What is YOUR fitness/training philosophy?
Why do you workout? Why do you eat well? What does it really mean to you?
My fitness journey started when I was a freshman in high school, I played baseball and football, and I needed to get bigger, faster, and stronger. When I first started lifting, I was 6’0″ and about 180 pounds with little muscle. My first time benching I could’t lift much – this was possibly the lowest I ever felt in my life, so I decided to make a change. I began to lift with two of my friends on the football team. I’ll admit at first, training was very hard and I didn’t enjoy it, but once I started to see the results of my hard work, I was hooked.
College is when my love for working out really took off. I found a couple friends in my dorm to lift with; having those lifting partners is what pushed me to become better. They believed in me more than I believed in myself, and they also held me accountable. After a year of intense training, I finally saw the results I was striving for. For me, lifting was the one thing that remained constant in my life through my college years. Whenever I had a bad day or was stressed about a class, the gym was always that stress release I could count on. The gym is still that escape for me today, and it remains my “happy” place.
Even though I do love training and fitness in general, I tend to struggle with the nutritional aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. Being a poor college student, it was hard to always eat healthy, especially when you’re on the run between school, internships, and jobs. What really saved me in college was my campus meal plan, and eating a huge meal at dinner every night. I’m not saying this is a great habit by any means, but I did what I had to in order to get through a difficult situation. I think this mindset can help others reach their goals; I did’t get embarrassed that others around me saw all the food I was eating in the cafeteria – and trust me I got a lot of stares. Sometimes you’ll feel uncomfortable about the choices you have to make in front of others to reach your goals, but that’s part of the process.
Embrace the decisions you make to be healthier, and not be embarrassed by them, even if it’s not the norm. Now that I’m working full time and have a steady income, I’m becoming a lot better at grocery shopping and meal prep. I still enjoy a burger and a beer here and there, but am constantly working to improve the choices I make on a daily basis. As a trainer, we are often put on a pedestal when it comes to our workouts and eating habits, but the truth is we are just normal people, going through the same everyday struggles as everyone else.
My philosophy for my own training has evolved over the years. From strength and conditioning for high school sports and competitive bodybuilding to running and Pilates, I’ve tried and competed in almost everything. Now at the ripe old age of 35, I just want to feel good, stay lean, and be productive. So my goal is to do a little each day. A few days a week I try and get SOF-style semi-private workouts in. I still like to try new workouts and exercises before I do them with clients and the team. On the other days, I just need 20 minutes to swing a bell, jump rope, maybe the ski-ergs and work on my mobility. The little quick workouts on the off days are the key. I’m looking at the long haul theses days, not the 8 weeks leading up to a competition.
I have a list of foods I always get in. Fish oil, coconut oil, green food powder, whey shake or super shake, amino acids, and a few other supplements. I try and fast each day for at least 10 hours but typically for 16. I drink at least 3 liters of water a day. My biggest meal is dinner and my dinner after dinner! I’m a night eater and typically skip breakfast.
Why do I do The above? Well, I don’t know any other way. I started doing it at 18 really hard and it brought me to my career, my gym, and all the people I met along the way. It’s me and I don’t see it changing.
Strength training is such an important part of my life because it provides me with a strength and confidence that I can carry over into other aspects of my life. By maintaining a strong and healthy body I am capable of moving furniture, carrying groceries, or playing a pickup game of basketball without injury, and without the help of someone else. I can also confidently walk into any gym and absolutely own my workout without even a second thought about those around me.
I eat well because I used to eat like crap and it just doesn’t work. Eating unhealthy foods makes me feel and look terrible. There is also a significant connection between diet and body function. I love killing my workouts and not feeling sluggish, hungover, or like I’m going to crap my pants. Food matters!
It may come as a surprise to many people why I work out. A lot of people think that all trainers work out because they are hard wired a little differently and have an obsession with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and looking good. The reason for me working out first and foremost is because I enjoy the feeling without paying attention too much with the aesthetic benefits. It gives me something to strive for, and when I was no longer an athlete the gym was the place I would turn to. I didn’t start lifting until I was a freshman in college and it was out of necessity for my sport. I was one of the weakest ones on my team and I was embarrassed and didn’t want to have anyone see me fail. I went into the gym by myself on mornings when our team wasn’t lifting to improve and become stronger. Shortly after I started to see the progress, and from there it became a game. Could I go from being the weakest to the strongest in my time there? My competitive side came out and I wanted to be the best.
That was the inspirational side of my fitness journey. Now that sports and competition are not involved, why do I workout? In all honesty, I workout so that I can enjoy life. I can eat whatever I want and drink with my friends. That does not sound like something that should be coming from a fitness professional but it’s the truth nonetheless. Being social and not restricting myself is one of the luxuries that I enjoy from working hard in the gym. When someone says to me “You really eat that?” or “Kyle, you drink beer?” It frustrates me. Trainers are people and when we have fun we don’t just do push ups and eat kale. I indulge in life’s small pleasures. I workout so I can eat and drink with no remorse.
My training philosophy is very similar to SOF’s. I want to move well, move often, eat well and enjoy life. Not that I took part in many competitions or anything, but the last couple of years CrossFit competitions were my driving force. Even just doing a 3 a summer was enough to drive my training for most of the year.
I used to enjoy Olympic lifting, squatting and deadlifting heavy, doing tough conditioning sessions. Last summer I just started not to care anymore about my training. I felt exhausted trying to do my workouts and lift heavy. The drive to push that hard wasn’t there anymore. So I was perfectly fine changing it up to workouts that simply made me feel good and got me moving.
Nowadays I do a lot of quick circuits at home and get in 2 semis per week. Usually, I get in some conditioning at the end of my workouts or 1-2 workouts per week are focused just cardio. I do enjoy some steady-state cardio like the Stair Climber, Air Dyne, or rower to get my heart rate up – something to get sweaty but not necessarily kick my butt. I walk my dogs a lot, so I typically get in 30-60 minutes of walking per day as well.
Eating healthy has always been a priority in my life. My parents hardly ever took us out to eat, it was a special treat. So I grew up making food, bringing food to school, on road trips,to Cedar Point, etc. I enjoy cooking but I don’t LOVE it. Going out to eat or stopping at fast food is not tempting to me at all. I don’t enjoy it that much. I don’t feel good after it. But if we’re talking about a doughnut shop or ice cream store, that’s a different story. 😉
My fitness and training philosophy is evolving. It definitely looks different from when I started at SOF a few years ago – I was mostly interested in aesthetics, but quickly got hooked on getting stronger and gaining more confidence in the gym. (Nothing feels better than self-sufficiency!) Now that I’m more a little more experienced and have reached some goals, my philosophy these days is more about acceptance. Get in the gym, work hard, have fun. Don’t stress out about how many days or how intense – things are going to ebb and flow. I’m in a good place at the moment, but I can feel that desire to focus on strength creeping in again!
I workout and eat well because it makes me feel better overall, both mentally and physically. I try to focus on staying consistent, being aware, and realizing when I need to reign things in a bit. For me nutrition and fitness really do go hand in hand – hard training provides leeway in my diet, but it’s not a total free pass. Likewise with food – if I eat all the junk, my body performs like junk, and workouts feel terrible. I can tell when I’ve been having too good a time for a little too long! For me, the key seems to be “everything in moderation, including moderation.” Work hard, but have fun. Or maybe: have fun, but work hard.
For years I’ve made it a priority to eat well and exercise, and eventually turned that into my career. My purpose is simple: I want to stay healthy, disease free, and mobile for as long as I possibly can. I want to live well into my 80s and I want to be independent. I want to be able to get around on my own and take care of myself. I want to be able to get on the ground and back up again without help. That starts now. Well, it started 10, 15 years ago.
I don’t need to be the strongest or leanest or fastest, but I do need to be the best version of myself. And that changes as life goes on, ebbs and flows through times of more indulgence and less exercise. But I always get back on track because longevity is what matters most to me. I want others to live long and healthy lives as well and stay as independent as long as possible, which is a major reason I studied kinesiology and health in school and a major reason why I’ve made fitness my profession.
An important factor in strength training for me is to feel good. Since I moved here over a year a go, the main focus for me has been mobility and getting stronger. Since then, my movements have felt so much better and I have really decreased my lower back pain. This to me, is what fitness is truly about down the road.
From a more egotistical standpoint, I truly just want to look good. Being lean right now is a big motivator for me and the main reason why I keep my nutrition the way it is. Fitness is important for so many reasons and putting my self-ego aside, feeling good and moving well is probably the most important.