30 Years of Fitness

I have had an amazing career as a Fitness Trainer. I was 19 years old when I got my first fitness training client and it was also the year that I got my first modeling job. Fitness training and fitness modeling seemed to go well together as I was always doing photo shoots for fitness magazines on their most current articles on training styles, techniques and equipment. Fitness modeling took me to the Galapagos Islands and all over the US while Fitness training has given me a career of helping people get healthy which has been extremely rewarding.

I got a really good perspective on the inside of the fitness industry as a fitness model because that is where I saw first hand that what they were selling and writing articles for didn’t necessarily work! That’s why they hire fitness models to make their products look good by using people like us who got in shape over a lot of years and with really hard work. You may think this sounds obvious but millions of people everyday are still falling for the weight loss commercial overload and infomercial hype of fitness fads and false promises every day.

Having that exposure allowed me to really understand the importance of medical and scientific information about Diet and Exercise. Along with the many doctors, orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors that I trained over the years I still think the most influential client I ever had was my very first client who was was a quadriplegic! Yes that’s right and he was adamant about being called a “Quadriplegic” because the hospital still classified him as such even though he had recently rehabilitated himself into a paraplegic. He had been paralyzed from the neck down due to a car wreck, but through hard work, pain and a lot of determination had reestablished neuropathways and muscular functionality to his upper extremities and most of his upper torso. What I didn’t know at the time was how much of what I learned from him would help me teach others how to lose weight and get in shape safely.

Like most trainers I started out as an exercise enthusiast athlete blessed with good genetics. My mentor was a World Class Champion Body Builder who was making a whopping $35 an hour training people in the late 80’s. But what he didn’t have was patience to deal with a new client who was handicapped, so his new client became my first client and little did I know how lucky I was!

I didn’t know what to expect at 5:00 am as I showed up on my first day, at the gym I had never been to before working with a person I had never met before. I only knew I was getting paid $20 cash 5 days a week and I couldn’t have been happier (and I figured I would recognize him pretty quickly anyway). For the first time I was getting paid to teach someone else how to exercise!

NO it was actually “I” who was in for the lesson of a lifetime, and the knowledge I gained from him about the neuromuscular control of the human body would catapult me past the average “Fitness” trainer of the day.

I pulled up to the gym at 4:45 am and proceeded to watch a big red pick-up truck roll up and I watched as my new client opened the door, skillfully pull out his wheelchair, set it on the ground and lower himself out of his truck into it. I walked up, introduced myself and said “I thought you were supposed to be a quadriplegic?” he laughed and said “its a long story, lets get started”, and so began my immersion into neuromuscular control of the human body.

The isolation and overload techniques that I learned from my mentor plus the therapeutic rehabilitation perspective I gained from my first client, plus the biomechanics and muscle physiology information I learned as a Master Fitness Trainer for the United States Army made me a pioneers of the “Smarter Not Harder” lifting in the 90’s and “Core Training” that emerged around then as well.

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

In the mid 90’s a group of trainers and myself began developing the foundation of “Core” training which would not really take hold in the fitness industry until a decade later. I was actually one of the first trainers to incorporate the “physio ball”  into peoples workouts! I was originally called a “Swiss Back Therapy Ball” and today people still don’t know what to call it. The physioball is commonly referred to as a #FitBall online but a lot of my clients call it the “big bouncy ball”.

I tell people that one of the best fitness tools you have at your disposal and it happens to be the most versatile as well, is the FitBall. You can balance, stretch and exercise on it using it as a bench or for bridging work and plank work, sit on it, kneel on it and even stand on it. You can use it in home, office or gym, with cables or dumbbells, again it is the most versatile piece of equipment and you can buy one for less than 20 bucks!

Today one of the most important things that I teach people (trainers or clients) is that you must use both Cardiovascular exercise and Musculoskeletal exercise to optimize the health of the Mind and Body which is critical to attaining and maintaining Wellness. Both forms need to be understood and incorporated because they each impact and improve the health of the mind and body differently. A healthy Mind and Body are essential in diminishing the negative impact of age related and genetically predisposed health issues and reversing the damage that stressful relationships and toxic environments have on our overall health.

Stress sets off a “protective in the short-term yet damaging in the long-term” neuroelectochemical chain reaction that is built into our DNA called the “fight or flight stress response system”. While every animal has it, humans are the only species with a “prefrontal cortex” that can make homework, a job interview or just a busy day set off the FFSRS all day long every day which is really, really bad. Stretching and Exercise routines that combine Pilates, YogaCore training and Circuit training are the best ways to attain and maintain a healthy Mind and Body