I was interviewed about my training style and philosophy by anabolic.co, which may seem ironic if you’re familiar with my work or know me well. I don’t recommend many supplements for health/performance, but I am happy to spread my perspective on health to more mainstream arenas. What I value and emphasize in fitness and health generally has changed in recent years, and I think in a good way. Check it out.
What inspired you to become a personal trainer?
I love movement and teaching others to move well. I was inspired as a young adult by seeing athletes and dancers do incredible things that I wanted to emulate. So I started training seriously and soon enough had the motivation and information to help others do the same.
What is your training philosophy?
I believe everyone should be reaching toward their personal next level. Whatever current ability you have, let’s work to expand and deepen that. I also believe that fitness programs and trainers should train their clients as full beings, not as machines made of muscles and bones.
Why do you believe functional fitness training is so important?
Most people are not professional athletes, but rather are in need of maintaining their own basic health and function with age. That’s the boring (but important) reason to emphasize functional movement training that helps people excel in the physical demands of daily life.
That said, functional fitness can get very dynamic and very advanced, and be a powerful tool to open up the world for us. If you want to climb a mountain, learn a sport or dance style, or play with your kids for years to come, you should be able to do it. Functional fitness training allows you to be versatile enough to keep doing these things.
What are your top three favorite exercises? Why?
Hill Running: Running hills naturally puts you in a pattern of high intensity interval training, which is one of the best ways to boost cardio capacity and endurance. Plus, no matter how hard you run (or walk or squat jump or crawl!) up a hill, the hill can take it all and still be there for next time.
Throwing Objects: Throwing things can be really, really fun. I use sand-filled medicine balls with my clients and in my own training. There are many ways to throw, but each one utilizes the full body to generate power and build athleticism.
Pull-Ups and Climbing: The feeling of lifting off the earth and floating for a few moments is really invigorating for me. Pull-ups also prepare you for climbing trees, rocks and structures, and some dance forms like aerial dance. I also think it’s psychologically very empowering to be able to do pull-ups well.
Do you feel dance and personal fitness go hand in hand?
Absolutely. They cross over at many points. People often describe pro athletes as being ‘graceful’, which to me means the athlete has found an efficient way to move and has trained so much that the actual competition event is well within their capacity. This is the same in dance. Creating ‘grace’ takes many dance classes and rehearsals to find the efficient pathways. I think athletes should study dance and dancers should train like athletes.
What has experience taught you about fitness that couldn’t be taught through education?
I’ve learned that training cannot be a linear process. It is cyclical and shifts based on one’s life, needs, injuries, desires and experiences. Having ups and downs and side-steps is completely normal and not a reason to quit training or feel like a failure. Instead, these changing moments are times to reflect and recoup. Trainers need to be prepared to help clients through these times and be ready to change too.
How do you keep your clients motivated?
I introduce novel coordinations and new exercise variations overtime. This can keep people engaged because they are learning new patterns, not just repeating themselves. I also continue my own study of movement so I am engaged and motivated around movement. Lastly, I write articles and send a monthly client newsletter to provide an opportunity for my clients to educate themselves in a related way outside our sessions.
And, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I train with other trainers and dancers, pushing each other and creating new exercises. I stay focused on my goals and work on a few at a time. Right now I’m working on my half marathon time, my 1-mile run time, and my max rep’s of push-ups and pull-ups. I’m also getting creative with push-up and pull-up variations to expand my movement capacity while working toward those fairly straightforward goals.
What common mistakes do you believe people make about nutrition?
Unfortunately there are many. Most people do not study nutrition; they read about it in magazines or headlines, or hear about it from friends. And those sources are not reliable or consistent. This creates confusion and most people tend to give up or just say, “everything in moderation”, without really knowing what “moderation” means. What’s a moderate amount of high fructose corn syrup? What’s a moderate number of croissants? What’s a moderate amount of spinach leaves?.
Our Western culture and fitness culture are both obsessed with diets based on high protein and macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) in general. What we are missing is a focus on micronutrients, which are what protect against disease and keep us healthy over the long-term. You can read an article about this on my website.
If someone reading this wants some very simple, down-to-earth advice, it’s this: eat at least 90% whole food, with an emphasize on fresh plant foods. For inspiration, look at traditional cultural diets that existed more than 100 years ago.
Finally, what is your favorite cheat food?
It’s got to be dark chocolate. Or something covered in dark chocolate. This is not part of my “90%”….!