diets don’t work. Make your own wellbeing and health your first and highest priority. When you feel great, you’ll be great too.

6. Moving

Movement is life. It’s like standing vs stagnant water. The body and the mind and interconnected and feed each other. Improving your mental health will improve your physical, and vice versa. The only way to improve your physical condition is to move. Go for a walk, play with the kids or if you are sitting in an office chair, slumped at your desk most of the week, why not try some exercises and stretches that can be done at your desk, help improve your posture, reduce back pain and give you an energy boost. Move for 5min every 25min if you are sedentary and continually if you have the opportunity.  

With all of these combined, you can be sure you are ticking some of the boxes to realising the body and mind you desire.

Being healthy and feeling great is the goal, but what about that stubborn fat?

Being healthy and feeling great is the goal, but what about that stubborn fat?

When we ask people what their goals are, it's great to see more and more people, particularly women just saying I want to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, that happiness is strongly tied to their weight/body shape. And that's totally understandable. It really shouldn't be your entire world, but like many other things in all of our lives, it can be something we want to work on. 

At the end of the day, our bodies actually WANT to store fat. It's ingrained in our DNA to store fat for the times when food would not be as plentiful as it is these days. The research is also out there, it is harder for women to lose fat in the belly area than men due to metabolic differences. 

Now just because our body wants to store it, and it can be hard to lose, doesn't mean we shouldn't try, and there are a few key actions that can help speed up the process. 

1. Cut out as much sugar and processed rubbish as possible, particularly those unhealthy carbs.

Carbs are not the devil. They are very important. After all vegetables are carbohydrates. But eliminating those refined simple carbohydrates will make the world of difference to not only reducing fat, but also just feeling good. What it does is restores your insulin sensitivity, meaning it will start using other sources (protein and fat) to fuel your body.

If heavily restricting carbs, your body can actually enter whats called Ketosis, where your body uses fat for fuel. There are some really big benefits to being in Ketosis, but it isn't for everyone. Research is very promising though. 

TIP: It isn't rocket science, eliminate the sugar and process foods, and eat more complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, beans, some grains and a bit of fruit. Try to incorporate as much plant based foods as possible. These are often have a very low calorie content, will fill you up and provide lots of amazing nutrients your body needs. 



This is an absolute given, but is so widely neglected it's scary. Sleep is one thing that can improve your life dramatically. Now apparently none of us have enough time for sleep, but we would ask you, where does it sit on your priority list? 

There is a strong association between lack of sleep and fat, particularly belly fat. Similar to stress, it causes elevated levels of cortisol, which as stated above, can contribute significantly to how much fat your body stores. 

Studies have shown we all, with the exception of a minuscule number of people, need at least 7-8hrs of sleep. YOU ARE NOT DIFFERENT. 

TIP: Set evening alarms to ensure you set a routine to wind down and create a strong morning routine. Avoid technology before bed and prioritise your sleep. It most likely will add years to your life, and they will definitely be happier. 


3. Doing intervals, particularly sprints (row/bike/run/skip etc). 

Because of the intensity, your body actually releases growth hormones which are at the core of the problem. These are the main fat burning compounds and help burn fat stores not only during the exercise period, but also for hours after your workouts. 

TIP: Doing 15-20min of HARD sprints will hurt A LOT, but the benefits of this compared to spending an hour running or cycling are huge. We work with work:rest intervals of 1:3-5 for beginners, and as you are able to cope with more, this can be reduced down to 1:1 or even less depending on the goal of the session. 


4. Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods and improve Vitamin intake

Eating antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables make your cells more insulin sensitive, but it also lowers your blood sugar response when you do eat those higher carb foods. For instance adding blueberries to oatmeal will help your body digest the carbs in the oatmeal more slowly, therefore not spiking your insulin wildly, all while your body continues to spend its time burning fat, not to mention feeling more full for longer.

Some other very important benefits include less inflammation as well ashealthier skin and eyesight. 

This type of foods are generally the most colourful. The more colour the better. The more processed a food is (if you can call them that) the less nutritional benefit it will have. Stick to the leafy greens and dark-coloured vegetables such as blueberries, plums, beets, capsicum, eggplant (we have an amazing recipe for this) and cabbage. 

TIP: Your plate should be an array of colour in as many meals as possible. Vegetable aren't just for dinner.  


5. Eat quality protein. 

Meat and animal products aren't bad as many people like to tell you. Should you eat large quantities of them. Definitely not. In fact there is a lot of research out there telling us the less the better, and that most of our protein should come from plant based foods such as seafood, beans, lentils and eggs

Essential amino acids are a key indicator in determining high-quality protein. It is defined as containing a “threshold” amount of 10 grams of essential amino acids. It also reduces hunger allowing you to eat less and preserve the lean muscle mass to help you sustain your metabolic rate. 

TIP: We recommend between 1.4-1.8g/kg of protein per day depending on your goals. This may vary but its a good place to start. 


6. Reduce or eliminate alcohol and other drinks high in sugar (sports drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices)

The research around this is overwhelming. People who drinks this stuff have significantly more belly fat. One of the reasons, apart from the obvious, is that the brain doesn't register the liquids (or other foods which are easy to eat) as well as solid food you have to chew. It’s easier to consume 1L of milk than a liter of Greek yogurt.

Although many still think fruit drinks are healthy, they also contain a high amount of fructose (why eating lots a fruit is also not a great idea) which can only be metabolized by the liver. This can then overload the liver, leaving 'energy' to be stored as fat in the abdominal area. 

Alcohol is toxic to the body and is prioritised for processing and excretion compared to protein and fat. Your body will therefore try to store any other nutrients during this time as fat. Alcohol is also proven to impair muscle strength and power, decreasing your training intensity and overall ability to build lean muscle mass. 

Alcohol dehydrates the body, increasing the recovery time and risk of injury and directly lowers your metabolic rate, which is the opposite of what we want.

TIP: Reduce or eliminate if you are serious about getting the best results. 


7. Incorporate weight training

Many people, particularly women, still have a fear that doing weights will make you big and bulky. If you lift heavy weights just about every day for few years, and eat to gain weight like its your job, you might get there. MIGHT. If you work with a quality coach, you will increase your lean muscle mass, which will keep your resting metabolic rate high and burning more fat. Fat also produces inflammation which degrade muscle, so its important to continue to work on it. 

Movement is key, but the main priority should be to perform as many multi-joint functional movements with resistance as possible to activate larger muscle groups. The more often you can perform a full body strength session the better, but training the lower body will give you the most bang for your buck due to the size of the muscles. The bigger the muscle group the more energy required to fuel the exercise and repair of the muscle after training and therefore the more calories burned. 

One thing to note, when you start strength training, don't follow the scales. Muscle weighs a lot more than fat, so if you even put on a little bit of muscle, this can equalise fat losses on the scales. Look more to measurements or body fat %. 

TIP: Try to lift heavy at least once a week, and incorporate other resistance training a least one other day. This should focus on multi-joint movements (ie squats). You also need to find a good coach to ensure your technique is solid to reduce risk of injury and accelerate your improvements. 


8. Don't stress. Breath. 

Stress plays a huge role in our lives and is something we help our clients with a lot. Anxiety about anything, in particular your body, or how many calories you've eaten today can increase the level of cortisol which tells the body to store fat around your organs so they can easily source it for fuel in times of stress.

If you eat something you shouldn’t, just own it and be better tomorrow. Exercise has an amazing de-stressing effect with lots more added benefits. It's the most under-prescribed medicine in the world for both physical and mental health. We aren't sure why because it burns calories while lowering stress.

Although we don't want you to obsess over it, if you are serious about getting results and becoming the person you want to be, this requires you to make strong decisions about who you are, how you spend your time and what you put in your mouth. Its about consistency and accountability, showing up each day willing to be better than you were yesterday, and then putting things in place to ensure your success. 

TIP: Be accountable, stress less, breath and exercise. The last 2 definitely go hand in hand, but taking time to breath can be hugely beneficial. Breathing is one of the body’s best ways to remove toxins. Nose breathing in particular is connected to the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system which is responsible for slowing the heart rate, calming the body, and helps it relax.  

6 proven things stressed and time poor beer drinkers aren't doing to feel better.

We get it, you don't have much time for yourself; you're stressed about work, family, and not having enough time to do either let along both; and you aren't in the shape you want (or actually need) to be in to operate at 100% so you really aren't living your life, you're just existing. Here's out top 6 ways to get the mind and body you NEED to fulfill whats missing in your life, all while dropping the kgs and enjoying a beer.  

1.       Strength training – movement is key, but the main priority should be to perform as many multi-joint functional movements with resistance as possible to activate larger muscle groups. The bigger the muscle group the more energy required to fuel the exercise and repair of the muscle after training and therefore the more calories burned. In addition, the more muscle mass we have, the more calories we continue to burn throughout the day, so we need to add lean muscle mass through strength training.

2.       Interval/Sprint Training – although running or riding for long distances does burn a lot of calories, its inefficient and you’re a person with limited time (probably a few injuries from years of pounding the pavement). Activities such as intervals, sprints, or other short bouts of high intensity work can burn the same if not more calories over a much shorter period of time.

3.       Move – Take a few options which keep you moving. Go for a walk at lunch rather than eat at your desk, take the stairs rather than the lift, walk the dog, play with the kids rather than watch, and have some fun moving on the weekends like playing wall tennis.

4.       Eat better foods including more healthy fat – Quite frankly, you know generally what’s rubbish and what’s good for you. There's some finer details like eating more protein and fat, and less processed carbs, but we also like to keep it simple. If its packaged, how many ingredients do you recognise and what’s added? What’s the sugar content? Added sugar; you may as well throw it in the bin. Is it colourful? More colourful foods are generally better for you – ie White is generally highly processed so nutrients are stripped out. Eat more veggies, particularly the green ones. You have a fair idea about what to eat, so form some better habits to stop eating so much rubbish.

Fat has been given a bad wrap for years, but the tide has turned. Fatty acids like Omega 3 are essential as your body can't make them, so these need to be included in our diet. Fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut or olive oil are great sources of good fat and play a huge role in maintaining our metabolism which reduces our cravings.

5.       Don’t stress – Stress plays a huge role in our lives and is something we help our clients with a lot. Don’t stress if you eat something you shouldn’t, just own it and be better tomorrow. Although beer is a depressant, and we would encourage you to avoid it as might as possible, in moderation, it can be helpful to de-stress. Exercise has a very similar de-stressing effect with lots more added benefits, but sometimes a beer just hits the spot. Just don’t make it 10.

6.       Preparation - You're probably an organised person at work, so why not in taking care of your own health? This includes having a morning routine and eating breakfast. Wake up at the same time, drink a glass of water, splash cold water on your face, exercise to earn that morning shower (only has to be 10 min), do some personal development (ie 10 min reading a book), eat breakfast and listen to your favorite 3 songs. The first ritual you do during the day is the most powerful ritual by far. It sets your mind, body and the context for the rest of you day. 

At the end of the day, a house must be built on strong foundations and so should the body. Without them, it’s only a matter of time before cracks appear.